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Table of contents :
Preface to Handbooks of Communication Science series
I. Introduction
1 Mediatization of Communication
II. Global changes
2 Scopic media and global coordination: the mediatization of face-to-face encounters
3 Climate change challenges: an agenda for de-centered mediatization research
4 Mediatization with Chinese characteristics: political legitimacy, public diplomacy and the new art of propaganda
III. The long history
5 Understanding mediatization in “first modernity”: sociological classics and their perspectives on mediated and mediatized societies
6 Mediatization as a mover in modernity: social and cultural change in the context of media change
7 Mediatization theory: a semio-anthropological perspective
IV. Media in society
8 Institution, technology, world: relationships between the media, culture, and society
9 Mediatization and cultural and social change: an institutional perspective
10 Mediatization and the future of field theory
V. Movement and interaction
11 Human interaction and communicative figurations. The transformation of mediatized cultures and societies
12 Indispensable things: on mediatization, materiality, and space
13 Digitization: new trajectories of mediatization?
14 Polymedia communication and mediatized migration: an ethnographic approach
VI. Power, law and politics
15 Mediatization: rethinking the question of media power
16 Mediatization of politics: transforming democracies and reshaping politics
17 Mediatization of public bureaucracies
18 Mediatization of corporations
19 Law in the age of media logic
VII. Art and the popular
20 Art: multiplied mediatization
21 Mediatization of popular culture
22 Barbie in a meat dress: performance and mediatization in the 21st century
23 Mediatization of sports
VIII. Faith and knowledge
24 Mediatization and religion
25 The media in the labs, and the labs in the media: what we know about the mediatization of science
26 Mediatization and education: a sociological account
IX. To be or not to be
27 Selfhood, moral agency, and the good life in mediatized worlds? Perspectives from medium theory and philosophy
28 Home is where the heart is? Ontological security and the mediatization of homelessness
29 The mediatization of memory
30 Mediatization of public death
X. Critical afterthought
31 Mediatization: an emerging paradigm for media and communication research?
Biographical sketches
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Knut Lundby (Ed.) Mediatization of Communication

Handbooks of Communication Science

Edited by Peter J. Schulz and Paul Cobley

Volume 21

Mediatization of Communication Edited by Knut Lundby


The publication of this series has been partly funded by the Università della Svizzera italiana – University of Lugano.

ISBN 978-3-11-027193-5 e-ISBN (ePub) 978-3-11-039345-3 e-ISBN (PDF) 978-3-11-027221-5 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A CIP catalog record for this book has been applied for at the Library of Congress. Bibliographic information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data are available on the Internet at © 2014 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston Cover image: Oliver Rossi/Photographer’s Choice RF/Gettyimages Typesetting: Meta Systems Publishing & Printservices GmbH, Wustermark Printing and binding: CPI books GmbH, Leck ♾ Printed on acid-free paper Printed in Germany

Preface to Handbooks of Communication Science series This volume is part of the series Handbooks of Communication Science, published from 2012 onwards by de Gruyter Mouton. When our generation of scholars was in their undergraduate years, and one happened to be studying communication, a series like this one was hard to imagine. There was, in fact, such a dearth of basic and reference literature that trying to make one’s way in communication studies as our generation did would be unimaginable to today’s undergraduates in the field. In truth, there was simply nothing much to turn to when you needed to cast a first glance at the key objects in the field of communication. The situation in the United States was slightly different; nevertheless, it is only within the last generation that the basic literature has really proliferated there. What one did when looking for an overview or just a quick reference was to turn to social science books in general, or to the handbooks or textbooks from the neighbouring disciplines such as psychology, sociology, political science, linguistics, and probably other fields. That situation has changed dramatically. There are more textbooks available on some subjects than even the most industrious undergraduate can read. The representative key multi-volume International Encyclopedia of Communication has now been available for some years. Overviews of subfields of communication exist in abundance. There is no longer a dearth for the curious undergraduate, who might nevertheless overlook the abundance of printed material and Google whatever he or she wants to know, to find a suitable Wikipedia entry within seconds. ‘Overview literature’ in an academic discipline serves to draw a balance. There has been a demand and a necessity to draw that balance in the field of communication and it is an indicator of the maturing of the discipline. Our project of a multi-volume series of Handbooks of Communication Science is a part of this coming-of-age movement of the field. It is certainly one of the largest endeavours of its kind within communication sciences, with almost two dozen volumes already planned. But it is also unique in its combination of several things. The series is a major publishing venture which aims to offer a portrait of the current state of the art in the study of communication. But it seeks to do more than just assemble our knowledge of communication structures and processes; it seeks to integrate this knowledge. It does so by offering comprehensive articles in all the volumes instead of small entries in the style of an encyclopedia. An extensive index in each Handbook in the series, serves the encyclopedic task of find relevant specific pieces of information. There are already several handbooks in sub-disciplines of communication sciences such as political communication, methodology, organisational communication – but none so far has tried to comprehensively cover the discipline as a whole.


Preface to Handbooks of Communication Science series

For all that it is maturing, communication as a discipline is still young and one of its benefits is that it derives its theories and methods from a great variety of work in other, and often older, disciplines. One consequence of this is that there is a variety of approaches and traditions in the field. For the Handbooks in this series, this has created two necessities: commitment to a pluralism of approaches, and a commitment to honour the scholarly traditions of current work and its intellectual roots in the knowledge in earlier times. There is really no single object of communication sciences. However, if one were to posit one possible object it might be the human communicative act – often conceived as “someone communicates something to someone else.” This is the departure point for much study of communication and, in consonance with such study, it is also the departure point for this series of Handbooks. As such, the series does not attempt to adopt the untenable position of understanding communication sciences as the study of everything that can be conceived as communicating. Rather, while acknowledging that the study of communication must be multifaceted or fragmented, it also recognizes two very general approaches to communication which can be distinguished as: a) the semiotic or linguistic approach associated particularly with the humanities and developed especially where the Romance languages have been dominant and b) a quantitative approach associated with the hard and the social sciences and developed, especially, within an Anglo-German tradition. Although the relationship between these two approaches and between theory and research has not always been straightforward, the series does not privilege one above the other. In being committed to a plurality of approaches it assumes that different camps have something to tell each other. In this way, the Handbooks aspire to be relevant for all approaches to communication. The specific designation “communication science” for the Handbooks should be taken to indicate this commitment to plurality; like “the study of communication”, it merely designates the disciplined, methodologically informed, institutionalized study of (human) communication. On an operational level, the serieiis aims at meeting the needs of undergraduates, postgraduates, academics and researchers across the area of communication studies. Integrating knowledge of communication structures and processes, it is dedicated to cultural and epistemological diversity, covering work originating from around the globe and applying very different scholarly approaches. To this end, the series is divided into 6 sections: “Theories and Models of Communication”, “Messages, Codes and Channels”, “Mode of Address, Communicative Situations and Contexts”, “Methodologies”, “Application areas” and “Futures”. As readers will see, the first four sections are fixed; yet it is in the nature of our field that the “Application areas” will expand. It is inevitable that the futures for the field promise to be intriguing with their proximity to the key concerns of human existence on this planet (and even beyond), with the continuing prospect in communication sciences that that future is increasingly susceptible of prediction.

Preface to Handbooks of Communication Science series


Note: administration on this series has been funded by the Università della Svizzera italiana – University of Lugano. Thanks go to the president of the university, Professor Piero Martinoli, as well as to the administration director, Albino Zgraggen. Peter J. Schulz, Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano Paul Cobley, London Metropolitan University

Acknowledgements The series editors of the Handbooks of Communication Science, Peter J. Schulz and Paul Cobley, have supported me with enthusiasm throughout the process with this volume. So has the editor at De Gruyter Mouton, Barbara Karlson. Thanks for all the encouragement! Anna G. Larsen gave perfect research assistance during the editorial work on the chapters and the index. Liz Nichols deserves a big hand for her accurate and reliable copy editing of all the manuscripts. Production editor Wolfgang Konwitschny at De Gruyter and the typesetters worked fast to get this volume through. Thanks also go to the many colleagues who have inspired my work on mediatization through a whole decade. I am also grateful to my Department of Media and Communication at the University of Oslo for economic and collegial support on this handbook project. It has been a pleasure to work with the many contributors to this volume. Several chapter authors have offered comments on a draft of the introduction for which I am thankful. Substantial suggestions from the following were particularly helpful, in alphabetic order: Kent Asp, Stefanie Averbeck-Lietz, Bryna Bogoch, Niels Ole Finnemann, Andreas Hepp, Stig Hjarvard, and Sonia Livingstone. Still, the responsibility for any weaknesses and errors in the introduction rests with me. While this volume was in production Eliseo Verón passed away. I sadly regret this loss to the international community of mediatization scholars. Oslo, June 2014 Knut Lundby

Contents Preface to Handbooks of Communication Science series Acknowledgements






Knut Lundby Mediatization of Communication


II. Global changes


Karin Knorr Cetina Scopic media and global coordination: the mediatization of face-to-face encounters 39


Risto Kunelius Climate change challenges: an agenda for de-centered mediatization 63 research


Wanning Sun Mediatization with Chinese characteristics: political legitimacy, public 87 diplomacy and the new art of propaganda

III. The long history


Stefanie Averbeck-Lietz Understanding mediatization in “first modernity”: sociological classics and their perspectives on mediated and mediatized societies 109


Friedrich Krotz Mediatization as a mover in modernity: social and cultural change in the 131 context of media change


Eliseo Verón Mediatization theory: a semio-anthropological perspective




IV. Media in society


Göran Bolin Institution, technology, world: relationships between the media, culture, and society 175


Stig Hjarvard Mediatization and cultural and social change: an institutional perspective 199

Nick Couldry 10 Mediatization and the future of field theory



Movement and interaction

Andreas Hepp and Uwe Hasebrink 11 Human interaction and communicative figurations. The transformation of mediatized cultures and societies 249 André Jansson 12 Indispensable things: on mediatization, materiality, and space Niels Ole Finnemann 13 Digitization: new trajectories of mediatization?



Mirca Madianou 14 Polymedia communication and mediatized migration: an ethnographic approach 323

VI. Power, law and politics Kent Asp 15 Mediatization: rethinking the question of media power


Jesper Strömbäck and Frank Esser 16 Mediatization of politics: transforming democracies and reshaping politics 375 Kjersti Thorbjørnsrud, Tine Ustad Figenschou and Øyvind Ihlen 17 Mediatization of public bureaucracies 405


Øyvind Ihlen and Josef Pallas 18 Mediatization of corporations


Bryna Bogoch and Anat Peleg 19 Law in the age of media logic



VII. Art and the popular Jürgen Wilke 20 Art: multiplied mediatization


Johan Fornäs 21 Mediatization of popular culture


Philip Auslander 22 Barbie in a meat dress: performance and mediatization in the 21st century 505 Kirsten Frandsen 23 Mediatization of sports


VIII. Faith and knowledge Mia Lövheim 24 Mediatization and religion


Mike S. Schäfer 25 The media in the labs, and the labs in the media: what we know about the 571 mediatization of science Shaun Rawolle and Bob Lingard 26 Mediatization and education: a sociological account


IX. To be or not to be Charles M. Ess 27 Selfhood, moral agency, and the good life in mediatized worlds? Perspectives from medium theory and philosophy 617



Maren Hartmann 28 Home is where the heart is? Ontological security and the mediatization of 641 homelessness Andrew Hoskins 29 The mediatization of memory


Johanna Sumiala 30 Mediatization of public death


X. Critical afterthought Sonia Livingstone and Peter Lunt 31 Mediatization: an emerging paradigm for media and communication 703 research? Biographical sketches Index



I. Introduction

Knut Lundby

1 Mediatization of Communication Abstract: This handbook displays the range of approaches and applications of mediatization theory in media and communication studies within the social sciences and humanities. The handbook invites dynamic encounters between scholars with different approaches to mediatization, in order to give the reader a good overview of the state of research. Contemporary mediatization research is an ambitious attempt to grasp and understand the role of media and communication as part of the transforming processes of culture and society. Keywords: mediatization, mediation, media, communication, transformation, change, definitions, theory, research, contention

1 The content of the handbook “Mediatization” has become a much-used concept to characterize changes in practices, cultures, and institutions in media-saturated societies, thus denoting transformations of these societies themselves. The topic of this volume, then, is hugely important if one wants to understand contemporary processes of social, cultural, and political changes. Admittedly, mediatization is an awkward term, but one that has gained terrain in academic discourse through the second decade of the third millennium (Lundby 2009a). It is a matter of communication – how changes occur when communication patterns are transformed due to new communication tools and technologies, or in short: the “media”. This, of course, concerns scholars of media and communication. However, this handbook should also be of interest to other students in the humanities and social sciences trying to grasp the transformations of our cultural and social environment. It may be the large scale issues, such as how mediatization meets climate change or contributes to globalization. It may be on the intermediate level of changes in institutions, (sub)cultures, and public spheres that are infused by the workings of the media. Or it may be in daily interactions that are transformed through the expanding role of “social media” and mobile networking. The aim of this introduction is to point out some patterns in the picture of contemporary mediatization research, as a map or guide to the coming chapters. This overview is no more than a skeleton; the flesh on these bones is provided throughout the following 30 chapters. References in this introduction are mainly to the chapters to come and are otherwise limited to what is needed for this overview argument. The wealth of literature on – or building up to – mediatization is to be found in the reference sections in the chapters that make up the rest of this book.


Knut Lundby

1.1 What is covered The chapters are organized in ten sections of which this Introduction is the first. Second, come contributions on Global changes where mediatization plays a crucial part in ongoing transformations. This section underlines the view that mediatization is part of large, global processes. The third section deals with The long history of mediatization and of mediatization research. Mediatization may be understood to follow the “social construction of everyday life, society and culture as a whole” by any medium in human communication (Krotz 2009: 24; Couldry 2012: 136–137). This takes the history of mediatization way back, at least to the invention of printing and even writing, depending on the definition of “media” that is applied. Mediatization intensifies with modernity, as technical media become more and more prominent in communication processes in society. Some scholars even restrict the phenomenon of mediatization to societies of high modernity, from the very last half of the 20th century (Hjarvard 2013: 5–7). Media in society, or rather social theory about understanding mediatization, is dealt with in the fourth section of the book, which compares several theoretical approaches to the transformation of culture and society with mediatization. How people practice their moves between their offline world and their online or otherwise mediated forms of communication is further explored in the fifth section, on Movement and interaction. Section VI, on Power, law, and politics, takes the reader to classic areas of mediatization research. Mediatization was developed as a term to grasp the power of a media-saturated environment, instead of asking for the effect of particular media such as radio or television. This section updates and extends the arguments on “political logic” versus “media logic” and includes a comparison with “legal logic” as well. Multiplication technologies – and in particular the multimodality involved in digital media combining and mixing text, sound, graphics, and visuals – open new avenues for Art and the popular. Popular culture as well as classic visual art and sports are covered in Section VII. The eighth section concerns Faith and knowledge, although without inviting a rationalist tension between faith and reason. This features chapters on the mediatization of religion, science, and education. Moral and ontological challenges for individuals in mediatized societies are dealt with in Section IX, entitled To be or not to be. Since mediatization is such an all-encompassing process, or complex of processes, there are many facets to this phenomenon. Other areas of communication science may take another grip on processes that here are dealt with as part of mediatization. Although this handbook covers mediatization in communication broadly, not every aspect could be treated even within a 600-page volume. Just to take two examples: this volume could have had a chapter on gender; however,

Mediatization of Communication


this is a cross-chapter aspect that applies to most areas of mediatization. Another example: mediatization of war and conflict could have been treated more in depth, although there is some coverage of war by Andrew Hoskins in Chapter 29.

1.2 Mapping the field To get a grip on such a broad field is challenging. In the material presented in this volume I identify some key issues of contention among the researchers as well as different approaches to, or perspectives on, the processes of mediatization. The issues of contention are related to Time, Technology, and Theory. The different accounts of mediatization are Cultural, Material, and Institutional. These are my terms or categories. Other contributors to this handbook use somewhat different labels on a similar tri-polar distinction. Göran Bolin identifies (in Chapter 8 this volume) three “strands of mediatization” or three attempts among mediatization researchers to get hold on the relationships between media, culture, and society: First, the institutional perspective; second, the technological perspective, and finally, a perspective on “media as world”. The “mediatized worlds” are life-worlds that rely on communication media. In the concluding “afterthought” to all preceding chapters in this volume Sonia Livingstone and Peter Lunt distinguish between three “ideal typical accounts of mediatization”, namely “the longue durée of cultural evolution; the institutional forces of high modernity in recent centuries; and the socio-technological transformations of recent decades”. Such categories are certainly ideal types. I leave it to the reader to sort out nuances between my categories compared to Bolin’s, Livingstone and Lunt’s distinctions. In Figure 1 I map, for the sake of overview, the two dimensions with the terms on research that I apply. The ideal-typical combinations of perspectives and issues of contention that occur in Figure 1 will be dealt with throughout the introduction. The figure serves as a map for the tour to come.

Issue of contention Perspective Cultural




Basic practices back to Several historical epochs origin of human history or recent digital decades

Media-saturated in high/late modernity


Media as tools in communication

Characteristics of various media

Media logic in institutions


Social-constructivist, symbolic-interactionist

Medium theory, theories of materiality and space

Structuration, new institutionalism

Fig. 1: Perspectives and issues of contention in mediatization research


Knut Lundby

2 Mediatization versus mediation The difference or possible overlap between the concepts of “mediation” and “mediatization” has, for a long time, created lively debates. There are two aspects of this discussion: First, what is the distinction between ongoing mediated communication and its possible transformative consequences? Second, which term is best suited to capture the transformative character of communication with media in social change?

2.1 Which term to use when referring to the transformations? In The Media and Modernity (1995) John B. Thompson introduces the term “mediazation of culture” (without the t and the i) to denote the “systematic cultural transformation” beginning to take hold with symbolic production and circulation made possible by printing technology from the late 15th century on (Thompson 1995: 46). The difference between his “mediazation” and the present “mediatization” is insignificant. However, most British scholars of media and communication resisted the term mediatization, “a clumsy neologism in English” to be avoided for the preference of “mediation” (Livingstone 2009: 6–7). Roger Silverstone saw “mediation as a transformative process” (2002: 761). He applied the term mediation to “understand how processes of communication change the social and cultural environment that support them as well as the relationships that participants, both individual and institutional, have to that environment and to each other” (Silverstone 2005: 189). His use of “mediation”, then, is quite close to the use of “mediatization” in this volume. Silverstone had a great impact on fellow British researchers (for example Couldry 2008). However, in time, many of them have come to favour the term “mediatization”. Sonia Livingstone, concluding this volume with Peter Lunt, suggests “that mediatization research might usefully re-interpret the many existing findings of mediation research by re-locating and integrating them within a historical frame”. Nick Couldry (2012: 134) also accepts that “mediatization” has emerged as the more distinctive term than the general “mediation”, which could have several meanings. Couldry’s condition for adopting the term mediatization is that it is connected with the structural shift and the social construction of the social world that follows the “increasing involvement of media in all spheres of life”, thus acknowledging “media as an irreducible dimension of all social processes” (Couldry 2012: 137 emphasis in original). However, there are still other voices, such as among anthropologists of religion with Birgit Meyer (2013) as a vocal representative, who prefer to understand social and cultural transformations involving the media by reference to the concept of mediation.

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In this volume the form “mediatization” is applied throughout, although some British English users may have preferred to write it as “mediatisation” with an “s”.

2.2 The regular and the transformative The first distinction, then, is between regular communication and transformative communication. One may argue that all communication is mediated. The linguistic anthropologist Asif Agha holds that “mediation” is the main concept: “Social life has a mediated character whenever persons are linked to each other through speech and other perceivable signs in participatory frameworks of communication activity” (Agha 2011: 163). There are always “material vehicles” working as “conductors” in communication, the pioneer sociologist Pitirim A. Sorokin (1947: 51– 52) would say. Meanings cannot be transmitted directly from mind to mind. The physical aspects of the voice and body language in spoken face-to-face communication, or of the pen and written letters in handwriting over distance, are necessary material vehicles in communication. Limiting the “vehicles” to technical media does not change things much: this is regular, ongoing communication. Defining media as forms of technology makes technology-supported communication into “mediated communication”. The particular medium impacts the outcome of the communication as it formats the content. Radio sets other requirements than television, for example. Hence, radio formats the same event in another way than television. Similarly, printed newspapers are formatted differently from online news. The intervention of the medium “can affect both the message and the relationship between sender and recipient” (Hjarvard 2013: 19). This is also well known from Stuart Hall’s distinction between encoding and decoding (1973) which points to different intentions and interpretations between the parties in a communication but which also depend on the requirements of the actual medium. The distinction, then, seems fairly obvious (Couldry and Hepp 2013: 197). “Mediation” is here understood as regular mediated communication, which may be shaped in a process of “remediation” as each act of mediation “depends on other acts of mediation. Media are continually commenting on, reproducing, and replacing each other” (Bolter and Grusin 1999: 55). Still, this is what’s inherent in all mediated communication. “Mediatization”, on the other hand, grasps longterm cultural and social change following ongoing mediated communication. As Hjarvard (2014: 125) puts it: “By mediation, we usually understand the use of a medium for communication and interaction. … Meanwhile, the study of mediatization considers the long-term structural transformations of media’s role in contemporary culture and society.” Mediated communication turns into a process of mediatization when the ongoing mediations mould long-term changes in the social, cultural, or political environment. Mediatization is change. As long-term processes of sociocultural change are deep or lasting, they may rather be characterized as transformations rather than simply as “changes”.


Knut Lundby

Following this distinction there is no contradiction between “mediation” and “mediatization”. The two concepts rather complement each other (Hepp 2013: 38). Agha (2011: 163) finds mediatization “a very special case of mediation”. He links mediatization in particular to commodification. This volume explores a broader spectrum of transformations, such as globalization and individualization. However, Agha is right that today “familiar institutions in any large-scale society (e.g. schooling, the law, electoral politics, the mass media) all presuppose a variety of mediatized practices as conditions on their possibility. … social processes in any complex society derive their complexity from practices oriented to forms of mediatization” (Agha 2011: 163). And within the regular processes of mediated communication the framing of content in media production (Entman 1993, 2009) as well as the audience transformations (Carpentier, Schrøder and Hallet 2014) lead into mediatization.

3 Not just about “the media” Mediatization is not just about “the media”, defined here as technologies or tools in communication. Over time, communication patterns may change the social and cultural context where these processes take place. The concept mediatization captures sociocultural transformations related to such media-based communication. The media, then, act as agents of cultural and social change. The core of mediatization is the social and cultural transformations, not technical media as such. Any deterministic take on mediatization has to be rejected. However, mediatization is just one contemporary process of major change. The challenge is to grasp how mediatization transforms societies as one of the moulding forces of our times, alongside and maybe intertwined with transformations like globalization, commercialization, and individualization.

3.1 Technology and sociocultural process The transforming moment when the technical medium in question does its work to format and twist an ongoing communication is usually a step in a longer process of mediation. Mediatization may encompass parts of the longer process or stand out as turning points in this process. It may start with the cultural or social conditions that trigger the transforming communication with its media use, and ends with the identifiable changes or consequences in that sociocultural environment. Clearly, other factors, not only the media, are in operation. The anthropologist Charles L. Briggs (2013) offers an illuminating example. In 2008 a story from Venezuela circulated globally in traditional and social media that “38 Warao Indians died from rabies transmitted by vampire bats”. This was

Mediatization of Communication


what Briggs (2011) terms a “mediatized object” produced by a journalist on the New York Times (7 August 2008). However, this mediatized turn was just one element in a long chain of communication. It started with the rumours circulating in the country about the many deaths in the Indian community. After the deaths had continued for a year and neither physicians nor epidemiologists could diagnose the disease, local indigenous leaders formed their own investigatory team and called upon Briggs and his wife, a public health physician, to participate. They knew the community and their language from former visits. The evidence the team compiled pointed strongly to rabies transmitted by vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) as the cause. From the beginning, the indigenous members of the team focused on pre-mediatizing their work – for instance, by asking Briggs to photograph grieving parents and patients – so that they could present themselves as credible voices on medical issues, countering the denigratory way in which they, until then, had generally been portrayed in the Venezuelan media. The mediatized turn of the report in the New York Times, followed by Associated Press and news providers on paper and the web around the world, transformed the case as far as the explanation and dignity of the Warao community were concerned. Reports of “vampire bats” may have caught the eyes of the other media people. But, also, the idea of indigenous people back in the jungle producing scientific evidence about an epidemic had an element of surprise, a new spin that attracted reporters. This process of mediation and mediatization did not just happen by chance, but was initiated by the agency of the indigenous leaders, the foreign scientists, and the international media that brought and circulated the story. Processes of mediation and mediatization depend on active agency as well as on the structures within where it takes place. The general mediatization of the media industry and other institutions in society, as will be explicated throughout this volume, is part of the structure and creates conditions for mediation as well as for further mediatization. This case encompasses the whole communication process from the talk about the first deaths to the transformed image of the Indian community. There are particular mediatizing moments that may produce certain mediatized objects that could be identified. However, mediatization is always embedded in larger sociocultural processes. A pioneer in thinking beyond “the media” in such processes is the Latin American communication scholar Jesús Martín-Barbero. He stresses the importance of agency, in particular in communication rising against hegemony and oppression. The English version (1993) of his book, De los medios a las mediaciones: Comunicación, cultura y hegemonia from 1987 switches the title and subtitle of the original. Martín-Barbero turns the focus From the Media to Mediations. Rather than the technology in operation he is concerned with the mediations of which the technology is a part. These mediations, following the book title, work within the frames of Communication, Culture and Hegemony. Martín-Barbero’s concept of mediation involves people and social movements acting with media in communication. His


Knut Lundby

concept of mediation “entails looking at how culture is negotiated and becomes an object of transactions in a variety of contexts” (Schlesinger 1993: xiii). There may be mediated communication that does not change the contexts within which it works. However, mediations may as well, through negotiations and transactions, change hegemonic conditions. Martín-Barbero’s understanding of mediation entails sociocultural transformations that we, in this volume, understand as processes of mediatization. In a later work (2003) he connects his concept of mediation to transformations due to the place of media in culture. He regards “public opinion” as the “transformational sphere” executed in and by the media. Aesthetic taste is another sphere he finds “crucial to transformations through the media” (Martín-Barbero 2003: 88).

3.2 Perspectives on mediatization As a phenomenon or set of processes of change involving most corners of culture and society, a range of scholarly approaches could be applied to untangle mediatization. My own take is a sociological perspective on media and communication. However, the field of media and communication studies is in itself multidisciplinary, drawing upon various scientific traditions from the humanities and social sciences, as well as research on the workings and uses of information and communication technologies and other media technologies.

3.2.1 Cultural perspective Martín-Barbero (1993) takes a cultural approach to mediatization, which is one of the three perspectives I identify in Figure 1. Of course, there are many variations to an overall cultural perspective, given the breadth of cultural studies. In their editorial introduction to the special issue of Communication Theory on “Conceptualizing Mediatization”, Nick Couldry and Andreas Hepp (2013) point to a “socialconstructivist” approach as the one of two main traditions of mediatization research. I regard this social-constructivist take as a theoretical approach under a general cultural perspective on mediatization (cf. Hepp 2009, 2012, 2013). The social-constructivist approach refers to theories on the social construction of reality as developed by Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann (1967). “Mediatization” then captures “both how the communicative construction of reality is manifested within certain media processes and how, in turn, specific features of certain media” play into “the overall process whereby sociocultural reality is constructed in and through communication”, Couldry and Hepp (2013: 196) explain.

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3.2.2 Institutional perspective The other main direction in mediatization research pointed out by Couldry and Hepp (2013) is the “institutionalist” tradition. Stig Hjarvard (2013, 2014 and this volume) is the main proponent of the institutional approach. It looks for the transformations of institutions, like politics and religion, scrutinizing when they adhere to the formats of media for their function and practices in society and culture. In this tradition, the media gain power and position and themselves develop into semi-institutions. This perspective draws upon theories of structuration and institutions as developed by Anthony Giddens (1984) with his thinking about the duality between structure and agency. This perspective also draws on “new institutionalism” theories that stress the changes of institutions due to certain institutional logics (Hjarvard this volume).

3.2.3 Material perspective Some of the contributors to this volume neither fit easily under a cultural perspective nor under an institutional one. Finnemann (this volume) clearly opposes the cultural as well as the institutional perspective in his defence for what I term a material perspective. It is characterized by a focus on the material properties of the media in processes of mediatization. This perspective underlines that media are always materialized. The material aspect may be related to the particular communication technologies at stake. As such, this perspective comes close to “medium theory” (cf. 6.3 below). However, there is also a material aspect to the notions of space that are inherent in mediatization as well as in the media “textures” through which cultural practices and everyday life materialize, as pointed to by André Jansson (2009, 2013 and this volume). The material approach will consider the transforming influence of digitization, either by concentrating on the recent digital decades or by comparing this recent epoch to former historical epochs, each with their dominant media materiality.

3.2.4 Tensions and nuances Although Couldry and Hepp observe that the cultural and the institutional perspectives in recent years have come closer to each other through a joint focus on changing patterns of interaction (2013: 196), it will be visible throughout this volume that there are tensions between the different approaches to the study of mediatization. There are nuances and more specific theoretical approaches within each of the three ideal types – the cultural, the material, and the institutional. The reader


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will see, for example, a claimed phenomenological approach (in Andreas Hepp and Uwe Hasebrink’s chapter), and an ethnographic take (in Mirca Madianou’s contribution). Pierre Bourdieu’s field theory is the point of departure for two chapters (Nick Couldry’s as well as Shaun Rawolle and Bob Lingaard’s). Several contributors refer to political science and political communication (Kent Asp, and also Jesper Strömbäck and Frank Esser are among them, where Asp leans towards the material aspect and Strömbäck and Esser to the institutional side). In the book there are also chapters written from semiotic (Eliseo Verón) and virtue ethics (Charles M. Ess) positions. And there is more to find, although there is a predominance of sociologically influenced media and communication perspectives.

4 Defining mediatization Mediatization research explores the transforming potential of mediated communication upon culture and society. As approaches to the study of these changes differ, so do definitions of mediatization. Even the term that is applied varies: John B. Thompson (1995) did it without the “t” and “i” as noted above. In German and Scandinavian languages there are alternative wordings that to some extent cover different conceptions. This will be unravelled below.

4.1 To conceptualize mediatization Klaus Bruhn Jensen (2013), in a discussion of how “mediatization” is conceptualized, challenges the forms of definitions that mediatization scholars apply. He looks to Herbert Blumer’s distinction (1954) between “definitive” and “sensitizing” concepts. A definitive concept refers to what is common to a class of phenomena by the aid of a clear definition. A sensitizing concept, by contrast, “gives the user a general sense of reference and guidance in approaching empirical instances” (Blumer 1954: 7). Jensen observes attempts at “a media-centric” as well as a “society-centric” definitive concept of mediatization. He points to Stig Hjarvard’s work (2013) as an example of the former, and to Nick Couldry (2012) as a case in point of the latter. Jensen holds that a sensitizing conceptualization, in both cases, could have played more openly with the role of the media and consequent mediatization. Jensen thinks that mediatization research should be more concerned with new digital media and processes of digitization, with which both Hjarvard (2014) as well as Couldry (2012) actually engage. By his criticism, Jensen positions himself with a material perspective in opposition to the cultural perspective supported by Couldry and the institutional take championed by Hjarvard. Mediatization research should subject itself to a “second-order investigation” of specific studies performed in media and communication research as well as in

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other disciplines on media texts, practices, influences, institutions, and flows Sonia Livingstone and Peter Lunt propose in their concluding “afterthought” to this volume. Mediatization research should tag or collate what is useful to understand the dynamics of mediatization. Although mediatization research has raised a variety of questions, the record suggests, Jensen (2013) argues, that answers are more likely to follow from sensitizing than from definitive conceptualizations in future research. Second-order investigations over a range of communication practices may be a better way to sensitize mediatization research than a concentration on digitalization. I think that Jensen takes Blumer to support his position more than Blumer (1954) actually advises. A cultural or institutional perspective may for other research purposes be as valid and useful as the material perspective Jensen advances.

4.2 Brief history of mediatization research The research on mediatization of communication mainly originates in Northern Europe, in Germany and Scandinavia. The German sociologist Ernest Manheim was the first, in 1933, to apply “mediatization” (“Mediatisierung”) as a scientific, analytical term. He used it to describe communication processes via the printed press, as a general change in communication (Averbeck-Lietz this volume). This could be regarded as the beginning of modern mediatization research in the meaning it is understood in this volume. However, the bulk of specific German mediatization research comes first several decades later, towards the very end of the 20th century. In German research there is a long and complex debate between scholars of “Mediatisierung” and of “Medialisierung”. The distinctions are unpacked here by Stefanie Averbeck-Lietz (Chapter 5) and commented by Mike S. Schäfer (Chapter 25, note 2). However, not all see the real difference between the two terms (e.g. Krotz 2008). Among historians there was an early meaning of “Mediatisierung” from the German Laws of Mediatization in the early 19th century. Independent cities of the former Roman Empire were considered “mediatized” when annexed by Napoleon. Sonia Livingstone (2009: 6) observes the parallel to modern media systems: “today, the media not only get between any and all participants in society but also, crucially, annex a sizeable part of their power by mediatizing – subordinating – the previously powerful authorities of government, education, the church, the family and so forth.” This strikes at the core of mediatization as a term in media and communication studies, in particular as defined by Stig Hjarvard (in this volume), as “structural transformations of the relationship between media and other social spheres.” Hjarvard, himself one of the leading thinkers in contemporary Scandinavian research on mediatization, trace the Scandinavian history of mediatization research back


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to the very end of the 1970s, with Kent Asp’s work on mediatization of politics from 1986 as a landmark (Asp 1986, 1990; Asp and Esaiasson 1996; Hjarvard 2013: 8–9). The Swedish anthropologist Ulf Hannerz applied mediatization in cultural studies in 1990, Johan Fornäs followed in 1995. The American scholars David L. Altheide and Robert P. Snow came out as early as the first Scandinavians with their book on Media Logic (1979), although not using the term mediatization at that point. However, U. S. researchers have not come back to mediatization research until recently (for example Hoover 2009; Rothenbuhler 2009; Clark 2014), following up on the European works, including British media and communication scholars turning from the concept of mediation to mediatization (cf. 2.1 above). Eliseo Verón (this volume) testifies to a Latin-American as well as a French branch of mediatization research from the mid 1980s, adding to Martín-Barbero’s book in Spanish from 1987 and Jean Baudrillard’s use of the term in his postmodern theorizing in French as early as the beginning of the 1970s (Bolin’s chapter this volume; Averbeck-Lietz 2011). The Italian media scholar Gianpietro Mazzoleni joined forces with his German colleague Winfried Schulz. They came out with a pioneer article on mediatization of politics in 1999 and later contributed to other key texts on mediatization in general (Schulz 2004; Mazzoleni 2008). This incomplete overview of the history of the field should be enough to conclude that mediatization research is a new research effort, with the present, strong wave coming in well after the turn into this millennium. Although some scholars (like Krotz 2001, 2009, this volume) argue that mediatization processes go back to the early stages of the history of human communication, it is the contemporary media-saturated environment that has triggered the expanding research efforts.

4.3 The span of definitions The contributors to this handbook employ different definitions of mediatization. They have been invited to do so. Thus, the reader may find some repetition among the chapters as the individual author argues his or her way into the material. This section offers a map of the variations of the definitions that the authors employ, with reference to Time, Technology, and Theory as the dimensions or issues of contention briefly laid out in 1.2 above (to be expanded upon in section 6). Definitions may refer to more than one of these three categories but are here presented with the dimension that seems the most decisive. Not all contributors could easily be identified with one of the three perspectives on mediatization. However, when it comes to their definitions of mediatization it is possible for most of them to see how they take their offspring in one of the three dimensions, Time, Technology, or Theory – although they may from their definitions move onwards across more dimensions.

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4.3.1 Definitions based in Time Friedrich Krotz is a prominent representative of those who define mediatization through the time dimension. He understands mediatization as a long-term historical process that has taken place since the beginning of human communication: “It is assumed that media exist and have been developed since the beginning of human communication, which means the birth of humankind. Media then are constructed by communication and social action of the people by using technology for communication, and communication is transformed and modified by media” (Krotz this volume). Eliseo Verón follows suit, defining mediatization from the human capability of semiosis (Verón this volume). Stefanie Averbeck-Lietz applies a historical dimension in her definition (this volume). She expresses sympathy with Krotz’ take on mediatization but focuses on modern media from printing onwards Stig Hjarvard, as noted in 1.1, goes towards the other end of the historical line, restricting mediatization to fully media-saturated societies from the end of the 20th century. However, this is not an explicit part of his definition of mediatization. There are in this volume authors who see mediatization as a long-term historical process while defining it in terms of the technological dimension (Finnemann, Fornäs, Schäfer, Ess) or from the theoretical perspective (Hepp and Hasebrink, Strömbeck and Esser, as well as Lövheim). Maren Hartmann is among the latter group of authors, primarily theorizing about domestication in relation to mediatization, yet with reference to Krotz’ definition of mediatization as an all-encompassing concept (Hartmann this volume). Johanna Sumiala builds on Krotz’ definition, trying to understand the mediatization of public death, yet combining it with the theoretical perspective on media logics (Sumiala this volume). In their concluding “afterthought” to all the preceding chapters, Sonia Livingstone and Peter Lunt argue within a time perspective with the history of media and the history of mediation. Comparing the various definitions in this handbook, they find the institutional perspective with its contemporary historical location to make the strongest case for a theory of mediatization. But for further theoretical and empirical work, the long human evolution perspective and the radical perspective on digitization could be mutually compatible with the institutional perspective, Livingstone and Lunt conclude.

