A Theory Map for Media Studies and Cultural Theory
Theory Traditions, Philosophies, Affiliations, and Prior Methodologies

Media, Communication, and Information Theory since 1950s

(McLuhan, Goody, Innis, Havelok)

Structuralism and Linguistics since 1960

(de Saussure, Jakobson, Lévi-Strauss, Chomsky)

European-French neo-Marxism and Critical Theory

(Benjamin, Debord, Adorno, Althusser)

European Philosophy, "grand tradition," including hermeneutics

(Hegel, Marx, Husserl, Gadamer, Heidegger)

Semiology / Semiotics

[signs, sign systems, and meaning; intertextuality, interpretation]

(de Saussure, Peirce, Lotman, Barthes, Eco)

Sociology of media

(Hall, Fiske)

Received Academic and Professional Disciplinary boundary assumptions (and differences between US and French/ European disciplines)

(US academic disciplines: "human sciences" vs. science and technology)

Modern French philosophical and intellectual traditions


(Sartre, Bergson, Bachelard, Debord, Derrida)

Post-Marxian Philosophy and Social Theory:
Frankfurt School, Benjamin, Adorno, Gramsci

US-UK Cultural Studies:
cultural analyses of gender, race, class, ethnicity, identities, ideologies


(Hall, Jameson and followers)

Reception Theory: history of cultural reception, interpretive communities

(Jauss, Iser, Fish, Roger Chartier, etc.)

Post-Structuralism, Discourse Theory, Deconstruction

(Derrida, Foucault, Lacan, Baudrillard)

Recent Marxian theory, 1980s-present

(Jameson, Lyotard, Baudrillard, Virilio, French po-mo, Zizek)

Anglo-American Philosophy of Language and shifts to postmodern thought

(Wittgenstein, Austin, Searle, Rorty)

Feminist theory and gender studies

Materialist Social History

(Braudel, Foucault)

Media Studies

New Media Studies (post-digital)

Post-Structuralist Sociology


American Pragmatism and Critique of Theory

Richard Rorty,
Stanley Fish

Popular Culture Studies


Political-Economy and quantitative methodologies for the study of media and communications

Visual Culture Studies,
media studies debates

Network Theory, Science and Society Theory



Mediology and recent interdisciplinary approaches

Mediology as a metatheory and point of view for analyzing media and institutions:
A method for recombinant theory and practice in media and communication research
Martin Irvine, 2005-2011