Skip to content

Conceptualizing personal media

Lüders, M. 2008. Conceptualizing personal media. New Media & Society 10, 683–702 (available on-line:, accessed 10 April 2010).
The digitalization and personal use of media technologies have destabilized the traditional dichotomization between mass communication and interpersonal communication, and therefore between mass media and personal media (e.g. mobile phones, email, instant messenger, blogs and photo-sharing services). As private individuals use media technologies to create and share personal expressions through digital networks, previous characteristics of mass media as providers of generally accessible information are no longer accurate. This article may be situated within a medium-theoretical tradition, as it elucidates technical and social dimensions of personal media and revises the distinction between mass media and personal media. A two-dimensional model suggests locating personal media and mass media according to an interactional axis and an institutional/professional axis: personal media are de-institutionalized/de-professionalized and facilitate mediated interaction. The implementation of digital media technologies has important consequences for social networks and fits well within a theoretical discussion of the post-traditional self.

• A useful article which focuses on reviewing existing models (by Luhmann and also Thompson) that distinguish between personal media and mass media in the light of convergence and digitalised media
• Citing Hutchby, amongst others, Lüders argues that it is necessary to “acknowledge the materiality of technology […] without losing sight of the discursive practices through which we understand it.” (p687). She develops a three level model of media that incorporates media technologies such as the internet or the telephone, which allow media forms such as blogs or telephone conversation to develop. For the third level of media genres, she argues that “Media forms with near-naturalized, socially-implemented characteristics at this level constitute points of departure for more specific types of the same media form, that is, the development of different genres.” (p687)
- This is a useful way of looking at the types of media available
• It concludes that there are more overlaps now than before – e.g. a letter was between two people, whereas an email can be strictly symmetrical and interpersonal, or in effect delivered to a mass audience.
• It proposes a model that outlines the continuum that is present – the axes are institutional/professional vs the opposite, and symmetrical/mediated vs asymmetrical/quasi-mediated
• It notes the relevance of a network analysis, in that the types of interaction enabled by media differ and affect the types of communication and potential formation of strong and weak ties.
• It notes the increasing use of personal media forms by the mass media, to generate interest and loyalty amongst the audience. This underlines the increasing blurring between these two areas.

Please note - these are rough notes only, based on a first reading. They may be useful to someone interested in a considered perspective on this paper.
However, these notes do not necessarily represent a final opinion, and are subject to revision in the future.


julianhopkins on : julianhopkins via Twitter

Show preview
Blogged: Conceptualizing personal media


Display comments as Linear | Threaded

John Postill on :

I've found this article by Lueders to be very useful. See this extract from my book Localizing the Internet (Postill 2011):

"Other scholars, many of them anthropologists, are sceptical of [...] claims that new media technologies herald the advent of a global era of networked individualism (e.g., Agar et al. 2002, Amit 2007, Green et al. 2005, Hogan 2009, Horst 2008, Horst and Miller 2006, Knox et al. 2006, Riles 2000). Thus the communication scholar Marika Lüders (2008: 696), whilst conceding that the widespread adoption of personal media is bound to have important social and political consequences, argues that it is ‘naïve’ to seek to ‘identify any profound transformative message of personal media’. On the basis of empirical research in Norway she rejects any sharp distinction between personal and mass media. For example, Norwegians use email not only for interpersonal but also for mass communication, e.g., emailed newsletters. Moreover, adds Lüders, collaborative and group media such as group blogs or wikis are neither strictly personal nor mass media (2008: 698–99). Personal media can only be understood, therefore, as part of an increasingly complex and shifting communicative landscape."

Add Comment

Enclosing asterisks marks text as bold (*word*), underscore are made via _word_.
Standard emoticons like :-) and ;-) are converted to images.
E-Mail addresses will not be displayed and will only be used for E-Mail notifications.
:'( :-) :-| :-O :-( 8-) :-D :-P ;-) 
BBCode format allowed
Form options