4.3.2 Definitions based in Technology The definitions that primarily go along the Technology dimension revolve around the claims of radical transformations following digitization and the accompanying networked communication. Niels Ole Finnemann takes the most challenging position, arguing that digital media make a new “matrix” – constellation of media –


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in media history and the history of human communication. In order to include digital media with its radical characteristics, the concept of mediatization has to be used as a metaconcept, he holds. He sees digitization as a set of particular modes of mediatization (Finnemann this volume). Johan Fornäs also starts from an understanding of mediatization as a historical process, “whereby communication media become in some respect more ‘important’ in expanding areas of life and society”. Technological shifts are significant to this historical process. To him, in contrast to Finnemann, “digital mediatization” is just another step in the history, following “graphic mediatization”, “print mediatization”, and “audiovisual mediatization.” Fornäs identifies problems in the concept of mediatization with popular culture as a testing ground: if there is mediatization, when, where, and how does it appear, and what practices and spheres does it affect? Mediatization of popular culture is “when media are increasingly entangled in the popular aesthetic”, making mediatization “almost synonymous with popularization”. The institutional technologies of culture are the keys to mediatization, Fornäs holds (this volume). Kent Asp, the pioneer in Scandinavian research on mediatization, contrasts the “age of the Internet” with the “age of television”. He considers the adaptation of the technology by actors outside of the media to be the causal mechanism in the process of mediatization. Asp considers the mediatization of political institutions to have peaked on the systems level, while the mediatization of the lifeworld – with digital media – “has only just begun” (Asp this volume). The lifeworld is where Charles Ess enters the discussion. He considers the relation between selfhood and mediatization with the shifts of technology. He observes a new shift from individual to relational selfhood with the new digital, networked communication (Ess this volume). Andrew Hoskins is concerned with the “hyperconnectivity” provided by digital networks and databases, by which he defines mediatization. It is this hyperconnectivity that drives the mediatization of memory, which is his topic in the handbook. The hyperconnectivity invites a second phase of mediatization, beyond the broadcast era. This second phase “requires a shift in how we approach and formulate the very relationship we have with media” (Hoskins this volume). Karin Knorr Cetina takes this into the new face-toface social situations that emerge with the global coordination through networked screens, as found in the financial markets. She terms them “synthetic situations”, that are part of “scopic mediatization” (Knorr Cetina this volume). Science develops technology and various media technologies are used in science. Mike S. Schäfer (in this volume) lays out the mediatization of science. He stresses the importance of new, networked mediated communication in today’s science. “Digital literacy” has become necessary for the scientist. Schäfer is the only contributor in this volume who touches explicitly on the literacy demands on individuals that follow digitization. Ess in his chapter does so indirectly by contrasting the new “relational self” to the “literacy-print” that the “individual self” leans on.

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4.3.3 Definitions based in Theory The majority of contributors to this handbook define mediatization primarily within the Theory dimension. This fact may seem to confirm that mediatization research is in a state of theoretical grounding rather than empirical applications. The leaning towards theory may well be the case, but this goes for definitions based in Time and Technology as well. Many of the authors listed here as dealing with definitions based on Theory are among the contributors with the most concrete studies of mediatization. They include mediatization of politics (Strömbäck and Esser, 2014 and this volume), of Chinese state strategies in particular (Sun), of public bureaucracy (Thorbjørnsrud, Figenschou and Ihlen), of corporations (Ihlen and Pallas), of the legal sphere (Bogoch & Peleg), of sports (Frandsen), of performance in popular culture (Auslander), and in the public display of death (Sumiala). What they have in common is a theoretical platform understanding “media logic” as a driving force in mediatization. Strömbäck and Esser restrict their analysis to the mediatization of politics which they define in line with the general understanding of mediatization in this volume, as “a long-term process through which the importance of the media and their spill-over effects on political processes, institutions, organizations, and actors has increased.” The operating dynamic is the relation between “political logic” and “media logic” (Strömbäck and Esser this volume). Hjarvard has a similar understanding of “media logic” as the “modi operandi” in mediatization processes in general. Various institutions that are mediatized meet the media with their own “logic”. Hjarvard understands “logics”, with media and in other settings as “the particular rules and resources that govern a particular domain” (Hjarvard this volume). The conceptualization of mediatization through “media logic” also lays theoretical foundations for critical contributions, as when Hjarvard’s take is criticized in the chapter on mediatization and religion (Lövheim this volume), in the essay on mediatization of art (Wilke this volume), and in critical comparison with alternative approaches in the research on mediatization (Bolin this volume). The media logic strand is developed within an institutional perspective. Theory-based definitions of mediatization within a cultural perspective may vary. Rawolle and Lingard (this volume) build their chapter on mediatization and education with reference to a “logic” in the cultural domain, namely the concept “logic of practice” taken from Bourdieu’s sociology. Kunelius centres it on mutual interaction between social actors (this volume). Couldry focuses the role of media in communication as a basic practice of how people construct the social and cultural world (this volume). Couldry refers to Krotz’s understanding of mediatization (cf. 4.3.1), which is also the base for the chapter connecting the theory of domestication with the theory of mediatization (Hartmann this volume). Hepp and Hasebrink (in this volume) understand mediatization with symbolic interaction in the interre-


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lation between the changes in media and communication on the one hand and change in culture and society on the other. The same social-constructivist approach is behind the chapter on mediatized migration; however, in that case in a “hybrid” combination with the tradition of media anthropology (Madianou this volume). Authors that see mediatization primarily in a material perspective, rather define this process in terms of technological characteristics than in terms of particular theories. Jansson is an exception, grounding his approach to mediatization in spatial theory with emphasis on production of the material “textures” that relate people to space (cf. 3.2.3 above).

4.3.4 Other definitions There are definitions with other takes on mediatization, however, still recognizable within one of the three perspectives on mediatization identified in this chapter. I will mention two: one with systems theory, the other with a concept of humanity, both championed by authors in this handbook. First, as art works are often critical of accepted media logic, another definition is needed, Wilke (this volume) argues. He finds the definition by Michael Meyen to be most relevant for his analysis of the mediatization of art as it includes reactions by the arts towards other expressions in society and culture. According to Meyen, mediatization (or in his terminology “medialization”) comprises “reactions in other societal subsystems, which either relate to the structural changes in the media system or to the general increase in importance of public communication conveyed by the media” (2009: 23, translated by Wilke this volume). Hartmann (this volume) mentions Meyen’s take on mediatization briefly as an alternative definition. Schäfer (note 2, his chapter) offers the context to Meyen’s system approach within the German debate (cf. 4.2 above). However, Meyen is well placed within an institutional perspective, regarding mediatization as the adaption of media logic. The other alternative definition to be mentioned relates to the cultural as well as to the material perspective on mediatization: Lynn Schofield Clark refers to actor-network theory (Latour 1993) and extends the horizon of those interacting in mediated communication onto the large canvas of humanity. She understands mediatization as “… the process by which collective uses of communication media extend the development of independent media industries and their circulation of narratives, contribute to new forms of action and interaction in the social world, and give shape to how we think of humanity and our place in the world” (Clark 2011: 170). Lövheim (this volume) refers to this definition as she finds it opens avenues for agency and social change in a constructive way.

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4.3.5 The common denominator The common denominator in the span of definitions laid out above, seems best to be formulated by Andreas Hepp and Friedrich Krotz: “mediatization is a concept used in order to carry out a critical analysis of the interrelation between the change of media and communication, on the one hand, and the change of culture and society on the other” (Hepp and Krotz 2014: 3; emphasis in original). A similar formulation is found in the special issue of Communication Theory on conceptualizing mediatization (Couldry and Hepp 2013: 197). This is formulated within a cultural perspective but encompasses three components that are acknowledged among scholars across the range of perspectives. First, mediatization is a long-term process. Second, mediatization implies transformations of practices and institutions. Third, these transformations take place in interplay between changes in communication media and the societal, political, and cultural context, which also includes the transformation of communication media. These elements, across perspectives, are noted by Hepp, Hjarvard, and Lundby in the special issue of Communications on empirical perspectives on mediatization: ”In general, the concept of mediatization tries to capture long-term interrelation processes between media change on the one hand and social and cultural change on the other. As institutionalized and technological means of communication, media have become integral to very different contexts of human life” (2010: 223).

5 Researching mediatization How can mediatization be researched? How can empirical studies be performed? Which methodologies can be applied? How can mediatization be operationalized? Although most of the chapters in this handbook have a theoretical aim, they also offer a range of examples of subject-matter research. They can be presented according to the areas they cover or with the modes of mediatization that range across institutions or fields. Further, examples of methodologies and operationalization from empirical studies in the chapters are illuminated, before a discussion of levels of analysis in mediatization research: from the “everyday” of the lifeworld to the structural changes of the global system. Finally, how is it possible to research “mediatized objects” or “mediatized moments” compared to mediatization as a long-term process? This section will not offer solutions to all these challenges but point to chapters in this handbook where the reader may find examples of how and where mediatization researchers try to tackle them.

5.1 Mediatized areas The mediatized areas could be “institutions” that structure certain tasks or functions in society (cf. Hjarvard this volume) or “fields” in Bourdieu’s sense (cf. Coul-


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dry this volume). Needless to say, not all areas in culture and society could be included in such a handbook. However, a range of areas is covered. The most extensive studies in the research on mediatization are on politics, covered here by Jesper Strömbäck and Frank Esser (Chapter 16). A detailed study within the area of politics is the chapter on public bureaucracies by Kjersti Thorbjørnsrud, Tine Ustad Figenschou and Øyvind Ihlen (Chapter 17), followed by a chapter on mediatization within the private sector, on corporations, by Øyvind Ihlen and Josef Pallas (Chapter 18). Mediatization of the courts and legal procedures is the topic of Bryna Bogoch and Anat Peleg’s chapter on law and the legal system (Chapter 19). Other delimited areas that are discussed in this volume include religion (by Mia Lövheim in Chapter 24), science (by Mike S. Schäfer in Chapter 25), education (Shaun Rawolle and Bob Lingard in Chapter 26), and the home (by Maren Hartmann, through a discussion of the inverted – homelessness – in Chapter 28). Sports and art (treated by Kirsten Frandsen and Jürgen Wilke in Chapters 23 and 20 respectively) are defined areas. However, popular culture (approached by Johan Fornäs in Chapter 21) is as much a mode of mediatization as an area. Although there are particular institutions disseminating popular culture, popular cultural practices and attitudes are diffused throughout society – not the least by the media.

5.2 Modes of mediatization A “mode” of mediatization ranges across various areas, institutions, or fields. The modes are parameters within which the transformations could be analysed. They may derive from characteristics of the media environment, point to mechanisms of change, or refer to aspects like gender or power in the processes of mediatization. They may also depend on technological affordances, as with digitization. Chapters where such modes are foregrounded are Karin Knorr Cetina’s analysis of the global co-ordination in financial markets through networked “scopic” media (Chapter 2) and Andreas Hepp and Uwe Hasebrink’s treatment of translocal interaction and “communicative figurations” (Chapter 11). Kent Asp rethinks the question of media power (Chapter 15) while André Jansson looks into relations to space and materiality (Chapter 12). This mode very much depends on the developments of networked and digital media. Niels Ole Finnemann concludes in his contribution to the handbook on digitization (Chapter 13) that so far, “it seems that digitization should be seen as a particular mode of mediatization or rather a set of particular modes of mediatization” (his emphases). The hyperconnectivity of digital networks has added to the mediatization of memory (analysed by Andrew Hoskins in Chapter 29). The semiotic take on mediatization as a “mediatic phenomenon” by Eliseo Verón (Chapter 7) may also be regarded a mode. Popular culture offers, as argued above, a mode of mediatization. And so do performances in popular culture, as analysed by Philip Auslander in Chapter 22.

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Sometimes news stories on public death get as much media attention as performances by well-known stars. Such coverage of public, often spectacular, death is also a mode of mediatization across the areas or institutions where they may take place. Johanna Sumiala writes about this aspect of mediatization in the last regular chapter in the handbook (Chapter 30).

5.3 Methodologies Not many of the contributors are specific on which methodologies they apply in their research on mediatization. This, again, depends on the general theoretical perspective in this volume. In general, since mediatization of practices and institutions runs deep and wide in cultures and societies, a variety of methodologies and concrete methods from the humanities and social sciences may be applied in mediatization research. Regardless of which of these main traditions of human sciences scholars relate to, all methodologies on mediatization must be able to handle change. Research on contemporary mediatization also has to handle networked communication with digital media. One example is Mirca Madianou, writing (in Chapter 14) on migration as a mediatized phenomenon. She applies an ethnographic approach suited to capture the uses of new communication technologies between Filipino migrant workers and their families back home. This “multi-sited ethnography of long-distance communication” makes it possible to grasp the complexity of practices with new media technologies in migration and the transformation of the phenomenon of migration that follows. It is easier to discuss mediatization in general than to make an operationalization that works in actual, empirical research. It seems easiest, or at least most common, with news processes where one has an idea of “media logic” (cf. 6.3) operating. An example in this volume is the entry on mediatization of public bureaucracies by Kjersti Thorbjørnsrud, Tine Ustad Figenschou and Øyvind Ihlen (Chapter 17). They show “how rule-based public organizations adapt to and adopt the logic of the news media”. The researchers suggest the following elements in their operationalization: “The importance of (1) The news rhythm and (2) news formats, but also (3) how and why being in the media is valued by civil servants, and (4) how this leads to a reallocation of resources and responsibilities within the organization.” Jesper Strömbäck and Frank Esser (in Chapter 16) confirm their model with four dimensions for analyses of the mediatization of politics. The first dimension refers to how important media are as a source of information compared to interpersonal communication. The second dimension regards the degree to which media operate with autonomy in relation to political institutions. The third dimension


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refers to the dominance of media logic versus political logic in media practices and media content. The fourth dimension refers to whether the political practices in political organizations and among political actors are guided by political logic or media logic. This model gives rise to an operationalization of mediatization in concrete studies.

5.4 Level of analysis Mediatization can be analysed on micro, meso, or macro levels, and also has to move across these levels (as Hepp and Hasebrink, for example, do in the research on “communicative figurations”, see Chapter 11 in this volume). Micro studies may look at particular practices of mediatization as performed and experienced by individual actors or small groups and how this may transform their life and work. Meso level analyses focus on institutions and study how they are involved in and transformed by mediatization. Macro level analyses aim at the larger or more general transformations of culture and society. Of course, there are connections between the levels. For example, individuals have to adapt to mediatized environments within institutions and the larger setting, and the other way round: individuals act, contribute, and change such mediatized environments. As put by Friedrich Krotz (in Chapter 6): on the macro level mediatization research looks for “the changes in the overall areas like democracy, economy, culture, and society”; on the meso level for “changing organizations and institutions, relational nets and enterprises”, and on the micro level mediatization research asks questions of the “changing communication and interaction in everyday life and the personal environments” of people.

5.5 Moments in long-term processes Finally, how can one research the “mediatized moments” with “mediatized objects” that occur within mediatization as a long-term process of transformation? Risto Kunelius offers an explication of relations between the bits and pieces and the whole package in his discussion of climate change challenges (in Chapter 3). The mediatization of ongoing climate change is a long-term process with many mediatized moments and objects. Those moments occur with reports and pieces of media coverage and discussions about melting ice and rising carbon dioxide levels, and other climate issues. To be mediatized, these moments have to transform common attitudes and conceptions, or to be skewed in one direction or another. The mediatized objects in such a process are the various articles, news reports, or other media output that indicate a direction of transformation. Kunelius argues for a “de-centered perspective on mediatization”. By this he refers to “the saturating ‘presence’ of the media” that shapes the mutual interaction of social

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actors, and influences the problem constructions that bring them to act or not to act. This is about mediatized objects in mediatized moments and how these elements make pieces in the chain of mediatization that eventually influences the transformation of our environment. Another example from the contributions to this handbook is Mirca Madianou’s study (in Chapter 14) of how Filipino migrant workers, through the moments of mediated communication with their families back home, in the objects of their emails, SMSs or Skype exchanges and its contents, happen to transform the phenomenon of migration. In general, in order to claim that there is a process of mediatization one should have several observations of moments and objects along the way that demonstrate the transformation of the sociocultural practice or institution under study. Bogoch and Peleg (in Chapter 19), for example, interviewed retired and currently serving legal professionals (judges, lawyers) as well as journalists to get their views of changes over time. In addition, they looked at changes in the coverage of trials over time. However, one may not always have such before-and-after data. To hypothesize a process of mediatization should still be possible if the moments or objects under study indicate a transforming direction or tendency.

6 The issues of contention There are several issues of contention in mediatization research. To simplify, for the sake of overview, I have clustered them under the headings of Time, Technology, and Theory, as indicated with Figure 1 above. In each of these three dimensions mediatization could be seen from above as a collective process transforming societies. However, mediatization could also be observed from below, changing the lives of individuals in their immediate environments. The discussion that follows concentrates on the “above” perspective, i.e. on overall processes of mediatization and not their individual moments or objects.

6.1 Time: when did mediatization begin? When did mediatization emerge? Seen from above, this is the discussion over History. This process is, as noted, at the one end understood as concomitant with the human history of media as tools in communication, and at the other end as a phenomenon inherent in media-rich late or high modern societies (the two terms “late” and “high” are in this volume used interchangeably to denote the contemporary advanced phase of modernity).


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The tension over Time in mediatization research has its roots in different definitions of this process of transformation. The outcome is a totally different conception of the history of mediatization. One camp regards mediatization as an inherent part of human communication while the other camp regards mediatization to be an aspect of late or high modern societies. Friedrich Krotz is the lead voice in the first camp, Stig Hjarvard in the other. They both advance their arguments in this volume. To Krotz, the media throughout history have become more and more “relevant for the social construction of everyday life, society and culture as a whole” (2009: 24). Communication is “transformed and modified by media” (Chapter 6, this volume). By mediatization as a “meta process” Krotz does not mean “meta” in the sense of “above”, as his comparison with globalization, individualization, and commercialization may invite one to think. Mediatization is a meta process in the sense of a “basic” process or practice, from below, in the human construction of the social reality in which we live. The concept of “meta process” also implies that it is a “complex process of processes”. With the expanding social and cultural complexity throughout history, more sophisticated media are developed to handle the challenges of life and society through which communication is transformed. Hjarvard is more specific in his historic location of mediatization as a phenomenon: “It is primarily a development that has accelerated particularly in the last years of the twentieth century in modern, highly industrialized societies” (Hjarvard 2013: 18; emphasis in original). By situating mediatization in recent history he also locates mediatization in space: “Modern, highly industrialized societies” are not evenly distributed in the world. His label connects mediatization primarily to (Northern) Europe, North America, Australia, and to emerging economies in Asia. In Chapter 9 (this volume) Hjarvard explains how mediatization within time/space parameters emerges and expands. At the core is institutional differentiation and transformation. “Over the past hundred years, the media have become differentiated from other social practices and have become a separate institution in society.” In this institutional perspective, Hjarvard argues that “mediatization should be understood as a process of late modernity in which the media are not only subject to key transformations of modern society but are themselves agents of modernization.” Other handbook authors who think of mediatization as a cultural process following throughout human history are Verón, Couldry, Hepp and Hasebrink, as well as Hartmann. Those thinking of mediatization as an institutional process in late modernity include Frandsen, Lövheim and, indirectly, the authors that consider “media logic” to be the main mechanism in mediatization. Wilke looks at historical aspects of the mediatization of art (Chapter 20). Contributors that employ a material perspective on mediatization either think in terms of several epochs in a long historical development (like Finnemann) or focus directly on the implications of the recent digital, mobile, and networked environment (like Jansson).

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They are all concerned with the history of modernity. Stefanie Averbeck-Lietz tries to understand mediatization in the “first modernity” described by classical sociologists in their accounts of modernization (in Chapter 5). Mediatization in reflexive “second modernity” (Beck, Giddens and Lash 1994; Lash 2005) is considered by Göran Bolin (in Chapter 8) to emphasize the technological aspect. In contrast, when Friedrich Krotz (in Chapter 6) terms mediatization “a mover in modernity”, he stresses the social construction of reality that takes place with media in communication, as explained above. With mediatization in “late modernity” or “high modernity” we are back to Stig Hjarvard, focusing the institutional changes in this recent phase of modernity. Actually, here Krotz and Hjarvard meet. Krotz also (2009: 24) observes the institutionalization of media as part of the long historical process of mediatization.

6.2 Technology: what does digitization imply? Media technology constitutes the second issue of contention in mediatization research. What are the consequences of new, digital networked media compared to the mass media or “legacy media”? The latter are becoming increasingly digitized. The distinction is rather between the distributed, user-directed “new” media and the centralized, producer-directed “old” media. The issues of contention centre on transformations with Digitization (or digitalization, if one prefers to use a few more letters). Is mediatization basically a process within the mass or “legacy” media, in particular television, or is mediatization rather to be seen in full flower only with contemporary digitization in networked media? Winfried Schulz gave a reference point for this debate with his 2004 article “Reconstructing Mediatization as an Analytical Concept” – approaching the digital challenges, it could have been added. Several contributors to this handbook refer to his article (Krotz; Averbeck-Lietz; Bogoch and Peleg; Schäfer; and Sumiala). Schulz notes that the concept of mediatization captures changes associated with the development of communication media in four ways: first, as extension of the capacities of natural human communication; second, in substitution of social activities and social institutions that assume media form; third, in the amalgamation of mediated and non-mediated activities; and finally, accommodation, that communication media induce social change through their mere existence. While the mediatization concept had been particularly focusing on mass communication, this could at that time he wrote, seem to change due to digitization (2004: 92). The crucial question posed by Schulz is “whether the advent of new media might bring an end to mediatization”. He sees several possible answers. The new media may actually bring with them an end to mediatization, as there will be no more limits to capacity and hence no constraints forcing selection and change. The opposite view implies that the new media give rise to new modes of mediatization due to new forms of dependency, as the new technologies demand new competen-


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ces and establish new constraints and divides. An answer in-between observes that the convergence of conventional and multimedia technologies “make old and new media increasingly similar”. After all, the “new” media may not be that new. The mediatization effects of the old media tend to spill over into the new media. The “legacy” mass media still play a crucial role in people’s mediatized worlds. But ten years after Schulz published his article there is no doubt that mediatization and mediatization theory is “live and kicking” with the new, digital networked media (cf. Asp in Chapter 15 and 4.3.2 above). The contention is rather over how digitization shapes or moulds mediatization. André Jansson discusses (in Chapter 12) how “new media forms, understood as both technics and properties, amalgamate with pre-existing socio-material patterns in increasingly flexible and openended ways”. In the realm of popular performance culture, Philip Auslander observes (in Chapter 22) that the flow of television is no longer central to mediatized culture, “as the televisual has clearly yielded sway to the digital in all its forms”. He demonstrates the implications of this transition for pop music artists “navigating this new cultural terrain”, having to accommodate to the transforming demands of participatory, expressive digital networked media. Johan Fornäs discusses popular culture against a broader background of technology changes in the historical process of mediatization (Chapter 21). He contrasts “digital mediatization” with three preceding phases, namely “graphic mediatization”, “print mediatization”, and “audiovisual mediatization”. In the digital phase Fornäs finds that it may be misleading to continue to talk about “popular culture” as something separate, however, not because of digitization. Popular culture has become common culture due to changes in class structures and taste preferences. This has occurred at the same time as the breakthrough for digitization. To Fornäs, digital mediatization implies “a sudden introduction of media into a previously immediate mode of experience and interaction”. Digital technologies invite contemporary expressions of popular culture. At the other end, the digital “living archive” available on the Internet makes the past available, Andrew Hoskins explains (in Chapter 29 on the mediatization of memory). The recent tension over digitization in mediatization research seems to be the following: Does “digital mediatization” imply something radically new, or is it best understood as a continuation of former phases of mediatization? While Förnäs takes an intermediate position, thinking in terms of phases following onto each other, Asp and Jansson tend to stress the latter, while Auslander and Hoskins tend towards the radical understanding. This is even more strongly worded by Niels Ole Finnemann. He regards digital media in a new “matrix” compared to former technology phases. In Chapter 13 he argues that if digital media are to be included, “the concept of mediatization has to be revised and new parameters must be integrated in the concept of media”. However, he admits that that the concept of mediatization is still relevant to the study of digital media.

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6.3 Theory: how can one understand mediatization? Which theoretical approach is best suited to grasp the transformations inherent in mediatization? The contested issue among scholars is over which Driving forces (or “Antriebskräfte” as Max Weber would say) are behind the processes of mediatization. Recent mediatization research shares an ambition to theorize this process of transformation, and also to bring the evolving understanding of mediatization into general social theory. It is, for the time being, more a matter of understanding mediatization than explaining this complex (meta) process. This research is still young. Among the contributors to this volume Friedrich Krotz (in Chapter 6), Stig Hjarvard (in Chapter 9), Nick Couldry (in Chapter 10), as well as Andreas Hepp and Uwe Hasebrink (in Chapter 11) seem to have the most explicit ambitions to contribute to general social theory. Others have a more limited, although important, aim with their theory work, for example Kent Asp who (in Chapter 15) aims to rethink the question of media power. Among scholars with a cultural perspective on mediatization, social-constructivist or symbolic-interactionist theories are prominent in the efforts to understand the ongoing transformations (Couldry and Hepp 2013; Hepp and Hasebrink this volume). Thus the emphasis is on symbolic processes and the social construction of reality. This approach may be weaker on institutional aspects, which is the main focus of the institutional perspective. Stig Hjarvard, a main proponent of this perspective, refers to structuration theory and new institutionalism, as noted in 3.2.2 above. This take implies a general awareness of institutional logics as the rules and resources that govern a particular domain. A particular institution works according to a specific logic. The media operates according to media logic. Hjarvard considers media logic as a particular instance of institutional logics (Hjarvard, this volume). Media logic is regarded a key mechanism in mediatization processes. However, media logic may not in itself be the driving force of mediatization. In the institutional perspective, it may rather be the tension or interaction between the expanding media and other institutions with their different logics that drive social and cultural change. Bogoch and Peleg, for example (this volume) use the concept of media logic versus legal logic, discuss the discrepancies between the two, and why these make the mediatization of the legal field so special. “Media logic” has primarily been contrasted to “political logic” as the term has most frequently been applied to mediatization within the political domain. The authors in the handbook section on “Power, law, and politics” all build their theoretical take on the concept of media logic. The most elaborate may be the contribution by Jesper Strömbäck and Frank Esser (this volume) drawing upon many years of research on the mediatization of politics. They see media logic as a “logic of appropriateness” shaped by the combined forces of professionalism, commercialism, and media technology (cf. also Esser 2013).


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“Media logic” is, additionally, a theoretical lead in chapters covering other domains, as diverse as Sun on political developments in China (Chapter 4) and Wilke on art (Chapter 20). However, the mediatization of art often includes criticism of conventional media logic. The concept of media logic was introduced by David Altheide and Robert Snow (1979). They point to the “format” that guides how the media industry presents media content. Electronic media, primarily television, is what they have in mind. The “format” is the set of, often unstated, rules. The elements of media format are the “grammar” of the medium and the norms that are used to define content (Altheide and Snow 1979: 22–23). The media logic functions as a form through which events and ideas are interpreted and acted upon in the media production process as well as by the audience. Viewers and listeners develop a “media consciousness” in which they “subtly” understand and apply the logic of the media (Altheide and Snow 1979: 24). Kent Asp (1990) connected the idea of media logic with the concept of mediatization (although, at the time, he called it “medialization” with an ‘l’). Media logic is seen as a “catch-all term” for the practices and norms that shape mediatization, such as the media dramaturgy that producers apply to attract attention, the media format, the media routines, and the media rationales. The latter is explained as the strategies and the modus operandi that are followed. Stig Hjarvard “recognize that the media have a particular modus operandi and characteristics (‘specificities of the media’) that come to influence other institutions and culture and society in general as they become dependent on the resources that the media both control and make available to them”. He distances himself from the criticism (from Couldry 2008, 2012; Lundby 2009b, Hepp 2012) that the term media logic suggests a universal, linear or singular rationality behind all the media. Rather, the term is to be understood as a “conceptual shorthand” (Hjarvard 2013: 17). A new reading of the media logic concept comes from scholars of digital networked media based on characteristics of these new media compared to the mass media. José van Dijck and Thomas Poell (2013) suggest “social media logic” while Ulrike Klinger and Jakob Svensson (2014) propose a concept of “network media logic”. Interestingly, both pairs of new media scholars go back to Altheide and Snow’s original conception of “media logic” to anchor their arguments. The material perspective on mediatization leads to an encounter with “medium theory”. Main scholars in the development of medium theory are Harold Innis, Marshall McLuhan and Joshua Meyrowitz (Crowley 2013; Meyrowitz 1994). Göran Bolin (in Chapter 8, this volume) also regards the postmodern theoretician, Jean Baudrillard, as belonging with the medium theorists. The famous expression by Marshall McLuhan that “the medium is the message” (1964) gives a key to this approach. Medium theorists focus on the characteristics and effects of each medium or of each type of medium, while mediatization theory – to put it briefly –

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looks at transformations in a communication environment or media system as a whole (Hepp and Krotz 2014: 4–5). Still, there are similarities and bridges between medium theory and mediatization theory (Friesen and Hug 2009; Clark 2014). For example, David Crowley (2013: 323) observes the introduction of haptics – touchscreens – in digital communication. This has affinities with the ideas on evolving media in human communication presented by Friedrich Krotz and Eliseo Verón (in this volume). Three of the contributions (Chapters 6, 11, and 27) try to situate mediatization theory in relation to medium theory. Niels Ole Finnemann regards medium theory as a platform to find the “new trajectories of mediatization” that he aims at with his chapter on digitization (Chapter 13). Medium theory brings him to search for the specificities of digital media to delimit the digital “matrix”. This is what Friedrich Krotz criticizes when he “revisits” medium theory (in Chapter 6). He considers Finnemann (based on an article from 2011) to have taken over the misleading idea from medium theory that human history can be segmented into phases according to the dominant medium of each phase. The inspiration Krotz finds in medium theory is the will “to ask for the role of media and media change for culture and society”. This, to Krotz, defines the core question of both theories.

6.4 The individual in a mediatized setting If one turns to study mediatization from below one see the individual acting in a mediatized setting. Charles Ess (in Chapter 27) looks at medium theory with reference to our conceptions of who we are as humans. He offers a reminder that medium theorists correlate the phases of primary communication technologies (orality, literacy-print, secondary orality) with relational versus more individual emphases on selfhood and identity. Ess focuses on moral and ethical challenges, among them issues to do with privacy. The questions he discusses with regard to selfhood, moral agency, and the good life for individuals in mediatized worlds are related to overall socio-political development, either in a democratic-egalitarian or in a hierarchical and non-democratic direction. Several chapters take a similar perspective from below, and they all relate the challenges in mediatization to individuals, with issues on a societal level. Among them are Maren Hartmann, asking (in Chapter 28) about the ontological security of persons under mediatization, and Johanna Sumiala (in Chapter 30) discussing mediatization of public death. The contentious issues on Time, Technology, and Theory may – seen from below – be identified with other keywords than those I have applied from above. Issues of Time appear from above in a different understanding of History. When individuals try to find their place in the collective stream of history, individual questions of Identity are raised. Mediatization triggers transformations of social patterns and cultural horizons that influence the reflexive identity work people in


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late modernity have to engage in. To handle Technology in mediatization, these days in particular the challenges of Digitization, individuals are challenged on the Literacy that is required to comprehend and contribute to the technological developments. Legacy media required the skills of print and text, extended into competence of visual mass media. New digital networked media invite radical multimodality where text and visuals are mixed with sound and graphics in endless combinations of bits and bytes. This demands digital competence. Digital literacy is necessary in the uses and interpretations of digital texts, as well as for taking part in production of user generated content. Over Theory issues, the societal and cultural Driving Forces of mediatization have their aspect from below in Agency by individual actors. Such agency is exerted in adaption to media logic and media environments, as well as in reflexive interpretation of the possible room to act in and against the media. The relation between media changes and changes of “everyday life and identity” belong to the “core topic of mediatization”, Krotz states (in Chapter 6). Several chapters in the handbook apply the concept of the “everyday”. Maren Hartmann (in Chapter 28) links the theoretical frameworks on mediatization and domestication. However, she rather works with the concrete concepts of “home” and people’s feeling of “ontological security” than “the fairly abstract notion of the everyday”. André Jansson (in Chapter 12) keeps the concept of the “everyday” looking at how media technologies and related artefacts have become “indispensible to people in their everyday lives”. As such, he addresses the material aspects of everyday life with its repertoire of communication tools. Andrew Hoskins (in Chapter 29) stresses the new networks: “how everyday life is increasingly embedded in and penetrated by connectivity”. In a report on contemporary research on mediatization of culture and everyday life, Anne Kaun, following Pink (2012), regards identity formation, daily practices and perception of place/space as the aspects of everyday life to observe. Mediatization of identity is covered in studies of migration, gender/body/sexuality, and on morality. Mediatization of practices emerges in research on media practices, play, and learning. Mediatization of place/space occurs in studies of mobility and connectivity (Kaun and Fast 2014). If the tensions from “above” relate to the “system”, the issues of mediatization seen from “below” relate to the “lifeworld”, to apply the distinction developed by Habermas (1987). However, the levels of analysis interact. Everyday practices are “colonized” by the system, to continue with Habermas (1987). This comes through strongly in Karin Knorr Cetina’s analysis (in Chapter 2) of how mediatization plays out in the global coordination of the financial system. Face-to-face situations between actors in the market are enacted worldwide through a huge network of screen-based electronic media. The technologies involved “‘present’ and make available to participants what lies spatially and temporally beyond their reach”, hence transforming the face-to-face situation into a “synthetic situation”, Knorr Cetina argues.

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7 Critique on mediatization research There are, of course, critical voices raised against the concept of mediatization beyond the clumsy term itself. Don Slater in a recent critique (2013) attacks the media-centrism he finds inherent in mediation and mediatization theories. He is concerned with communication in cultures around the world where technical media does not play a significant role, and says: “It is hard to see how terms that emerge from the West’s sense of its own problematic modernity, and which rest on differentiating its mediatization from the face-to-faceness of the rest, can help articulate communications in other places” (Slater 2013: 56). He thinks the mediatization discourse “smacks of western academics treating their local social problems as if they were universal” (Slater 2013: 46). He may partly be right in this critique, particularly as mediatization research emerged in North European settings. However, mediatization theory is found relevant in more and more parts of the world, not the least in emerging economies such as Brazil (for example Martino 2013) and other parts of Latin America (Averbeck-Lietz 2013), and in respect of development in China (Sun in this volume). Mirca Madianou draws on research in the Philippines (Chapter 14). Karin Knorr Cetina’s study, just mentioned above, also counters Slater’s argument. These global networks affect the lives of people in all corners of the world. Some studies based on simple media logic may turn out media-centric. However, the pioneer of media logic theory, David Altheide (2013), brings “the media” into a wider “ecology of communication” similar to the “communicative ecology” Slater (2013: 50) advocates. Mediatization studies, in general, turn to the wider patterns of transformations in culture and society, where “media” obviously play a role. In their critical “afterthought” to the chapters preceding theirs in this volume Sonia Livingstone and Peter Lunt (in Chapter 31) evaluate mediatization as an emerging paradigm for media and communication research. They find that, today, the concept has earned its place in the wider conceptual field of media and communication studies. They outline the dimensions of this emerging paradigm they see, but they miss questions of critique among mediatization scholars, developed in partnership with those experiencing various fields being mediatized. Mediatization is not a normative concept, as stated by Hjarvard (2013: 18). However, there are normative issues to raise, as contributors to this volume do. Risto Kunelius questions the mediatization of climate change (Chapter 3). Other examples: Kjersti Thorbjørnsrud and her colleagues discuss normative consequences of their finding that career bureaucrats in their daily work both anticipate and adopt media logic (Chapter 17); Bryna Bogoch and Anat Peleg discuss the tension between the normative commitment of legal actors to judicial independence, and to ignoring public opinion and the pressures to mediatization at all stages of the legal process (Chapter 19); Charles Ess raises questions about selfhood and moral agency in mediatized worlds (Chapter 27). While “mediatization” is a non-norma-


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tive concept there may be a range of normative issues involved with mediatization processes. This research must be prepared to answer the question: to what extent are “media” changing the lives of people for better or worse? What are the moral and ethical consequences of “mediatization”?

8 Guide to handbook readers I have outlined three perspectives on mediatization of communication: A Cultural perspective focusing transformations in the symbolic environment in and outside of the media; a Material perspective concerned with the technological media characteristics as key to changes; and an Institutional perspective that studies how the media and various institutions in society change according to different institutional logics. These are ideal types, as researchers may apply more than one perspective in their work. The naming of each perspective points to the focus in actual mediatization research. For example, studies with a cultural perspective may also consider specificities of the media that are involved in communication but it is rather the symbolic aspects of the interaction that are in focus and not the media specificities as such, as within the material perspective. Similarly, the institutional perspective is concerned with specificities of the media but the pattern of institutional interactions is the focus. All three perspectives have strengths and weaknesses, and there are links between them, as will be displayed throughout this volume. The contributors to this handbook may agree that mediatization implies long processes of structural change that take place in the interrelation between developments of the mediated communication in society and changes in the social, political, and cultural context, transforming practices as well as institutions. However, they dispute over certain aspects of mediatization. For the sake of overview I have presented the issues of contention, as I see them, under the headings of Time, Technology, and Theory. The matrix where the three perspectives meet the types of debated issues has already been presented in Figure 1 in 1.2 above, with keywords on the various positions taken in this field. The scaffold in Figure 1 has been expanded throughout the introduction. Hopefully, this serves as a guide to the tour that awaits the reader in the following chapters.

