Communication & Media Studies

Social Media: A Critical Cultural Approach

Social Media: A Critical Cultural Approach

The digital revolution has extended itself, whether we like it or not, into almost every area of life.


John Robert Clammer, Professor of Sociology, Jindal School of Liberal Arts and Humanities, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.


“Social Media” – the interactive personal communication networks enabled by cheap and easy access to the Internet – are now a ubiquitous part of our cultural lives. Exemplified by platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and expanding to such media as Skype for free audio and video conversations, and its rival, the widely used “app,” WhatsApp accessible to anyone with a mobile phone.

YouTube creates a way of not only accessing huge volumes of information and entertainment (movies, music, TED talks, how-to-do-it postings covering a large range of crafts and activities), but also allows users to post their own content. Online news streamed by most major media companies, is having the common effect of driving out of circulation print newspapers.

Other user-generated knowledge bases, such as the widely accessed Wikipedia encyclopedia, have transformed the ways of life of many of us. Not surprisingly, this is often termed the “digital revolution.” Thinking back just a decade, anyone can see how deep and extensive this transformation has been.

Increasingly we communicate by email, to the extent that many conventional postal services have shrunk, or home-deliveries have been discontinued (and the art of letter writing has precipitously declined), we shop online with gigantic companies like Amazon, which began as a book-seller, but now supplies virtually everything that a courier can transport, order food from Swiggy or from restaurants via an app on our mobile phones, make our tax returns online, and book our air or rail ticket the same way. The digital revolution has extended itself, whether we like it or not, into almost every area of life.

Published in: Rethinking Media Studies: Media, Meditation and Communication, Pages 271 – 279

To read the full chapter, please click here.