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Accepted Paper:

Anchorage, relay and flow  
Brian Moeran

Paper long abstract:

In Rhetoric of the Image, Roland Barthes suggested that visual media were characterised by two contradictory processes: anchorage, which was designed to link an image to the written word; and relay, the aim of which was to link successive images to one another. For his part, Arjun Appadurai has discussed the notion of flow, in particular in relation to globalization and the flow of cultural forms across national borders, and flow is a concept much used by the social psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in relation to creativity and what he calls "optimal experiences".

This paper tries to bring together three related intermediate categories of anchorage, relay and flow, and place them in anthropological perspective. It takes up Barthes's distinction by looking at ways in which social forms are structured, sustained and linked to other social forms by means of anchorage and relay. It also makes use of flow, a term used by media practitioners themselves, as a structuring device in different media forms (for example, television programming and fashion magazine publishing). The argument put forward is that anchorage, relay and flow underpin such conventional anthropological, sociological and linguistic categories as frames, networks, fields, and syntagmatic and paradigmatic relations. It seeks to illustrate the argument with examples of the production of different media forms.

Panel W007
Intermediate categories
  Session 1