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Finnemann, Niels Ole. 2011. Mediatization theory and digital media. Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research 36(1): 67–89. Fornäs, Johan. 1995. Cultural Theory and Late Modernity. London: Sage. Friesen, Norm and Theo Hug. 2009. The mediatic turn: Exploring concepts for media pedagogy. In: Knut Lundby (ed.), Mediatization: Concept, Changes, Consequences, 63–83. New York: Peter Lang. Giddens, Anthony. 1984. The Constitution of Society. Cambridge: Polity. Habermas, Jürgen. 1987. The Theory of Communicative Action. Lifeworld and System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason. Volume Two. Cambridge: Polity. Hall, Stuart. 1973. Encoding and decoding in the media discourse. Stencilled paper no. 7. Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, University of Birmingham. Hannerz, Ulf (ed.). 1990. Medier ock Kulturer. [Media and Cultures]. Stockholm: Carlssons. Hepp, Andreas. 2009. Differentiation: Mediatization and cultural change. In: Knut Lundby (ed.), Mediatization: Concept, Changes, Consequences, 139–157. New York: Peter Lang. Hepp, Andreas. 2012. Mediatization and the ‘moulding force’ of the media. Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research 37(1): 1–28. Hepp, Andreas. 2013. Cultures of Mediatization. Cambridge: Polity Press. Hepp, Andreas, Stig Hjarvard and Knut Lundby. 2010. Mediatization – Empirical perpectives: An introduction to a special issue. Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research 35(3): 223–228. Hepp, Andreas and Friedrich Krotz. 2014. Mediatized worlds – Understanding everyday mediatization. In: Andres Hepp and Friedrich Krotz (eds.), Mediatized Worlds. Culture and Society in a Media Age, 1–14. Basingtoke: Palgrave. Hjarvard, Stig. 2013. The Mediatization of Culture and Society. London: Routledge. Hjarvard, Stig. 2014. From mediation to mediatization: The institutionalization of new media. In: Andreas Hepp and Friedrich Krotz (eds.), Mediatized Worlds: Culture and Society in a Media Age, 123–139. Basingtoke: Palgrave. Hoover, Stewart M. 2009. Complexitites: The case of religious cultures. In: Knut Lundby (ed.), Mediatization: Concept, Changes, Consequences, 123–138. New York: Peter Lang. Jansson, André. 2009. Mobile belongings: Texturation and stratification in mediatization processes. In: Knut Lundby (ed.), Mediatization: Concept, Changes, Consequences, 243–261. New York: Peter Lang. Jansson, André. 2013. Mediatization and social space: Reconstructing mediatization for the transmedia age. Communication Theory 23(3): 279–296. Jensen, Klaus Bruhn. 2013. Definitive and sensitizing conceptualizations of mediatization. Communication Theory 23(3): 203–222. Kaun, Anne and Karin Fast. 2014. Mediatization of Culture and Everyday Life. Karlstad University Studies 2014:13 and Mediestudier vid Södertörns Högskola 2014:1. Huddinge: Södertörn University. Klinger, Ulrike and Jakob Svensson. 2014. The emergence of network media logic in political communication: A theoretical approach. New Media & Society OnlineFirst 19 February. Krotz, Friedrich. 2001. Die Mediatisierung kommunikativen Handelns. Wie sich Alltag und soziale Beziehungen, Kultur und Gesellschaft durch die Medien wandeln. [The Mediatization of Communicative Action. How Everyday Life and Social Relations, Culture and Society are Changing in the Context of Media Development]. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag. Krotz, Friedrich. 2008. M wie Mediatisierung. Aviso 47: 13. Krotz, Friedrich. 2009. Mediatization: A concept with which to grasp media and societal change. In: Knut Lundby (ed.), Mediatization: Concept, Changes, Consequences, 21–40. New York: Peter Lang.

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Lash, Scott. 2005. Intensive media – modernity and algorithm. Roundtable. Research Architecture. London: Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths’ College, University of London. Retrieved December 4, 2012, from Latour, Bruno. 1993. We Have Never Been Modern. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Livingstone, Sonia M. 2009. On the mediation of everything. Journal of Communication 59(1): 1–18. Lundby, Knut. 2009a. Introduction: “Mediatization” as a key. In: Knut Lundby (ed.), Mediatization: Concept, Changes, Consequences, 1–18. New York: Peter Lang. Lundby, Knut. 2009b. Media logic: Looking for social interaction. In: Knut Lundby (ed.), Mediatization: Concept, Changes, Consequences, 101–119. New York: Peter Lang. Martín-Barbero, Jesús. 1993. Communication, Culture and Hegemony. From the Media to Mediations. London: Sage. (Translation of De los medios a las mediaciones: Comunicación, cultura y hegemonia [1987]). Martín-Barbero, Jesús. 2003. Cultural change. The perception of the media and the mediation of its images. Television & New Media 4(1): 85–106. Martino, Luis Mauro Sa. 2013. The Mediatization of Religion. When Faith Rocks. Farnham: Ashgate. Mazzoleni, Gianpietro. 2008. Mediatization of society. In: Wolfgang Donsbach (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Communication, Volume VII, 3052–3055. Malden, MA: Blackwell. Mazzoleni, Gianpietro and Winfried Schulz. 1999. Mediatization of politics: A challenge for democracy? Political Communication 16(3): 247–261. McLuhan, Marshall. 1964. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. New York: McGraw-Hill. Meyen, Michael. 2009. Medialisierung. Medien & Kommunikationswissenschaft 57: 23–28. Meyer, Birgit. 2013. Material mediations and religious practices of world-making. In: Knut Lundby (ed.) Religion Across Media. From Early Antiquity to Late Modernity, 1–19. New York: Peter Lang. Meyrowitz, Joshua. 1994. Medium theory. In: David J. Crowley and David Mitchell (eds.), Communication Theory Today, 50–77. Cambridge: Polity Press. Pink, Sarah. 2012. Situating Everyday Life. London: Sage. Rothenbuhler, Eric W. 2009. Continuities: communicative form and institutionalization. In: Knut Lundby (ed.), Mediatization: Concept, Changes, Consequences, 227–292. Berlin/New York: Peter Lang. Schlesinger, Philip. 1993. Introduction. In: Jesús Martín-Barbero, Communication, Culture and Hegemony. From the Media to Mediations. London: Sage. Schulz, Winfried. 2004. Reconstructing mediatization as an analytical concept. European Journal of Communication 19(1): 87–101. Silverstone, Roger. 2002. Complicity and collision in the mediation of everyday life. New Literary History 33(4): 745–764. Silverstone, Roger. 2005. Media and communication. In: Craig Calhoun, Chris Rojek and Bryan Turner (eds.), The International Handbook of Sociology, 188–208. London: Sage. Slater, Don. 2013. New Media, Development and Globalization. Cambridge: Polity Press. Sorokin, Pitirim A. 1947. Society, Culture, and Personality. Their Structure and Dynamics. A System of General Sociology. New York: Harper. Strömbäck, Jesper and Frank Esser. 2014. Mediatization of politics: Towards a theoretical framework. In: Frank Esser and Jesper Strömbäck (eds.), Mediatization of Politics. Understanding the Transformation on Western Democracies. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Thompson, John B. 1995. The Media and Modernity. A Social Theory of the Media. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

II. Global changes

Karin Knorr Cetina

2 Scopic media and global coordination: the mediatization of face-to-face encounters Abstract: This chapter focuses on the mediatization of the face-to-face situation and the need for an updated understanding of one of the most basic units of sociality, the social situation. Scopic mediatization is a particular type of mediatization involving screen-based electronic media. The technologies involved differ, but in all cases they “present” and make available to participants what lies spatially and temporally beyond their reach. The inclusion of screen-based technologies transforms the face-to-face situation into a synthetic situation; I argue that the face-to-face domain no longer has the structural importance it once had. Synthetic situations differ from the traditional social situation in various ways. The chapter specifically addresses the temporal consequences and the informational ontology that ensues. It points out that scopic media imply an attentional regime and attentional integration – concepts that put into question the belief that information and communication technologies necessarily lead to networked domains and network forms of integration. The chapter also discusses how scopic media can convey and manage trust which is often associated with personal knowledge and presence, and how they enhance the fatefulness of social situations. It offers the example of global financial markets and other examples to illustrate this type of mediatization. Keywords: scopic media, scopic mediatization, face-to-face situation, synthetic situation, response presence, information, trust, fatefulness

Imagine the trading floor of a large investment bank in one of the world’s global cities. You may see between 200 (Zurich) and 800 (New York) traders engaged in stock, bond, and currency trading involving various trading techniques and instruments. Up to 20 % of the traders may deal in foreign exchange at desks grouped together on the floors. Assume you are interested in this market; with an average daily turnover of approximately 5.3 trillion US dollars when it was last measured (BIS 2013), it is the world’s largest and most liquid market, growing 41 percent between 2007 and 2010 and 35 % between 2010 and 2013. The FOREX market is also the world’s most global market; trades are inherently cross-border transactions involving the exchange of currencies from different countries. The market spans the three major time zones, with trading centers in London, New York, and Tokyo and a few other global cities such as Zurich and Singapore. The traders and trading firms in inter-bank currency markets are not brokers who mediate deals but rather market makers. They take their own “positions” in the market by trying to gain from price differences while also offering trades to other market


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participants, thereby sustaining and bringing liquidity to the market. Foreign exchange deals through these channels start in the order of several hundred thousand dollars per transaction, going up to a hundred million dollars and more. The deals are made by investors, speculators, financial managers, central bankers, and others who want to profit from expected currency moves, or who need currencies to help them enter or exit transnational investments (e.g. in mergers and acquisitions). In doing deals, all traders on the floors have a range of technology at their disposal; most conspicuously, six or more computer screens that display the market and are used to conduct trading. When traders arrive in the morning they strap themselves to their seats (figuratively speaking) and bring up their screens – and from then on their eyes are glued to these screens, their visual attention captured even when they talk or shout to each other; their bodies and the screen melting together, while they immerse themselves completely in the world and action of trading. The global market composes itself in these produced-and-analyzed displays to which traders are attached (see figure 1).1 How can we conceptualize the assemblage of hardware, software, and information feeds that traders work with? And why is it important for social scientists to do so? In the following, I introduce two concepts to help answer these questions: that of “scopic media” and that of the “synthetic situation”. The notion of scopic media is designed to capture a particular type of mediatization that we experience today in areas such as financial markets. The concept of synthetic situations responds to the phenomenon that this type of mediatization extends to the most basic unit of human interaction, the social situation. The notion also brings into view what I will call “synthetic agents”, the algorithms and software robots that increasingly fulfill human functions and are counterparties in onscreen interactions. A third element of my argument emphasizes the global reach of domains such as the one described. The basic intuition that motivates me is that genuinely global forms, by which I mean fields of practice that stretch across all time zones, need not imply further expansions of institutional complexity. In fact, they may become feasible only if they avoid complex institutional structures. But they require something else: that we rethink social science concepts with which we have addressed fields of human interaction in the past, and include in them the sort of media-technologies illustrated before. Financial markets depend on these technologies; without them it would not be possible for financial markets

1 The study is based on ethnographic research conducted since 1997 on the trading floor of one major global investment bank in Zurich, New York, and London, and in several others, for example private and second tier banks. Unlike other financial markets, the foreign exchange market is not primarily organized in centralized exchanges but organized through inter-dealer transactions in a global banking network of institutions; it is what is called an “over the counter” market. Over the counter transactions are made on the trading floors of, among others, major investment banks. For a description of this research, see Knorr Cetina and Bruegger 2002. See also Bruegger 1999 for an extensive description of currency trading in all its aspects.

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Fig. 1: I am greatly indebted to Stephan Jaeger, Global Head of Foreign Exchange, Bank Julius Baer, Zurich, for the use of the trading floor picture presented here. Many thanks to Urs Bruegger, my collaborator and colleague, for taking the picture.

to have such global reach, financial turnover, or the same effect on our lives. Are these markets then a good illustration of the rise of a network society (Castells 1996), in which coordination and organization emerge from the networks of relationships that communication and information technologies enable? The network has been a fertile metaphor in the last few decades, inspiring a large body of work that has enriched and transformed our understandings of institutions such as the firm, the family, and even the state. Yet the network idiom is also too obviously right, too casually applied, and too taken for granted when information technologies are involved. The argument I propose challenges the presuppositions of networks. It seeks to develop concepts that take their lead from what these technologies afford in practice, rather than from what they involve on an infrastructural level – underwater and satellite connections. The shift I am asking you to make is to think not in terms of infrastructural connections but to imagine instead the screenworld that traders and others in high tech environments confront. This mental move away from the piping of global society and toward what we are “facing” when we are in it, as actors and participants, is what this chapter advances. What we need to consider is how electronic infrastructures are realized in practice – and this


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requires us to take into account the assemblage of screens, and the screen projections, with which we are engaging in places such as trading floors. This argument identifies the teletechnological surface and attributes of electronically mediated spheres as highly relevant to how a global social form becomes culturally fashioned and integrated. It also identifies monitoring and observation – an audience’s visual attention and the spatial and temporal structures that sustain it – as important components of this type of coordination. The notion of information technology, as we tend to understand it, invokes the image of pipes through which something flows in ways that are quite exclusive – we can’t see what is flowing unless we are at the receiving end of the pipe. This notion doesn’t conjure the vivid imagery, sensorial aspects, and dramaturgical effectiveness of screens, and the fatefulness of their content for those who watch. The notion of “media”, in contrast, even when it is used in the traditional sense of television or film, allows for such connotations; it captures the screenworld well. This chapter is interested in the specific type of “mediatization” (Krotz 2001; Jäckel 2005; Lundby 2009; Rusch 2009: 33) the presence of screens implies. It seeks to develop ways of documenting and analyzing the presence of screen technologies in relation to the global and social situational dimensions screens suggest.

1 What are scopic media? Consider a network. It is an arrangement of nodes tied together by relationships that serve as conduits of communication, resources, and other coordinating instances. Cooperation, strategic alliances, exchange, emotional bonds, kinship ties, personal relations, and forms of accounting and narration can flow through the ties. Networks give rise to a particular form of relational sociality and they may be the venue for “arms-length” business relationships and other ties. Now consider a scope. The term derives from the Greek scopein, ‘to see’; when it is combined with a qualifying notion it means an instrument for seeing or observing, as in “periscope”. Thus a scope is a reflexive mechanism of observation and projection. Like an array of crystals acting as lenses that collect light and focus it on one point, a scoping mechanism collects and focuses activities, interests, and events on one surface, from whence the result may then be projected again in different directions. When such a mechanism is in place, participants become orientated to this projected reality and their actions are responses to it. The system acts as a centering and mediating device through which things pass and from which they flow forward. An ordinary observer who monitors events is an instrument for seeing. When such an ordinary observer constructs a textual or visual rendering of the observed phenomena and televises it to an audience, the audience may start to react to the features of the reflected, represented reality rather than to the embodied, pre-reflexive occurrences. This furnishes a different type of coordination than

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that obtained through networks. Networks are pre-reflexive in character – they are embedded in territorial space and they do not suggest the existence of reflexive mechanisms of projection that aggregate, contextualize, and augment the relational activities within new frameworks of understanding. Scopic coordination is flat (not based on hierarchy), like that achieved through networks, but it is also based on comprehensive summaries of things – the reflected and projected reality on screen. In the case of traders I am discussing, this reality is projected to everyone connected to the system simultaneously; the screen content instantly places those observing it (as all professional traders must be) into an identical world. There is no need to call a contact and draw on one’s network of relationships to learn where the market is and what is happening. The answers to these questions are delivered to everyone at the same time; and they are continuously updated, within fractions of seconds. Here is a summary of some of the characteristics of scopic media: – First, scopic media visually present and project events, phenomena, and actors that would otherwise be separated by distance and would not be visible from a single standpoint. By allowing otherwise remote things to be visually perceived together, scopic media expand and augment local situations (i.e., situations in which participants are physically present in a single location). As an example, for about thirty years the militaries of the US, England, Germany, and elsewhere have been attempting to develop wearable helmet displays (imagine a more specialized and sophisticated version of Google Glass) which would allow soldiers to transcend their physically constrained fields of vision. The soldiers would be able to see maps and mission data on their displays, and receive visual signals of danger lurking in their surroundings which they would not ordinarily be able to see with their naked eye or know about without technological enhancement. In this case, the scopic media aims to create an informational environment that will reduce the vulnerability of soldiers in the field. – Scopic media “temporalize” situations, in the sense that they present content in a sequential, streaming fashion. This stimulates the need to watch the media content frequently, if not continuously. In some areas, as in financial markets, a regime of attention emerges – the necessity of watching the market on screen continuously and in synchronicity with events and with other observing actors. The financial screens display the succession of political and other events, and the liquidity and transactions within a market. This content streams at all times, with the speed of the flow mirroring the speed of the unfolding events. – Scopic media lead to shifting boundaries between a situation or system and its environment, and between micro and macro scales. They mix up levels, so to speak, and bring different orders of phenomena together. Thus local situations (as measured by participants’ physical togetherness in a common space) can at the same time be global, when non-present others and territorially dis-


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tant events become imported into the situation through screens that project them. Think of videoconferencing and the telepresence effect it generates with some fidelity of sight and sound. Another example is the widespread use of scopic media in medicine. For example, instead of the large open incisions of traditional general surgery, laparoscopic techniques may be used based on high definition, 3D visualizations of body parts and processes of dissecting and suturing within the body. This “dissolution” of the boundaries between the micro and the macro and the far away and near is another characteristic of scopic media. When scopic systems are systematically used they may have “world-making” effects that lead to the creation of parallel realities that participants orientate themselves towards or become fully absorbed in (Goodman 1978; Knorr Cetina 2005). Al Qaeda members, for example, used video and audio tapes, and particular television channels that presented identical, sensory rich records of leaders’ speeches along with gory images of casualties, attacks, and symbolically laden calls to arms and support. One assumes that for those who had become Al Qaeda members and who regularly drew on such scoped presentations, the sequence of visual broadcasts began to constitute something of a referential world – a thick context that situates individual activities, emotional commitments, and interpretive frameworks. This world co-existed with that of work activities and student life in countries such as Germany and the US in which Al Qaeda operated. Some scopic media expand local situations not only geographically, and by bringing together the micro and the macro, but also by allowing for the expansion of agency through algorithms that take over and fulfill human functions, acting as our “tools” and robots. Algorithms have long been part of electronic information and communication technologies, performing tasks like sorting, checking databases, or calculating. In fact, if we consider the Turing machine as a theoretical computing machine that performs calculations, then the computer itself is an algorithm in its core. Algorithms are simply sets of instructions for accomplishing a task; when you write a program to filter light in a certain way so as to create specific photographic effects, you have created an algorithm. Such algorithms have been used since the onset of digitalization. But in recent years, algorithms have learned to “learn” and make decisions that are not preprogrammed, and humans have learned to take better advantage of them by enhancing their speed, creating interfaces (e.g. trading platforms), and adapting data formats. For example, algorithms can now “read” and interpret market data and trade autonomously, on the basis of information provided in specific market situations. As a consequence, in stock trading for instance, algorithmic trading accounts for 50 % and more of the trading volume. What this means is that algorithms are now functionally equivalent and operationally superior parties in trading interactions – they can act with super-

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human speed, easily outperforming trading that is based on “human touch.” Algorithms may also be outperformed, but my point here is not about who wins trading games, but that these games must now be played strategically in ways that take into account the presence and capabilities of algorithmic agents. On a theoretical level, scopic media are interesting because they transform the face-to-face situation – which is so foundational for how we conceive of the emergence of sociality and effects like trust – into “synthetic situations”. The physical presence of participants in an encounter is the defining characteristic of the face-to-face situation. In the synthetic situation, physical co-presence is not defining – what’s relevant is how the electronic media and screens reconfigure the situation. In addition, “synthetic” agents, the algorithms and software robots just mentioned, can be present and either serve us or compete with us in performing the tasks at hand. Algorithms operate under the surface of screens, so we don’t encounter them as we would a physical being or an avatar. But we encounter the results of their actions (e.g. price and liquidity changes in markets) and induce their agency in the background.

2 The synthetic situation Why and how is the presence of scopes of interest to human interaction? The first answer to this is that on a global scale a social “situation” invariably includes, and may in fact be entirely constituted by, on-screen projections – it becomes a synthetic situation. I take the synthetic situation to be the most basic unit of global structural forms. Sociology, communication, and similar fields traditionally use a body-to-body starting point for the conceptualization of what goes on in human interaction. For many authors, social interaction is “that which uniquely transpires in social situations – in environments in which two or more individuals are physically in one another’s response presence” (Goffman 1983: 3). Goffman (1972: 63; 1981: 84) defined the situation accordingly as “any physical area anywhere within which two or more persons find themselves in visual and aural range of one another”.2 The centrality of the face-to-face situation for him and other authors is 2 There is a significant body of literature treating aspects of what Goffman called the interaction order (for overviews of important dimensions see [Stone and Farberman 1981; Fine 1984; Scheff 1990]). My purpose is simply to point towards some features that seem central to the creation of global spheres and that need to be emphasized in regard to this context. There is now also an interesting body of work on human–machine interaction (e.g. Suchman 1987; Turkle 1995) and of related ethnomethodological studies of work (for overviews see Ten Have and Psathas 1995; Button 1993; see also Goodwin 1995); but my focus is rather on transnational interactions in which the computer becomes transparent and third parties are charged with guaranteeing its (and the software’s) functioning.


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rooted in what we think are universal preconditions of human life – the mundane need for intimates and strangers to come together at fixed times and places to get things done. Ethnomethodologists have expressed something similar through the idea of the “local accomplishment” of social order, where local means “witnessable” through sight or hearing, as opposed to imputation or inference.3 Anthropologists too prefer the notion “local” and in essence this is also a spatial idea – in which the ethnographer is included as a participant observer, or as a subjective and perhaps sympathetic (if somewhat head scratching) actor trying to fashion an understanding of what’s going on. Goffman and other microsociologists as well as anthropologists are of course correct when they refer to the fact that, often, for things to be accomplished in human life people have to come together in particular spaces. In fact, we could add other “universals” to this: for example reproduction, which involves the need for infants to be raised in physical social situations. Yet it is also true that today a substantial and increasing portion of everyday life is spent not in the physical co-presence of others but in virtual spaces. Thus conditions that were once central and held to be universal may change: the face-to-face domain, for instance, no longer has the structural importance it once had. This is a somewhat tricky hypothesis to prove empirically since we lack comprehensive data, but it is plausible enough if we just call to mind the many areas of everyday life that have now migrated to the Internet. An increasing portion of banking, travel booking, shopping (including grocery shopping), even reading or what substitutes for it are now no longer handled face-to-face, but electronically.4 So are some parts of our jobs – from student advising and lecturing to library searches and meetings. A recent global consumer survey released by IBM suggests that people now spend as much or more time online as they do watching TV: accordingly, 19 % said they spend 6+ hours a day online vs. 9 % who indicated watching 6+ hours of TV; and while 60 % said they spend 1–4 hours a day online, 66 % said that they watch 1–4 hours of TV (Blodget 2007). Even in digitally deprived groups, innovative ways are being found to use fast and facile electronic transmission and storage for intermediary business links, with material inputs and outputs limited to the beginning and end of a chain of transactions.5 3 This formulation is suggested by the ethnomethodologist Anne Warfield Rawls (oral communication, August 15, 2000). The emphasis on witnessability derives from Garfinkel (e.g. 1967: 9–13). In their definitions ethnomethodologists have not restricted themselves to physical setting in quite the same sense Goffman did, rather placing greater emphasis on accomplishment. But this shift in emphasis leaves intact the tendency of ethnomethodological studies to equate fundamental reality with what is highly focused in a small space, involves talking rather than writing, and points to the nano-world of the non-verbal signals accompanying such exchanges (Goodwin 1981). 4 The New York Times observes that “The next generation does not read books” but rather watches “content” on the Internet or reads other media content (Rich 2008). 5 One example is phone card banking, in which the payout of real money is made redundant, no contracts are necessary, and human interaction is limited to the beginning and end of the transaction chain.

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The loss of centrality of the face-to-face situation is not hard to prove in global situations. In fact, as suggested before, it seems obvious that if we think of the global not just in terms of flows of resources, interconnected economies, and so on, but as fields of practice, these could not exist if the physical co-presence of participants was required. The universal precondition of such domains, we may say, is that they don’t require “being there” in person, but allow for participants and objects to be dispersed and yet to process things interactionally and collectively. Actors (human or other) don’t need to be physically co-present; instead they must be response present – a term Goodwin (1981) once used for the “mediated” presence afforded by electronic communication technologies. In the face-to-face situation, participants find themselves accessible to the naked senses of all others who are present and find themselves similarly accessible (Goffman 1972: 63–64). When in each other’s presence, Goffman (1983: 3) observes, “individuals are admirably placed to share a joint focus of attention, perceive that they do so, and perceive this perceiving”. Thus the “ecological huddle” (Goffman 1972: 63) that ensues from the joint ratification and reflexive orientation in the face-to-face situation does not come about in the same quasi-automatic manner on a global level. Rather, the result is much more likely a muddle: a disorderly interactional arrangement struggling with problems of differential access, orientation and perspective, and coordination. Yet interestingly, synthetic global situations are not miserable interactional arrangements but provide for efficiently, even elegantly organized global encounters. These do, however, have preconditions. In contrast to any embodied presence, I define response presence to mean that the interacting party is not or need not be physically present, but is accountable for responding without inappropriate delay to an incoming attention or interaction request (see also Knorr Cetina 2009). And I define the synthetic situation as an environment augmented (and temporalized) by fully or partially scoped components – in which we find ourselves in one another’s and the scopic components’ response presence, without needing to be in one another’s physical presence. With this definition, we (1) abandon the body-to-body starting point of the face-to-face situation – as suggested, the response presence referred to is an accountability for responding, not a physical presence. We also (2) abandon an exclusive focus on human interaction and human mutual monitoring – but we do not give up symbolic interaction or monitoring per se, as the next section argues. Finally (3), with the proposed definition we emphasize the translocal and potentially global nature of the synthetic situation. The scopic components enable translocal imports from the outer world to be collected, projected, and augmented on-screen. The boundary condition of the translocal is the global – a horizon and possibility in some areas, an accomplishment in others. To put this more strongly, the synthetic situation not only transcends the local and the face-to-face but also enables global orders of activity. Synthetic situations need not be global of course, and they involve various degrees of “syntheticness.” Depending on how encompassing the synthetic is, we


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can distinguish four types of synthetic situations. In the markets studied, the environment in which two or more individuals find themselves in each other’s response presence consists of a foreground and a background. The foregrounded, attention-demanding global situation; and, separately for each participant, a background section of the physical trading floor: that section of the floor to which traders are sensorily attuned and over which they command some auditory attention while focusing on the electronic environment. The electronically projected situation reaches far beyond what would ordinarily be visible in a physical setting. Not only does it include many layers and windows providing geopolitical and epistemic depth and internal contextualization, but it also stitches together an analytically constituted world made up of “everything” potentially relevant to the interaction. Now a second type. Consider the case of two spouses having an argument where these battles usually take place: in the material environment of a kitchen or living room. If this argument were conducted in an environment similar to that of global markets, the two counterparties would be surrounded not by furniture and equipment, but by screens containing strictly what is relevant to the argument: their past history of togetherness perhaps, the significant others that come up in such fights, psychobiological states and needs, money and accounts, expert opinions, legal advice, and sample cases of relationships that one of the quarreling spouses may wish to invoke. This type of synthetic situation is somewhat farther down the scale of “full” scoping. Its hallmark is a clean distinction between the synthetic environment present in the first type and an interaction that is not synthetic in that it remains face-to-face. The third type is yet farther down the scale and the most encountered: there are synthetic components in the situation, but the physical world is more encompassing. We can here imagine a living room with a TV streaming information (say in the form of a sports game) to those present. The case is tricky in that the synthetic component, albeit limited, may nonetheless dominate the encounter. What takes place on TV is likely to capture and hold participants’ attention. A New Yorker cartoon picturing people talking around a Thanksgiving dinner table in a room without a TV and then ceasing to talk and all turning their attention to the TV when it appears in the room, illustrates this well. Another version of this third type is the case of a surgeon operating on a patient, guided by screen images of the body section involved and the instrument moving through it, while also monitoring the body’s vital function signals to keep informed on how the patient is doing during the operation. The peculiarity here is that the screened reality turns the patient inside out – although the patient is present live, it is his or her scoped, augmented version that provides the relevant information. A final arrangement that I distinguish from the earlier ones (type four) involves the participants in the encounter having a telepresence, as in a videoconference setting. What we mostly see in videoconferences are blurred and

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somewhat ghastly upper-body images of a few others, with whom we conduct surrogate face-to-face interactions against a nearly empty background. Note that all types of synthetic situations I have described can be potentially global, in the sense of participants not being physically co-present but sharing the same screen content, similarly to the case of currency markets. What they differ in is the degree in which screens are all-encompassing, projecting the referential whole of everything taken as relevant to the situation.

3 Four features of the synthetic situation The “naked,” nonaugmented face-to-face situation has traditionally been linked to two major concepts: that of the definition of the situation and that of the interaction itself and its negotiated outcome (Strauss et al. 1963; Fine 1984). With the synthetic situation, this duality of concepts will have to make room for further distinctions and properties, largely because the situation is not “naked” – it is scopically articulated and augmented. Several features stand out. First, the synthetic components, and as a consequence the synthetic situation, may be entirely informational; second, it becomes ontologically fluid; third, it requires frequent if not continuous monitoring; and fourth, it may project a party to the interaction. While real-time contexts do of course contain information, they have the feel of a taken-for-granted material world that has emerged over time, in line with evolutionary principles and human efforts at construction (a house, a garden) and transformation (a wildlife refuge). An encompassing synthetic situation, in contrast, is a composite of information bits that may arise from many areas around the world and feature the most diverse and fragmented content. Synthetic situations are always in the process of being assembled: from automatic and less automatic information feeds, from real-life reporting, and from the interactions themselves that can be instantly mirrored on-screen and generate their own contexts. In a global process, one would think that much depends on getting the synthetics right – on assembling the right pieces of information, ordering them adequately, and doing all this within particular time frames (in currency markets, within split seconds). This in itself implies a shift in power and relevance from the interaction to the situation. We cannot take the synthetic situation for granted the same way we do a “natural” situation, the sort of situation confronted in everyday life and in analysis. Definitions of participants continue to matter, of course, but other things also matter. For one, a situation that is an informational assemblage does not simply sit there as a silent reference object, the other side of human referring activity. Through screens, these assemblages emit sounds, produce written utterances selfdescribed as particular speech acts, and transaction challenges. Synthetic situations also have to be created specifically and delivered reliably to the interaction.


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Martha and George (or Taylor and Burton) in the film version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? illustrate, for example, how the marital argument would not profit from a synthetic environment containing market data; they would need input relevant to their specific state of marital discord and to such matters in general, and that evolves along with pertinent changes. And if we were to analyze this, we, like they, would want to know what gets on these screens by what means and how the interaction between participants and screens develops. The quality of the information may become a moral responsibility of participants. For example, doctors and staff who electronically assemble the test results and routine measurements of a particular patient will have the normative obligation to maintain these records collectively, meticulously, and completely. If the hospital also feeds the scope (i.e., puts on the electronic platform) relevant literature about the treatment of such cases, available medications and their success, and the opinions of medical experts located elsewhere, we would have a strong informational scopic element to which the patient may become a relatively inactive, and at times immobilized, live attachment. What is available on-screen would be crucially important for the embodied treatment of the patient. And in studying the interaction order of patient care, we would need to address questions regarding the preparation, composition, accessing, and updating of the situation’s relevant synthetic component. This brings me to the second feature of the synthetic situation, its temporal nature. It is clear from the previous example that a scoped situation needs continuous updating – with patients, this includes new daily measurements of temperature, blood pressure, and so forth, new test results, the response to treatment, and perhaps caretakers’ observations of mood and body function. A synthetic situation’s assemblage and projection is a continuous project. A living room serving to situate many encounters may be assembled once and for all. But informational realities carry a time index; their components tend to require frequent or continuous updating, or else their iterated presentation as still “live” and relevant. “The market always looks for the next piece of information” is the way the traders I studied put it. Electronic global markets in institutional currency trading provide an interesting example of this temporalization and the resulting ontological fluidity of a synthetic situation. The scoped global market that traders confront on 4–6 screens allows for many separate information streams – actual and indicative prices, transaction records, trading conversations, headline and financial news, commentary and analysis, bulletin board entries, newly published indicators and statistics, technical and fundamental research and figures, and perhaps a soccer game and Bloomberg news – all streamed on-screen in separate windows. Streams run at different speeds: prices may change within split seconds, analysis and headline news trickles in more slowly and is reiterated repeatedly, transaction records nearly match the speed of transactions. Everything scrolls down the screen as new information arrives. Habitually traders are well aware of the fluidity of the market situation, as seen in the following brief exchange with a proprietary trader:

Scopic media and global coordination


KK: I want to come back to the market, what the market is for you. Does it have a particular shape? LG: No, it changes “shape” all the time.

The ontological fluidity of such a situation invites comparison with our everyday notion of reality. The latter is a spatial notion – we see reality as a spatial environment existing independently of us and in which we dwell. It is the case that the notion of a world on-screen also suggests spatiality; it suggests that the idea of a spatial environment can be extended to electronic domains as these become – for some of us – a place to work and live. The naked situation, as indicated, has strong spatial connotations. Spatial concepts do not deny temporal processes. But they imply that time is something that passes in the spatial environment and is extraneous to the environment itself. Presumably we also express durability through spatial concepts. The synthetic situation, however, is inherently in flux; it has none of the durability of a physical situation. Traders perform their activities in a moving field constituted by changing, incoming, and disappearing bits and pieces. As the information scrolls down the screens and is replaced by new information, a new market situation – a new reality – continually projects itself. In this case, then, the synthetic situation is a patchwork of parallel, itemized flows that manifest themselves as running lines of text and numbers, and running (live) pictures, figures, and graphs. It is somewhat like a dynamic version of an impressionist painting, revealing the contours of familiar objects through flickering, temporal, dissociated sensations. To use another image: the screen reality in the fully scoped case of markets, for instance, is like a carpet whose small sections are both being woven and rolled out at the same time in front of us. The carpet grounds experience; we can step on it and change our positioning on it. But the carpet composes itself only as it is rolled out; the spatial illusions it affords hide the intrinsic temporality of the fact that its threads (the lines of text appearing onscreen) are woven into the carpet only as we step on it, and that they unravel again behind our backs (the lines are updated and disappear). As the carpet is woven it assumes different patterns; the weave provides specific response slots to which traders react, taking the patterns in different directions. In sum, the screen reality is a process, but it is not simply like a river flowing from one location to another as an identical mass of water. Rather, it is processual in the sense of an infinite succession of nonidentical matter projecting itself forward as a changing situation. The third feature of the synthetic situation I would like to discuss has to do with this fluidity and this also brings us back to an elaboration on what response presence means in synthetic situations. Synthetic situations demand more monitoring – we need to know and keep track of the now of the message-multiflows that characterize their augmented and temporalized content. Traders, for example, not only keep track of but also induce the agency of human or synthetic actors


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behind the flows, in order to base their responses on these inductions. In electronic global markets, response presence is a more complex and institutionally organized phenomenon. It always includes, for example, arrangements for substitute responders if the addressed person or bank cannot answer. It can mean a personal (friendship-based) or institutional division of labor across time zones, so that traders and desks are available around the clock to respond to situation changes and pick up requests. On the level of individual traders, response presence also entails more than continuous monitoring: a mode of implicit information processing that I cannot detail here (see Knorr Cetina 2012) other than saying it is not based on explicit, prefrontal thinking, enables efficiency with complex tasks, and requires full attention and concentration. It’s as if a traders’ brain was attached to the market, and not just the trader him/herself as a behaviorally engaged actor. Traders are able to respond to a global situation by springing into action quickly and “unthinkingly” when prompted. Their way of translating this capacity is to say that they trade “by the seat of their pants”, based on a “feeling for the market”. This suggests that some types of trading conform more to Mead’s model of a conversation of gestures than to models of deliberation and calculation. Understanding speculative trading may require that we move away from exclusively cognitive and deliberative decision-making frameworks – and that we add to these models an understanding of the preparatory work, and the work of seeing and attention, that readies participants for “unthinking” responses. The last aspect I want to discuss here is that features of the synthetic situation may become symbolic interaction partners for participants. Here I am not referring to the synthetic agents which, as algorithms, are “inside” or part of the media components of these situations. I rather mean the screens or mediascape and what it represents itself, all of which may become reified as a party to ongoing interaction. Let me again take the example of traders in a global market. In the typical face-to-screen situation on trading floors, traders interact primarily with what goes on on-screen. More specifically, when a trader makes a deal in the synthetic situation’s electronic environment, he or she is oriented to, monitors, engages with, and influences “the market”. The trader holds a position “in” an environment (the market) while responding to parts of this environment (prices, trading instruments). Behind the prices and information presented on-screen stand other human participants with whom a trader at times engages in mediated person-to-person trading and other interactions, and algorithmic participants with whom they don’t engage directly. An example is when participants trade through “conversational dealing” screens, through which they can conduct a direct, electronically enabled, dyadic dealing-conversation (consisting basically of the demand for a price for an amount of currency, the response, a choice, and a preprogrammed confirmation sequence). But 80 % and more of the deals are made through more automated venues like the electronic broker system (EBS). These systems summarize and sequence the trading interests of different parties and present them abstractly on-

Scopic media and global coordination


screen as changing prices; traders do not engage particular persons but simply hit on a price by typing the instruction on their machine. The central point here is that the tradable prices seen on-screen are presorted, sequenced indications of select market participants’ interests – a summarized, abstract version of the aggregate of all participants that becomes reified by participants as “the market”. We can perhaps say that the system streams multiple market interests nested in space into one global conversation – but this is a conversation traders conduct in the face-to-screen situation with a mostly anonymous market, rather than with particular others. When a trader buys or sells (in sufficient quantity) and influences these prices, he or she influences an intermediate sphere, a symbolic “face” of the aggregate of human traders and a signaling reality in its own right. This reality conforms to its own principles and dynamics – for example, to the forces of aggregate supply and demand. The reality also includes contextual information participants see on-screen. For traders “the market is everything” that occurs at a particular point in time and is available in the synthetic situation – an all-encompassing definition that reflects the fact that participants cannot tell in advance which portion of the context may become relevant to responses. Thus, when the screen projects an “other” for participants, with whom these participants interact, it projects a comprehensively synthesized, worldwide situation.

4 Scopic coordination Many authors in sociology and other social sciences have argued that coordination and cooperation, as well as trust and trustworthiness sustained by norms of reciprocity, are key elements in a well-functioning social system. In the last few decades social scientists have associated these elements with networks of social relationships. In a network, participants monitor each other’s’ behavior and sanction it if necessary. Thus a network can deter its members from opportunism and malfeasance through internal self-regulation – which may simply be more effective and efficient than the use of hierarchy in organizations, or the use of legal sanctions (e.g. Granovetter 1985, Bandelj 2012). In this section I want to return to the idea of networks I brought up earlier and show that scopic media offer an alternative mechanism of coordination and of accomplishing trust and trustworthiness. First, not everything that looks like a network is one. Second, when things can be projected to an attentive globally dispersed audience more or less simultaneously, those in the audience get all the messages and information, and will achieve a level of integration without resorting to networks: “when you can scope it, you don’t have to network it”. Third, scopic media are well suited to conveying trust and allow trust management, and participants use them in this way. Fourth, scopic media afford more than trust, for example they augment and enhance the fatefulness of situations through the epistemic participation they afford.


