Simone Tosoni

Title of the presentation:

Space, Urban Space & Their Challenge to Media Scholars

Short abstract of the presentation:

The lecture intends to address the theoretical and methodological challenge for Media & Audience Studies scholars represented by Urban Space as an ever-increasing strategic research field, contextualizing it within a broader discussion of the concept of “space” and of its role in the interpretation of contemporary social processes.
On one hand, Social Sciences, and in particular Human Geography, have in fact long since stressed the inadequacies of a conceptualization of space as an abstract and static receptacle for social processes, advocating an attention for their relationships of mutual shaping. Under this point of view, space and social processes would be better conceived as uninterruptedly co-produced, with an ever-increasing role played by communicative processes.
On the other hand, the attempt to understand the transformations of space in its symbolic and relational meanings (“space as place”) related to media and communicative processes has represented an interrupted effort within Media & Audience Studies, both at a macro and at a micro level. From McLuhan’s “Global Village” and Meyrowitz “No sense of place” to Silverstone’s Theory of Domestication, media scholars have extensively contributed to the interpretation of contemporary transformations of “lived” spaces.
The growing relevance of Urban Communication, portable media and media-related practices in the constitution of the fabric of urban daily life calls today scholars to extend systematically their research efforts to Urban Space, and consequently to question the adequacy of their traditional theoretical and methodological framework to the new research field. In particular, they are called to extend their focus beyond the symbolic and relational features of space (that is, to go beyond the methodological distinction between place and space), to fully assume as co-constitutive the relationship between (Urban) Space and communicative practices, as underlined by Human Geography and contemporary Social Sciences.
Drawing from examples from the disciplinary tradition, and from the methodological discussion of a case study on urban conflict, it will be stressed the urgency of integrating the traditional disciplinary focus on the relational and symbolic meaning of “lived” space with a new attention to its material and pragmatic features, to fully account for urban communication processes and media related activities and their co-shaping relationship with Urban Space.

Short biography:

Simone Tosoni (simone.tosoni@unicatt.it) is Assistant Professor at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Milan) and founding member of the ECREA’s Temporary Working Group ‘Media & the City’. His research interests concern media-related practices in urban space, and methods and methodology for Urban Media Studies. On these topics, he has recently edited the volume Media and the City: Urbanism, Technology and Communication (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013, with Matteo Tarantino and Chiara Giaccardi), and the special issue of First Monday Wave Bricks and Bits: Media & the Social Production of Urban Space (with Matteo Tarantino).