Beyond categorization: Marshall McLuhan, technological determinism, and social science methodology - a reappraisal

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(Thesis) M.A.
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This thesis is a contribution to the reappraisal of Herbert Marshall McLuhan. Its aim is to rethink McLuhan’s views about media and technology, as well as his place in empirical, social science research, by challenging two dichotomies – i.e., two binary oppositions – that have been used to simplify and assimilate his work throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. The elusive nature of McLuhan’s thought means that his oeuvre is “beyond categorization.” It is not, as will be demonstrated, “beyond applicability,” however. McLuhan’s qualitative (analogical, artistic, dialectical) approach to the study of media effects can be used as a diagnostic tool, side by side with standard social science procedures, to make sense of statistical results pertaining to the relative experience of students and TAs, as the use of electronic text was substituted for traditional print.
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