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To take these arguments up in turn, let us look again at the example of currency markets: one of the most dispersed (though concentrated in global cities) and global structural form there is today. A trader transacting in these markets is always in a global situation – even when the transaction is “just” between Zurich and London, it will be observed and registered on screen by currency traders worldwide and this information will be taken into account in subsequent transactions. The reason for this is simply that all professional trading desks worldwide in institutional currency trading share the same media and the same form of mediatization – the same terminals, hardware, and software leased from Reuters and Bloomberg and provided with content by these financial service firms. Though traders can and do adapt the windows they open to their specific needs and may use different platforms offering dealing prices, those trading the same currency pair will coercively watch the same price, order, and transaction information as well as the same news items pertaining to that pair. Thus whether the person trades in London or Singapore, in Zurich or New York, it makes no difference to the availability of identical content. The material infrastructure of financial markets then includes much more than electronic networks – which are not Internet connections but secure proprietary cable and satellite connections between banks and continents. In particular, it includes the work stations, terminals, and computer screens with their hardware and software capabilities, and the streaming content they display: these are the objects that present the market and to which participants are oriented, and these should be our starting point when analyzing these markets. What this implies is that the electronic interconnections that link the terminals and institutions are not simply co-extensive with the social networks through which transactions flow. As electronic networks they correspond to different construction criteria, they involve electronic nodes and linkages irrelevant to social relationships, and much of what flows through them – for example an electronically brokered deal in response to an anonymous buying and selling offer – does not derive from social relationships. Most importantly, the terminals deliver much more than just windows to physically distant counterparties – although they provide that too through their “conversational dealing” functions. They deliver the reality of financial markets and their context – the ground on which traders step as they make their moves, the world which they literally share through their shared technologies and systems, the referential whole of “everything” to which traders point when they talk about the market. Thomson Reuters prides itself on having 200 bureaus and 2700 full-time journalists on the ground worldwide, serving approximately 130 countries with news and global event coverage.6 The thickly-layered screens surrounding traders draw

6 Retrieved August 13, 2009. For Reuters global locations see locations. Retrieved August 13, 2009.

Scopic media and global coordination


heavily on these services. They come as close as one can get to delivering a standalone world that includes everything for its existence and continuation: at the center the actual dealing prices and incoming trading conversations; in a second circle the indicative prices, account information, and some news (depending on the current market story); and additional headlines and commentaries in a third layer of information. It is this delivery of a world, assembled and drawn together in ways that make sense and allow navigation and accounting, that suggests the global reach of this form of coordination. The notion of a network draws on a powerful convergence of organizational changes, technological developments, and broader cultural transformations of values – all of which sustain the network not only as an analytic concept for the investigation of social structure, but also as a model and advertisement for how things in many areas should be structured. The most important convergent development that has contributed to the recent renaissance of network concepts is surely that of information and communication technologies. These technologies are based on electronic linkages between geographic areas and are referred to in terms of a vocabulary of nets, webs, circuits, and nodes. Information and communication technologies have made the network notion salient, strengthened preexisting trends toward network forms of organization, while also facilitating some of these developments. Accordingly, Castells (1996: 476–477) writes of the network society where “flows of messages and images between networks constitute the basic thread of our social structure”. He sees dominant societal functions organized in global information technology networks linked by these communications, while subordinate functions fragment in local settings where people become increasingly segregated and disconnected from each other. But the central question for social scientists is how these technologies are instantiated in concrete areas of practice, and here a different picture emerges. From the perspective of both participants and the observers of these lifeworlds, the dominant elements on trading floors, for instance, are not the electronic infrastructural connections – the “pipes” (Podolny 2001: 33) or arteries through which transactions flow – but the computer screens and the dealing and information capabilities which instantly reflect, project, and extend the reality of these markets in toto. They give rise to a form of coordination that includes networks but also vastly transcends them, projecting an aggregate, contextualized market to a global audience. If the screens on which the market is present are identically replicated in all institutions and on all trading floors, they form, as it were, one huge compound mirroring and transaction device to which many contribute and on which all draw. As an omnipresent complex “other”, the market on screen takes on a presence and profile in its own right with its own self-assembling and integrating features (for example, the best prices world-wide are selected and displayed), its own calculating routines (for example, accounts are maintained and prices may be calculated), and self-historicizing properties (for example, price histories are displayed and a multiplicity of


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other histories can be called up). The electronic programs and circuits supporting this screen-world assemble and implement on one platform the previously dispersed activities of different agents: of brokers and bookkeepers, of market-makers (traders) and analysts, of researchers and news agents. In this sense, the screen is a building site on which a whole economic and epistemological world is erected. It is not simply a channel for the transmission of pre-reflexive interactions. Scopic markets of this sort are not relationship markets but instead are based on a regime of attention and perception: of watching the market on screen continuously, synchronously, and immediately. Attention to the screens is mandatory and coercive – the equivalent of a scopic mechanism on the human side and a behavioral pattern that identifies professional market participants. Coordination results from the simultaneous injection of bursts of content onto a collective of observers – or to put it the other way round, from the simultaneous and continuous exposure of an attentive and expectant group of market participants to bursts of information. The exposure results in a level of attentional integration – within a bounded market environment a shared awareness (and distributed conversation) of the state of the market and the world relevant to it – while also resulting in different responses. We can think of this attentional integration in informational terms, visualizing it in terms of the market’s collective cognition, to use a contemporary term for what Hayek described in 1945. We can also visualize this attentional integration and the emotions and talk carried along with it as a social membrane of the market field. The screens feed and renew the membrane – and they provide a sophisticated feedback and support system for the market discourse that develops around their bursts of information.

5 Trust and fate: how scopic media do it Are scopic media able to manage and convey trust? Many areas today, including those of commercial exchange and financial markets, involve considerable sources of uncertainty and risk. These may be dealt with by formal rules and mechanisms, for example accreditation procedures of parties (banks, trading firms, fund managers etc.) in a transaction. Networks, as suggested in the literature, are another way to police and regulate such risks. But risk control and the management of trust can also be implemented with the help of scopic media, as we show in our ongoing research on the role of these media in various settings. One example is German debt auctions (Reichmann 2013). Germany auctions off about 97 % of its debt in the form of bonds, selling these instruments to a consortium of banks that offer the bonds on international financial markets. Auctions are prepared and held according to a schedule that is fixed in December of the year preceding the auction. The technical infrastructure for these events is “secured” by multiple means. For example, there are two separate auction management teams in case one team

Scopic media and global coordination


is unable to operate; emergency systems are in place; operations are conducted in a heavily secured and policed zone of the National Bank’s buildings and site; and the selection process of bidders requires personal identification. Bidding is for minimum volumes, and forbids any “testing of the waters” (i.e. fake bids not meant to be realized in practice). These are all mechanisms that guarantee the special character of the occasion and convey its “serious”, reliable, trustworthy character. Additional mechanisms also stimulate trust. For example, the auction is not scheduled when market prices are favorable, but rather according to a predetermined schedule and predetermined quantities: only this limited quantity will be auctioned off regardless of whether there is higher demand. In fact, the auction will be held as scheduled even if it results in “negative interest” for the National Bank, which doesn’t act “opportunistically”. Investors appreciate this, placing trust in non-opportunistic behavior. It means that there will be bonds for them to bid on “next time”, even if they were not able to get them at the earlier auction. Another trust-generating factor is that the Bank corrects errors fastidiously: If a bidder makes an offer that’s recognized as erroneous, he or she is immediately informed about the presumed mistake. The point is that scopic media fully transmit and implement trust management practices. Moreover, because of the transparency they afford and their speed, they are an additional resource in such efforts. Recall the inclusionary effectiveness of scopic media, the coordination of consciousness they afford – everyone eligible to bid and in possession of the media will be included in the information flow surrounding an auction simultaneously and in synchronicity with everyone else. Unlike networks (whose reason for existence is often to exclude outsiders from information flows) scopic media create something of a public: an audience of watchers who can all know what is happening, as long as the activities can be realized through and limited to these media. German debt auctions build on this resource. Media can be associated with a type of sociality that is largely devoid of deeper meaning – think of Twitter or Facebook, and the hundreds or thousands of “friends” and followers users may have there. Such relationships are presumably similar to our postsocial relationships with objects, which may also lack the depth of meaningful human interaction. While this sort of emptying out may correctly describe our heavily mediated human social relations, it doesn’t necessarily describe the synthetic situation, which can have a heightened rather than a reduced significance. Conveying trust through reducing behavioral and network risks – through exploiting the possibility of scopic media to make things visible and accountable for all, through using the speed these media enable by eliminating delay associated with physical distance or absence, through exhibiting reliability and straightforwardness at the expense of heightened profit, and through conspicuously enhancing the security features these media require and enable – all of these features enrich the synthetic situation rather than emptying it out. There are other features of the synthetic situation that also point to such enhancements.


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One example is fatefulness. Synthetic situations can be associated with increased fatefulness, or in other words with additional layers of meaning significant to the persons in the synthetic situation. Goffman (1969) used the term fatefulness when he analyzed casino gamblers’ opportunity-taking and risk-taking and found that these actions may have lasting consequences – they are fateful. Their effects “spill over in the rest of someone’s life” because when someone is gambling away a fortune he or she will have to bear the consequences of this action. Hence a gamble’s consequentiality is the “capacity of payoff to flow beyond the bounds of the occasion in which it is delivered and to influence objectively the later life of the bettor” (Goffman 1969: 116). Expected consequences may of course also influence how the situation proceeds. Fatefulness, in this case, is not just a post hoc effect but is part of the situation. For example, the dread of losing may contribute to the thrill of gambling. Goffman’s (1969: 119) use of the term “fatefulness” was limited to actions that in addition to having consequences are chancy. I use the term here in a more general way to point to the phenomenon that situations are often charged with special significance – deriving not only from anticipated consequences but also from unexpected consequential matters that may become foregrounded in a situation. Think of a plane in flight – many of the formal rules regulating passenger conduct and the informal conventions of behavior passengers adopt when they come on board will be shaped by the understanding that the plane ride is a time of shared fate. In fact, not only the interaction order of the flight but also that within the various areas of the airport through which flyers pass before take-off are informed by this understanding. In financial markets, someone buying a currency or stock creates a claim that the buyer acquires on future growth. The transaction is a time machine in a double sense. It transfers the immediate command of resources to the more remote future7 – this creates, for the buyer, an extended situation. And the investor’s or speculator’s money allows the party receiving the money to jump start the future in the present: to start investing in future outcomes with an eye to creating returns on the investment. The transaction creates a level of increased fatefulness: it thrusts the investor and speculator into a temporal engagement with a receiving party and the market on whose performance they now depend. Many other situations are set up or staged to allow for and convey increased fatefulness. Any conversation can be so configured; for example it may consist of a succession of question–answer pairs to which the fate of a nation becomes publicly attached, as in a presidential debate. Synthetic situations have an intrinsic capacity to increase the fatefulness of social situations. This simply derives from the fact that screens project information that is not otherwise available to participants in the situation. And this information can exhibit an incipient fate by specifying with causal efficacy distant as well as

7 The notion of a time machine was used by Keynes to make this point (see Davidson 1980: 297, cited in Rochon 1999: 47, 204).

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higher and lower level processes that are not visible to the naked eye – but which do, or will in the future, influence entities and behavior. The synthetic components of a situation are not limited to that which is available to us in everyday encounters. They bring near, articulate, and project a developing fate. The mediascape of the cockpit of a plane may indicate the dangers of a close plane, flocks of birds, severe weather, and turbulences – before any of these dangers actually hit the plane. They may predict and convey engine problems, assess pilot fatigue, and much more, thus sketching out an imminent fate and inducing corrective action. Consider also a medical example. Imagine the ultrasound scans offered to a woman during pregnancy. The images and videos present the various stages of fetal development, allowing doctors to measure and assess not only the estimated weight of the fetus, its sex, and the functioning of vital organs, but also many details such as its abdominal and skull circumference and the length of its femur and spinal cord. The “anomaly” scan done at twenty weeks, for example, offers a multitude of cross-sectional views, long views, and sonographic specifications of the fetus that reveal as many of its “fateful” properties as technically possible.8 The developing fetus acquires a second presence in the resulting videos and images. There is an external visual and informational articulation of its features, looks, and internal environment – an articulation that also projects what the infant will be and suffer when born, what may happen before birth, and what medical measures should possibly be taken. The visual images, in this case, allow for medical and scientific analysis; they are configured for the purpose. The synthetic components of a situation often have an epistemic function – they make information available that indicates fateful processes currently under way, and available for early adjustment and professional intervention. Differently put, synthetic situations acquire fatefulness through the informational and epistemic enhancement their scopic components offer. Algorithms may provide the calculations that specify an emergent fate. But they may also add to the fatefulness of situations as synthetic software agents capable of swift, calculated activities that may target and threaten human positions. When algorithms are not simply “tools” that execute human instructions, they can deepen and also undermine the strategic games humans play. This, too, increases the fatefulness of synthetic situations.

8 The scan indicates the head’s shape and internal structure down to the form of the lip and, potentially, the palate; the alignment of the spinal vertebrae and the spine’s skin cover in the back; the abdominal wall and whether it covers all organs at the front; the atria and ventricles of the heart and the valves that open and close with each heartbeat. Further scans reveal the kidneys and the presence of regular urine flow, and inspect the hands, feet, fingers and toes, the umbilical cord, the amniotic fluid, and the location of the placenta. It is even possible to count the three blood vessels in the umbilical cord (see scans/secondtrimesterscans/#6, retrieved September 28, 2008 for further details).


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6 Prospects This chapter focused on the mediatization of the face-to-face situation and the need for an updated understanding of one of the most basic units of sociality, the social situation. Scopic mediatization is a particular type of mediatization involving screen-based electronic media. The technologies involved differ – think of an fMRI technology in comparison to the Reuters and Bloomberg screens used in finance – but in all cases they “present” and make available to participants what lies spatially and temporally beyond their reach.9 In contemporary global financial markets this means practically everything that is relevant to financial transactions. The concepts I have offered – scopic media and the synthetic situation, the notion of response presence and that of an attentional regime, and attentional coordination that contrasts with network coordination – are designed to capture the impact of the mediatization of face-to-face situations (see also Knorr Cetina 2009, 2012). The story that began here with scopic media does not, of course, end with the synthetic situation on its own. National debt auctions, for example, involve not only situational but institutional means: that is rules, resources, and conventions that are implemented through the media together with interactional capabilities. This points beyond the media situationalism on which this paper has focused, to a media intuitionalism. Global forms that persist and stretch across countries and cultures are not simply agglomerations of brief encounters – they are often also simultaneously institutional spheres, as the example of global currency trading I have used in this chapter illustrates. Global scientific projects in the area of highenergy physics, for example, work within time schedules extending over three decades – the time it now takes to conduct one experiment. High-energy physics “situations” that involve a detector – a scientific instrument the size of a severalstory building, that takes approximately fifteen years to build – are generally not brief; and scopic media are used in these cases not only to enable communication among the several thousand physicists and engineers that participate in such projects and are located all over the globe, but also to project and monitor the institutional rules such projects require. More generally speaking, the synthetic components of social situations project and articulate trust, fatefulness, and coordination in specific rather than general ways. But in all cases they substitute the possibility of global coordination and informational significance for the ecological huddle of the naked, unmediated face-to-face situation.

9 See Schutz and Luckmann (1989: 131–132) where the term is spelled “appresentation”. I use the notion to refer to the process of making available to participants in the situation “what lies spatially and temporally beyond their reach”, as Schutz and Luckmann put it.

Scopic media and global coordination


References Bandelj, Nina. 2012. Relational work and economic sociology. Politics & Society 40(2): 175–201. BIS (Bank for International Settlement). 2010. Triennial Central Bank Survey. Foreign exchange and derivatives market activity in April 2010. Preliminary results. Monetary and Economic Department. September. Basel. Retrieved March 30, 2011, from rpfx10.pdf. Blodget, Henry. 2007. IBM survey: Time spent on Internet now rivals TV. Retrieved September 17, 2008, from Bruegger, Urs. 1999. Wie handeln Devisenhändler? Eine ethnographische Studie über Akteure in einem globalen Markt. Ph.D. dissertation, University of St. Gallen. Button, Graham. 1993. Technology in Working Order: Studies of Work, Interaction, and Technology. London: Routledge. Castells, Manuel. 1996. The Rise of the Network Society. New York: Harper & Row. Davidson, Paul. 1980. The dual faceted nature of the Keynesian revolution: Money and money wages in unemployment and production flow prices. Journal of Post Keynesian Economics 2(3): 291–307. Fine, Gary Alan. 1984. Negotiated orders and organizational cultures. Annual Review of Sociology 10: 239–262. Garfinkel, Harold. 1967. Studies in Ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Goffman, Erving. 1969. Where the Action Is: Three Essays. London: Penguin. Goffman, Erving. 1972. The neglected situation. In: Pier Paolo Giglioli (ed.), Language and Social Context, 61–66. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. Goffman, Erving. 1981. Response cries. In: Erving Goffman (ed.), Forms of Talk, 78–128. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Goffman, Erving. 1983. The interaction order. American Sociological Review 48: 1–17. Goodman, Nelson. 1978. Ways of Worldmaking. Hassocks: Harvester Press. Goodwin, Charles. 1981. Conversational Organization: Interaction between Speakers and Hearers. New York: Acad. Press. Goodwin, Charles. 1995. Seeing in depth. Social Studies of Science 25: 237–274. Granovetter, Mark. 1985. Economic action and social structure: The problem of embeddedness. American Journal of Sociology 91(3): 481–510. Hayek, Friedrich August. 1945. The use of knowledge in society. The American Economic Review 35(4): 519–530. Jäckel, Michael. 2005. Einleitung – zur Zielsetzung des Buches. In: Michael Jäckel (ed.), Mediensoziologie. Grundfragen und Forschungsfelder, 9–13. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Knorr Cetina, Karin. 2005. Complex global microstructures: The new terrorist societies. Theory, Culture and Society, Special Issue on Complexity 22(5): 213–234. Knorr Cetina, Karin. 2009. The synthetic situation: Interactionism for a global world. Symbolic Interaction 32(1): 61–87. Knorr Cetina, Karin. 2012. What is a financial market? Global markets as microinstitutional and post-traditional social forms. In: Karin Knorr Cetina and Alex Preda (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Finance, 115–133. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Knorr Cetina, Karin and Urs Bruegger. 2002. Global microstructures: The virtual societies of financial markets. American Journal of Sociology 107(4): 905–950. Krotz, Friedrich. 2001. Mediatisierung und symbolische Welt. In: Friedrich Krotz (ed.), Die Mediatisierung kommunikativen Handelns. Der Wandel von Alltag und sozialen Beziehungen, Kultur und Gesellschaft durch die Medien, 17–42. Wiesbaden: Westdeutscher Verlag.


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Lundby, Knut. 2009. Media logic: Looking for social interaction. In: Knut Lundby (ed.), Mediatization: Concept, Changes, Consequences, 101–119. New York: Peter Lang. Podolny, Joel M. 2001. Networks as the pipes and prisms of the market. American Journal of Sociology 107(1): 33–60. Reichmann, Werner. 2013. Deutschland als sicherer Hafen, Stabilität, Sicherheit, und Vertrauen in deutsche Anleihen. Unpublished manuscript, University of Konstanz. Rich, Motoko. 2008. Literacy debate Online: R U really reading? New York Times, July 27. Rochon, Louis P. 1999. Credit, Money and Production: An Alternative Post-Keynesian Approach. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Rusch, Gebhard. 2009. The many mediatic turns … and a significant difference. In: Theo Hug (ed.), Mediatic Turn: Claims, Concepts and Discourses/ Mediale Wende: Ansprüche, Konzepte und Diskurse, 23–34 (Special Issue SPIEL 25(1)). Frankfurt/ Main: Lang. Scheff, Thomas J. 1990. Microsociology: Discourse, Emotion, and Social Structure. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Schutz, Alfred and Thomas Luckmann. 1989. The Structures of the Life-World, Volume 2. Evanston: Northwestern University Press. Stone, Gregory P. and Harvey A. Farberman. 1981. Social Psychology through Symbolic Interaction. New York: Wiley. Strauss, Anselm, Leonard Schatzman, Danuta Ehrlich, Rue Bucher and Melvin Sabshin. 1963. The hospital and its negotiated order. In: Eliot Freidson (ed.), The Hospital in Modern Society, 147–169. London: Free Press of Glencoe. Suchman, Lucy A. 1987. Plans and Situated Actions: The Problem of Human–Machine Communications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ten Have, Paul and George Psathas. 1995. Situated Order: Studies in the Social Organization of Talk and Embodied Activities. Washington, DC: University Press of America. Turkle, Sherry. 1995. Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Risto Kunelius

3 Climate change challenges: an agenda for de-centered mediatization research Abstract: Climate change underlies the deep interconnectedness of people, calls for new kinds of models of transnational governance, requires a radically futureoriented political imagination, and challenges the very material base that our modern, carbon-thirsty cultures are built on. In this chapter climate change works as a prism through which to develop a de-centered perspective to mediatization. This means looking at the way the saturating “presence” of the media – from technological shifts in attention dynamics and interactional affordances to the politics of representation – shapes the mutual interaction of social actors. It also means avoiding being abstracted from particular, historical subject matters and taking seriously the particularities of the problem constructions that bring social actors into interaction. Starting from these premises, the chapter discusses mediatization of climate change through the frameworks of attention management (the global climate news agenda, representing the real (climate science and media logic), political representation (climate change, media, and the political field) and journalistic professionalism. As a conclusion, the chapter briefly tackles mediatization as a discourse, and the normative dimensions mediatization research. Keywords: climate politics, post-normal science, risk, global journalism, professionalism, media events, media-logic, mediatization

1 Introduction: mediatization and climate change Type “climate change” into a Google picture search and you will probably end up with a picture of a polar bear trying to float on a small island of ice. Often enough, there are a couple of young ones also in the frame, struggling on an increasingly sparse arctic ice-cover. Somewhat amazingly, if you stop to think about it, the polar bear has, in a decade or so, become an icon of a looming threat that humans seem to have created for themselves and their livelihoods. It is a telling example of the “power” of the media how such symbolic dimensions have been so quickly attached to a particular species and how its fate has been represented as a powerful metaphor of an extremely complex phenomenon referred to as “climate change”. “Personalizing” the future to the visually powerful image of the polar bear and simplifying our risky future through the wishful and romantic survival narrative of its small family neatly illustrates many of the things we relate “media logic” with. So, climate change surely is a thoroughly “mediatized” question around which simplifications and dramatizations run wild.


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At the same time climate change is a global problem construction that surpasses all earlier common political challenges in its complexity. It underscores the deep interconnectedness of people, calls for new kinds of models of transnational governance, requires a radically future-oriented political imagination, and challenges the material base that our contemporary cultures are built on. Talking about it requires abstractions that transcend from the concrete and real (weather) to the abstract system (climate) and that reach from the tangible present to imagined pasts and futures. The scope and complexity are not only challenging, they are also easily paralyzing. Hence, perhaps the slightly romantic and yet detached symbol animal: we can relate to polar bears but will not thoroughly identify with them. Hence, perhaps the tendency to represent human suffering through drowning houses rather than people. Hence, the need for future scenarios to always have optimistic curves of emissions side by side with the ones that describe the path we are really on. This chapter argues that climate change provides a particularly interesting and important challenge to thinking about media and mediatization. The importance is evident because of the weight of issues raised by climate change: it is, at least, a mighty case study. But it is also more than that: climate challenge stretches down just about as deep as you want to imagine to our carbon-thirsty way of life. It has potential to cut across and deep into the social systems we live in and think by (cf. Giddens 2009; Hulme 2010a; Urry 2011). Thus, testing some of the aspects of mediatization theory by thinking them through and in connection with climate change becomes unavoidable. As a starting point, this task calls for discussing (at least) three issues in the current debate about mediatization. First, thinking about social theory through climate change points to something trivial but crucial: at the root of the mediatization narrative (both in academic and popular discourses) is the image of a modern, functionalistic, institutionally differentiated society. As a concept denoting a process, mediatization assumes that at a constitutive level, modern societies are made of some kind of sub-systems (domains, fields, institutions) with their designated tasks, values systems, particular practices – and certain level of autonomy. It is the borders of these differentiated systems that are at stake when we experience something called mediatization, whether we talk about politics, science, family, individuality, or something else. Starting from this experience of media “invading” a sphere or a domain in a new way, mediatization inquiry opens its key questions. What kind of change takes place inside these domains (e.g. How mediatization of the school changes the demand for particular pedagogic skills)? What happens to the (power) relations between such domains in a media-intensified environment (e.g. Are politicians more vulnerable to mediatization than economic power holders?)? And, perhaps most obviously: how different actors learn to operate with the increasingly important media actors and institutions (e.g. Do all public actors need media training?) Because an unspoken assumption about a “healthy” degree of differentiation (a

Climate change challenges: an agenda for de-centered mediatization research


desirable diversity of rationalities) is deeply rooted in our modern social imagination, answers to such questions often acquire a normative twist. Thus, talk about mediatization often comes with a sense of threat or loss (of the rational, the authentic, the real, etc.). Symptoms of mediatization are declared by guardians of different domains who feel irritated and threatened by the changes (parents, teachers, priests, politicians, etc.). From a more general perspective, the normative value invested in differentiation, the de-centralization of power and the ideal of “balance” between different domains makes us easily point to the “black box” of “media logic” as a pejorative shorthand standing for something alien penetrating these fundamental spheres of life and the categories we think by. Against this background, climate change is a highly potential sparring partner for mediatization theory because it is not a domain, a field, or an institution but a complex, wide-ranging and multi-level problem construction that cuts across many of our imagined differentiated modern spheres, from science to politics to culture and from public to private. Hence, just as carbon dioxide respects no national boundaries, climate change by its “nature” challenges the modern imagination of institutional differentiation. Second, climate change poses questions at the level of historical narratives, suggesting a broad and multidirectional context of several interrelated influences. Mediatization, on the other hand, too easily turns into a somewhat linear and almost causal relationship. In a simple form this refers to an effect-relationship between “a medium” (journalism, television, Internet) and some target domain (for instance how journalism shapes the public role of religion). In a slightly more diffuse sense it can refer to a particular development in the environment (for instance visualization or digitalization) and its influence on a specific field (for instance visualization of politics). However, taken as an aspect of a more general narrative of social process, mediatization must refer beyond the “effects” of particular forms of media institutions or the cultural effects of particular affordances. Mediatization begins to make deeper sense only when looked at in the broader landscape of technological, economic, political, and cultural factors in which all institutions and social domains of action are situated. This includes media institutions – “the media” – too. It means that despite the irritating tautology, it makes sense to talk about “mediatization of the media” (for instance journalism) (Kunelius and Reunanen 2012a, 2012b). In this sense, media institutions are the not the “origin” of mediatization. Instead, stabilized forms of media (say journalism or book publishing) will also have to adapt to a general process of mediatization (the changing social conditions and media environment for all institutions). The business model of a newspaper can erode, the self-evident nodal role of book shops may evaporate, and newspapers and bookshops can become “mediatized” (or disappear altogether). True enough, mediatization is (perhaps always) recognized in a particular domain, and takes the shape of a claim of “media” affecting someone (journalism influencing political practice, television shaping family rou-


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tines and rituals, mobile phones transforming parent–children relations, social networking reworking privacy, etc.). However, such pressures are never just signaled into institutional domains as pure “stimulus” (of, say new media technologies) but always come into play in institutionalized forms and formats (e.g. new aggressive values of professional journalism, the confusingly complex articulation of the self in social media or mobile phone applications). These, of course, are already articulations of several factors (technology, markets, legislation, etc.). Thus, underneath such “effect”-frames, as a theoretical aggregate, mediatization points to a bigger change in which all the actors and domains are embedded in a new kind of environment where speed of information, volume of exchange, complexity of connections, and reach over distance take place in a new scale. At this level, the object of analysis of mediatization is not this or that “domain” or “institution” but rather, the transforming patterns and practices of mutual interaction. As a way of operationalizing such an object for research, a problem construction like climate change can be potentially useful. In order to understand the shape and changes of such an object, we need to look at the interests (the power relations, the discursive fissures, or what have you) of different actors as they are articulated in relation to a particular topic or problem construction. “Climate change” in Bangladesh articulates a different kind of field for social actors to engage in than it does in Finland (cf. Kumpu and Rhaman 2012). This difference is linked to but goes beyond the generally identified local traditions and history of media–political system relations. And while this is true in almost any topic, in relation to climate change (due to its depth as a problem construction) this question of how institutional relations are shaped by concrete issues and interests is particularly interesting. Thirdly, climate change can help to situate mediatization within the larger (global) social, political, and historical conjuncture in which we find ourselves. Mediatization as a phenomenon and as a discourse earns the true depth of its meaning in a particular historical context. At the broadest level this includes a new global shape of economic power, new conditions, mobility, and division of labor in global markets, new investment logics and dynamics, a new intensity of cultural diversity in most parts of the world – and so on. Some of these trends have long been identified in the broad trajectories of global capitalism or history’s “longue durée” (e.g. from Braudel 1982 to Harvey 1989 to Arrighi 1994), but they have recently been accentuated in our imagination by the contemporary economic crisis (cf. Calhoun and Derluguian 2010). However broad and sweeping such remarks on globalization sometimes are, they remind us that our newly “mediatized condition” – of everyday life, politics, religion, or of journalism – is taking place at a particular moment. New media infrastructures, forms, and their uses emerge and become molded by historical circumstances, by specific moments of action, and through specific articulations of social relations. From this perspective, “mediatization” and “globalization” are deeply mutually interdependent concepts

Climate change challenges: an agenda for de-centered mediatization research


and discourses (cf. Ekecrantz 2007; Krotz 2009), and any talk about the “mediatized public sphere” is also talk about the “global network society” (Castells 2009) or about the “mediapolis” (Silverstone 2007). It is of course true that the features of social media cannot be explained only by referring to ideological struggles of the political public sphere (for instance on multiculturalism). But it is equally important to bear in mind that such politically substantial questions also shape and empower the actual forms that mediatization takes. There is, then, a need to weigh in the particular, real, and concrete historical conjuncture in which the concept and discourse of mediatization begins to gain strength (in popular imagination, in media studies, perhaps in social theory more generally). Recognizing that mediatization always is about mediating not only between actors and institutions in general but also that it is about mediating and articulating particular issues and realities in a particular situation, is well accentuated by climate change. Thinking about mediatization of climate change begs a look at the power relations of the world in all their complexity. Thus thinking through climate change, as a key “global crisis” (Mann 2013: 361–399) necessarily links the mediatization debate to some of the “ideological” power resources of capitalism, markets, and nations states. It also brings in – forcefully, in fact – other resources and structures of power and their soberly constraining counterweight to too enthusiastic claims of radical social change related to mediatization. Not surprisingly, several works of recent “global history” end up by articulating environmental issues as a test case of the future of current global system of power (Mann 2013 361–399; McNeil and McNeil 2003: 284–288; Fernández-Armesto 2011, 1024 ff.). To summarize, then, this chapter attempts to use climate change as a tool to develop a more de-centered view on mediatization. By focusing on a particular problem construction rather than particular institutions, I try to question the assumptions of differentiation that (silently) inform much of mediatization debate. I also try to steer clear of linear and causal narratives, see mediatization as the emergence of new kind of mutual interaction between social actors. Hopefully, this also anchors mediatization to history and the structural conditions in which it takes place. I will walk this de-centered, problem-framed path by discussing how media research on climate change offers evidence and modifies the evidence on mediatization within the following themes. – Mediatization and attention (management): the global climate news agenda – Mediatization and representing the real: climate science and media logic – Mediatization and political representation: climate change, media and the political field – Mediatization and professionalism: climate change and professional autonomy As a conclusion, I will briefly reflect on issues concerning mediatization as a discourse, and in particular, the normative dimensions of this discourse.


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2 Mediatization and attention (management): the global climate news agenda In some ways a primary, fundamental way to identify media influence and growth of its importance, is to think about the media as a crucial factor in distributing public attention (or, visibility [cf. Thompson 2005; Adut 2012; Kunelius and Reunanen 2012a]). Recent history of global media coverage of climate change offers an evidence to reflect on this. Climate change became introduced to the media agendas mostly in the science sections of journalism in the 1980s, as the “greenhouse effect”. It lived a fairly long “bubbling under” period, peaking in different countries according local and global catalyzing effects (local politics, weather events, and international political events, such the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 or the US decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol in 2001). In the 1990s it slowly ascended on the media attention radar (Boykoff 2011). In the mid 2000s “global warming” and “climate change” then phenomenally broke into virtually global media consciousness (Boykoff and Mansfield 2013 and Schmidt et al. 2013 provide a recent literature review of research focusing on climate change media attention). At first sight, this rise of attention speaks of the power of the media’s ability to set the public agenda – and in time, also political agenda. Particularly interesting here is the fact that mainstream media attention since 2004 also grew relatively steadily globally (Boykoff and Mansfield 2013). This suggests that media’s agenda setting capacity was able to transcend its usual, nationally grounded, domestic boundaries of news relevance. Of course, journalism was supported here by several “extra-media” factors such as warm winters and other weather phenomena, US ex-Vice President Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth in 2006 and its Oscar Award, the publication of the 4th IPCC Assessment Report in 2007, and a flood of books and other publications (cf. Boykoff 2011: 1–29). These factors helped mainstream journalism become sensitized to the topic and often to lift it from the science pages to the center of political global attention. This peaked first in 2007 and then again two years later 2009 during the Copenhagen COP-meeting.1 The attention shift thus was not only caused by the media, but the peak also testifies of the power and ability of the media to build a momentary dramatized global focus. During the late 2000s in the global North, at least, it seemed that media was indeed crafting climate change as a “common denominator” for transnational and national public discourses, a saturating factor in the political landscape that

1 COP refers to the “Conferences of the Parties” on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) a treaty negotiated at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) Rio de Janeiro in 1992, aiming at preventing dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Following the 1992 framework, the COP’s (global climate summits) have been organized yearly. See

Climate change challenges: an agenda for de-centered mediatization research


influenced public rhetoric and deliberation across the board, from energy politics to development policies to individual consumer choices. If one bears in mind that this rise took place in the part of the world that is thoroughly “carbon driven” and where there are strong politico-economical and everyday psychological reasons that support forms of denial, this can be seen as remarkable proof of media’s capacity to focus attention and political priorities. The long incubating period (from 1980s to the 2000s) of climate issue on the science pages (often detached from general political news and debate) speaks of the power of the modern differentiation bureaucratized logic over professional journalism of those periods. But the persistent rise of attentions testifies to the cross cutting power of the media to arrange the order of the “environment” (to offer a public representation of the “outside” of institutions, as Luhmann [2000] puts it) in which institutions act. In the light of mediatization theory, it is also interesting to think of how the attention break-through happened. Indeed, there is some evidence that media attention can be a self-catalyzing and self-cumulative process where “attention drives attention” (Djerf-Pierre 2012): initial media attention increases the activity of public actors which in turn widens the perspectives on the issue, politicizes issues, and creates more newsworthy public action. This upward attention cycle is also strengthened by the conflicts of interest that are activated with the invested attention and that fit well with dominant news criteria. (For a broad argument on issue dynamics, see Djerf-Pierre 2013.) Such a “spiral of attention” can also be seen in climate coverage in a more short range analysis (behind particular peaks of attention). Hulme, for instance, (2010a, 63–66) shows how “global warming” in 1988 first (momentarily) broke through to US public consciousness via a convergence of events (warm records from 1987, drought in the US Midwest), politics (a Senate hearing), institutional innovations (climate science borrowing the idea of an international treaty from ozone layer politics), and charismatic individuals (NASA scientist Jim Hansen dramatically testifying in the US Senate). Such symbolic centripetal moments cannot be reduced to the strategies of particular actors. Rather, the agenda setting attention spiral is a result of mutually reinforcing moves by a number of actors. More broadly, it suggests that mediatization can take the form of crafting momentary “public truths” (Reunanen et al. 2010) where the mere pressure and volume of attention becomes a normative action horizon to political actors, leading to fluctuations in the intensity of mediatization over time (cf. Rödder and Schäfer 2010). Climate coverage offers examples of how such of globalized media attention can also increase the stakes of political moments. A particular example is hubris during the Copenhagen COP 15 meeting in 2009 (cf. Eide, Kunelius and Kumpu, 2010; Painter 2010). At the same time, the variations of global attention to climate change coverage offer sobering counter-evidence about the limits to a strong mediatization thesis. Schmidt, Ivanova and Schäfer (2013), for instance, have shown the amount of media attention to climate change in different countries varies according to funda-


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mental economic and political factors such as carbon dioxide emissions or net fuel exports. Again, there is no single or simple explanatory factor behind the local news agendas. In addition to constraints related to the location (carbon politics, geopolitics, political order, media system), there are also differences over time. Thus, as the attention cycle of the 2000s peaked in Copenhagen 2009, it also sank incredibly fast as the political-economic elites of the hegemonic blocs of the world became preoccupied with the financial crisis and recession. In Durban 2011, the media attention of global journalism on the COP-process had diminished to a meager 28 % of that of Copenhagen (Kunelius and Eide 2012; Nossek and Kunelius 2012). The reduction in mainstream media attention on climate change thus offers some lessons as well. The 2009 Copenhagen climate summit looks like a “supernova” kind of media event (star quality participants from Obama to Arnold Schwarzenegger, enormous attendance) where media managed to create a “global public sphere” – momentarily. Importantly, this seemed to be possible despite the support of a fairly flimsy political structure (the COP-process). There was, it seemed, real pressure for the global political elites into a come up with a “big deal”. The quick fall of this attention, then, testifies the hard non-mediatized resources of political power (both globally and domestically). It also shows the diverse and contradictory set of desires that are lumped together in moments of high attention. For mediatization theory, this underlines a paradoxical aspect of attention driven media power: if the media controls the short-term attention economy, a strong use of this resourse of always makes it more volatile and exposed. The more political interests are focused by media attention to a particular issue, the stronger the pressure that a dominant media frame will begin to break. The power of attention draws in other forms of power.

