Practicing Media—Mediating Practice| Beyond Bourdieu: The Interactionist Foundations of Media Practice Theory

Peter Lunt


In the practice turn, the critique of interactionism, along with structuralism, has led to the relative neglect of the analysis of the role and significance of interaction in social practice. This trend continues in theories of media and practice. I argue that Goffman’s interactionist accounts of self-presentation, interaction ritual, and frame analysis provide a rich resource for studying the role of interaction in social practices. I reprise Bourdieu’s theory of practice, its influence on the study of media and practice, and criticism of this tradition of research. Goffman’s interactionist perspective is presented in contrast to Bourdieu’s theory of practice. The potential value of such a perspective is illustrated through Goffman’s own study of gender advertisements and by media research using the concept of “participation frameworks” to analyze online mediated social interaction. I end with reflections on the potential of an interactionist perspective on media and practice.


theory of practice, social practice, dramaturgy, interaction ritual, Bourdieu, Goffman

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