Mattelart (1996): “Each historical period and each type of society has the communicational configuration it deserves.” Do you agree? #mscedc

I came across this quote via Jernej Prodnik, who I’ve referred to in a previous Lifestream post concerning ‘cloakroom communities’. The quote caught my eye, and I looked at it in context via Google Books. It’s from Armand Mattelart (trans. Susan Emanuel) The Invention of Communication (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), p.xiii.

It’s eye-catching for its intimation that human agents matter in how we configure communications and, consequently, our communities. While allowing for varying dialectics of control, and variable intersections at multiple sites and encounters, Mattelart’s comment is a sharp contrast with my previous Lifestream posting regarding ‘the right to disconnect’. On what right, and on what basis, do we connect? And are we alert to how we connect, and at what cost and consequence? Mattelart keeps us alert to complex ethical questions about community cultures, even while risking a flattening of their complexities. Such, perhaps, is the power and risk of an aphorism.
The concept of ‘configuration’ is significant here. Mattelart (p.xvi) defines it as:
Perhaps ‘assemblage’ is no different, but reminds us that we, in education and in every sphere of life, are not separate from our configurations. They configure us, as we produce them.

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