3 Mediatization and representing the real: climate science and media logic A key question in thinking about mediatization refers to the way media’s habits and routines of representation shape our relationship to reality. Roughly put, in a mediatized condition, one might argue, we live in a world of increasingly multiplied realities where things near and far (both in time and place) are part of our everyday action horizons. Climate change offers a fascinating case of the interplay of such complex representations. These issues become particularly evident in the relationship between climate science and the media. Any attempt to represent the “physical base” (as the IPCC2 calls it) of climate change demands a staggering 2 The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), established in 1988, provides scientific review on the current state of knowledge about climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts. It operates in a United Nations framework, collecting and synthesizing

Climate change challenges: an agenda for de-centered mediatization research


amount of interdisciplinary work. When one adds to this the globally diversified political and economic stakes, it is no wonder that the climate science–media relationship has also become a tense affair. Focusing on how media (with the help of science) tries to represent the “reality” of climate change points to at least two slightly different to lessons to mediatization debates. First, communication of climate science exemplifies many of the “normal” challenges of the media–science media interaction. In this relationship, we usually think that it is in the nature of media to simplify, to exaggerate the recent and most “interesting”, to look for clear and tangible results, to demand direct applications and consequences. Science “itself”, on the other hand, is often seen as more focused on nuances, details, and incremental accumulation of knowledge. The relationship of these two “logics” can, then, lead to problems and tensions: a paradigmatic moment for mediatization discourse to appear. Hence we can detect various kinds of “biases” in media’s manner of representing the “results” and conclusions of science (cf. Mann 2012: 87–89). Looking at the media reception of the 2007 IPCC reports, Hulme (2010b) for instance concluded: The UK print media also adopt a distinctive linguistics repertoires in reporting IPCC assessments. The repertoires favour an “alarmist” discourse over others that emphasize contingency, agency and opportunity. The reasons for these preferences need further investigation. They may have as much to do with journalistic norms and practices favouring bad news and melodrama over more nuanced and contingent interpretations of climate change than they are the result of different newspaper ideologies. (Hulme 2010b: 127, [my emphasis])

Articulating a similar kind of assumption about “media logic”, Painter (2013: 141) offers practical advice to scientists in dealing with the media, suggesting that “scientists should stress early on in interviews with the media where there is broad consensus about climate science, and then later on where there are degrees of uncertainty”. In a survey of German climate scientists, Ivanova et al. (2013) too have found some support of the general influence of media: over 80 % of scientists said media concerns had partly influenced their choice of research topic. Given the tradition of upholding the image of autonomous science, this is a somewhat staggering figure.3 This is so even with the elaboration that the felt mediatization effect of climate scientists is differentiated by the seniority (cultural field capital)

the works of thousands of scientists from all over the world, assessing the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information. It does not conduct any research itself, nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters. The IPCC is an intergovernmental body, currently with 195 countries as members. Governments participate in the review process and the plenary Sessions, where the main decisions about the IPCC work program are taken and reports are accepted, adopted, and approved. The latest Assessment Report 5 (focusing on physical base of climate change) was published in September 2013. See 3 Reunanen, Kunelius and Noppari (2010) have similar results for politicians.


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of the scientist: more senior scientists are in more intense interaction with media professionals but feel – in a self-reporting data anyway – less of their impact. Such takes of the media–science relationship suggest, at a general level, quite a strong grasp of “media logic” (and a need to react to it) over the scientific one. But the variations between scientists’ views also point to a slightly understudied object of mediatization: the mutually negotiated professional rules between scientists and media. Such a focus refers beyond the question of “bias” of the media to issues related to the language with which scientific representations are constructed and mediated to the public. In climate science, a potential distinction here emerges between the language of “uncertainty” and “risk”. Painter (2013) elaborates this well, now from the point of view of journalists. (For a theoretical elaboration see Beck 2010: 16–19, 129–139.) Many of the journalists interviewed during the course of this study stressed the difficulties of communicating climate change in ways that help their audiences to understand the complexities and importance of it. It’s a very knotty problem in part caused by the complexity of the science and the distance in time and space of the impacts and in part by the way everyone filters messages about climate change through their own value systems. There is no simple recipe or panacea to communicate it well. But risk has the obvious advantage of being a language common to other areas of life, and risk language is probably less of an obstacle to understanding and engagement than strong messages of uncertainty and future catastrophe. Risk can offer a more helpful and appropriate context in which to hold the debate about climate science and what to do about climate impacts. (Painter, 2013: 142)

Painter’s advice to scientists and journalists is to negotiate their way from the language of uncertainty to the frame of risk. This points to a second and more fundamental level of questions in science–media relationship: the incompatibility between the epistemologically different vocabularies of science and the media. There are several “logics” at play at the same time. On one hand, we have the “old media logic”, where journalism identifies itself with the (high) modern, realist imaginaries and with reporting facts: telling the audience how things are. On the other hand, we have the 20th-century logic of falsification: the idea that everything grows from the recognition of uncertainties and that “knowing how things are” would denote the end of science. This gap between what constitutes acceptable knowledge has, as we know, caused considerable problems at the interface of media and climate science. In this respect, looking at the way in which the IPCC presents its work and its results in its latest Assessment Report (5) (IPCC 2013) on the physical base of climate change, offers little evidence of any deep “mediatization effect” in the field of science. Contemporary (climate) science seems to still be confidently relying on the language of uncertainties, modeling highly complex future pathways and reporting diverse probabilities and confidence levels. It still expects public discourse to accept its own way of framing the evidence.

Climate change challenges: an agenda for de-centered mediatization research


Taking a step back, one might actually argue for “counter-mediatization” from science to journalism. Perhaps the paradigm of uncertainty and doubt has made a stronger mark on the logic of media and journalism than vice versa. The Climategate controversy in 2009, where selective, strategic pickings from a massive amount of hacked and leaked emails from key climate scientists was used to raise doubt about the quality of science, can serve as an example here. It illustrates how various strands of climate change deniers (and the fossil fuel lobby that often funds them) have been able to capitalize on both the uncertainty logic of contemporary science (bluntly: there can be no denial that there is uncertainty) and the logic of doubt in journalism (highest form of journalism is the investigative, watchdog-variant that finds all sorts of “gates” to be linked to the Watergate tradition) which always favors a healthy suspicion of institutions and pledges to defend the “underdogs”. Simplistically put, the Climategate affair is an example of how such late modern epistemologies of journalism can be taken advantage of by playing on the tensions between epistemologies of “lay man” realism and contemporary science. (For more detailed and partly contradictory versions of the leaked emails, see Pearce 2010; Mann 2012, 207–248.) While the claim to know the truth for contemporary scientists seems like a vulgar and unreasonable (even unscientific) demand, it reflects the strong grasp of the modern, progressive image of science. Paradoxically, this image also stands behind much of the cultural authority of science. What complicates the situation for scientists, then, is that climate change as a global problem is one that also seems to demand that science re-situates itself in public life and in relationship to policy matter: science becomes a combat sport in the public, or a war (as Michael Mann’s book title – The Hockey Stick and Climate Wars. Dispatches from the Front Lines – illustrates). The IPCC itself, as an intergovernmental scientific panel illustrates the development of trans-boundary, “post-normal” science, a situation where “facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent” (Funtowicz and Ravetz 1993). The gravity of the problem and possibility of unimaginable damages of climate change, then, changes the functionalistic boundaries of disinterested, falsification-oriented science (Hulme 2010a: 77–80; Mann 2012: 253–258). It places increasing pressure for concerned scientists to speak in public with a language that commands authority and can help to pressure policy solutions. But at the same time, these very claims can detach scientists from their own institutional fields and their specific knowledge practices. What emerges from the intense encounter of media and science (and politics, as we will see below) is not a simple narrative of media defining the rules of game, but an image of how different institutions carry with them (also internally) contradictory and sometimes incompatible commitments and beliefs about their role in the representation of the “real” (see Latour 2013, 1–16). In the case on climate change, the “real” carries such a strong, undeniable power that these tensions become particularly visible. From a de-centered perspective, there ten-


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sions and multiple logics in representing reality – and the oscillation between them – are what mediatization actually means.

4 Mediatization and political representation: climate coverage and the political field Another dimension of representation in climate coverage points to the media– political system axis. This has perhaps been the most studied and debated relationship in mediatization research in general (Asp 1986; Mazzoleni and Schulz 1999; Strömbäck 2008). By situating these questions into the context of climate coverage, at least two interrelated points on this dimension can be elaborated. 1) the crucial importance of the relation between media and the local political field in which it functions and 2) the more general context of journalistic institutions vis-à-vis the identity politics of post-modern societies. Together they articulate the question about the re-politization of journalism in the mediatized conditions. A fruitful round of discussion on the relationship between political systems and media has been provoked during the last decade by the work Hallin and Mancini (2004) from whom we have received useful rough characterizations of different media–politics models and traditions. While the empirical validity of such models is always problematic, they underline the general importance of local variations. Inherited institutional and cultural patterns are important variables in understanding mediatization of politics and governance in particular contexts. Factors such as the size of the country, media systems’ political parallelism, the number and nature of political parties, and the logic of election system have longreaching effects on the structure and internal communication of the political elite and their interaction with the media. A small, multi-party country with a relatively strong tradition of democratic corporatism and coalition governments will “react” to mediatization in a different way than a large, federally structured country with a strong tradition of two-party system and majority rule (see Reunanen, Kunelius and Noppari 2010). Looking at the coverage of climate change, however, suggests an even more particular look at the structural conditions of the political field: it emphasizes the importance of the subject matter or policy area (and perhaps suggests a look at the key political disputes that give shape to the institutions and traditions). In mediating climate politics, then, the national or local stakes in carbon economy (or elsewhere: stakes in politics of development and vulnerability) play a crucial role in shaping the local dynamics of the media field and its interaction with the political field.4 Such a concrete, issue-focused view of politics may help to look 4 For examples of vulnerability as a key factor of local political field see Rhaman 2010, for “bystander” logic as a contrast to this see Kumpu and Rhaman 2012.

Climate change challenges: an agenda for de-centered mediatization research


beyond the public image of political representation and the “professionalism” of media. It sometimes shows rather nakedly how both the political and journalistic fields are embedded in local economic structures. From this perspective, what looks like a media’s increasing control over public “attention” can, at the level of political representation, begin to look much more limited. Australian coverage of climate change offers telling evidence on this. Chubb (2012), for one, has argued that in the intensively coal-dependent national economy of Australia, the public debate on climate change has increasingly been reduced to a general ideological distinction between “liberals” (right) and “labor” (left). Indeed climate change has become one of the major politically loaded signifiers that have decided the fate of a series of prime ministers, on both sides of the political aisle (Chubb and Bacon 2010). In a country heavily implicated in exporting carbon-based energy (coal), industry lobbying and media management has been fierce (McKewon 2012), and the effects of this pressure have begun to affect also the professional norms and judgment of journalism. At its worst, it has led to explicit denials of the basic norms of accountability (Chubb 2012).5 Recent examples of editorial reactions to the latest IPCC report (September 2013) can illustrate this divided political field. The IPCC report was an exercise in rebuilding credibility THERE is an inevitable compromise at the heart of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change fifth assessment report on the state of scientific knowledge about what is happening to the Earth’s climate. It is inescapable that this is a political document as much as a scientific one. This reality was explicit in comments by IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri when he opened week-long negotiations in Stockholm this week, saying the report “sets the stage for a positive outcome” in negotiations for a global agreement to limit carbon dioxide emissions, which is due to be finalised in Paris in 2015. Further evidence comes from the fact that it was representatives from 110 governments who attended the Stockholm meeting to refine the final draft “line by line”. (The Australian, September 28, 2013; my emphasis)

Onus on Abbott to act on climate change The new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report should be a game-changer in how Australia tackles global warming. But it won’t be – not without strong leadership from Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Future generations will look back, see the clear evidence of human induced climate change in this and previous IPCC reports and wonder why more wasn’t done sooner to tackle the problem? They will look at the safety-first approach of the Howard Coalition government on, say,

5 Similar polarized structures have also been seen elsewhere, for instance in the USA, although climate change has never become as central a political focal point (see Boykoff 2011). There is also the question about how such polarizing tendencies travel through transnational networks, but I will not dwell on that here.


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terrorism, where substantial policy, investment and cultural change was implemented to minimise that risk. Why, they will ask, does this Abbott Coalition government at best play down the risk of global warming and at worst deny it to protect vested interests and reinforce the ideological groupthink among its cheer squad? (Sydney Morning Herald, September 28, 2013; my emphasis)

What makes climate change coverage interesting in this respect is not only how politics overruns evidence, but also how such political polarization extends across national political fields. These transnational links and networks of actors can sometimes be rather complex and not very visible. But sometimes – as in the case of the News Corporation and its owner Rupert Murdoch – we can also point to how direct use of media outlets can polarize and sharpen political disputes internationally. This is also true of other issues than climate change. But for mediatization research one lesson is at least an important one: even if there might be something that we can call “media logic”, there is still strong evidence to suggest that politically motivated economic power can forcefully set the dynamics of public debate. The “logic” of Murdoch media (from the Australian to the Wall Street Journal to FOX News) is very different from The Guardian or the The New York Times. Although an explicit media-activity in politically polarizing climate change discourse appears only in some contexts, such examples also point beyond the traditional idea of media being embedded in local political fields or even larger economic power struggles. Hallin and Mancini (2004: 263 ff.) offer a useful background to this broader sociological view by noting a trend they call secularization. By an extended use of the term, they mean not the weakening of religion in the life of citizens, but the eroding power of “traditional” modern institutions to define collective identities – and the simultaneous increasing sense of individualization. As both media and politics derive much of their cultural capital from the idea of representing the public, this general shift in the real life-worlds and imagined social landscape has potentially large consequences. A fast forward version this shift goes like this. Western modern societies of the mid 20th century were much based on (the assumption of) fairly stable, broad collective identities (most often the interplay of class and national identity inherited from the 19th century [cf. Mann 1993; 2013]). Their mass media were able to take these structures mostly for granted. At minimum these structures supported the enduring occupational habits of journalists. The two main modern versions of mass media – the political parallelism of the party press and the professional, objective, public service news journalism – both situated themselves to this stable identity landscape, serving it with different “logics”. Political journalism claimed it represented existing, stable, almost “natural” social groups. Professional journalism claimed it rose above the same taken-for-granted distinctions, focusing on facts and relying on the social coherence of the natural collective identities to organize opinions and interpreta-

Climate change challenges: an agenda for de-centered mediatization research


tion. It is this (real and imagined) landscape of predictable collective identities that the “secularization” process erodes, thus theoretically leaving the “media” (and politics) more in need to actively – itself, constantly – develop and cultivate the broad, ideological frames of interpretation. At the same time the media technology has additionally shaken the taken-for-granted (often virtually monopolized) control of media over audiences’ attention. Thus, it should not come as a surprise that crafting loyalties, reinforcing identities, and defining opponents is becoming a more integral part of professional “media logic”. From this perspective of representation, then, mediatization also refers to a re-organization of the system in which political identities are reproduced and in which political representation takes place. Political identities no longer are imagined as something a priori to communication but increasingly as something constructed actually in it. In a mediatized condition, identities and opinions of issues have become unbundled and more floating, causing loyalty problems both for media institutions and political parties. Such problems have been largely tackled with targeting and audience profiling (both by media and politics). In journalism, Hjarvard (2008) suggests a new kind of re-politization of media as a key issue in mediatization. Such a development can be seen as a shift of emphasis taking place inside media logic of the modus operandi of the media, to a new role of “media-affiliated political commentators” (Hjarvard 2013: 72–77). Climate coverage, and the sometimes incompatible realities that it is able to create, offers telling evidence on mediatization at this level. Thus, from a broader perspective of thinking about mediatization as a general social, late-modern condition (rather than a new, dominant institutional logic), we can see how mediatization means both the increasing importance on media institutions (in constantly reproducing collective identities) and their diminishing centrality (in being able, or even willing, to craft a shared representations of reality). This poses the question about professional autonomy.

5 Mediatization and professionalism: climate change and professional autonomy At first sight, there is often a sense in which “mediatization” and “professionalization” of journalism seem to overlap. We can certainly point out that the lament, particularly by politicians, about mediatization has intensified during the same period that an increasingly professional, independent, and autonomous journalism has proliferated. Much of the research that juxtaposes “media logic” with “political logic” elaborates these issues (Esser 2013). Several studies of textual analysis testify, at the surface level anyway, of the increasing “control” and “authority” of journalists over how the news are contextualized (for an overview,


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see Fink and Schudson 2013). As Esser (2013) points out, however, this does not mean that “media logic” would be a one-dimensional, simple matter: it “includes” at least technological, commercial, and professional aspects. Indeed, also Bourdieu (1998; 2005; Benson and Neuve 2005) with his notion of the “journalistic field” points to the paradox of this development where journalism at the same time is becoming more “autonomous” (from the point of view of the news sources) and more “heteronomous” (from the point of view of the journalists) because of increasing commercialization. What for many news sources (and perhaps also for the public at large) looks like a period of the increasing autonomy and power of journalists, for journalists themselves seems like a time of increasing pressures time, publication space, and money – not to mention the ever more powerful army of public relations professionals and lobbyists. In a nutshell, for journalists this spells the loss of autonomy and control of their own work, and thus the “mediatization” argument can also be pointed to media institutions themselves, leading to a question about what is the “medium” that mediates (penetrates) journalism as we have come to know it (Kunelius and Reunanen 2012). In journalism, this means that a process of technological, economic, and social development has made the boundaries of professional identities, institutions, and practices much more porous and difficult to manage than they used to be and journalists have lost control of some key aspects of their professional field. This is well reflected and debated by recent calls for re-thinking (see Lewis 2012) or re-inventing (see Waisbord 2013) professionalism in journalism. To begin with, climate coverage offers a lot of evidence that supports the worry of declining professional values. We have already noted the way questions relating to what constitutes respectable science has spelled trouble for professional values of journalism. Even more concretely, Boykoff and Boykoff (2004) have nicely defined how the professional value of “balance” has created paradoxical results, keeping up an image of doubt in an age of ever more increasing certainty about anthropogenic climate change. Several scholars provide diverse evidence of the strong, concerted, and often transnationally well linked tactics with which industries involved in the fossil fuels business have backed information campaigns and lobbying efforts to sustain doubt and distribute misinformation (cf. Boykoff 2011: 159–164; Orekes and Conway 2010; Mann 2012). Reflected in the context of climate change, however, the “loss of autonomy” can also point to possibilities (of this conjuncture of “mediatized journalism”). Particularly during moments when global attention to the issue is intensified (climate summits, new scientific discoveries or reports), there have been signs of a transnational journalistic field being articulated around the topic of climate change (Kunelius and Eide 2012). Such “moments of hope” were particularly visible in the coverage of the Copenhagen climate summit of 2009, during the high point of the last attention cycle. Perhaps the most striking sign of this was the shared editorial,

Climate change challenges: an agenda for de-centered mediatization research


initiated by The Guardian and published in 56 newspapers in 46 countries around the world (Eide 2012a), concluding that “If we, with such different national and political perspectives, can agree on what must be done then surely our leaders can too” (The Guardian, December 6, 2009). There are also examples of how journalists are – at least potentially – able to challenge local political pressures and the narrow “domestication” logic of their own, national “primary definers” – by drawing from an emerging “cosmopolitan” professionalism of climate reporting. (Eide and Ytterstad 2011; Eide 2012b; Tegelberg 2010) Such leads could also provide new impetus on reflections about the possible emergence of “global journalism” (Reese 2001, 2008; Berglez 2013; Waisbord 2013). Often such discussions have tried to identify relatively abstract shared values that would inform journalistic practices transnationally. But looking at the consequences and potentials of the newly connected and networked (mediatized) condition of journalism through a global problem construction such as climate change could possibly open another dimension. There is some evidence of how journalists can develop – through the recognition of a shared problem – some global resources to support their autonomy vis-à-vis other institutions. What this means is re-thinking and re-examining different global discourses (such as climate politics) as an integral part of journalistic judgment. We can well think that some “ideological” elements have in time become a part journalistic professional canon: free speech and human rights come to mind first. Whether climate concerns can – in the long run and quickly enough – reach this level of shared contemporary social imaginaries is an open question. But arguably, on a global level, there are some indications of such transnational professional climate values, that can become part of the professional aspect of “news-media logic” (Esser 2013). More broadly put, there is the question of how the high stakes and risks (the post-normal potential) of climate change can lead to new kinds of professional “creativity”. Berglez (2011), for instance, has shown how environmental reporters in Sweden use the exceptional gravity of climate change as an issue to argue for new insights into what “professionally high level journalism” can be. Climate coverage also offers examples of renegotiating the relationship between journalists and civil society activists in a manner that suggests new interpretations of journalistic autonomy. During the relative attention peaks of climate summits (cf. Russell 2010; Russell et al. 2012) some journalists have engaged in new ways of interacting and forming “alliances” that support their reporting. Civil society actors have both recognized their role as clearing houses of information for journalists but also as independent sources of news and knowledge in the networked media environment. The blurring of these boundaries (often within the same person, as journalists act both as institutionally accredited reporters and as individually profiled blogger-commentators at the same time) are, of course, from the point of view professionalism a sign of renegotiating autonomy and the bound-


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aries of the field. They are a sign of “mediatization of journalism” by new kinds of actors and their “logics” and a symptom of journalists adopting some of those logics. The alliances formed on the basis of the shared concern and political urgency also serve as an important factor that facilitates interaction and innovation in journalism (see Russell 2013). Thus, the exceptional weight of climate change as a global political problem can help open up the complicated situation where “professional journalism” today is situated. There are plenty of things to be really worried about in the “mediatization” of journalism (or, de-professionalization of journalism). But a de-centered, problem driven perspective to the new context of journalism – or the mediatization of journalism – can also point to or even help to identify new resources for the “self-defense” of journalism by opening up the formal boundaries of the profession. The urgency, global nature, and complexity of an issue like climate change (or surveillance and privacy, as we have seen elsewhere) can lead to innovative solutions and interaction between journalists and other actors.

6 Conclusion: mediatization discourse and media criticism As a register of general, popular criticism, talk about “mediatization” often includes a recognizable normative aspect. Complaining about the influence of “the media”, dominant representatives of various social domains articulate the sense of “the media” penetrating the area where they – by virtue of the self-image of their own field – feel they should be in control. In such claims, “the media” is used as a sweeping generalization that includes many different and also contradictory forms or logics of more or less institutionalized communication. This is problematic, at least if we think that “mediatization” as a discourse should provide a reasonably elaborated image of what is going on. For instance simplistic claims about the sensationalist logic of journalism hardly apply with similar validity to the tabloid press and elite outlets or to comedy news shows and news agency reports. The popularity of the “mediatization” discourse (or more general laments about “media power”) outside academia is an indication that public discourse has become more sensitized to the way the complex changes in the media environment are posing new questions to social actors. While this sensitivity is itself a healthy sign of recognizing the important role of media and communication in current societies, there is still some way left from a completely media-blind social imagination to one that would be able to set questions about media (media policy, media criticism, media responsibility) in a more nuanced and analytic manner. While academic, or research-based knowledge on mediatization cannot alone solve this dilemma, it must be part of such an effort, i.e. an effort to help public discourse on the media and its consequences to become more rational.

Climate change challenges: an agenda for de-centered mediatization research


In the field of academia too, social theory and social research in general – from the point of view of media researchers – seem often somewhat innocent and uninterested about the complexity of the role of the media. Academic discourse on media still often evaluates “the media” as something that should have a “proper” role in social and institutional interaction. Traditionally (in the 20th-century imaginary of social order) this tended to mean that media should transmit the valid information, viewpoints, and knowledge produced and presented in other fields and domains. A good media, in this view, only mediates, in a neutral sense. The professional values of 20th-century news-journalism are an example of this: accuracy, objectivity, and balance have pointed to the “proper” place of the media against which biases, wrongdoings, and quality have been measured. This ideology has for decades been under severe critical scrutiny from media researchers. Recently, this neutral objectivity-paradigm has eroded and perhaps is in the process of being increasingly replaced by a role of emphasizing transparency, exposure of wrongdoings, and a general, abstract, critical attitude – a development that partly is the immediate reason of popular mediatization discourse. As mediatization has become a more urgent concern in the diverse institutional quarters of contemporary societies, this can seductively suggest a new kind of “centrality” to media and communication research. This certainly poses a big challenge to media research, and a challenge it should try to rise to. “Mediatization” and its fairly quick rise into an almost fashionable position in academia can be seen as one way of meeting these expectations. However, too simplistically taken such a centrality also has risks. Conscious of this, I have tried here to develop an idea of de-centered mediatization research. As a conclusion, this decentering, in my mind, has two aspects that also have consequences for the normative aspect of mediatization discourse. First, it would be healthy to see the object of research in mediatization as a pattern of relationships. The great potential usefulness of the debate over mediatization is that it indeed articulates an important current development that has come to challenge some of the basic groundwork of modern social theory.6 Taken in all its depth, mediatization calls into question our differentiation-obsessed social vocabularies and legitimation discourses and demands a serious look at what is happening inside and between institutional boundaries. It forces us to ask how mediatization changes the “communicative figurations” (Hepp 2013) of different domains as well as how the interaction between various domains (and, in particular between them and the “media”) is shaping up (Hjarvard 2013). This means that the way the saturating “presence” of the media – from technological shifts in attention dynamics and interactional affordances to the politics of representation –

6 This is not to say that such challenges had not been developing elsewhere than in media studies. Rather, the point here is more to juxtapose a popular public self-identity of modern society and its legitimation discourses and the potential built into mediatization discourse.


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closes and opens horizons for social actors is seriously seen as a field of inquiry. Such a perspective to mediatization, I think, rules out a normative starting point to mediatization. The role of mediatization research is to look at the changing international patterns between social actors and the different roles that “media” (defined in different ways) play in this. This should mean consciously avoiding research perspectives that frame media research from particular stakeholder positions and which lead to posing the questions, collecting evidence, and evaluating the performance of the media from a particular stakeholder position. Any a priori normative perspective will radically narrow down the critical potential of mediatization research.7 Rather we need mediatization research in which different stakeholder positions are built into the research designs and conceptualization of mediatization. Second, a de-centered view of mediatization cannot allow itself to become abstracted from particular, historical subject matters. If mediatization research means looking at media’s role in the interaction pattern between social actors, one crucial aspect of such work is to factor into the research the particularities of the problem constructions that bring the said social actors into interaction. Thus, studying mediatization of the “European debt crisis” will be different from studying mediatization of climate change (politics). This means that we will be able only rather cautiously to develop a “general” theory of mediatization (if that is necessary at all). But we will be better informed in understanding how different forms of media matter in the actual, meaningful dynamics of contemporary life. Such a de-centered perspective would also mean that the normative aspects of mediatization – the different ways in which social actors evaluate their goals, the opportunities of the media environment or the action of “the media” – would be an integral part of what is studied. Studying the mediatization of a particular problem construction thus will bring in the specific and contested discourses that shape our understanding of the problem at hand. In climate change research, for instance, a wide terrain of questions relating to the problems of communication emerge, ranging from issues of “knowledge” to those of “justice”. It may be that universal attempts to build, from a communication theory perspective, normative answers to the “quality” of communication (or consequences of mediatization) are doomed to being always temporary and inadequate. But a de-centered mediatization research on climate change might serve as an example of fleshing out what media ethics – or media research that would not shy away from a normative vocabulary – might mean. It would argue that in the context of climate change politics there are meaningful debates about “accuracy”, “sincerity”, “accountability”, “justice”, “care”, “solidarity” (see, for instance, Couldry 2012: 180–210) that

7 A somewhat educated, cynical guess would be that if you take this seriously enough it will not help your research funding. The power of the “mediatization” concept in an academic practice also partly derives from the need and desire to control and govern the process.

Climate change challenges: an agenda for de-centered mediatization research


our results feed into. Such media research can identify moments where some aspects of mediatization (say: new resources of professionalism by alliances with some actors) open up progressive potentials and where some aspects of it (say: polarization of political discourse) seem to hinder our ability to live in the conflicted, interconnected and risky conditions we have created. The current conditions of mediatization underline the fact that we have in a new way become dependent on a shared communication infrastructure and mediated interaction. Climate change politics perhaps remind us that this interaction and its consequences not only take place between nations and interest groups but also between humans and non-humans and between us and generations to come. The two global, de-centering narratives “mediatization” and “climate change” take place at the same time. There is no reason why this should not make us talk about what would be a better and more sustainable way of living in this story. When you wish that the polar bear and its young ones “make it” on the thinning layer of ice, I guess you hope for yourself too.

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Chubb, Philip. 2012. “Really, fundamentally wrong”. Media coverage of the business campaign against the Australian carbon tax. In: Elisabeth Eide and Risto Kunelius (eds.), Media Meets Climate. The Global Challenge for Journalism, 179–295. Göteborg: NORDICOM. Chubb, Philip and Wendy Bacon. 2010. Australia: Fiery politics and extreme events. In: Elisabeth Eide, Risto Kunelius and Ville Kumpu (eds.). Global Climate, Local Journalism: A Transnational Study of How Media Make Sense of Climate Summits, 51–66. Bochum, Germany: ProjektVerlag. Couldry, Nick. 2012. Media, Society, World. Cambridge: Polity Press. Djerf-Pierre, Monika. 2012. When attention drives attention: Issue dynamics in environmental news reporting over five decades. European Journal of Communication 27(3): 291–304. Djerf-Pierre, Monika. 2013. Green metacycles of attention: Reassessing the attention cycles of reporting 1961–2010. Public Understanding of Science 22(4): 495–512. Eide, Elisabeth. 2012a. An editorial that shook the world: Global solidarity vs. editorial autonomy In: Elisabeth Eide and Risto Kunelius (eds.), Media Meets Climate. The Global Challenge for Journalism. 125–144. Gothenburg: Nordicom. Eide, Elisabeth. 2012b. Saving the rain forest – differing perspectives. Norway’s climate and forest initiative and reporting in three countries. In: Elisabeth Eide and Risto Kunelius (eds.), Media Meets Climate. The Global Challenge for Journalism. 87–104. Gothenburg: Nordicom. Eide, E. and A. Ytterstad. 2011. The tainted hero. Frames of domestication in Norwegian press representation of the Bali Climate Summit. In International Journal of Press and Politics, Vol 15, 1: 50–74. Eide, Elisabeth and Risto Kunelius (eds.). 2012. Media Meets Climate. The Global Challenge for Journalism. Gothenburg: Nordicum. Eide, Elisabeth, Risto Kunelius and Ville Kumpu (eds.). 2010. Global Climate, Local Journalism: A Transnational Study of How Media Make Sense of Climate Summits. Bochum, Germany: ProjektVerlag. Ekecrantz, Jan. 2007. Media and communication studies going global. Nordicon Review Jubileum Issue 2007, 169–181. Esser, Frank. 2013. Mediatization as a challenge: Media logic versus political logic. In: Hanspeter Kriesi et al. (eds.). Democracy in the Age of Globalization and Mediatization, 155–176. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan. Fernández-Armesto, Felipe. 2011. The World. A History. Boston: Pearson. Fink, Katherine and Michael Schudson. 2013. The rise of contextual journalism, 1950s–2000s. Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism. OnlineFirst version 17. 2. 2013. Funtowicz, Silvio O. and Jerome R. Ravetz. 1993. Science for the Post-Normal Age, Futures 25(7), 739–755. Giddens, Anthony. 2009. The Politics of Climate Change. Cambridge: Polity Press. Hallin, Daniel C. and Paolo Mancini. 2004. Comparing Media Systems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Harvey, David. 1989. The Condition of Post-Modernity. An Enquiry in to the Origins of Cultural Change. Cambridge: Blackwell. Hepp, Andreas. 2013. Cultures of Mediatization. Cambridge: Polity. Hjarvard, Stig. 2008. The mediatization of society. A theory of the media as agents of social and cultural change. Nordicom Review, 29(2): 105–134. Hjarvard, Stig. 2013. The Mediatization of Culture and Society. London: Routledge. Hulme, Mike. 2010a. Why We Disagree About Climate Change. Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hulme, Mike. 2010b. Mediated messages about climate change: Reporting the IPCC Fourth Assessment in the UK print media. In: Tammy Boyce and Justin Lewis (eds.). Climate Change and the Media, 117–129. New York: Peter Lang.

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IPCC. 2013. Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Stocker, T. F., D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S. K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P. M. Midgley (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. Ivanova, Ana, Mike S. Schäfer, Inga Schlichting and Andreas Schmidt. 2013. Is there a medialization of climate science? Results from a survey of German climate scientists. Science Communication, 35(5), 626–653. Krotz, Friedrich. 2009. Mediatization: A concept with which to grasp media and societal change. In: Knut Lundby (ed.). Mediatization: Concepts, Changes, Consequences, 21–40. New York: Peter Lang. Kumpu, Ville and Mofizur Rhaman. 2012. Futures of the implicated and the bystander. Comparing futures imagined in the coverage of climate summits in Bangladesh and Finland In: Elisabeth Eide and Risto Kunelius (eds.). Media Meets Climate. The Global Challenge for Journalism, 105–124, Gothenburg: Nordicom. Kunelius, Risto and Elisabeth Eide. 2012. Moment of hope, mode of realism. Transnational coverage of UN Climate Change Summits. International Journal of Communication, 6: 1–20. Kunelius, Risto and Esa Reunanen. 2012a. Media in political power: A Parsonian view on the differentiated mediatization of Finnish decision makers. The International Journal of Press/ Politics 17(1): 56–75. Kunelius, Risto and Esa Reunanen. 2012b. The medium of the media, Journalism, politics, and the theory of “mediatization”. Javnost/The Public, 20(4): 5–24. Latour, Bruno. 2013. An Inquiry Into Modes of Existence. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Lewis, Seth C. 2012. The tension between professional control and open participation. Journalism and its boundaries. Information, Communication and Society 15(6): 836–866. Luhmann, Niklas. 2000. The Reality of Mass Media. Cambridge: Polity Press. Lundby, Knut E. (ed.). 2009. Mediatization: Concepts, Changes, Consequences. New York: Peter Lang. Mann, Michael. 1993. The Sources of Social Power. Vol 2. The Rise of Classes and Nation-States, 1760–1914. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mann, Michael, E. 2012. The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars. Dispatches from the Front Lines. New York: Columbia University Press. Mann, Michael. 2013. The Sources of Social Power. Vol 4. Globalizations, 1945–2011. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mazzoleni, Gianpietro and Winfried Schulz. 1999. “Mediatization” of politics: A challenge for democracy? Political Communication 16: 247–261. McKewon, Elaine. 2012. Talking point ammo. Journalism Studies 13(2), 277–297. McNeil, R. J. and William H. McNeil. 2003. The Human Web: A Bird’s Eye View of World History. New York: W. W.Norton. Nossek, Hillel and Risto Kunelius. 2012. News flows, global journalism and climate summits. In: Elisabeth Eide and Risto Kunelius (eds.). Media Meets Climate. The Global Challenge for Journalism, 67–86. Gothenburg: Nordicom. Orekes, Naomi and Erik M. Conway. 2010. Merchants of Doubt. How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. New York: Bloomsbury Press. Painter, James. 2010. Summoned by Science: Reporting Climate Change at Copenhagen and Beyond. Oxford: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. Painter, James. 2013. Climate Change in the Media: Reporting Risk and Uncertainty. Oxford: Reuters Institute for Study of Journalism


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Pearce, Fred. 2010. The Climate Files. London: Guardian Books. Reese, Stephen. 2001. Understanding the global journalist: A hierarchy-of-influences approach, Journalism Studies 2(2): 173–187. Reese, Stephen. 2008. Theorizing globalized journalism. In: Martin Löffelholz and David Weaver (eds.). Global Journalism Research: Theories, Methods, Findings, Future, 240–252. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. Reunanen, Esa, Risto Kunelius and Elina Noppari. 2010. Mediatization in context: Consensus culture, media and decision making in the 21st century: The case of Finland. Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research 35(3): 287–307. Rhaman, Mofizur. 2010. Bangladesh: A metaphor for the world. In: Elisabeth Eide, Risto Kunelius and Ville Kumpu (eds.). Global Climate, Local Journalism: A Transnational Study of How Media Make Sense of Climate Summits, 67–82. Bochum, Germany: ProjektVerlag. Rödder, S. and Mike S. Schäfer. 2010. Repercussions and resistance. An empirical study in the interrelation between science and mass media. Communications 35: 249–267. Russell, Adrienne. 2010. The United States: Old media, new journalism – the changing landscape of climate news. In: Elisabeth Eide, Risto Kunelius & Ville Kumpu (eds.). Global Climate, Local Journalism: A Transnational Study of How Media Make Sense of Climate Summits, 325– 341. Bochum, Germany: ProjektVerlag. Russell, Adrienne. 2013. Innovation in hybrid spaces: 2011 UN Climate Summit and the expanding journalism landscape. Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism 14(7), 904–920. Russell, Adrienne, Matthew Tegelberg, Dmitry Yagodin, Ville Kumpu and Mofizur Rhaman. 2012. Digital networks and shifting climate news agendas and practice. In: Elisabeth Eide and Risto Kunelius (eds.). Media Meets Climate. The Global Challenge for Journalism, 195–200. Gothenburg: Nordicom. Schmidt, Andreas, Ana Ivanova and Mike S. Schäfer. 2013. Media attention for climate change around the world. A comparative analysis of newspaper coverage in 27 countries. Global Environmental Change 23(5): 1233–1248. Silverstone, Roger. 2007. Media and Morality. On the Rise of the Mediapolis. Cambridge: Polity Press. Strömbäck, Jesper. 2008. Four phases of mediatization: An analysis of the mediatization of politics. International Journal of Press/Politics, 13(3): 228–246. Tegelberg, Matt. 2010. Canada: The dirty old man of climate politics. In Elisabeth Eide, Risto Kunelius, & Ville Kumpu (eds.). Global Climate, Local Journalism: A Transnational Study of How Media Make Sense of Climate Summits, 97–114. Bochum, Germany: ProjektVerlag. Thompson, John B. 2005. The new visibility. Theory, Culture & Society 22(6): 31–51. Urry, John. 2010. Climate Change and Society. Cambridge: Polity Press. Waisbord, Silvio. 2013. Reinventing Professionalism. Journalism and the News in Global Perspective. Cambridge: Polity Press.

