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Television and the Meaning of 'Live': An Enquiry into the Human Situation by [Scannell, Paddy]
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Television and the Meaning of 'Live': An Enquiry into the Human Situation 1st , Kindle Edition

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Review

“Television and the Meaning of Live is an important and exciting book, which helps one to see television, and media in general, in new ways. More than this, it is a book that can help one to see the world as a whole anew, as befits the task of ‘unconcealment’ that was Heidegger′s goal. It cannot be recommended highly enough.”
Critical Studies in Television

′′Taking a refreshing phenomenological perspective, Paddy Scannell offers a thoughtful and compelling analysis of the way live radio and television capture and disclose the everyday human situation. A remarkable intellectual achievement by one of the most influential theorists of communication, this book will definitely enrich and deepen our understanding of the central role of broadcasting in our lived experience.′′
Milly Buonanno, La Sapienza University of Roma, author of The Age of Television

′′Can a phenomenology of « live » broadcasting illuminate the nature of everyday human situations? Paddy Scannell daringly answers : yes. The meaning of « Live » has much to tell us about the meaning of « Life » . Inspired by Heidegger’s Being and Time, this brilliant and provocative book challenges us to unlock media theory from the relentless embrace of sociologism.′′
Daniel Dayan, Centre National de la Recherche scientifique & Institut d’études Politiques, Paris

′′Using television, Paddy Scannell examines our situatedness in the world and carves out a strikingly fresh approach to media analysis. A seminal contribution––perceptive and humane.′′
Carolyn Marvin, Annenberg School, University of Pennsylvania

About the Author

Paddy Scannell is professor in the department of communication studies at the University of Michigan. He was one of the early pioneers of media studies, and a founding editor of the journal Media, Culture and Society.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 8021 KB
  • Print Length: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Polity; 1 edition (27 Jan. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00I4WUAI8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #973,458 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Paperback
I was going to write a detailed description and reason to read this book. Then I realized that Paddy Scannell earlier wrote a highly technical text book on communications. It explained the ins and outs and how-to's focusing on TV and radio. That book was ""Media and Communication" (Jun 30, 2007).

Now he is attempting in this book to show that live TV and radio is an intricate part of life and not an abstract study. However in the process of doing so he cites a bevy of philosophers, phonologist, and the like. He left out Alfred Korzybski.

Following the foot notes and references can be a course unto its self as the insight that is presented in this book. There are monochrome pictures to support many of the Case studies.

Media and Communication
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After listening to his special seminar in December, I decided to order this book. The case studies are updated compared to the last one. can't wait for the next one.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Really very good
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Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars 7 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hiding in Plain Sight 18 Mar. 2014
By The Ginger Man - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a complex book which finds time to look at both the meaning of "live" and of life in just a few hundred pages. I found it both challenging and valuable but should note that the first section of the book requires a very careful and sometimes laborious approach for the reader.

Scannell focuses more on the meaning of life in the first half of the book as he delivers a primer in phenomenology. Drawing on Heidegger's seminal work, Being and Time, the author suggests that we must look outward at objects rather than inwards at concepts to understand the world. "It is in exploring the mundane world of everyday life that we begin to get to grips with the question of existence; the meaning of life."

The author introduces the critical concept of the "care structure." For any object, this consists of the cumulative human thought, effort and intention that created the "thing" in question. Care structures are by their nature self-concealing, allowing us to take them for granted even while fully enjoying the object's use. "The trick," notes Scannell, "is to see just how utterly astonishing and amazing this entirely unremarkably fact is." The unconcealment of such facts, the phenomenological task, is to open up "what is always in plain sight yet seldom seen."

In the second half of the book, the author uses this paradigm to unlock the meaning of "life" as disclosed by the liveness of television and other electronic media of everyday communications. He begins by noting that television conceals its own care structure (its mode of production) in order to more fully create a viewing experience. Scannell analyzes for the reader a series of case studies to uncover the laboriously arrived at formatting platforms which create the appearance of liveness on television. He considers the invention of live talk radio on the BBC in 1939 for The Brain Trust program, the not quite so successful development of talk television on Murrow's Person to Person in 1953, refinements in the "management of liveness" through soccer telecasts and video definitions of reality through catastrophe news as in 9/11 coverage.

This second section is much easier reading as it focuses on detailed descriptions of actual programming examples and is a bit light on interpretation. Further, the connection of this part of the book to the lessons in phenomenology received earlier is sometimes tenuous. Finally, however, Scannell does succeed in revealing the care structure inherent in the formatting behind these programs as well as how these formats had to be developed from blank slates with little foreknowledge of what the viewer or the future would accept.

If the value of a book such as this can be found in helping the reader see familiar objects in entirely new ways, The Meaning of Live was a real success for me. There is also a distinct bonus for the reader in obtaining a working knowledge of the philosophy of phenomenology without having to engage in the formidable task of taking Heidegger on first hand.

I recommend The Meaning of Live to anyone who wants to explore how reality is managed behind the scenes but caution the reader to be patient in early chapters as Scannell navigates through some deep waters.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Total TV and the Phenomenal Logical 16 April 2014
By Kevin L. Nenstiel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Anglo-American media studies professor Paddy Scannell's latest media treatise puts me in an awkward position. I disagree with his conclusions, but he challenges my disagreement on such erudite grounds that I'm nevertheless changed. His philosophical premises are so totalizing that they become brittle, shattering under slight pressure, yet backed with such surprising insights that they upend my ideology. I think he's (often) wrong, but I'm glad I read him, and you should read him too.

