Collective belonging and mass media consumption: unraveling how technological medium and cultural genre shape the national imaginings of Australians
Smith, PD and Phillips, T, Collective belonging and mass media consumption: unraveling how technological medium and cultural genre shape the national imaginings of Australians, The Sociological Review, 54, (4) pp. 818-846. ISSN 0038-0261 (2006) [Refereed Article]
Sociological literature lacks a firm evidentiary base with respect to how mass media usage works to forge patterns of collective attachment among socially diverse individuals within contemporary societies. This paper seeks to engage with this absence by examining the detailed ways in which complexities of media consumptions are linked with divergent popular visions of national belongingness and identity. Focusing in particular on variations in cultural genre and delivery technology, the study aims to help clarify extant disciplinary discussions about if and how media consumption interconnects with the substance of individual national imaginings in an era of cultural globalization. Using data from a large social survey of changing visions of national identity among contemporary Australians, the study shows that established media technologies and the consumption of lowbrow genres harden individual attachment to a traditional imagining of the nation. By contrast use of the Internet and highbrow genres foster a more inclusive vision of nation identity. In terms of sustaining these different national identity configurations, cultural genre is revealed to be of greater consequence than technological medium. Furthermore, and in a more general way, the findings suggest that notwithstanding the complexity of effects, mass media usage stands up alongside a more established concern with individual social structural background as a highly salient factor in shaping contemporary formations of national attachment.