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4 Mediatization with Chinese characteristics: political legitimacy, public diplomacy and the new art of propaganda Abstract: Mediatization has become a fact of life in China, as have globalization, urbanization, and commercialization. Yet changes in the Chinese media and communication practices in the reforms era have almost always been documented within the framework of duality between the state and market. Little attention has been paid to the ways in which media logic informs and shapes the interplay of these sometimes oppositional, sometimes complicit forces. While the state is keen to experiment with a range of media forms and formats, it is more interested in mediatization by the government and less interested in mediatization of politics. This discussion shows that while such media practices may have worked to some extent to maintain social stability at home, it has become increasingly problematic as China intensifies its public diplomacy efforts to engage and communicate with members of the public in foreign countries. By discussing the challenges facing China’s state media in its selection and presentation of Chinese news for the consumption of foreign audiences, this chapter argues that capacity of the Chinese state to harness mediatization is crucial to its soft power objectives. This discussion adds a cross-cultural dimension to its theorization, and at the same time facilitates a much needed rethinking of the propaganda practices pursued by Chinese media. Keywords: mediatization with Chinese characteristics, mediatization by the government, soft power, public diplomacy, propaganda, media events, censorship, political legitimacy, authoritarianism

In a country ruled by a party-state which holds on to power through coercion rather than democratic elections, the issue of political authority and legitimacy is of paramount importance. It is widely understood that without social stability, there will not be economic prosperity. And without economic prosperity, it will be hard for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to maintain power. Hence, the late paramount Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping famously said that “stability trumps all”, and indeed an obsession with “maintaining social stability” (weiwen) has driven the agenda and modus operandi of the Chinese Communist Party for several decades. It is a widely known fact that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) now spends tens of billions of dollars on weiwen – more, indeed, than on external defence. Given the importance of weiwen to the Party, officials use all available


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resources, from overt state oppression to subtle cultural manipulation, to maintain their goal. Having become both the means and end, stability – or the threat of instability – has provided justification for not only the Party’s oppression and censorship, but equally importantly, its media strategies and media practices. In addition to maintaining stability inside China, China’s state media have taken on the primary role of pushing China’s new public diplomacy agenda outside China. In recent years, especially since the Beijing Olympics in 2008, there has been a prevalent feeling among Chinese policy makers that although China’s global influence in the domains of politics, economics, and international relations has grown exponentially, the international community’s understanding and knowledge of China is limited, biased, and inaccurate (Wang 2008; Hu and Ji 2012). Therefore, projecting a global image of China that is “objective, truthful, and three-dimensional” (li ti) has become not only necessary but also urgent” (Yang 2011). China’s new public diplomacy is intended to address this issue by building “an objective and friendly publicity environment” (People’s Daily 2004) in which the state media can “actively cooperate with Chinese national development strategy and gradually change China’s image in the international society from negative to neutral to positive” (Wang 2008: 269). More specifically, China’s public diplomacy has four stated objectives. First, China seeks understanding for its politics and policies, which are based on the principles of “harmonious society” and “scientific development”. Second, China wants to be seen as a stable, reliable, and responsible economic partner that does not pose a threat. Third, China wants to be seen as a trustworthy and reliable member of the international community that is actively contributing to world peace. Finally, China wants acknowledgement and respect for its contribution to culture and civilization (d’Hooghe 2008). And it goes without saying that if Chinese state news media manage to improve the CCP’s credibility and reputation in the global domain, the CCP will by default gain political mileage with the domestic audience and boost its claim as the only rightful and legitimate ruling party. Policy-makers have realized acutely that the old geopolitical imagination of the world outside China, divided into those countries which are China’s friends and those which are China’s enemies, is no longer adequate. Old-fashioned government to government diplomacy therefore must be supplemented by a range of other forms of diplomacy, including public diplomacy, media diplomacy, and people-to-people diplomacy. In the domain of China’s communication and media practices, there has been a shift from an emphasis on propaganda to public relations (Brady 2008; Chen 2004). This shift has implicitly done away with the notion of the “enemy”, a concept and term which was much utilized in China’s foreign policy during the socialist period to describe and account for China’s foreign affairs decisions. Instead, the West has been re-imagined as the key and most difficult target of China’s “external propaganda” (wai xuan), whose unfavourable, negative and unfriendly view of China stands to be corrected and changed.

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The state media’s dual task – maintaining stability at home and pursuing public diplomacy abroad – faces further challenges as well as opportunities as a result of the explosion of information and communication on the Internet, and the phenomenally high uptake of social media in everyday Chinese life. If mediatization has a “specific form” in “each specific epoch” (Krotz 2009: 27), it also has place-specific implications and impacts the particular social, political, and cultural context. In China as elsewhere, increasing penetration of media and media technologies into the lives of individuals is reshaping the ways in which people relate to each other, to society in general, and to the government. At the same time, it is redefining the boundary between “domestic audience” and “international audience”. The implication of this process is clear. On the one hand, the boundary is becoming increasingly deterritorialized and cannot be fixed to geographic demarcations separating guonei (inside China) and guowai (outside China). On the other hand, domestic audiences and global audiences continue to exist in vastly different and incompatible symbolic universes, and effectively mediating the differences across these two symbolic universes is the key to the success of public diplomacy. Much has been written to theorize the relationship between politics and media from the analytic perspective of mediatization. Societies are, to varying degrees, subject to the tension and conflict between political logic and media logic (Strömbäck 2008; Strömbäck and Esser 2009). As a result, questions are asked about how “government is mediatized” and how “the mediatization of government” plays out (Couldry in this volume). For this reason, politics, like family and education, is to be examined as an institution, whose nature and characteristics are subject to change due to its growing dependency on and interaction with media (Hjarvard in this volume). While these perspectives have gained much analytic purchase in the examination of media and politics in Europe and within English-speaking scholarly circles, their analytic validity has not been tested outside this “comfort zone”. To what extent is the mediatization of politics also happening in non-Western societies, which, though still under authoritarian or even totalitarian rule, are nevertheless equally caught up in the “meta-processes” (Krotz 2009) of urbanization and globalization, as well as mediatization? “Media logic” has been conceptualized as a tripartite combination of a commercial logic, a technological logic, and a cultural logic (Mazzoleni 2008). However, Lundby (2009), by outlining a range of positions, demonstrates the contested nature of this concept, and points to a divergence of views about its relationship to the concept of mediatization. Nevertheless, Mazzoleni’s tripartite notion of media logic is useful for framing the research questions to be pursued in this paper. For instance, how does media logic, thus conceptualized, manifest itself in societies – such as Russia and China – which are transitioning from socialist to neoliberal economies? If the tension and conflict between media logic and political logic form a key dimension of mediatization (Strömbäck and Esser 2009), are there differences and similarities in the ways in which such tensions and conflicts are managed and negotiated in media sys-


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tems which face the dual pressures of the “party-line” and the “bottom line” (Y. Zhao 1998)? Above all, how can the mediatization of politics and government, as a theoretical position and analytical method, continue to be productive outside the Western liberal-democratic social context? To date, inquiries into Chinese media and politics framed with these questions in mind are few and far between. In particular, how the meta-process of mediatization affords China’s state media both an opportunity and a challenge in its dual objective of maintaining stability and pursuing public diplomacy remains largely unexplored. Yet, looking back at the major innovations in its media practices over the past two decades, we can see clearly that a deliberate strategy of engaging with various dimensions of mediatization has been at work. This chapter is concerned with the different facets of this strategy. In what follows, I discuss the interplay between media and politics by looking at how China’s state media fulfils its dual mission of maintaining stability and pursuing public diplomacy. The chapter offers a critical account of state media practices and the news media’s success and failure in such endeavours. I consider some of the innovative aspects of the state-authorized and state-staged media campaigns, spectacles, and initiatives. Then, continuing in the vein of innovation, and paying particular attention to the media campaign in the wake of the Sichuan earthquake in May 2008, I examine some new strategies of news-making in the state media which enable the government to engage in mediatization for purposes of shoring up leadership in times of disasters and national tragedies. This is followed by a discussion of the undesirable consequences of mediatization from the perspective of the Chinese government. By examining social media’s responses to the Wenzhou high-speed train crash in November 2011, I point to a process of mediatization against government, which takes place as a result of the government’s attempt at suppression and media censorship. Finally, I return to the questions regarding media logic, media logic versus political logic, and mediatization of politics/government. Building on the discussion of these cases, I put forward some analytic perspectives that may enable us to better understand how mediatization works in non liberal-democratic systems. In doing so, I also hope to advance an alternative way of examining the impact and implications of China’s media – and particularly propaganda – practices.

1 Chinese media events Ceremonial media events can be understood as classic examples of mediatization in that they exploit the logic and rules of media events as a format of presentation. Considered, among many other definitions, to be “a particular way of seeing, covering and interpreting social, cultural and political phenomena” (Strömbäck and Esser 2009: 212), the concept of media logic draws our attention to the form and

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formats in which information and experience is selected, organized, and presented (Snow 1983; Altheide 1995). Exploiting media logic, media events effectively harness broadcast technologies to deliver integration and national unity in spatial and temporal senses (Mazzoleni 2008). Processes of mediatization affect almost all aspects of our social lives, and levels of mediatization have increased exponentially from early modernity to late modernity (Lundby 2009). Given the phenomenal growth of Internet usage, the adoption of digital media technologies in our everyday lives, and the increasing popularity of social media as an alternative to mainstream media, it is not surprising that we are witnessing a growing tendency and capacity to exploit media logic not only on the part of state broadcasters, but also individuals and groups with an alternative or anti-establishment political view. In this sense, both the continued practice of centralized ceremonial media events and news coverage of disasters are but various manifestations of mediatization. Media events, as they are defined, are pre-planned, transmitted live, intended to interrupt viewers’ routines, and transmitted to a remote audience (Dayan and Katz 1992: 7). For the past two decades, Chinese television has actively experimented with new broadcasting formats for showcasing China’s achievements on economic, scientific, and technological fronts. These include the opening of the Yellow River Xiaolangdi Dam in 2001, the completion of the Three Gorges Dam Project in 2006, and the successful launch of space shuttles in 2003 and satellites in 2007. In a gesture towards a more open media environment, the state media has also adopted the format of media events. In 1998, for the first time in history, Chinese state television decided to televise US President Bill Clinton’s press conference at Beijing University. Questions to Clinton from journalists and Chinese students, as well as Clinton’s answers, went to air live without editing, sending a refreshing and powerful message to the international as well as domestic community about China’s willingness to be more open and transparent. However, more often than not, in addition to showcasing national achievements, media events are reserved for occasions symbolizing the prowess of the nation as well as the leadership’s absolute command of the army. The television ceremony of the military parade on October 1, 1999 marking the 50th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China had the most obvious element of what Dayan and Katz call “conquest” and “coronation”. The televised ceremony featured President Jiang Zemin, keen to consolidate his power base following his recent ascent, standing on a slow-moving car, driving past a display of impressive-looking weapons and military equipment, waving to soldiers in the Army, Navy, and Air Force. In the eyes of the global audience, the most spectacular media event ever staged by Chinese television was the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Accessed via satellite television, on the Internet, and a wide range of other technological platforms, the event combined all the defining features of a classic media event and many more. Described as China’s biggest “coming out party”, the media event


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signalled post-Olympics China’s emergence as a “world power” that has reasserted its deep commitment to a return to national glory (Finlay 2008). If the Olympic Games was the most spectacular, the annual Chinese Spring Festival Television Gala is arguably the most innovative media event format on Chinese television. For centuries, Chinese families have celebrated the Chinese New Year with an annual family reunion, where family members gather on New Year’s Eve at the dinner table to feast on good food. In 1983, China Central Television (CCTV) launched its first Spring Festival Eve Television Gala. Lasting four to six hours, the Gala was packed with entertainment and performances by nationally known celebrities and timed to coincide with the family reunion dinner, thus starting a new national ritual. Some describe the annual TV Gala as a “happy marriage between an ancient Chinese ideal and a modern Western technology, whereby happy family gatherings are turned into ‘national reunions’” (B. Zhao 1998: 46). Others view the show as a replacement for the sacred time that was formerly used for offerings to deities and ancestors (Lu 2009: 113). By delivering strong messages of patriotism and national unity packaged as entertainment, fun, and family festivity, the Gala allows the Chinese state to enter the domestic sphere of private citizens for the first time, to carry out its ideological work in the home. Since its inception, the Chinese state media has explored ways of maximizing the reach of its audience. In 1994, CCTV started to broadcast the gala event simultaneously to Chinese communities in North America and Australia. In 1997, ratings for domestic audiences were recorded at 90.67 % (Zhao 1998), not including the diasporic Chinese communities all over the world who could also watch via satellite. Since 2005, the Gala has been broadcast all over the world in four languages, including English and Spanish, thereby becoming a truly global affair. The Gala not only introduces a modern and mediatized way of conducting a traditional ritual, it has also irreversibly changed the pattern of interaction and socialization among family members in the domestic space. Finally, in addition to exploiting the cultural and technological logic, the Spring Festival Television Gala has effectively tapped into the commercial potential of mediatization. In 2005, advertising rates for the initial several seconds before the show were an astonishing 3–10 million Yuan (US$ 360,000–1.2 million) (Martinsen 2005). The proliferation of transmission technologies and delivery platforms in this case has not fragmented the Chinese audiences. On the contrary, it has enabled the Chinese state to effectively reach overseas audiences, which are the intended target of China’s public diplomacy exercise. In other words, state-supervised ceremonial media events not only refuse to decline; they have actually gained a heightened relevance due to China’s continuing need for nation-building and its going global, soft power agenda. While there is much talk about a post-broadcasting era and the de-massification of media audience, live transmission of national ceremonies, rituals, and events, particularly via satellite, is still a significant nation-building media strategy

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and practice in the political communication in China. In fact, two factors – technological and political – have given further rationale for the continuous deployment of this media form. The widespread use of satellite transmission has enabled the state media to reach both the most remote areas inside China and the diasporic Chinese communities and global audiences beyond the national border. The increasingly high uptake of online technologies in the domestic setting makes it possible for viewers to access media events staged on Chinese television online as well as via television. Though separated by the tyranny of distance, viewers around the world can re-territorialize themselves by tuning in to the “comfort zone” of the motherland. But most importantly, the Gala forces us to rethink the classic definition of media events as intrinsically disruptive to the rhythm and routine of the broadcaster and audience’s everyday lives. Rather than forcing ordinary viewers to leave the space of home or cancel or delay their family reunions, television becomes an expected family guest whose presence adds rather than detracts from the festivity of the occasion. The synchronization of the traditional Chinese calendar with the temporality of official media ensures the regular imagining of the nation.

2 Mediatization by the government In their attempt to provide a post-9/11 update on the genre of media events, Katz and Liebes point to the decline of ceremonial events both in frequency and centrality. At the same time, they observe that Terror, Disaster, and War – the unholy trinity of trauma – have taken center-stage. Contemporary television coverage of Terror, Disaster, and War resembles news events in that it is unexpected and not pre-planned, and always has an element of surprise. However, it differs from news events in the early decades of television in a number of ways. First, whereas news events in earlier decades were unscripted traumas reported mostly in bulletin mode, contemporary coverage of Terror, Disaster, and War has evolved to take on what Liebes (1998) calls the “marathon” mode. In these “disaster marathons” (Liebes 1998), television coverage gives meticulous attention to any major and minor developments, endlessly repeating horrific images of death and trauma, following every rescue and relief effort, interspersed with interviews with experts and politicians regarding the causes, consequences, significance, and implications of the events. Second, media events of ceremonies and rituals are occasions whereby the political logic and media logic of mediatization dovetail to achieve a “happy”, “successful”, and, some may even say, magical outcome. In contrast, mediatizations of Terror, Disaster, and War often become occasions whereby the media logic of mediatization takes precedence over the political logic of stability and unity. As Katz and Liebes (2007) observe, ceremonial events are characterized by “coproductions” between broadcasters and establishments, whereas disruptive events


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are characterized by “co-productions” between broadcasters and anti-establishment agencies, be they terrorists, forces of Nature, or enemy forces. Often, a likely consequence of this marathon live coverage is that the government is put under pressure to take action. This leads to another major difference between media events of a ceremonial and ritualistic nature and media events reporting on Terror, Disaster, and War. Whereas in the former, the establishments, in alliance with the broadcaster, are often in firm control of the script, the format, and the construction of meanings of the event, in the latter scenario this sense of control can no longer be assumed on the part of the political establishments. Instead, they must act and often improvise in response to what is happening. Rather than seeing the original format of media events as being “upstaged” or even replaced by live coverage of Terror, Disaster, and War, some prefer to think of them as various components or forms of a communication ecology. For instance, Rothenbuhler (2010) proposes a “larger encompassing paradigm”, which is able to account for media events, disaster marathons, as well as routine news. Wellknown for his interest in the ritual dimension of communication, Rothenbuhler argues that understanding how ritual and ceremony function in society is key to our understanding of human communication. If we consider media events, disaster marathons, and routine news as all having a distinct ritual dimension, we are better positioned to understand how a distinct media form can develop its own genre rules that “help it be what it is and do what it does” (2010: 39). Although Rothenbuhler does not explicitly advocate this, he is indeed advancing a holistic view of communication that considers “all of the varied acts, processes, and artefacts of communication” (2010: 39–40) in juxtaposition and combination with one another. Only when each media form is examined as part of a communication ecology can one start to reveal how a “cross-referencing, mutually supporting network” constitutes the “reality” we know (2010: 40). Lundby’s study (2012) of the Norwegian news media’s responses to the terrorist acts committed by Anders Behring Breivik in Norway in July 2011 serves as a good example of how various acts, processes, and artefacts of communication can be examined in juxtaposition and combination. Lundby’s analysis shows that the media’s coverage proceeded in three phases. In the first phase, the media was “taken by surprise”. Adopting routine techniques and procedures in covering unexpected events, media practitioners treated the terrorist acts as a news event, and acted accordingly. Editors and journalists set out to report the incidents by investigating what had happened, establishing the cause of the incident, and identifying the culprit. The second phase of the coverage featured mainly media events, whereby funerals and the memorial ceremonies were televised on national television. This was followed by a phase of “critical journalism”, the final and longest phase of coverage, during which media reflected not only on issues confronting Norway in terms of anti-terrorism and protecting citizens, but also the inadequacies and blind spots in the media’s own coverage of the event.

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In Norway, as in most places in the world, terrorist acts, large-scale accidents, and natural disasters are part and parcel of what media has to deal with. On May 12, 2008, less than three months before the Beijing Olympics, an earthquake of 8.0 on the Richter Scale hit Wenchuan and its neighboring towns in China’s Sichuan Province, killing more than 70,000 people and leaving millions homeless. Within the first few hours after the quake struck, CCTV, unable to get to the scene of the disaster, resorted to using video footage taken by citizens. Also, contrary to its normal practice of minimizing or even censoring information about natural disasters in the media, the state media, CCTV in particular, acted quickly to launch a sustained media campaign, covering the disaster and its aftermath 24 hours a day for two weeks on end. The coverage documented the relief and rescue efforts with an unusual level of detail, including the latest death toll, injuries, damage reports, the number of people displaced, and the logistical difficulties hampering the rescuing efforts. The news coverage took on the appearance of factual, balanced, and uncensored reporting – a style of news reporting that would resonate with Western viewers. The coverage included round-the-clock updates of the latest developments, on-location interviews with rescue coordinators and experts, as well as CNN-style banners running across the bottom of the television screen with the latest casualty figures. The coverage struck most Chinese as being refreshingly candid, given that they were mostly used to the state media’s tendency not to reveal the extent of large-scale disasters and crises, most recently during the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) crisis. The lack of timely and accurate reporting during the Tangshan earthquake of 1979 was also still vivid enough in the people’s memory to form a striking contrast. The human interest angle of some stories was obvious. While showing the Chinese government to be firmly in control of the relief and rescue efforts, the coverage portrayed Premier Wen Jiabao and provincial and local-level cadres doing their best in coordinating relief and rescue efforts, while revealing themselves to be caring, strong, yet vulnerable individuals (Sun 2010). Premier Wen gained a reputation as “Premier Warmth”, and stories of heroic but human individuals – police, army, fire fighters, and teachers – who devoted themselves to saving strangers despite the grave risks were palpably moving. Among these, for instance, were the widely circulated and well-published stories of the “police mum”, a local policewoman, Jiang Xiaojuan, who selflessly breastfed many infants orphaned during the earthquake (Ma and He 2008). To Chinese viewers, especially those middle-aged or older, her generosity evoked the well-rehearsed socialist cultural representation of a village woman in Linyi, Shandong Province, who gave her breast milk to a dying soldier during the War against Japan. For weeks on end, Chinese viewers were treated to a roller coaster of high dramas against the backdrop of a spectacular natural disaster, consisting of stories of the orphan, the selfless mother, and the kindness of the heroic stranger. These are not only stories which evince the essence of socialist realism frequently deployed in socialist cul-


Wanning Sun

ture, but they are also universal human interest stories which global audiences could identify with and relate to. The most powerful moment in the process of mediatizing the earthquake disaster took place on May 12, 2008, when, for the first time, a Chinese media event was organized around the themes of grief, death, and loss, instead of conquest and success. By announcing to viewers that it would coordinate a three-minute silence, CCTV tried something new not only in the history of media in the PRC, but also in the world. Prior to the three-minute silence, viewers were repeatedly advised, in the form of words running across the television screen, on what to do during the three-minute period: “If you are walking or driving, please pull up by the road. If you are seated, please stand up. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, please stop still for three minutes to pay respect to the dead.” At 2:28 P.M. on May 12, 2008, China stood still for three minutes, and the television screen featured nothing but the haunting sound of sirens and horns reverberating throughout the nation. This was the first time mourning of this scale was represented as a “media event”, and is perhaps the most powerful and memorable moment in the history of Chinese television (Sun and Zhao 2009). When relayed by Western media, global audiences were equally moved and haunted by the three-minute silence. Western audiences, long used to images and narratives of China’s poor human rights record, seemed genuinely impressed by the state media’s display of compassion for ordinary Chinese people. For the Chinese, including those now living outside China, the ceremony provided a virtual time and space for people to mourn, to reach for some kind of closure (Sun 2010). The government presented itself as not only the benevolent lifesaver in the aftermath of the earthquake, but, equally importantly, the only agent capable of healing the collective wound inflicted on the national psyche. Public opinion outside China took note of the uncharacteristically open manner in which this large-scale natural disaster was reported in the Chinese media, and was suitably impressed. CCTV, as part of its comprehensive, all-angles reporting of the event, provided a regular summary of foreign national leaders’ favourable assessments of the Chinese government and its people during the relief and rescue efforts. It also summarized or cited verbatim the foreign media’s acknowledgement of the Chinese media’s exceptional willingness to be honest about the number of casualties and the level of difficulty in relief and rescue efforts. On May 26, in a reporting segment titled “A true account of the Wenchuan earthquake” (wenchuan da dizhen dishi), CCTV 1 (targeting domestic viewers) and CCTV 4 (targeting international Mandarin-speaking viewers) listed the Associated Press, The Independent in Russia, The Times in the UK, and Lianhe Zaobao in Singapore as examples of foreign media praising the Chinese media. Individual blogs on the Sichuan earthquake were abundant, and social media was also actively circulating images and information related to the earthquake. They were almost exclusively in line with the state media in tone and sentiment, echoing a heightened sense of

Mediatization with Chinese characteristics


patriotism and renewed allegiance to the Party. The following comment made by a Chinese blogger about the lack of criticism of China from the Western media could also be true of the reason behind the lack of criticism in the Chinese blogosphere. Since the Chinese media coverage was extensive and multi-dimensional, Western media was hard pressed to find some angles which would embarrass China. In this sense, China not only won the battle of relief and rescue during the Wenchuan earthquake, it also triumphed in its media war with the West. (Ketcat 2008)

The Sichuan earthquake is not so much a case of “making the foreign serve the Chinese”; rather, it is a case of using foreign media to shore up the legitimacy of the Chinese state and its media. While both foreign publics and the domestic audiences were the targeted audiences in this case, the “surplus value” afforded by the foreign media generated an extra layer of meaning intended for the domestic audience – the Chinese government is strong and powerful and is the best option on offer for the happiness and stability of the Chinese people. Indeed, the state media’s coverage had raised the eyebrows of some China-watchers, some of whom saw it as a sign that China had finally mastered the art of soft power and had become an integrated part of the world’s media, as well as of the global economy and international politics (Hunter 2009). Compared with the Norwegian case in Lundby’s study, CCTV’s coverage of the earthquake also went through the initial phase of “being taken by surprise” and the subsequent phase of “media events”, but with one visible difference. In the Chinese case, the initial news event phase was brief, followed by the second phase, during which news events and media events proceeded in parallel. The biggest difference, however, lies in the fact that the third phase of critical journalism, featuring reflections on the issues and problems on the part of the government and media, is conspicuously missing in the Chinese case. Due to the absence of this phase, a range of issues which would call into question the role and performance of the media and the government at both national and local levels were conveniently left out. Questions that were left out include the issue of corrupt local officials, who, bribed by developers, may have allowed sub-standard buildings to be built prior to the earthquake, causing more buildings than necessary to collapse and more lives to be lost. They also include the cases of individual local officials absconding from duties in a time of crisis, or even worse, pocketing large sums of money donated to victims of the earthquake. Finally, they include the question of how and why media could not include stories that go against the hegemonic discourse of national unity under the central government. As discussed elsewhere, natural disasters have no known human culprits. Since the Chinese government could not possibly be held responsible for causing the earthquake, it could step in good conscience as the supreme savior and rescuer of victims. Furthermore, the reporting of natural disasters presents clear-cut and


Wanning Sun

universally intelligible symbolic actions such as death, survival, human resilience, and the triumph of the human spirit. It also has a pre-determined narrative structure, starting with destruction and conflict, followed by crisis, and ending with closure and the restoration of normalcy. All these factors conspire to make the coverage of natural disasters the safest topic with which to experiment with alternative news styles, including objective reporting (Sun 2010). Natural disasters are likely to afford a shared space whereby audiences from different cultural and political backgrounds can all recognize the symbolic forms and actions. In other words, the across-the-board positive response to Chinese state media’s coverage of the disaster is not so much due to the intrinsically accurate, truthful, and “warts-and-all” accounts. Instead, it is due to two things: the outlook and format of objective reporting, a globally recognized symbolic form; and a welcome and refreshing departure from the convention of propaganda-style reporting of human tragedies, contrary to the expectations of domestic and international audiences. Such mediatization is not undertaken with the primary intention to inform the audience fully, objectively, and accurately. Rather, it is to create a sustained symbolic space in which the government, without revealing the workings of the political process, can nevertheless be seen to perform its role as a benevolent savior capable of decisive actions and humane responses. However, as the case of the Wenzhou train crash incident – discussed below – shows, projecting such an image is not always possible or easy.

3 Mediatization against government On July 24, 2011, two high-speed trains collided near Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province, killing at least 39 people and injuring 192. News of the accident was initially transmitted via social media by one of the injured passengers. Immediately after the crash, media at both national and provincial levels gave extensive coverage to the incident. However, it soon became apparent to the central authorities that this detailed coverage could result in the accident becoming a catalyst for widespread criticism of the government, especially China’s Ministry of Railways (MOR), thus triggering instability or even unrest. After a short-lived period of media transparency, the government promptly shifted to damage control. The Ministry of Railways immediately held a press conference, citing the breakdown of railway signals as the cause of the accident. The Ministry’s spokesperson, Wang Yongping, was evasive and dismissive of journalists’ questions, sparking further outrage. Following orders from above, the state mainstream media fell silent on a number of questions, including: Who was to blame for the train crash? Was the decision to literally bury the train wreckage in made in order to “bury” the story? Why was there an infant still alive when the rescue operation was declared complete? The media was prevented from asking the more far-reaching questions, including whether the

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accident was a result of the China Rail Corp pushing for breakneck economic growth at the expense of ensuring safety, and if the crash exposed deeply entrenched and wide-reaching corruption within the railway industry. The last two questions came to assume more pertinence later on, given that the head of the Ministry of Railways, Liu Zhijun, was sacked from his position only a few months prior to the train crash, having been found guilty of corruption on a massive scale in early 2013, and sentenced to death with the possibility of reprieve. Unlike the Sichuan earthquake, the government kept a tight leash on what was permissible in the media. The authorities ordered the media not to send reporters to the scene, not to report too frequently, and not to link the story to high-speed rail development. Journalists were told not to ask about the causes of the accident, not to follow further development of the incident, not to speculate on the impact of the accident, and not to circulate or publish personal microblogs. Instead, they were told to look for “moving” stories of bravery and individual sacrifice, such as the blood donation of local people, in order to show love and compassion during a time of disaster (Branigan 2011). Censorship of news coverage of the train crash was just as tight one year later, when the site was cordoned off by the police, and China’s Ministry of Railways contacted media organizations and told them not to report on the anniversay (Tovrov 2011). If state media had conducted a highly successful campaign after the Sichuan earthquake, winning public opinion both at home and abroad, its lack of a media campaign in the coverage of the train crash, compounded by the vociferous response from the Chinese online blogoshere and the international media, ensured that the train crash was not only a disaster resulting in the loss of lives, but also a political disaster from the point of view of propaganda and public diplomacy. Mediatization took place not in spite of but because of the censorship, and proceeded in a number of ways. First, where state media was muted on some key questions, social media and individual bloggers started to ask trenchant questions. They were remarkably forthright about their determination of the motive behind the government’s action. Whereas the authorities were eager to erase evidence of the wreckage by burying it, footage of earth movers burying the train wreckage quickly found its way to YouTube. While the government spokesperson justified the burying of the wreckage on safety and logistical grounds, individual bloggers saw it as a blatant attempt to “bury” the story of the disaster. Rather than taking on the official explanation for the cause of the accident – signal failure – bloggers questioned if the MOR had put speed over safety in its race to score political points through the development of high speed trains. Bloggers repudiated the MOR spokesperson’s attempt to frame the crash as an isolated incident and to restore faith in high speed train development. Instead, they saw it as a tragic result of the deep-seated corruption in the railway industry, as well as the government’s tendency to privilege political expediency over the livelihoods of ordinary Chinese.


Wanning Sun

Chinese social media also treated as newsworthy any attempt on the part of the Chinese propaganda department to cover up the incident. A considerable number of video clips uploaded on Yukou, the Chinese version of YouTube, were news and commentary programs that had been cancelled, censored, or reprimanded as a result of criticizing the authorities and showing sympathy for the victims of the train crash. For example, one of the hosts of 24 Hours, a current affairs program on CCTV, began the program with what later became a widely circulated – via Weibo (China’s version of Twitter) and text messaging – quotation: Can we still drink milk without worrying about its poisonous content, live in buildings which do not crumble, walk on roads which don’t collapse, travel in high-speed trains which don’t crash? Can we hope that when there is a train crash, there is not such a hurry to bury the wreckage? China is hurtling along as fast as its high-speed trains, but what is the cost of going so fast? Please slow down, don’t leave people’s souls behind.

The same program also featured, from a human interest angle, the situation of a two-and-a-half-year old girl who was seriously wounded in the accident. According to social media, the producer of 24 Hours, Mr Wang Qinglei, was suspended because of these critical remarks made during the program ( watch?v=pCKdlXJectA). As a result, the show he produced went “viral” through social media. Second, the knee-jerk response from Chinese state media to hush up the incident sent a signal to the foreign media that it was an incident well worth scrutinizing. A quick survey of the stories that appeared in major international newspapers such as the New York Times, the Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, Figaro Times, Lianhe Zao Bao, Asahi Shimbini, and Japan Economic News, as well as news agencies such as Reuters, indicates that Chinese censorship of the accident was as newsworthy as the accident itself. Moreover, the censorship of the state media inadvertently led to the coalition between Chinese social media and foreign media. Chinese bloggers wanted to know what foreign media was saying and why the accident was of news interest to them. In a blog article entitled “Why are foreign media interested in the train crash”, a blogger, citing numerous articles from foreign media, attributed foreign interest to a number of factors, including the issue of safety, the modus operandi of the rescue team, the cause of the accident, and finally, to the power of the Internet in giving voice to ordinary people. While Chinese bloggers were assiduously gathering, circulating, and analyzing the views of foreign media, foreign media, long suspicious of the state media, found much resonance in the views expressed in the blogs. A New York Times opinion piece contributed by David Bandurski, a Hong Kong-based researcher on Chinese media, quoted Chinese blogger Tong Dahuan, who urged the Chinese government to “slow your soaring steps forward, and wait for your people”. “We don’t want derailed trains, or collapsing bridges, or roads that slide into pits. We don’t want our homes to become death traps. Move more slowly. Let every life have freedom and dignity” (Bandurski 2011). Interestingly, Tong’s appeal to the Chinese government,

Mediatization with Chinese characteristics


expressed in his blog post, became more widely circulated in the blogosphere after it was cited in the New York Times piece. Unlike the earthquake, asking questions about motives, causes, consequences, and significance in this case necessarily means questioning whether the government is responsible and in what ways the government is responsible. Whereas, in the case of the earthquake, it is much easier to identify the cause of the event as the force of Nature, the causes of the train crash were much more contested and perhaps multifactorial. After the earthquake, it was much easier for the Chinese government to act as a savior, powerful yet compassionate, in the relief and rescue efforts, but after the train crash, the government inhabits the ambiguous space between hero and villain. Whereas the earthquake became an effective catalyst for Chinese patriotism, the train crash instead activated a parallel latent collective sentiment – a distrust of the official lines spun out by the state media. As a result of these factors, foreign media, following its own “symbolic strategy” of rendering reality into comprehensive accounts by giving explanations which “make sense” to its intended audience, found an unlikely ally in the Chinese blogosphere. Or, framed differently, middle-class bloggers’ collective “political speech act” in their commentaries of the train crash (Wu 2012) dovetailed surprisingly well with the Western practices of selecting, presenting and organizing material for news. The Chinese government is the key political actor in domestic news, and its image depends upon the ambiguous and contradictory ways the Chinese partystate is regarded by its own people. On the one hand, there is widespread and deep-rooted distrust of government news and propaganda; on the other hand, the state is expected to play the benevolent role of taking care of its people in times of crises. To understand how the Chinese news constructs reality is to understand how this constellation of uncertainty, ambiguity, and ambivalence intersects to produce meaning in highly contingent circumstances. In the case of the Wenchuan earthquake, the government succeeded in projecting itself as a caring and responsible leader to its people. In contrast, in the case of the Wenzhou train crash, a widespread cynicism and skepticism of the government’s intention prevailed.

4 Conclusion When it comes to the issue of the relationship between media, politics, and society in China, the most common framework in both journalistic and scholarly discourses in the West is still that of propaganda control and censorship. The focus on crackdowns, bans, and censorship usually tells us something about what the party-state does not like, but it reveals little about what it does like, and indeed what it does in the realm of media in order to preserve stability. This framework also tends to take as given the desire and intention of the central propaganda authorities to control the speech and thought of the population. A recent but


Wanning Sun

increasingly regular strand has also been added to this dominant narrative: the efforts from the grassroots via the growing use of digital technologies (e.g. Weibo) and social media among ordinary citizens to strive for a more transparent and open media environment. This framework of control is often deployed to demonstrate the determination and enduring capacity of the Chinese government to maintain a propaganda regime precisely because of China’s status as a global player in economic terms. Within this framework, the digital resistance strand is also often taken up to describe the complex, ambiguous, and often evolving dynamics between the party-state and society, as well as the impact of such dynamics on China’s prospects for political democratization and social change. However, this framework comes with several problems. First, this framework largely assumes that the Chinese government is neither interested in nor capable of exploiting media logic for the purpose of improving and enhancing its image, reputation, and credibility, and that it only resorts to the suppression of negative news in order to minimize damage. Secondly, it assumes media censorship, usually considered the trademark of the propaganda practices in authoritarian regimes, forms a discrete area of inquiry that is separate from mediatization, thus failing to realize that mediatization and censorship often go hand in hand. Thirdly, this framework mostly assigns online and social media the exclusive role of opposition to state media, placing on it hopes of a more open, if not democratic, media and information environment in China. But, as the above discussion makes clear, none of these positions are tenable. Like the rest of the world, China has experienced unprecedented levels of globalization and privatization, as well as mediatization. Like these other “metaprocesses”, mediatization has not weakened state power. In fact, these meta-processes have been steered and harnessed by the party-state to travel a distinct pathway at every juncture, and have come to bear the distinct imprimatur of the Chinese government. As this chapter shows us, the Chinese state media has been keenly experimenting and innovating with the classic format of the media event. It may be true that throughout the 1990s and the first decades of the 21st century, media events were seen to be in decline and “upstaged” (to use Katz and Liebes’s term) by disasters, war, and terrorism in the Western and Arab world. Despite this, ceremonial media events celebrating national unity and triumph and signalling China’s rise have gone from strength to strength. Media events staged in China continue to be viable, finding new ways to incorporate elements of disaster and national grief and turning them into symbolic resources for promoting national unity and social stability. To be sure, one could say that these are merely another way of doing propaganda. Indeed they are. However, it is important to acknowledge that propaganda would not be effective unless it exploited the technological, cultural, and commercial logic of media events. This discussion advances a new framework for understanding propaganda, which is perhaps best described as “mediatization with Chi-

Mediatization with Chinese characteristics


nese characteristics,” invoking the familiar Chinese expression that has been appropriated by the West to make sense of various Chinese practices – as in “capitalism with Chinese characteristics” (Huang 2008) and “neoliberalism with Chinese characteristics” (Harvey 2007). I argue that although “mediatization with Chinese characteristics” has largely succeeded in maintaining stability and promoting national unity and patriotism, its attempt to establish affinity with a global audience has so far failed, largely due to the fact that, in comparison with its Western counterparts, the Chinese state media has mostly pursued mediatization by the government instead of mediatization of the government. One does not see the competition and contestation between the ruling party and its opposition, especially during elections; instead, one sees a unified party. One does not see debates between different ideological factions within the party or between parties in the process of making policies; instead, one sees consensus when policies are announced. Nor does one see behind-the-scenes political wheeling-and-dealing or political scandals. Rather than “mediatization of politics”, what has largely been put on public display is mediatization without politics, or mediatization in lieu of politics. Politics, the main stuff out of which mediatization emerges in the liberal-democratic contexts, is largely missing. Here lies the crucial clue to China’s prospects in obtaining its propaganda objectives both at home and abroad. In the Western context, mediatization of politics is usually seen as an inevitable but problematic process. After all, media is thought to have the capacity to dictate the political agenda, a tendency towards spectacular and personalized news coverage, an obsession with elites, and a fragmented approach to political processes (Mazzoleni and Schultz 1999). These tendencies lead critics to conclude that the mediatization of politics is likely to have negative implications for democracy (Mazzoleni 2008; Mazzoleni and Schultz 1999). While the scenario of “media logic trumping political logic” presents many problems (Strömbäck and Esser 2009: 220), a system which lets political logic dictate media logic, as we see in the case of China, is certainly not a better alternative. In the Chinese context, a lack of mediatization of politics, or a low level of mediatization of politics, does not automatically mean better prospects for democracy. On the contrary, convincing its own and global audiences of Chinese media’s capacity for mediatization of politics may be the only pathway to realize China’s “media going global” vision. Mediatization of politics, problematic as it may be in its own right, may be seen as the only true tell-tale sign of China’s genuine willingness to embrace political and media reform. Until China puts genuine politics into its own media and presents it in the style, language, and visual idioms that are familiar to global – particularly Western – audiences, China’s public diplomacy through media is severely limited. Mediatization without politics will continue to sustain nationalism, patriotism, and a growing sense of Chinese identity in the global sphere, but the Chinese government will continue to undermine its own claim to authority and legitimacy through its knee-jerk censorship practices.


