The Media and Our Understanding of World: From Toronto School to Situationism

Yixin Tong


This essay aims to explore the ways in which our understanding of the social world is shaped by the media with main references to the 'Toronto School' communication theorists and also Baudrillard, the influential French scholar who is known as 'Situationist'. Marshall McLuhan, the most well known Toronto School author, argues that the media function as the environment in affecting the patterns of people's perception and understanding. For McLuhan, the form of medium itself can be equated to the message, or arguably more important than its content, for it is the form of media, more precisely, the technology underneath the media, that decides the 'human sense ratio'. However, McLuhan's overlooking of the impact of the content conveyed by media, which makes the fatal handicap of his theory, has been supplemented by the works of other scholars. The message delivered by media could be never neutral, but rather subject to diverse factors. Baudrillard offers another version of media determinism by declaring the 'death of reality' and the overwhelming occupation of hyper-reality fabricated by media in social life.

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Asian Social Science   ISSN 1911-2017 (Print)   ISSN 1911-2025 (Online)

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