Il re nascosto digitale. I media tra costruzione mediata del reale e mediazione radicale

Mario Tirino


The Digital Hidden King. Media Among Mediatized Construction of Reality and Radical Mediation. The paper intends to explore Georg Simmel’s concept of “hidden king”, as central concept of a given era. Therefore, we analyze the concepts of “mediated construction of reality” (Couldry, Hepp 2016) and “radical mediation” (Grusin 2017), which, in our opinion, can be conceived as the “hidden king” of contemporary digital society.

The massive digitization of contemporary society and culture has led to deep mediatization (Hepp, Hasebrink 2018). Therefore, digital media have helped to redefine the forms of knowledge, time and spaces of social life. In this context, Couldry and Hepp rethought the constructionism of Berger and Luckmann and the figurative sociology of Norbert Elias, in a new theoretical framework based on the centrality of the media in the construction of social symbols and collective interactions.

Starting from similar bases, Richard Grusin (2015) elaborates the concept of radical mediation. Overcoming the separation between subject and object, Grusin defines mediation “as the process, action, or event that generates or provides the conditions for the emergence of subjects and objects, for the individuation of entities within the world”. Furthermore, mediation operates not by neutrally reproducing meaning or information, but “by actively transforming human and nonhuman actants, as well as their conceptual and affective states”. Mediation is thus conceived as the constitutive dimension of every relationship or contact between human and non-human actants, objects and subjects, technical media and forms of biological life.

In the last part of the paper, we try to highlight the vitality of Simmel’s sociology, able to dialogue with the mediological theories of Grusin and Couldry and Hepp.


Simmel; digital media; mediated construction of reality; radical mediation; hidden king

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