Digital Visuality and Social Representation : Research Notes on the Visual Construction of meaning

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Stocchetti , M 2017 , ' Digital Visuality and Social Representation : Research Notes on the Visual Construction of meaning ' , KOME-An international journal of pure communication inquiry , vol. 5 , no. 2 , pp. 38-56 . https://doi.org/10.17646/KOME.2017.23

Title: Digital Visuality and Social Representation : Research Notes on the Visual Construction of meaning
Author: Stocchetti, Matteo
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences
Date: 2017
Language: eng
Number of pages: 19
Belongs to series: KOME-An international journal of pure communication inquiry
ISSN: 2063-7330
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/299994
Abstract: Images are tools in the social construction of reality. The meaning of images, however, is not a feature of the image itself but the outcome of a communicative process that involves a negotiation between social actors with a stake, interests and resources to participate in the process. The theory of social representation provides a useful conceptual framework to capture this process and to look at the ideological influences that affects the visual construction of meaning in the digital age. From this perspective, I challenge the belief that digital visuality is a form of communication with emancipative power for the mere fact that it facilitates non-institutional and amateur production and circulation of images. I claim instead that the emancipative potential of this as other forms of visuality depends on their effects on the process through which images are given meaning - supporting or undermining openness, diversity, etc. - and on the nature of the meanings that can - or cannot - find expression in this process. Applying the theory of social representation to the analysis of the social construction of meaning for the images of 9/11, Abu-Ghraib and the Arab Spring, I argue that the influence of hegemonic ideology has been decisive in the repression of interpretations of these images with subversive or emancipative potential.
Subject: digital visuality
social representation
9/11
Abu-Ghraib
Arab Spring
visual communication
518 Media and communications
5141 Sociology
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