Media practices and urban politics: conceptualizing the powers of the media-urban nexus

Rodgers, Scott; Barnett, Clive and Cochrane, Allan (2015). Media practices and urban politics: conceptualizing the powers of the media-urban nexus. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 32(6) pp. 1054–1070.



The spatial imaginations of media studies and urban studies are increasingly aligned, illustrated by a growing literature on what can be identified as the media–urban nexus. This nexus has attracted scholarly interest not only as a cultural phenomenon, but also as a site of emergent political dynamics. We suggest that literature on the media–urban nexus points to the always-already present conditions of possibility for a translocal, relational urban politics. Current conceptualizations of the politics of urbanized media, however, tend to fall into one of two registers: conflicts over the access to and regulation of urban media spaces; or the silent politics that media inscribe into the affective textures of urban life. Both tend to envision media as instrumental supplements to politics, overestimating the powers of ‘media’ within urban living. Drawing on recent uses of practice theory in media studies, we highlight how thinking of media-in-practices provides a basis for more nuanced conceptualizations of the powers of the media–urban nexus. Fully realizing this conceptualization requires that the restriction of the insights of practice theory to everyday life be lifted. An expanded view of media practices is required, one which emphasizes the coordination between organized fields of communication and everyday urbanized media practices.

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