Theory, Culture and Society 37 (1):3-28 (2020)

In The Media and Modernity, Thompson develops an interactional theory of communication media that distinguishes between three basic types of interaction: face-to-face interaction, mediated interaction, and mediated quasi-interaction. In the light of the digital revolution and the growth of the internet, this paper introduces a fourth type: mediated online interaction. Drawing on Goffman’s distinction between front regions and back regions, Thompson shows how mediated quasi-interaction and mediated online interaction create new opportunities for the leakage of information and symbolic content from back regions into front regions, with consequences that can be embarrassing, damaging and, on occasion, hugely disruptive. The growing role of mediated quasi-interaction and mediated online interaction has reconstituted the political field so that political life now unfolds in an information environment that is much more difficult to control, creating a permanently unstable arena in which leaks, revelations and disclosures are always capable of disrupting the most well-laid plans.
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DOI 10.1177/0263276418808592
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