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In other words, mediatization and censorship, as practiced in China, are different sides of the same coin; both are driven by a desire to avoid real politics. As the Wenzhou train crash accident indicates, while mediatization can be harnessed and engineered to put the Party in the driving seat, it can at the same time hijack the party-state’s political agenda, catch its propaganda machine off guard, and put the government on the back foot. Thus, the lesson for propaganda strategies is clear: censorship and information control may work in an era when people’s everyday lives are not saturated with the use of media and communication technologies. However, in this day and age, when societies are highly mediatized, hiding truths through censoring images and information will only result in their amplification and proliferation, intensifying their detrimental effect on the government’s credibility.

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Liebes, Tamar. 1998. Personal tragedy and public space in television’s disaster marathons. Assaf 4(1): 59–69. Lundby, Knut (ed.). 2009. Mediatization: Concepts, Changes, Consequences. New York: Peter Lang. Lundby, Knut. 2012. Mediatization of Evil and the Role of Religion, Paper presented at the Seminar on Media, Religion and Evil. OIKOSNET Europe, Trondheim, 13 September. Lu, Xinyu. 2009. Ritual, television, and state ideology: Rereading CCTV’s 2006 Spring Festival Gala. In: Ying Zhu and Chris Berry (eds.), TV China, 111–125. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Ma, Limin, and He, Jun. 2008. Zaiqu guer de jingcha mama (The police mum for children orphaned during the earthquake), Fazhi Ribao (Law and Order Daily), accessed in April 2013 from–05/19/content_8206435.htm. Mazzoleni, Gianpietro. 2008. Media logic. In: Wolfgang Donsbach (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Communication, 2930–2932. Malden, MA: Blackwell. Mazzoleni, Gianpietro and Winfried Schultz. 1999. “Mediatization” of politics: A challenge for democracy? Political Communication 16(3): 247–261. Martinsen, Joel. 2005. “Spring Festival on TV”. Danwei, (accessed January 16, 2006). People’s Daily. 2004. The 10th conference of Chinese diplomatic envoys stationed abroad held in Beijing. August 30. Rothenbuhler, Eric. 2010. Media events in the age of terrorism and the internet. Journalism si communicare, 5(2): 34–41. Snow, Robert P. 1983. Creating Media Culture. Beverly Hills: CA: Sage Publications. Strömbäck, Jesper. 2008. Four phases of mediatization: An analysis of the mediatization of politics. The International Journal of Press/Politics 13(3): 228–246. Strömbäck, Jesper and Frank Esser. 2009. Shaping politics: Mediatization and media interventionism. In: Knut Lundby (ed.), Mediatization: Concept, Changes, Consequences, 205–223. New York: Peter Lang. Sun, Wanning. 2010. Mission impossible: Soft power, communication capacity, and the globalization of Chinese media. International Journal of Communication 4: 19–26. Sun, Wanning and Yuezhi Zhao. 2009. Television culture with “Chinese Characteristics”: The politics of compassion and education. In: Graeme Turner and Jinna Tay (eds.), Television Studies After TV: Understanding Television in the Post-Broadcast Era, 96–104. London: Routledge. Tovrov, Daniel. 2011. China Propaganda Ministry Censors News Of Wenzhou Train Crash Anniversary, International Business Times, July 23. Accessed in July 2013 from http:// Wang, Yiwei. 2008. Public diplomacy and the rise of Chinese soft power. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 616: 257. Wu, Changchang. 2012. Micro-blog and the speech act of China’s middle class: The 7.23 train accident case. Javnost: The Public 19(2): 43–62. Yang, Chuanmei. 2011. Dazao guojia xingxiang shige changqi xitong gongcheng [Building the national image is a long and systematic process]. Zhongguo Jingji Daobao [Chinese Economic Herald], January 22, accessed July 2013, from 1/22/74444.shtml. Zhao, Bin. 1998. Popular family television and party ideology: The Spring Festival Eve happy gathering. Media, Culture & Society 20(1): 43–58. Zhao, Yuezhi. 1998. Media, Market, and Democracy in China: Between the Party Line and the Bottom Line, Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.

III. The long history

Stefanie Averbeck-Lietz

5 Understanding mediatization in “first modernity”: sociological classics and their perspectives on mediated and mediatized societies Abstract: This chapter consists of two main parts: the first summing up why we may look to the classics to understand mediatization processes in the long term, e.g. through a historical perspective, especially with regard to the history of communication. The second part looks more closely at the writings of three classic authors: Max Weber, Ferdinand Tönnies and Ernest Manheim (a direct student of Tönnies), and thus illustrates the first part. Manheim was the first European thinker to use the term “mediatization” explicitly to explain the cultural and social shift in mass-mediated societies as early as 1932/1933. He was a forerunner of Habermas in describing the rise of a public sphere since the 17th century. A further reference is Jürgen Habermas himself and his historical perspective on the rise of the bourgeois public sphere, demolished by the mass press from the late 19th century onwards, as well as his assumption of the mediatization of the lifeworld in his theory of communicative action. Habermas’ more recent work of the 1990s and 2000s, on the concept of public communication and civil society, is not as culturally pessimistic as it first seems. The frameworks of mediatization research by Winfried Schulz and Jesper Strömbäck explain which (historical) stages of mediatization are visible in the classics of first modernity. Keywords: mediatization as a historical process, phases of mediatization, history of mediatization research, public sphere theory, Jürgen Habermas, Ernest Manheim, Max Weber, communication history, media history, history of communication research

This chapter focuses on two arguments: one summing up why we should look at the classics to understand mediatization processes in the long run, e.g. through a historical perspective, especially regarding the history of communication. The second argument looks more closely at the writings of three classic thinkers: Max Weber, Ferdinand Tönnies, and Ernest Manheim (a student of Tönnies) and thus illustrates the first argument. All cases originate in the German tradition − even though Weber, Tönnies, and Manheim have also had impact on transnational theory building. This is especially true for their successor Jürgen Habermas and his approach to think and rethink the public sphere and social communication. Habermas is not a sociological classic


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of the first modernity but of the so-called “second” or reflexive modernity, although his work has historical dimensions that lead us back to the 18th century. What is lacking are examples of classics from the French tradition of thought on social communication (see Averbeck-Lietz 2010) such as Gabriel Tarde (Katz 1999; Mattelart 1997: 218–287) or Emile Durkheim (Carey 1992: 19), also contributing to the analysis of mediated and symbolic communication in first modernity.

1 Why look at sociological classics? Challenges to understand mediatiziation as an ongoing historical process and how to learn from Habermas The purpose of this contribution is the search for concepts of mediatization prior to the age of digitalization. No less than Friedrich Krotz himself claims the need to historize the concept of mediatization for the time before digitalization (Krotz 2003, 2012: 37). My aim concerning the historization of the mediatization concept is twofold, namely, to embed the meta concept mediatization into the history of communication, as well as into the history of ideas about communication. Not only is it necessary to know what has changed in the world and in which way, but we also need to know how to observe those changes as scientists (see Livingstone 2008: 2–4). Moreover, these two aspects are interrelated. Therefore, I suggest looking at the classics of the so-called first modernity, ergo the thinkers of the industrial age (Beck 1986; Münch 2004: 516–519; Saxer 2012: 110–111) and their observations of media and social change. Mediatization and modernization are intermingled processes (Saxer 2012: 869). The readings of the classics are a source of communication history in telling us how communication had been observed in former times. We may also read them conceptually by interpreting their observations for systematical aims and understanding communication and media change in general (Rühl 1999; Averbeck 1999a; Hardt 2001; Meyen and Löblich 2006). The classics help us understand social changes and media shifts as well as the tradition of thought in which we are embedded and involved in Western communication sociology while “standing on the shoulders of giants” (Merton 1965). Giants like Max Weber (1864–1920) and his brother Alfred Weber (1868–1958), Karl Mannheim (1893–1947) and his cousin Ernest Manheim (1900–2002), Ferdinand Tönnies (1855–1936), Albert Schäffle (1831–1903, concerning him see in detail Meyen and Löblich 2006: 109–128), or less well known brilliant thinkers from German newspaper research such as the Munich scholar Otto Groth (1875–1965, concerning Groth see in detail Langenbucher 1995; Marhenke 2004; Pietilä 2005: 47– 55). Groth as a Jew was widely banned from teaching as well as from publishing

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during the so called Third Reich. We should also name the director of the Institute for Newspaper Studies at the University of Leipzig Erich Everth (1878–1934) (see in detail Averbeck 2002), fired by the Nazis for his political opinions, and Hans Traub (1901–1943) with a career at the Universities of Berlin and Greifswald stopped by the Nazis in 1937 (in detail Averbeck 1999a: 355–404; Beck 2009: 197– 214).1 Alfred Weber (together with Emil Lederer and Hans von Eckardt) institutionalized and headed the Institute for Newspaper Research at the University of Heidelberg during the Weimar Republic. Karl Mannheim held courses such as “Public Opinion and the Newspaper” at the same University in the early 1930s (in detail Reimann 1988; Averbeck 1999a: 226–234). Jürgen Habermas (born 1920) needs to be named at this point. He learned a lot from these predecessors, especially concerning press history as can be seen in his early book from 1962. He himself impressed several generations of communication scholars with his thinking about “The Public Sphere” in historical and systematical manners. He shares this double concept, the historico-systematical view, with his predecessor Ernest Manheim and his book on public opinion written in 1932 (Manheim 1979 [1933]), which Habermas cited in his own book (see Habermas 1996 [1962]: 95). He also referred to some of the press histographic workings of the Weimar Newspaper Studies, for example from Erich Everth, Helmut Fischer, Karl Bücher, and others (see for example Habermas 1996 [1962]: 72–77). From the early writings on communication and media change, at least in the works of some classical authors (above all Ernest Manheim, see section 3 of this chapter), there are identifiable concepts of mediatization (Mediatisierung) as well as of mediation (Vermittlung) (especially Otto Groth who largely was influenced by the epistemology of Max Weber, see Langenbucher 1995; Marhenke 2004) and Erich Everth, who was inspired by the formal sociology of Georg Simmel, see Averbeck 2002).2 Jesper Strömbäck (2008) also mentions mediatization and mediation as concepts worth looking back at, taking into account the history of ideas of communication. His example for an early theorist is the US journalist and scholar Walter Lippman with his famous book on public opinion from 1922, which still today is often cited for its early description of framing processes by mediated communication (Strömbäck 2008: 230). Mediation and mediatization are not exclusive of each other but rather they are complementing concepts. Mediation means the mediation of sense and sense-making (for and by individuals, groups, and institutions in their roles of communication agents and or professional communicators) in a given society via the (mass) media. Mediatization means the intermingled process of

1 The German “Zeitungswissenschaft” (newspaper studies) has been dominated by high conformity and loyalty to the Nazi state (see Kutsch 1987; Averbeck 1999a: 102–144). 2 Erik Koenen is working on a dissertation project concerning Erich Everth’s role in German newspaper studies.


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media, cultural, and social change (for the contemporary discussion concerning differences and complementarities of mediation and mediatization-concepts see Strömbäck 2008; also Livingstone 2008; Lundby 2009: 12–15; Hepp 2011: 35–41; Averbeck-Lietz 2013). In addition – in the German context, and so far as I know only in the German one − there is the almost not translatable notion of “medialization” (“Medialisierung”), meaning inter- and transactions between the media and the media system on one side, and politics, policies, and the political system on the other. Communication historians in Germany like Erik Koenen and Arnulf Kutsch (2004), Frank Bösch and Norbert Frei (2006), Rudolf Stöber (2010), Jürgen Wilke (2011) or Klaus Arnold, Christoph Classen and Susanne Kinnebrock (2010) solely use the notion of “Medialisierung” for describing the co-changes in the media and the political system since the 18th century.3 This goes along with the similar notion of “Medialisierung” as understood by political communication research in German-speaking countries (Imhof 2006; Donges 2008; Marcinkowski and Steiner 2010; Meyen 2009; Wendelin 2011). The reasons German historians speak of Medialisierung are rooted in a terminological clash (which provoked and provokes a lot of misunderstanding). In German historical science and largely in humanities the term “Mediatisierung” means the implementation of former autonomous political unities, little feudal states, under the big “Reichsstände” like Prussia or Bavaria in the early 19th century (Livingstone 2008; Stöber 2010). Or mediatization means – especially in political communication research – the representation of the people’s sovereignty by their elected parliaments. As Gerhard Vowe has shown, Jürgen Habermas uses the term “Mediatisierung” (mediatization) in this same way of mediating institutions between the citizen and the state via parties, unions, and/or the mass media (Vowe 2006: 441). Indeed, Habermas sees the whole power structure of society “mediatized” in the (enlightened) public sphere of the late 18th and early 19th centuries (Habermas 1996 [1962]: 74). Ernest Manheim (1933) goes beyond this to general changes in communicative behavior and in symbolic power matches in society from the time when media got popularized with a culture of magazines from the late 17th century onwards (Manheim 1979 [1933], 1964). The 17th century and the ‘longue durée’ of a bourgeois public sphere is (empirically and systematically) nearly spared by Habermas, as newer literature concerning the maturing of a German press culture from the 17th century shows and directly criticizes Habermas from this standpoint (Böning 2002: 456–463; Stöber 2010: 286). Concerning a Habermasian “medialization”(!)-concept, Manuel Wendelin and Andreas Scheu refer more generally to his (and also to Adorno’s) normatively nega3 An exception in the milieu of German communication historians is Koenen (see Gentzel and Koenen 2012) who understands the terms “medialization” and “mediatization” complementary, as I do myself.

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tive hypothesis of a cultural industry overwhelming and destroying the bourgeois public sphere since the late 19th century. That means the substitution of face-toface semi-public discourses of scientific societies, of privately organized intellectual saloons, of nearly closed language and masonic communities by modern “mass culture” and its rationalized production processes in a “refeudalized” pseudo public sphere overwhelmed by political public relations (Scheu and Wendelin 2010: 454). In this process of structural change the bourgeois public sphere has largely been destroyed. This is the diagnosis derived from Habermas’ first writings on public opinion and the press in the 1960s (Habermas 1996 [1962]). Even so, there is a much more positive concept in Habermas’ idea of the public sphere than in Adorno’s diagnosis of the “Verblendungszusammenhang” of mass culture: the critical potential of the public sphere as a positive goal for reflexive modern societies (see also Scheu and Wendelin 2010: 452–456). With Habermas’ later concepts from the 1980s till today (in his theory of communicative action and his thinking on civil society and the constitutional state) we might even be able to speak of the mediatization of public communication: the (mass) media have to re-implement the periphery of civil society into the public discourse (Habermas 1998: 431– 435). Habermas sketches an ideal type of democratization and participation grounded in the “networks of communication” of the so-called lifeworld (Habermas 1998: 429; see also Lingenberg 2010: 25–30). Mediatization is thought of positively here and public communication as technically mediated and embedded in interpersonal communication at the same time. We will find the same motive for his predecessor Ernest Manheim (see below). Even if Habermas himself does not use the mediatization concept of Krotz or others, we may read him in this direction (in the same sense Scheu and Wendelin 2010: 455–457 by using the term “medialization”). Lundby (2009: 4) and also Krotz (2009: 33) mention the negative side of mediatization in Habermas’ reflection on rationalization processes, the de-possession of the lifeworld via system imperatives, including the mass media themselves as part of the systems imperatives. Habermas’ theory of communicative action indeed is crucial for understanding his late concepts of public communication and the mediatization of every day as well as of political communication (Habermas 1988: 452; 1998: 436–437). However, contrary to Krotz and Lundby (and with Scheu and Wendelin) my argument is: Mediatization in this sense is – as I read the late Habermas (1998) – a process in two potential directions: positively, leading to “networks of communication”, including the impact of the peripheral actors of civil society; negatively, leading to a closed power structure with mass media, political parties, and other influential political actors in the center (Habermas 1998: 339–436). The Swiss communication researcher Ulrich Saxer gives a short but relevant critical hint on Habermas’ mediatization concept, which he estimates is too narrowly focused on the side of the system and its rationalization processes. For Saxer, himself a system theorist, in the process of medialization/digitalization/


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economization – in the long run – the system and the lifeworld are so much “interpenetrated” that it makes no sense to separate “medialization” (this is the term Saxer strictly uses) from the lifeworld as Habermas seems to do (Saxer 2012: 389, 858–860). At the theoretical level Saxer argues with Schimank’s theory of structuration (Schimank 2000), ergo the analysis of actor’s constellations, their possibilities of acting and communicating with and against constraints in systemic environments (Saxer 2012: 91–93). At the phenomenological level Saxer argues with lifeworld changes and changes in the demarcation line between the public and the private, as we recently know them from online connected and constructed lifeworlds (Saxer 2012: 732–735, 858). It may indeed be difficult to rethink online privacy with Habermas, who is clearly defining the public and the private as two different but interacting spheres of the social (Habermas 1998: 442–443). But this is a problem not to solve here. Even so, I want to strengthen the argument that medialization is an applicable term to analyze the lifeworld – if we takes into account Habermas’ communication theory and its relevance for the development of his public sphere theory after 1998: the “networks of communication” in the sense of Habermas are not only public arenas. They are at the same time lifeworldcommunication arrangements (encounters, group communication) and they are able to gain systemic (institutionalized) potential, especially in times of crisis, when professional communicators and their routines collapse and lose credibility. Habermas himself describes this process in “Faktizität und Geltung” (1998: 339– 436). Following Knut Lundby (2009: 11) I do not understand the “Medialization”concept as synonymous to the “Mediatization”-concept. In my opinion, they are complementary, but different (in content and in genesis). When we read Habermas under a medialization/mediatization-perspective as I do here, the two perspectives are both visible in Habermas’ lifelong writing on the public sphere as a publicistic sphere (Publizistische Sphäre) embedded in and inspired by lifeworld activities of human communication. Habermas has described the open and participatory discourse between actors of the center (for example parliament actors) and peripheral actors (for example civil society) via face-to-face and technically mediated communication (Habermas 1998: 442–447, 456–467). The “medialization”-concept mainly refers to mass media as corporate organizations of sense-making with political impact, which are deeply embedded in society after long and ongoing institutionaliziation processes (Saxer 2012). This concept is close to Stig Hjarvard’s (2008) approach of the Mediatization of Institutions or Strömbäck’s (2008) Four-Dimensional Conceptualization of the Mediatization of Politics. Whereas the concept of mediatization in the sense of Friedrich Krotz refers to the dynamics of communicative action via media and social change (deeply rooted in the social theory of action from Max Weber to George Herbert Mead to Alfred Schütz – which are also the main anchors of thinking in Habermas’ theory of

Understanding mediatization in “first modernity”


social action). Krotz’s empirical approach is embedded in a general theory of social action, symbolic interactionism, and social constructivism (Krotz 2008, 2012; Hartmann and Hepp 2010; Gentzel and Koenen 2012: 200–201) – this is the common denominator with Habermas. From this starting point it is possible to define “mediatization” as follows: We defined mediatization as a meta-process that is grounded in the modification of communication as the basic practice of how people construct the social and cultural world. They do so by changing communication practices that use media and refer to media. (Krotz 2009: 25)

Krotz explicitly provides a link between his own perspective and the one of Habermas, namely to start with “the problem of communicative action” (Krotz 2009: 29). My suggestions on terminological differences in mediatization and medialization, which contain different lines of thinking about media communication, are my point of departure for explaining the role of the classics in the light of today. The classical perspective is – as we find it for Habermas and as well for his predecessors – twofold: they look on organized public communication, its role in society and politics and − as well – on social and cultural change via media and communication. The classics highlighted – the organizational part of public communication, namely the organization and the economization and the press (Weber 1911, 2001a [1910]; Tönnies 2002 [1922]; Groth 1928; also Traub 1933 for radio), so to speak medialization – highly mediated sense-making and symbolization processes in modern media societies (Weber 1911, 2001a [1910]; Tönnies 2002 [1922]; Mannheim 1931 his pupil Carlé 1931; Manheim 1979 [1933]), so to speak mediatization. We also have to see the limits of interpreting the classics from the reflexive perspective of second modernity and be aware not to overstress the paradigm of mediatization: – Media, for the classics, mainly meant print media only (one exception was Hans Traub’s 1933 analysis of radio). – Communication mostly meant political communication embedded in the uprising democracy processes of Western societies – entertainment or soft power processes had been not yet in focus.


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2 Concepts to look backwards on mediatization: Strömbäck’s Four Phase Model and Schulz’s Four Types of Mediatization and their application to press history The phenomenon of mediated politics is thus older than theories about the phenomenon, although some observers in the early twentieth century offered analysis that are still highly relevant today. (Strömbäck 2008: 230)

Heuristically, I propose the “Four Phases of Mediatization” from Jesper Strömbäck (2008) as well as Winfried Schulz’s (2004) four dimensions of mediatization as models for analysis. Neither Strömbäck’s nor Schulz’s categories completely fit, because we have to take into account the media and political historical background. Strömbäck’s phrase for summing up mediatization research in the institutional tradition is very helpful and applicable for understanding classical readings: What matters is whether the mass media constitute the most important channels for information exchange and communication between people and political actors. Mediated politics should be understood as something different from politics experienced through interpersonal communication or directly by the people. (Strömbäck 2008: 211)

Strömbäck outlines that the mediation of politics through media is the “first phase of mediatization” in a long historical process. The second phase describes when media become institutionally more autonomous from other institutional bodies (Strömbäck 2008: 236–238) – in the history of the German press this is early the case. That means not at all that the press and the political system become completely autonomous from each other, but that the press as an institution was able to have political impact (see also Requate 1999). Max Weber in his “Plan for a Presse Enquete” highlighted that the press is a capitalist economic power with its own “Institutionencharakter” (institutional character) (Weber 1911, 2001a [1910], Gentzel and Koenen 2012: 204). Press historian Rudolf Stöber describes how the press developed during the 19th and early 20th centuries. At that time the press claimed autonomy indeed, either as a counterpart for political parties or as their representative. On this note, Stöber speaks about newspapers which sided with parties (like the Frankfurter Zeitung), influenced parties (like the Germania), or were a party themselves (like the Vorwärts, the daily journal of the Social Democratic Party) (Stöber 2000: 202). Press made politics in the late 19th century in Germany; it was a corporative political actor in itself. Max Weber in his publication on “Politics as Profession” (2001b [1919]) described this for the social democratic press (even if this press was suppressed during the times of the “law against socialism”, the so called

Understanding mediatization in “first modernity”


“Sozialistengesetz”, including censorship and interdictions of press titles). The Social Democratic Party and the social democratic press intermingled on the micromeso of a milieu of persons in dense interaction: Journalists became politicians and vice versa (Weber 2001b [1919]). The media and the political system have been observed and thought by the classics of first modernity as close together. The ideal of the “fourth estate” and the neutral role of the media was not the leading one at that times, but more the idealtype of politics via the media (see also Behmer 2004). In Max Weber’s and also in Ferdinand Tönnies’ or Karl Bücher’s descriptions about the contemporary structure of press organization, the economy or the press as an enterprise plays a crucial role beside the cultural and social functions of the press (in detail for Weber and Tönnies: Hardt 2001; Averbeck-Lietz 2014; for Bücher: Hardt 2001; Kutsch 2008; for Knies, Schäffle, Bücher, and Groth: Pietilä 2005: 29 f.). The contemporary so called “dual nature” of the press − at the same time an economic and a cultural good − especially was formulated by Karl Bücher (Pietilä 2005: 30–31, Kutsch 2008). Strombäck (2008: 237) stresses very correctly the press history in the second phase of mediatization processes of economization and professionalization (for press history and the side of professionalization see Requate 1995, for press history and the side of economization see Birkner 2010). Even Strömbäck’s third phase of mediatization, the phase of adaptation of media as communication sources in all parts of societies (Strömbäck 2008: 237– 238) can be found in the classical readings: in the workings of Weber and Manheim predominantly. Strömbäck argues here with Altheide and Snow’s (1979) notion of a “media logic”: All social institutions are media institutions (Strömbäck 2008: 238 citing Altheide and Snow 1991: xi). I want to emphasize that as early as in the classical readings the point of no return, that first modernity and media modernity are one, is clearly under focus in the writings of Weber and Manheim. Strombäck’s four phases are highly artificial types4, as are Schulz’s four dimensions of mediatization (Schulz 2004) – but they are helpful to qualify the thinking of the classics. Strömbäck’s fourth phase mainly considers the radical adoption, even the internalization of the media logic(s) by political actors and institutions and at the same time high degrees of institutional independency of media actors and institutions from political ones. In the classical texts, which are under focus here (in detail see below), the tension between the media and the political system is much more open: Manheim’s book on public opinion (1979 [1933]) teaches us a kind of communication logic, overwhelming the whole society, which is as feasible for single, corporate, or strongly organized communicators and their political ambitions – including the media as actors (see below section 3 of this chapter, in detail Averbeck 2005, Averbeck-Lietz 2014). 4 “The four phases of mediatization identified here are somewhat idealized, and as in all processes, the distinctions between the phases are less clear in reality than in theory” (Strömbäck 2008: 241).


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Mainly Max Weber (see also Hardt 2001; Gentzel and Koenen 2012) – went beyond the topic of the press as a source for and of public opinion to media culture in the vast sense of lifeworld changes, for example concerning the changes of topics and styles of interpersonal communication in the long run evoked by the consumption of newspapers (Weber 2001a [1910]). Schulz, referring to new media, highlighted the same process of transformation of communication via the professional and the ordinary use of media: The new media bring about new languages and interaction rules shaping and, to a certain degree standardizing the new media environment. (Schulz 2004: 96)

Not least Clifford Geertz cited Max Weber, when he described culture as a network of human constructed meanings (Gentzel and Koenen 2012: 203, Geertz 1983: 9). But Weber was not solely standing there as a giant: The “Kulturbedeutung der Presse”, the cultural meaning of the press, has been a vast theme of research in early newspaper studies in a milieu next to “Kulturwissenschaft”, concerning the so called Historical School of Early German Cultural Studies and its crossing to newspaper studies (for further reading: vom Bruch and Roegele 1986; Pietilä 2005: 15–55; Gentzel and Koenen 2012). Weber’s groundbreaking program of a “press enquête” as early as 1909/10 had been planned as a teamwork with (today mostly famous) scholars from several backgrounds, for example: Martin Spahn (newspaper studies and history), Otto Groth (newspaper studies), Oscar Wettstein (law and newspaper studies), Ferdinand Tönnies (sociology, especially of public opinion), Georg Simmel (sociology, especially of modern life), Werner Sombart (economy), Rudolf Michels (sociology, especially sociology of political parties), Alfred Vierkandt (sociology, especially group sociology) (see Obst 1986; Kutsch 1988; Meyen and Löblich 2006: 131–159; Weischenberg 2012: 78–109). Winfried Schulz (2004) published a conceptual proposal for understanding “mediatization”5 which – in my estimation – helps to categorize the observations made by the classics. Schulz (2004: 98–99) offers four interwoven processes of mediatization: 1. Extension or the overcoming of time and space – “the media extent the natural limits of human communication capacities” (anthropological perspective) 2. Substitution of primary experience through mediatized secondary experience – “the media substitute social activities and social institutions” 3. Amalgamation of primary experience and mediatized secondary experience – “media amalgamate with various non-media activities in social life”

5 Schulz himself in his German-language publications uses the term “Medialisierung” (“medialization”), see Schulz 2006.

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4. Accommodation, meaning the adjustments of public and private life to “media logics” (logics in plurality) – “the actors and organizations of all sectors of society accommodate to the media logic” With this differentiation Schulz delivers tangible proposals for modeling the metaprocess mediatization into smaller processes. He perceives these processes as heuristic conceptions, which are also applicable to communication eras before digitalization. As examples for the extension of time and space he named Werner Sombart’s analysis of capitalism from 1927 (Schulz 2004: 88). In fact, it was Habermas who also cited Sombart to show the new dimensions of the traffic of goods and messages in early capitalism (Habermas 1996 [1962]: 70–71). On the basis of Schulz’s categories, Rudolf Stöber demonstrated the process of press expansion (growing actuality, shorter periodicity, greater variety of print media), of the institutionalization of stable media routines (accommodation) and – relying on this − the wave of political public relations and symbolic politics in the 19th century and its amalgamation with interpersonal communication processes (Stöber 2010: 79–81). Schulz and Stöber do not use the terms primary and secondary experience – I have borrowed them from a young PhD student Walter Auerbach and his dissertation at the University of Cologne from 1929 (Auerbach referred to the writings of the German sociologist Alfred Vierkandt). According to Auerbach the mediation via press – seen from the part of the reader – is always an indirect or secondary experience (“indirektes Erleben”). At the same time it goes together with direct or primary experience (“direktes Erleben”) from (former) face-to-face contacts, personal memoirs, and speech (including speech about media content) (Auerbach 1930). Auerbach fled the Nazi regime (Averbeck 1999a: 308–332). Additionally, the concept of secondary experience is crucial in Otto Groth’s dogma of “Vermittelte Mitteilung” (mediated message) (Langenbucher 1995) or in Jaeger’s paradigm of “Mitteilung statt Medium” (the message, not the medium) (Averbeck and Kutsch 2000) as well as in Manheim’s concept of the social mediatization of human interrelations via press (“Die gesellschaftliche Mediatisierung menschlicher Unmittelbarbeziehungen”, see Manheim 1979 [1933]: 24).

3 “Mediatization” – an explicit concept by the young sociologist Ernest Manheim in 1933 The explicit notion “mediatization”, was introduced as early as 1932/33 by Ernest Manheim – with the German term “Mediatisierung” in his book Public Opinion and its Social Sources. The Sociology of the Public (in German: Die Träger der öffentli-


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chen Meinung. Studien zur Soziologie der Öffentlichkeit). This book, however, was banned by the Nazis while Manheim fled via Hungary to London (where he received a second PhD degree from the London School of Economics under the supervision of Bronislaw Malinowski and Karl Mannheim)6 and then to the United States (where he became an assistant professor at the University of Chicago and built up the Department for Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Kansas City, Missouri during the 1940s). Although Manheim had a successful career, his early book on public opinion had almost no impact on the social sciences, neither in Germany nor in the United States or elsewhere (there is a Spanish translation from the late 1930s).7 Today, Manheim’s book, re-edited by Norbert Schindler in 1979, is well-known only by the insiders of emigration research (Baron, Smith and Reitz 2005), a few German-speaking sociologists (Imhof 2003; Beetz 2005) and a few communication scholars (Averbeck 1999a: 414–442). The Austrian journal Medien & Zeit set his works on the agenda in 1998 and an article concerning his relevance, honoring Manheim’s 100’s anniversary, was published in the Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie in 2000. The re-edition of some of his texts appeared in the Jahrbuch für Soziologiegeschichte (Yearbook for the History of Sociology) in 1995. In 2000 Manheim received an honorary doctorate from the University of Leipzig, his alma mater in Germany – the same country where he was degraded as a “Jew and foreigner” and his work banned 66 years earlier. The most famous trace of Manheim’s early works is indeed the citation of his book in Jürgen Habermas’ Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit from 1962. Manheim was one of the most innovative and promising young German sociologists working on the subject of public opinion during inter-war times (see the excellent reviews of his book on public opinion from 1934 by Herbert Marcuse in the Journal of the Frankfurt School and also by the professor for newspaper studies Wilhelm Kapp in 1935 in the central Journal of German Newspaper Studies). Manheim, born in Budapest in 1900 as Ernö Manheim, was the younger cousin of Karl Mannheim, famous for his concept of a sociology of knowledge. After World War II the younger Manheim edited the writings of the elder (Manheim and Kecskemeti 1956), even though he was a life-long critic of Karl Mannheim’s too stable concept of a sociology of knowledge, not reflecting communication dynamics in processes of gaining knowledge and internalizing opinions. Ernest Manheim criticized Karl Mannheim’s concept for its inability to explain opinion shifts (Manheim 1998 [1972]).

6 This was in the field of anthropology, largely referring to Weber’s theory of authority and charisma: Ernest Manheim: Risk and Authority in Primitive Societies. PhD London School of Economics [unpublished manuscript]. 7 For Manheim’s personal and scientific biography see the website in his honor of the Archive of the History of Sociology of the University of Graz: manheim/ (27. 2. 2013), also Welzig 1997; Averbeck 2000.

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As a student at the University of Kiel in the early 1920s, Manheim was a direct student of Ferdinand Tönnies. Additionally, he adopted Weber, especially his epistemology of the social sciences. The young Ernest Manheim, then assistant in the sociology department at the University of Leipzig, used probably for the first time the term “Mediatisierung” (mediatization) to describe and to analyze a fundamental transformation of society by communication via and of print media and their messages beyond singular media effects. This transformation occurs concurrently with industrialization, urbanization, alphabetization, secularization, rationalization, democratization, and marketization (also the marketization of media). Those processes were also described in depth by those giants on whose shoulders he stood, not least Weber and Tönnies (concerning them see Hardt 2001; Weischenberg 2012; Averbeck-Lietz 2014). Manheim conceptualized the mediatization of direct human relations by public communication as a categorical principle, crucial for the sense and the context of communicated contents (Manheim 1979 [1933]: 24). His deeper explanation focused on the transformation of the civic public as a dominant societal force in the course of this mediatization process since the 18th century. Contrary to the sociology of knowledge developed by his cousin Karl Mannheim, he not only looked at the “Standortgebundenheiten des Wissens”, that is the social roots of knowledge and meanings (Mannheim 1931), but he also considered the communication processes behind them (Manheim 1998 [1972]). Furthermore, “the public” no longer remains an elite of intellectuals as in Tönnies’ description (Averbeck 1999a: 255–262) as well as – in some manner − in Karl Mannheim’s concept of a “free-floating intelligence” (“freischwebende Intelligenz”). The young Ernest Manheim did not regard primarily the mediation of elite communication and elitist ideas, but the broader public and its dynamics (see also the interview with Ernest Manheim, Averbeck 1999b). Manheim analyzed early civic communities (literary round tables, clubs, the often nationalistic German and language societies; the mediation of their ideas by different branches of the upcoming bourgeoisie, including prayers, teachers, lawyers, and journalists) and – from the late 18th century − the general transformation of their oral communications in semi-public, more or less closed, more or less elitist communities, to public communication in a general and democratic sense by the use of media. This meant media production and – complementary – use in the sense of newspaper reading with a focus on addressees such as scientists (Gelehrte Journale) or bourgeois families (via journals like the Gartenlaube), later on the wider public by mass press (Manheim 1979 [1933]). And this was not – as in the case of Habermas – sketched by Manheim as a history of decay, but as a history of democratization by mediated and mediatized communication. The decay that Manheim instead observed was meant in a completely different sense: the rise of the National Socialist Party in the early 1930s and its special type of political communication via “public and private channels”, via the press, meetings, and


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demonstrations (including violence) in the streets – as well as via public and private encounters (Manheim 1940 and Manheim in his interviews with Greffrath in 1981 and with Averbeck [1999b]). According to Manheim, the carriers of public opinion and their motives to publish changed during the rise of the public sphere (Manheim 1979 [1933]: 71–122, also Manheim 1964). At first, the civic collectives of the early bourgeoisie were cohesive inwards and acted via interpersonal communication (like literary round tables). Later on, during the late 17th and early 18th centuries, they transformed their contents while addressing them. They felt a sense of mission based on a general humanism: Potentially each person is a member of the public. During that process, the actively discussing and publishing part of the bourgeoisie (bourgeoisie in a very broad sense, including some parts of the nobility and of the officialdom) became politically aware and addressed a broader public or “the” public (Manheim 1979 [1933]: 71–122, also Manheim 1964). For an empirically based typology of communication processes in the sense of Manheim this meant not to focus exclusively on the ideal type of discourse (which he like Habermas typified as an ideal in the sense of Kant, see Manheim 1979 [1933]: 50–51, 102). Manheim switched to the sociology of strategic communication concerning political goals. He (Manheim 1979 [1933]: 49–62) differentiated three analytical types of public opinion, which qualify for empirical operationalization (see also Beetz 2005). 1. the pluralist type → processes of persuasion 2. the transcendental type → processes of deliberation 3. the qualitative type → processes of affirmation In real life these get mixed up. According to Manheim, “Diskursivität” (discoursivity) and deliberation are only one side of the public sphere, and there is no pure, transcendental type (in the sense of Kant) that could meet this norm. Something else is essential: Interpersonal and media-based communication form hybrids in each of the three types and need each other to exist (see also Manheim 1940 [1939]). Mediatization implies the reshaping and alteration of interpersonal relations by technically mediated communication. It does not imply the substitution of interpersonal relations. This is amalgamation (before digitalization) in the words of Schulz: Media use is woven into the fabric of everyday life; the media pervade the professional sphere, the economics, politics and the public sphere. Media activities and non-media activities amalgamate. (Schulz 2004: 89)

Manheim declared a sociology of the public sphere (“Soziologie der Öffentlichkeit”) as his broader sociological interest as early as 1933, analyzing publicistic socialization (“publizistische Vergesellschaftung”, see Manheim 1979 [1933]: 20–26). Mediatized communication processes were leading to new social realities and identities. At this point, Manheim’s theory of the public sphere becomes highly relevant. It

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exceeds the normative concept of the society of scholars (“Gelehrtenrepublik”) coined by his teacher Tönnies. Manheim was the first theorist to succeed in giving up the concept of elites in the public sphere and who turned towards an analytical concept. Tönnies’ concept of a republic of scholars (Stöber 2009: 56–57), dominating the public sphere had become obsolete, since modern mass society cannot be perpetuated by groups of discussing elites, but by networks of public interests. The 20th century could not step backwards and ignore the fact that society had evolved and became a media-based society. Ironically, it was Tönnies who opened the scene for this new approach. With his book on public opinion from 1922 and his own differentiation of a unified (and elitist) public opinion and a plurality of different more or less “gaseous” and “fluid” opinions in society (Hardt 2001: 107–125), he impressed the younger generation of social scientists in the Weimar Republic, including Manheim (in detail see Averbeck 1999a: 242–254).

