Nick Couldry outlined the project of his recent book, The Mediated Construction of Reality (Polity October 2016, co-written with Andreas Hepp). The book offers a critical reevaluation and rearticulation of the social constructivist ambitions of Berger and Luckmann’s 1966 book The Social Construction of Reality while radically rethinking the implications of this for a world saturated not just with digital media, but with data processes. Couldry outlined how a materialist phenomenology can draw not just on traditional phenomenology, but on the social theory of Norbert Elias, particularly his concept of figurations, to address the challenges of social analysis in the face of datafication. Elias, Couldry argued, is a particularly important theorist on whom to draw in making social constructivism ready to face the deep embedding of the social world with digital technologies, and more than that, to outline the challenges for social order of such a world. More broadly, Couldry argued for a reengagement of media theory with the broader tradition of social theory in the era of Big Data, in the face of a radical expansion of what media are and how mediation is embedded in everyday social orders.
Nick Couldry is a sociologist of media and culture. He is Professor of Media Communications and Social Theory at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is currently a Visiting Researcher at Microsoft Research Lab, and during 2017-2018 a Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University. He is the author or editor of twelve books including most recently The Mediated Construction of Reality (with Andreas Hepp, Polity, 2016), Ethics of Media (2013 Palgrave, coedited with Mirca Madianou and Amit Pinchevski), Media, Society, World: Social Theory and Digital Media Practice (Polity 2012) and Why Voice Matters: Culture and Politics After Neoliberalism (Sage 2010).