Scannell takes an unusual tack, anchoring his analysis to a philosopher. Martin Heidegger, the famed phenomenologist, had intermittent anti-modernist tendencies, and specifically hated TV. But as Scannell notes, Heidegger excused himself to watch soccer broadcasts. Phenomenology, the philosophic study of that which actually is, stands opposed to Platonic ideals that disdain ordinary experience. Scannell persuasively contends that if we omit Heidegger's baggage, his philosophy permits uniquely meaningful investigations into media technology and its modern uses.

This position isn't simple. Heidegger's philosophy makes tough sledding, even for trained academics. Scannell requires nearly a quarter of this book's densely structured length just to expound foundational ideas, and expunge Heidegger's unexamined prejudices. Thankfully, he's careful to translate any jargon he uses, guiding readers to deeper understanding not just of Heidegger or of Scannells' thesis, but of how both relate to lived human experience. If this is capital-P Philosophy, it's Philosophy for the masses.

Phenomenology provides unique challenges, which Scannell never stops addressing. That which actually exists, exists under constant pressure to evolve. Platonic ideals, insofar as we apprehend them, remain constant; phenomenology needs constant appraisal. When Heidegger condemned TV, Scannell writes, TV was new and vaguely threatening. Now it has a century's history, permitting dispassionate judgment of real, not theoretical, consequences. Scannell purposes to remedy what he considers Heidegger's oversights, predicated as they were on novelty and traditionalism.

This has good and bad consequences. Scannell dismantles alarmism that lingers despite being decades old (he obliquely references, but doesn't cite, Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death). But his totalizing contentions lump all media together. British-born Scannell assumes intent on broadcasters' part that makes sense, considering centralized non-profit broadcasters like the BBC, CBC, and PBS. He seems sometimes unaware, Rupert Murdoch notwithstanding, that commercial broadcasters have entirely different motives, and audiences receive them entirely differently.

When Scannell writes that TV audiences engage directly with programmed content, I ask myself, do I do that? The answer returns quickly: sometimes. When I'm well rested, interested in the topic, and watching something new, I consume TV content as deeply as any book. But when I get home following a long graveyard shift, and turn on NCIS or Top Gear reruns, I do so to be soothed, wanting something familiar, hoping to avoid engagement.

Thus my problem with Scannell's thesis isn't that he's wrong, because he isn't, not entirely. Rather, I dispute his totalizing statements. He claims TV audiences have subjective relationships with media, what he and Heidegger call "care structure," but he implicitly assumes his care structure resembles yours, resembles mine. This not only defies scrutiny, my care structure varies by inconstant factors like time of day. A media professor and a bone-weary laborer watch TV very differently.

If audiences have active relationships with TV programming, why did Scannell write a book? He could've directed a documentary, streamed a podcast, or written a miniseries, but his physical artifact bespeaks tacit counterclaims. Maybe Scannell wanted to mollify book snobs and the tenure committee. More likely he understands that TV's transitory nature, which makes Snooki, Vladimir Putin, and Mr. Clean essentially equal, spurns mental engagement beyond the superficial level. Books are the medium of introspection.

That said, I cannot entirely discount Scannell's ideas or call him mistaken. Reading his highly technical discursus, I realize I do have a care structure with my TV, even if it doesn't always resemble what Scannell describes. While reason says humans don't, can't, engage equally with Downton Abbey and Ancient Aliens, we nevertheless have some relationship with TV, even if it just permits temporary passivity. Scannell doesn't let me flippantly dismiss all TV content together.

So though Scannell's totalizing opinions permit easy rejoinder, I nevertheless find reading rewarding, and long to reread it, with a red pen and more time. I disagree with his many of his conclusions, but he forces me to reconsider why I disagree, challenges received wisdom, and makes me disagree on higher, more reasonable grounds. His prose is dense, his claims difficult, and his reasoning dauntingly comprehensive. Yet having read him, I feel that much wiser.
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Look At TV And How We View It 12 Jun. 2014
By Wilhelmina Zeitgeist - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Television and the Meaning of 'Live': An Enquiry into the Human Situation" by Paddy Scannell is a study of the philosophy of TV and it's impact on our lives and what it means to us individually and as a society. It's a medium that allows millions of us to share an experience or witness an event at once. It influences as well as reflects. It's entertainment and a source of important information. Does it enhance our lives or keep us from doing other more important things?

Television unlike photographs in a newspaper or magazine allow us to see the speaker in motion and hear their voice. Radio allows us to hear the voice but not view the speaker. We can view people who are currently alive as well as see and hear people who are now dead.

I found this to be an important and fascinating look at television and it's place in our lives.
4.0 out of 5 stars In depth.... 14 May 2014
By Steve J. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A very techincal look at television and how it has created us as human beings. Changing our lives and how we look at life in a whole when we are not even realizing how powerful it is at the time. To be honest it was a little more in depth than I am used to. I did not understand everything that was trying to be said by the author but I was never bored. It raises questions that I have never thought of before and made me think of other reasoning which I love to do. Life is not examined to its fullest until we look at different perspecitves and views that are not right in front of our eyes or outside our windows.

Would recommed!
4.0 out of 5 stars Deep and challenging read. 12 May 2014
By S. Power - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a deep and challenging philosophical read that is very thorough and substantial. I disagreed with a lot of the authors logic, but found it and enjoyable read either way. I recommend it, if you are looking to reevaluate the human situation.
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