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The Hybrid Media System: Politics and Power, Andrew Chadwick

Reviewed by Regina G. Lawrence



The best books are those that provide new ways of mapping complex terrain, enabling new analytical approaches and pointing to pathways out of intellec­tual dead-ends. Andrew Chadwick’s The Hybrid Media System promises to be such a book.

Chadwick’s simple starting place is that the standard terminology of “old” and “new” media no longer serves to make sense of today’s complex media ecology. In fact, it never did, because “[w]hat counts as new media at any given time are . . . best seen as hybrids of newer and older media” (p. 25). The study of political communication is stunted by an inadequate conceptual map, Chadwick contends, in which scholars of “old” media discount the impact of newer media forms, while scholars immersed in those newer forms discount the continuing influence of older media technologies and organizations.

In place of the old/new media dichotomy, Chadwick argues for a “hybridity” approach that draws from developments in other fields of inquiry, including comparative politics, cultural studies, and organizational theory. Media sys­tems, like other political, cultural, social, and organizational systems, are always “in the process of becoming, as actors simultaneously create and adapt” (p. 18). New forms, norms, practices, and p

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