4 A spotlight on the “giants”: media, cultural and social change in and by the media as described by Max Weber and Ferdinand Tönnies [Max] Weber is aware of the effects of a mediated reality (to use a late-twentieth-century expression). (Hardt 2001: 139)

This is not the place to discuss the very well-known works of Weber and Tönnies in detail, but to weigh their concepts for the history of mediatization as well as for mediatization research. As early as 1910, Weber perceived the press as a social institution in itself, as an institution changing modern life as a whole, socially, politically, and culturally (Gentzel and Koenen 2010: 204–205). Weber understood “press as one means of coining the subjective character of modern human beings” as well as “press as a component of the objective character of modern culture” (Weber 2001a [1910]: 316). The famous German citation is: […] die Presse als eines der Mittel zur Prägung der subjektiven Eigenart des modernen Menschen […], die Presse als Komponente der objektiven Eigenart der modernen Kultur. (Weber 2001a [1910]: 316)

Following Weber, we can argue that, at the turn of the century, the press gained autonomy, publicistically as well as economically. This is reflected by his demand to analyze professionalization in journalism, the internal differentiation of press organizations, including the evolution of editorial departments − his early (but never operationalized plan) for an “Enquete” on journalism research (in detail described by Obst 1986; Kutsch 1988; Hardt 2001: 127–143, Meyen and Löblich


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2006: 145–159, Weischenberg 2012: 79–109). With his plan for press and journalism research Weber established the research topoi that we still lean on: – Journalism as a full-time profession, differentiation of journalistic roles – Self-conceptions and working habits of journalists – Thematic specializations in journalism and developments of editorial departments – National differences of media systems and journalism – Interdependencies between economic concentration, the public, and the advertising market – Relations between journalism and news agencies – Readers’ buying decisions, changes in the daily uses of language because of newspapers and telegraphy, impacts of journalism on knowledge and public discussions The journalistic function is the mediation of information and opinions to society, which makes the press an agent of change for everyday culture. The economic function of the press guarantees a free press through advertising (including dysfunctions if advertising is not transparent) (Weber 1911, Weber 2001a [1910]). Just as in Weber’s concept of inquiry, Tönnies also refers on economy and ethics of the press. His criticism on public opinion of 1922 includes internationalization as well as cultural aspects of change, too: Tönnies analyzed “solid” public opinions as value systems that apply transnationally. Examples are discussions of women’s rights, the death penalty, or even democracy as a political ideal for mankind. Tönnies observed those discussions not only in European States but also in the US − in daily life as well as in the national and international press discussions (Tönnies 2002 [1922]: 600). Other than Weber, Tönnies explicitly developed a theory of the public sphere; nevertheless he fell short of Weber’s ideas – which also had been shared by Manheim − especially on the epistemological side like the idealtype and the dogma of “Werturteilsfreiheit” of science (the non-normativity of scientific analysis). Tönnies’ argumentations were primarily normative. In a first step, his criteria to describe public opinion are systematic. He calls them “solid”, “liquid”, and “gaseous”. Much later, the liquid type was adopted by Noelle-Neumann for her spiral of silence: opinions that are morally charged (see Noelle-Neumann 1991: 91). In a second step Tönnies’ concept of the so-called “Gelehrtenrepublik” (“republic of scholars”) has been highly normative and insofar not compatible with Manheim’s (nor later with Habermas’ views) on the discourse as a formal procedure: Following Tönnies, public opinions as well as discourses are consolidated not because of the discourse itself, but because of the morality and integrity of its participants. Outstanding personalities are seen as watchdogs over the press and within the institution (Tönnies 1929: 26, Poske 1999: 62–67). This normative

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approach is not yet feasible for a process model of mediatization as Manheim proposed it.

5 Summary Modern history of communication and social theory as theory of change relate to each other. We see this in the writings of the classics. The role of the press as outcome, indicator, and also agent of social and economic change has been specified in Weber’s, Tönnies’, and Manheim’s works and we may call this extension and accommodation in Winfried Schulz’s terminology an approach on mediatization. Going beyond this, Manheim’s explicit idea of mediatization describes the tensions between primary experiences and mass-mediated secondary experiences. This bears relevance to politics and to day-to-day routines, namely the intertwining of public and private life and alteration of modes of communication. In Schulz’ terminology we may speak of amalgamation. The classics do not describe entire substitutions of institutions and/or types of social activities via technical media (I myself have a lot of doubts that they might exist even today). They lived in a pre-digital media environment. In my estimation, they tell us about social change via social action and this social action is more and more mediatized by the mass media as organizations and institutions (in the sense of Strömbäck and Hjarvard) in their times. We can learn from this that the “mediatization of communication” (Krotz 2012: 45) is always embedded in contexts of action, institutions, organizations, and structures. Concerning the interconnection of social history and media history, we deal with transactional processes (in the sense of Werner Früh, see Wirth, Stiehler and Wünsch 2007), not with technical determinism. Transactional processes are the kind of processes whose effects become again causations of the process. Thus, there are feedback-loops. The mediatization of actions/communication, institutions, organizations, and structures is not a one-way-process induced by the media, it occurs only in contexts of action/communication, institutions/organizations, and structures or structurations. Learning from the classics, we have to look at the macro-level on changes within society (structures), at the meso-level on changes within and between organizations (differentiation of functions and roles) and institutions (rules and norms), as well as at the micro-level on changes of social action and communication (lifeworld routines). Veikko Pietilä writes on the early 20th-century perspectives on the press: What separated the ‘old’ and ‘new’ society was especially social organization, that is, the kind of connections between people. (Pietliä 2005: 15)

How the classics thought and observed the shifts in the connections between people socially, culturally, and politically is not thinkable any longer without regarding the interconnections between people and ideas via the mass media.


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Stöber, Rudolf. 2000. Deutsche Pressegeschichte. Einführung, Systematik, Glossar. Konstanz: UVK. Stöber, Rudolf. 2009. Öffentlichkeit/Öffentliche Meinung als Phasenraum. In: Stefanie AverbeckLietz, Petra Klein und Michael Meyen (eds.), Historische und Systematische Kommunikationswissenschaft. Festschrift für Arnulf Kutsch, 53–78. Bremen: Edition Lumiére. Stöber, Rudolf. 2010. Medialisierung vor 1945. Wie tragfähig ist der Begriff als kommunikationshistorisches Konzept für Frühe Neuzeit und Moderne? In: Klaus Arnold and Christoph Classen et al. (eds.), Von der Politisierung der Medien zur Medialisierung des Politischen. Zum Verhältnis von Medien, Öffentlichkeiten und Politik im 20. Jahrhundert, 77–94. Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag. Strömbäck, Jesper. 2008. Four phases of mediatization: An analysis of the mediatization of politics. The International Journal of Press Politics 12: 228–245. Traub, Hans. 1933. Grundbegriffe des Zeitungswesens. Kritische Einführung in die Methode der Zeitungswissenschaft. Stuttgart: C. E. Poeschel. Tönnies, Ferdinand. 1929. Demokratie und Parlamentarismus. In: Ferdinand Tönnies: Soziologische Studien und Kritiken, 40–79. Jena: Fischer. Tönnies, Ferdinand. 2002. Kritik der öffentlichen Meinung Berlin: de Gruyter. First published Berlin: Springer [1922]. Vowe, Gerhard. 2006. Medialisierung der Politik? Ein theoretischer Ansatz auf dem Prüfstand. Publizistik 51: 437–435. Weber, Max. 1911. Geschäftsbericht. In: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Soziologie (ed.), Verhandlungen des Ersten Deutschen Soziologentages vom 19. bis 22. Oktober 1910 in Frankfurt a. M. Reden und Vorträge, 3962, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. Weber, Max. 2001a. Vorbericht über die vorgeschlagene Erhebung über die Soziologie des Zeitungswesens. In: Horst Pöttker (ed.), Öffentlichkeit als gesellschaftlicher Auftrag. Klassiker der Sozialwissenschaft über Journalismus und Medien, 316–329. [Unpublished manuscript 1910]. Konstanz, UVK. Weber, Max. 2001b. Politik als Beruf. In: Horst Pöttker (ed.): Öffentlichkeit als gesellschaftlicher Auftrag. Klassiker der Sozialwissenschaft über Journalismus und Medien, 329–347. Konstanz: UVK. First published München: Dunker und Humblot [1919]. Weischenberg, Siegfried. 2012. Max Weber und die Entzauberung der Medienwelt. Theorien und Querelen – eine andere Fachgeschichte. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. Welzig, Elisabeth. 1997. Die Bewältigung der Mitte. Ernst Manheim: Soziologe und Anthropologe. Wien: Böhlau. Wendelin, Manuel. 2011. Medialisierung der Öffentlichkeit. Kontinuität und Wandel einer normativen Kategorie der Moderne. Köln: Herbert von Halem. Wilke, Jürgen. 2011. Von der frühen Zeitung zur Medialisierung. Gesammelte Schriften II. Bremen: Edition Lumière. Wirth, Werner, Hans-Jörg Stiehler und Carsten Wünsch (eds.). 2007. Dynamisch-transaktional denken. Theorie und Empirie in der Kommunikationswissenschaft. Für Werner Früh. Köln: Herbert von Halem.

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6 Mediatization as a mover in modernity: social and cultural change in the context of media change Abstract: This chapter reconstructs the upcoming of the mediatization approach in the 1990 as an academic answer to the upcoming digital and computer related media. First it reports on the basic discussion about what to call this development from a communication studies perspective, its main questions and its consequences for traditional communication studies. Mediatization is understood as a historical and actual development similar to globalization and modernization. In the second part, by identifying sub-processes, more complex characteristics are presented: its relation to medium theory, its character as a historical meta process and its complexity. Finally, a definition is given. Keywords: mediatization, medium theory, medium concept, media change, cultural change, meta process, long term development, social world, modernization, communication studies

1 Mediatization: a conceptual answer to what was happening Compared with former times, we live in a world of change: technology, the media system and the use of media, culture and society, conditions of work and leisure, everyday life – nowadays all this and much more can no longer be regarded as stable, but must be seen as “processes”. Of course, this does not mean that everything is changing in a fundamental way – what we call “structures” are changing slowly. This is the background against which we observe what is changing more rapidly. Nevertheless, if we compare the living conditions of a person with an average length of life at the beginning of her or his life and at the end, it seems that nearly everything that we have concepts of has changed, maybe with the exception of rather abstract observations such as “There is no society without power” and the like. One reason why things are changing is that media is changing. Here we use the concept mediatization in order to grasp media change and the developments that depend on that. “Mediatization” is a word that has a surprisingly long history in communication studies, as Stefanie Averbeck-Lietz’s chapter in this volume shows. Nevertheless, the first attempts to develop this concept systematically as a basic one for communication studies were not seen before the second half of the


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1990s.1 Today, increasing numbers of academic researchers are discussing the concept and its basic assumptions, are trying to find out whether they could refer to it in doing their own research, and so are contributing to the development of the concept. We thus can say that the rise of the concept “mediatization” at the end of the last century was an academic answer, especially of communication and media scholars, to the growing importance of digital and computer directed media, which was accompanied by a change in old media. One idea behind this concept is that media have to be understood in a broader way, also historically, as processes which are changing over time. But at that time the rise of digital media, the growing importance of media and media services for more and more areas of the life of more and more individuals, for economy and democracy, for culture and society, could no longer be overlooked, and more and more researchers agreed on the idea that new theoretical approaches and methods to study and reconstruct these developments were needed (cf. also Livingstone 2009, Couldry 2008). A side effect of that development was that it put into question the old, mass communication centered approaches and the theories of the classical postwar communication and media studies of industrial societies in the northern parts of the world. In times of social and cultural change it becomes evident that academic social sciences are not only empirical sciences, but also need adequate concepts and theories to describe the world and its development. The different disciplines begin to construct concepts which help to develop the theories, so that they make a contributution to developing answers to open questions and grasp developments theoretically. Of course, they must be adequate and accepted – which means they should be theoretically and empirically fruitful to describe and understand the new developments, should assist the reanalysis of old, already existing, concepts and insights, and should become accepted over time by researchers. Mediatization is such a concept. Today it is used by increasing numbers of academics with reference to the developments in culture and society based on media development. This chapter will first establish relevant basic features of this concept, as they have been discussed in the recent past – the label “mediatization”, the need to think in processes, the core questions of the concept, and some resulting concepts for the future of communication studies. Then further possibilities and problems of the concept will be introduced: its relationship to medium theory and the idea that mediatization is not only an actual process concerned with digital media, but has taken place in the past, as, for example, the long-term process of societies to become literate and the way book culture has changed. We thus can understand mediatization as a historical long-term process that has

1 I myself used this concept for the first time in a publication (Krotz 1995) after having developed the concept in a broader research project about changing public communication, supported by a grant from the Volkswagen Foundation.

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occurred since the beginning of human communication. We will discuss the complexity of metaprocess mediatization, that today may be understood to consist of partial processes. Further, we will describe how mediatization is working and how the relation between media change and change of culture and society can be understood. A final definition of mediatization and some further comments will conclude this chapter. The main aim is thus not only to develop an analytical and at the same time integrating concept of mediatization, but also to show that we here have a concept which is crucial for humanity in modernity and postmodernity.

2 Basic features of “mediatization” 2.1 Why call it mediatization? In the 1990s, it became clear that mobile phone, Internet, and so on were not just new media, but that they were the visible peak of a more penetrating development. Some researchers started to analyze single upcoming media or the developments of old media like television or books. Others tried to take the whole development into consideration and thus made a step into the mediatization research of today. But at that time, the process attracted various labels. Some called the development “digitalization”, others spoke about the rise of a network, information, or knowledge society, but besides mediatization there were also labels like “mediation”, “mediatation” or “medialization”. Thus, we need a reason for why to use this or that concept. Of course, behind all existing labels there are specific theoretical concepts, but the question is whether they hold in the given case. Firstly, we should decide whether we want to use a dynamic, process-oriented label like mediatization or digitalization, or a label that refers to a stable final result of the development like network society or the upcoming information or knowledge society. Three reasons make it clear that a dynamic label for such a development is better: 1) Every society is a network, information, or knowledge society – such a label thus is not very clear as it does not emphasize a visible difference between today and the future. 2) There is the question of how one should define “information society”: Is this the case today, was it the case ten years ago, when the label was first coined, or will society in the next ten years finally be an information society? The concepts “network” or “knowledge” society reflect that something is changing, but the labels themselves do not make this really clear. 3) It is not known whether at the end of today’s media development and all the other existing long-term developments like globalization or individualization, there still will exist what sociologists call a society. Thus, a process-related concept seems to be more adequate, as it is more open.


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Secondly, with reference to dynamic concepts, we must decide whether digitalization or a media-related concept like mediatization, medialization, or mediatation is better. To decide this, we must look at what exactly is changing today. On the one hand, today there is of course a process of analog data being transformed into digital data – that is the fact which seems to make a label like digitalization relevant. But if we look at why this new form of data is important, we observe that this is the case because there are computers as “universal machines” that are able to work with data in digital form. It is the computer that organizes, sorts, controls, and directs digital data, that transforms, translates, and uses data, that makes the Internet, the mobile phone, or interactive media possible. The digital form of the data is only a technological condition of today for that. If we accept that media development today includes basic changes in culture and society, then it is not the form of the data that is relevant but the fact that there are more and more computers all over the world that work with the data. Thus, the label digitalization is a bit misleading; instead a label like computerization would be more apposite. But both concepts – digitalization and computerization – refer to the technical conditions. In contrast to that, people as users, as citizens, and as economic and consuming subjects do not experience technology. Instead, they experienced the rise of new media like computers, digital TV, or cellular phones. They experienced the growing importance of media and the changing communication habits of more and more people at work, at home, and in their leisure time. And they experienced that new types of media, social communication, and social activities become normal – websites, organized by single people, wikis, Wikipedia and wikileaks, online games, flashmobs, and so on. Thus, a label that refers to these media developments would be much closer to the experiences of people, as it became obvious that growing up and becoming socialized in society changed, as social relations and working conditions changed and information and its consumption increasingly took place by using media. Over time then, economy and administration, learning and political communication, advertisements and public discussions change as a consequence of media change. Thus, a media related label like mediatization or mediatation or something like that would be much more adequate than digitalization or computerization, when referring to the experiences of people, who construct reality and media by using and communicating with them. Thirdly, there then was a still ongoing discussion, whether mediation or mediatization, medialization or mediatation is the most adequate label, and what exactly is meant by this. Again, it is clear that behind these different labels there are different theoretical concepts, as the work of Lundby (2009a), Hjarvard (2009), Hartmann and Hepp (2010), Hepp, Hjarvard and Lundby (2010), Thompson (1995), Silverstone (2007), Livingstone (2009) and Couldry (2008), cf. also Krotz and Hepp (2012), shows. But the ongoing discussion also shows that “Mediatization” is

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accepted by most people and that this includes the broadest approach, at least at the moment (cf. also Steinmaurer 2013). Thus, we should concentrate further discussion on important questions instead of going over the label again and again.

2.2. Learning from sociology: processes and meta processes Using a label like mediatization as the name of a media-related development of culture and society leads to a lot of open questions: What does this mean exactly? What becomes mediatized? Where does it start? And so on. We will discuss these and other questions in this chapter, but first it is necessary to develop an understanding of what is meant by process and how we can study and think academically in processes. Let us start with the slightly more general question: With which theoretical concepts we can analyze change? Communication and media studies until now have not been greatly interested in describing developments – and if they have, they mostly described developments of single media.2 As so often, sociology is a bit broader, as there is a lot of work on social change, which is its own subfield, as seen in the work of authors such as Emile Durkheim, Talcott Parsons, or Immanuel Wallerstein. In recent decades especially so-called transformation research was influential here (e.g. Müller and Schmid 1995). But still, as far as I can see, there are no consensually used concepts that could be transferred to other fields or even clear definitions for concepts like change, development, evolution, and revolution and so on in order to grasp what “not stable” could mean. The only well-defined and accepted concept that is used in sociology and communication studies seems to be the concept “process”. It is, for example, used by Everett Rogers (1996) to describe the diffusion of innovations. Here, a process starts with a fixed given innovation, for example an object like a new technology, a new drug, or a new way of doing something, like healing a person or producing more rice. Rogers’ theory then describes the diffusion of this innovation over time in a given geographical area by describing different states at different points of time. Here, the innovation is assumed to be stable over time. The description of such a process of diffusion usually consists of percentages of people or experts of the whole relevant population, who use this innovation, measured at different points of time. This is exactly the definition of process for example in the encyclopedia of sociology (Fuchs et al. 1978, 527 f.).3 It is evident that this definition of “process” follows the rules of mathematical thinking and the way, as Bertrand

2 Of course, the so-called medium theory is also based on the idea of media change, but does not refer to media development – we will discuss this below. 3 A more open definition is given by Norbert Elias (1998), who wrote the article about “social processes” in another encyclopedic volume. This is much closer to what we call meta process (see below).


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Russell pointed out, in which quantitative social research understands and describes the world. He once said that on the basis of formal logic and mathematical thinking a flying arrow does not move but is just at different points of time at different places in the space (Russell 1975). This idea is similar to the fact that a movie is a rapid sequence of single stable pictures. But there are at least three arguments why it is not always helpful to reduce our understanding of reality to such a concept of change, as Rogers used it, when we think about mediatization. First of all, Roger’s approach is not really helpful to describe the diffusion of a medium, as a medium itself is not a stable innovation, but a process and continuously under development: For example, the innovation “computer” changed over time, as it got a hard disk and later a colored screen and then became a part of the Internet and so on. Thus, the respective percentages of users and non-users describe different things at different points of time and cannot be compared. Evidently, a mediatization process is much broader than the diffusion of one or a few media as it asks in addition for the relevant social and cultural changes. And the development which we call mediatization does not take place in one area only, but in different areas of lives of people, in different regions, and different cultural areas – of course nonlinear, not simultaneously, and with different results, for example in school, jobs, political discussion, or shopping. Secondly, we should doubt whether all kinds of processes can be regarded in the same way as the process of diffusion of innovations, i.e. in a way that continual changes and motions are reduced to a sequence of stable states. A movie for example may consist of a sequence of pictures, but we experience it as an ongoing continual process. Rogers and Russell’s analytic perspective is thus not helpful in reconstructing the people’s experience, as it cannot be called a way of experiencing and thinking in processes. What we need is to learn to think in open and broad processes, the beginning and the results of which we do not know. Thirdly, in addition, we can learn from sociology. There it is clear that not all developments can be understood in such a narrow way as process as this is the case with the diffusion of innovations, as developments like modernization, globalization, enlightenment, individualization, or civilization are of different type: concepts like these are well defined and used in sociology, and we also use them in our everyday life to explain the world, but they are much broader and more open than a process in the sense defined above: They do not take place in restricted areas, they are long-term and last over a few or several generations, they may not have a clear beginning and may never have a clearly defined end. In addition, they may take place at the same time with different intensities and directions in different societies and cultures, as in their concrete form they depend on a lot of conditions given by the respective culture and society they are part of. For example, it is arbitrary to say that modernization or civilization have begun at this or that date, and those developments took place in very different ways in Europe, the Arab countries, or in China.

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Here we cannot develop a theory of change, but will concentrate on the third point: In the following we will call such overriding developments meta processes. Meta processes are long-term processes of processes that are relevant for the actual and the long-term development of everyday life and identity of the people and for culture and society in general. Of course, they can take different ways and directions in different cultures and societies and historical phases, as it is the case with media development in different cultures and under different historical conditions. As examples for meta processes, taken from sociology, the terms modernization, enlightenment, or christianization can serve here, but also individualization, globalization, and commercialization. With regard to communication studies, for example, we can observe the coming into existence of a book culture that took place in China, Korea, and Europe as an earlier mediatization process, but at different moments in time and with different forms of development (Bösch 2011). This example also shows that the rise of book culture ignored the printing press in China, but in Korea and Europe, the printing press became highly important – nevertheless all three societies became literate. Thus, meta processes are rather complex and may differ in a relevant way in different cultures and under different historical conditions (in more detail: Krotz 2003, 2007: 25 ff., 2009a). In this sense then, we speak of a meta process mediatization which is taking place today, nonsimultaneously in different cultures, societies, and different areas of everyday life and which must be analyzed through communication studies. As an aside, we can say that cultural and societal developments do not, of course, depend only on one of the named long-term meta processes. Empirical studies and theoretical conclusions thus must take into consideration the interplay of such developments – but we will here concentrate on mediatization as a meta process. While doing so we should bear in mind that today the meta processes globalization, individualization, and commercialization together with mediatization are the movers of modernity.

2.3 The core topic of mediatization: the relation between media change and the change of everyday life and identity, culture and society In the following we understand mediatization as a meta process as explained above, as a long term development that includes media change and the respective change in culture and society (Krotz 2011). In the introduction to this chapter, I described mediatization as an answer to the empirically observed facts that we live under changing conditions of media and media development and at the same time in changing cultures and societies. By going into more detail, we can describe this central topic of Mediatization better. Let us start by using the field of political communication as an example and then come on to more general statements.


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Political communication research is mainly concerned with the role of media in the field of politics. Today, political parties, the administration, government and all democratic institutions have had to learn to relate in new ways to the media, which increasingly do not only report and comment on what has happened or serve as an arena (as in former times), but appear as actors with own their interests in shaping politics, in order to earn money or at least to gain attention. This means that the media have become actors of a new type in the political field and must be taken into consideration by the traditional actors such as parliament, the political parties, political organizations, or the lobby. This is what researchers in political communication sometimes call medialization (see, for example, Schulz 2008). But by far this is not all that has been changed in the field of political communication by what we here call mediatization. On a meso level, the administration, the parliament, the government, and the political parties “mediatized” themselves as they used digital media for their tasks, their organization, and their contacts with their members and the people. Political parties, for example, created virtual member groups, virtual meetings, developed newsletters and websites, blogs and used Facebook and Twitter – in this sense, all these institutions and organizations became producers of media for their own purposes. In tandem, the political participation of people became mediatized, not only because ever more people used the new media, but because new forms of participation became possible: new access to information, new contacts between politicians and voters, new websites to control and evaluate political developments or politicians and so on. The relevant contexts of political communication and political discourses also became different by commenting blogs, wikileaks, a changing in the information gathering of newspapers, the Clinton hearing via the Internet in Europe, virtual political groups and online discussions, cyber war, data surveillance and so on. All this together created and still is creating new mediatized contexts of political development, as all these developments are transforming the communicative construction of reality, of politics and interaction by the people into a mediatized construction of reality. Thus, it is recommended that researchers in political communication broaden their understanding of what they describe to be medialization or mediatization. This example includes the idea that mediatization is a meta process that is at least relevant for the different forms of communication in a society. In general terms, communication increasingly takes place with relation to media. I will analyze this in more detail in section 3 below, but will state here that this does not only mean that people communicate by media – it is also the case that our knowledge of everything depends on media or that media may be seen as mighty institutions, which are relevant for political decisions and processes. Mediatization thus is a much broader concept in its influence on culture and society than just looking at media or even at mass media content. On the level of communicative action, we can differentiate this in the following way: On the one hand, there is mediated communication, which means that communication takes place with media like TV or computer games or by using telephone,

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letters, or e-mail, for example. Besides mediated communication, there is media related communication. This happens if we communicate in the presence of media, while using media, for example while listening to music or watching pictures, but also if we communicate about media or using or referring to media content, or if we communicate by using information which we got from the media, or refer to emotions that we have had by using media: All these together may serve as the context of our thinking, our expressions, and our understanding. This then means that the growing use and meaning of media today not only changes culture and society, because people use media for more and more purposes and interests, but also that the contexts of communication more and more are media related: Communication under such conditions is what we might call mediatized communication, which is much more than mediated communication. The socially and communicatively constructed reality thus became a mediatized reality, as mediated and media related communication becomes more and more relevant. On the basis of this we finally can say that mediatization does not only include changes in culture and society because of increasing media use, but also a new quality comes into existence, because this development is not linear and causal, recursive and reflexive, as the media may play different roles and have different points of reference. We communicate with the help and in the presence of media and refer to knowledge and norms, values and emotions, that we learned and experienced by media, and thus communication, culture, and society cannot be understood without such a reference to media: As more and more areas of human life were communicatively constructed in a mediatized way, whole areas and in the long run the whole culture and society cannot be understood if we does not take into account that the contexts of communication are mediated and media related also, and this is what makes communication mediatized. As the developments have to be described by quantitative and qualitative changes, not just as a “more and more”, but also as a complex and non linear evolution, in obviously a similar complexity as globalization or modernization, it makes sense to understand mediatization as a metaprocess, that of course must be studied further.

2.4 Necessary enlargments of communication studies To sum up: starting with the point that we live in a rapidly changing world with rapidly changing media and media services, we assume that we can describe and theoretically grasp this development as a metaprocess called mediatization. The question behind this is how media are developing and how this is relevant for the everyday life of people, their social relations, and their identity and how this is relevant for the meso level of organizations and institutions and the macro level of culture and society. We understand this development as an open process that may be influenced by people and civil society, by government and bureaucracy, and, of course, enterprises, industry, and other organizations and institutions –


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while all these entities will also be changing if this metaprocess goes on. Further questions will be discussed in the rest of this chapter, but before we do so we want to state that such a view also demands changes in communication studies. Communication studies as a type of social science have until now mostly been interested in questions of media use, media content, and media effects, whereupon effects have been defined to be causal consequences of content (see, for example, McQuail, [1996] 2010). This traditional orientation of communication studies of course took seriously what public opinion and political institutions wanted to know from communication studies: How do media influence people, democracy, and the society by content? But today, media are much more than an arena, an actor with an opinion, and an agent of information, as for example Newcomb and Hirsch (1986) described them. Today, we are not only concerned with what formerly was called mass media, but also with media of interpersonal and interactive communication. Media belong in addition to the everyday life of people. They are of high importance for children and young people, as they grew up with them. Their existence generates control and power, as they penetrate everyday life, culture, and society. This was already a topic in early communication studies and also one of McLuhan, Meyrowitz and others (see below), but has been forgotten in main stream studies. In this sense then, the study of mediatization is a must for communication studies. It gives this discipline a broader perspective such that it can contribute to find answers for civil society and politics, and of course, for an economy interested in human development, where we go. In the future, at least in the next decades, communication studies must work under changing media conditions and will study for example communication with robots and augmented reality, just to name some developing topics. We also think that a mediatization approach may serve as a common frame for the different disciplines that are concerned with media change and other related topics. And we think that such an approach is necessary if we want to understand the historical development of media and communication in the past. Other academic disciplines like sociology, psychology, political science, or the research on child development today are also interested in media development and are doing a lot of media related research – we should cooperate with them (Krotz 2009b). This helps us to draw further conclusions. For example, communication studies cannot further be restricted to understand the human being as a part of an audience at the end of a line of transport of information as described by Harold Lasswell with his famous set of questions: “Who says what in which channel to whom with what effect?” (Lasswell 1964, 32–51). Instead, we need an understanding of the human being as a socially and communicatively constructed subject in society that communicates in specific social and mediatized worlds on the base of different social and cultural conditions, forms, habits, technologies, and interests with others. Each subject today is becoming an individual that is living with parts

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of his or her identity in the net and is understanding media like the smartphone or Google Glass as a part of his or her body. In connection with the relevance of all these developments, we must decide what kind of modernity we want. Or to paraphrase Herbert Schiller (1989): We live in a big experiment that industry, government, administration, and economy is realizing, without knowing how and why and where we go. It’s the task of academia and especially of communication studies to inform civil society so that it can decide what should be done. The following sections now will describe that concept in more detail in order to collect more knowledge about mediatization development and to avoid misunderstandings.

3 Further features of mediatization While in section 2 of this chapter we have developed the basic features and characteristics of the actual mediatization approach, we now will discuss characteristic assumptions and ideas belonging to this approach that are not shared by all researchers working on mediatization.

3.1 Revisiting medium theory: from historical phases to media change In some sense, mediatization research is a child of medium theory. Joshua Meyrowitz (1997) labeled the common work of those researchers who asked for the role of media in culture and society with the attribute “medium theory”. It is well known that Harold Innis (1951, 2007), Marshall McLuhan (1992), Neil Postman (1982) and Joshua Meyrowitz (1990) already analyzed the role of media in society, starting with the assumption that culture and society are influenced and formed by the respective leading media of a historical phase. Besides these researchers, there are other scholars like Eric Havelock (1990), Walter Ong (1995) or Jack Goody and his collaborators (1986), who may be added to this approach. They have worked in a similar way in the same direction, asking for the importance of media for culture and society, but they differ in relevant points from the first group and belong to medium theory only in a wider sense. What is common to all these scholars? They did not reduce the role of (mass-) media to the content which they transport, as it is for example expressed in the well-known Lasswell formula, which was basic for main stream communication studies (see above). Instead, they thought that media technologies themselves just by their very existence and by human use have been relevant in shaping culture and society, and – as far as the medium theory researchers are involved – that the human history can be segmented into phases that are determined by a central


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type of media. They thus speak for example from the era of oral, written, or printed communication or use similar attributes like the TV age. Under this umbrella, different ideas have been realized. Whereas Innis (1951, 2007) asked for the relation between media and power in different societies and showed that stable stone tables supported a different type of hierarchy and societal power, compared with light paper, McLuhan (1990) understood media as extensions of human beings and was concerned with the changing perception and the changing activities of people, in as far as they used different media. Postman (1983) then did not create as many of his own ideas but used McLuhan’s argument to become the “Kassandra” of media development, which he thought would ruin analytical thinking, democracy, and all the rest. Meyrowitz (1990) was the empirical researcher of medium theory. He mainly was concerned with television. His idea was that by the technology of TV basic social rules that formerly had been relevant for the acceptance of hierarchies, the difference between men and women, or group building processes would disappear. It is well known that the researchers of medium theory, with the exception of Meyrowitz, did not try to test their hypotheses empirically and that they mostly took a technologically based argumentation. A further common feature of those medium theory scholars is that they usually tried to explain the whole of human history by the role of the media. They did so by defining a main media that shaped and influenced culture and society in a special way for each single phase of human development (Krotz 2001). The other scholars mentioned above came from different approaches and disciplines and studied the rise of writing, the role of the printing press, and tried to find out how oral culture could function. They did not develop an overall theory as this was done by Innis and McLuhan, but studied media and their meaning for society in a similar way. Nevertheless, they have in common that they all asked for the role of media in general and not for media effects by content of media. The work of the scholars of medium theory was of great importance for communication studies, as they worked on a neglected field and created many insights. Nevertheless, a number of their assumptions must be seen to be wrong: the technologically based argumentation, their explanations of human history only or mainly by the influence of media, and the labeling of the epochs of human existence as oral, electrical, and so on. And of course it is true that human communication is the basic human activity to construct a common culture and society, but we should not overestimate media and neglect all other relevant fields that influence human existence. Nevertheless, the mediatization approach is committed to medium theory for some ideas, but must try to avoid the mistakes of medium theory. In the following, we will discuss in more detail three problematic conclusions that might be drawn from medium theory but which may lead mediatization theory in the wrong direction.

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Firstly, there are some researchers like Finneman (2011) who took over the idea that human history is substantially influenced and formed by media and that it makes sense to segment history into phases that are labeled by the predominant media like oral, written, printed, or electric communication. This, of course, is correct in as far as media are relevant for culture and society, power and organization of the society. In the perspective of a mediatization approach, this is the case because media are relevant for the way in which the world is communicatively constructed. But we must take into account that mediatization is only one meta process, and the development of culture and society is not only a result of mediatization. Media are probably overestimated, if it is maintained that they determine the entire human life.4 In addition, if we look for example at the sociology of Pierre Bourdieu (2005), it is evident that media are important, but that social, cultural, financial, and symbolic capital as the resources to be successful in a society may also come from institutions other than the media. Further, it cannot be assumed that the development of the whole media system in history takes place in steps, from writing to printing, from printing to radio and TV, such that the former media disappear or become irrelevant: As empirical research is showing, in general the old media will not be substituted, but will take over new roles, as for example the radio did after the invention of TV. While the radio before the dissemination of TV was relevant for news, it was no longer relevant for that for most people after TV came into most households. Instead, music and the transmission of practical information by radio became of importance, and the radio became a medium of accompanying people in their everyday life. We should describe this as an ongoing process of differentiation of the media system. And finally, it should be noted that the mediatization approach emphasizes the changing of media, culture, and society and does not assume that between the changing epochs and the points of change which are assumed by medium theory, nothing happens – on the contrary, these development processes are the main topic of mediatization theory. Secondly, there are researchers who take over from medium theory the idea that media as technologies directly influence the human existence and people’s activities and thus are relevant for their lives, independent from the culture and society, in which the people live who use these media. It is well known that this assumption of the scholars like Innis and McLuhan has again and again been criticized. Indeed, Innis and McLuhan assume in their argumentation that a medium can only be used in one way, which is equivalent to assuming that technology determines what can be done with a media. Meyrowitz argued differently, as he tried to find out how the use of TV opens new perspectives on and orientations for activities in a society, but he then argues in a similar way, that every single person must understand this in the same way. 4 McLuhan, Innis and Finneman do not have an argument why media should be so relevant. They just argue about what can be done with media, but this of course is not enough.


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Against this, we here understand media not only to be a technology. Referring to Raymond Williams we define a medium as a technology and a social form, given by social institutions and enterprises, related with rules, laws, expectations of the people and the media makers, and so on. These two “dimensions” – cultural form and/or social institution and technology – at least describe the structural view of a medium. In addition there is at the same time a situational view, that understands a medium as an ongoing machine of distributing, producing, and transporting content, that on the other hand serves as a space of experience of the users. Both definitions together – similar to the definition of language as given structure and situational use as parole, following Ferdinand de Saussure (1998) – thus could be understood as a semiotically based definition of media. Referring to this definition, it is clear that an only technologically based analysis of media as done by Innis and McLuhan cannot hold. Thirdly: There is a further argument about the mediatization meta process that can be rejected with reference to the above given definition of media. This is the frequently heard assumption that the reason behind mediatization is a given intern media logic (e.g. Altheide and Snow 1972; Mazzoleni and Schulz 1999; Schulz 2004, 2008; and others). The underlying argument here is that each medium follows an own given logic, which is valid under all conditions and always in the same way. If this is the case, then a medium would operate outside of culture and society. But this is not possible. If we for example look at the history of TV in the last five decades, it is obvious that TV is quite different today, compared with earlier times. If we compare TV in Saudi Arabia or Iran with the private TV in US or public service TV in some countries of Europe, there are also great differences. For example, while the public service stations in the US are independent of ratings, the private stations put pressure on people to watch more and more TV because of their economic interests. Against these capitalist goals, the pressure to watch TV in Saudi Arabia comes from the religious society, which presents itself in a religious TV in order to educate its members. In sum, there is no overall media logic, whatever this should be exactly, that holds for mass media, telephone, Internet, and computer games in the same way. We thus conclude (see also Lundby 2009a; Hepp 2012) that the idea of media logic cannot hold. Instead, it may make sense to speak of a capitalistic logic that is relevant for media, at least in a lot of nations and internationally, but this is not meant by media logic and this discussion seems to disappear behind the media logic discussion. Against these three misunderstandings that often are transported from medium theory to the mediatization approach, we would now mention the ideas that are common to both approaches. The main thing that mediatization research in my opinion is taking over from medium theory is the perspective to ask for the role of media and media change for culture and society. This defines a core question of both approaches, as it also makes clear if we look at the introductory definition of mediatization: How do culture and society change in the context of media

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change? In other words, it is the common assumption between medium theory and mediatization research that there is a relevant influence of media and media change to the everyday life of people and to culture and society. While medium theory, as shown above, takes the media technology for the media, it only asks whether and how media are influencing culture and society. Because mediatization theory understands media as a technology and cultural form, we here take the other question into consideration as well: How are media shaped by culture and society? More precisely this means for example that TV and other media in different societies may be differently embedded in the respective society, by laws, organization, and norms, by content and production, by use of the users. Media change, cultural and social change thus must be understood as a dialectical process that must be reconstructed in a dialectical way by mediatization research. Media are created, formed, and influenced by culture and society in an ongoing process, and they are vice versa influential for culture and society and its social construction. Both processes take place continually and simultaneously, but also in a sequence of different steps, where processes may become denser or looser. This will be discussed further below; it is the question how mediatization works. But before doing so let us finally point to another important fact: We said in the above chapter that the idea to develop a mediatization concept came up with the rise of digital media and the media explosion that frequently is said to be a revolution. It is without doubt true that a lot of new technologies came up and were used by people and by this were installed as media. The appearance of new media of course is changing the media system as a whole. But this is only one part of media development that is relevant for changes in culture and society. What has to be taken into consideration as well is the fact that the old media are changing, as this also is a reason why the media system is changing. Understanding mediatization thus demands a perspective on the whole media system of a culture and society, of course with its relations to other cultures and societies. We will show that below by using some examples. And we will also argue that because of this mediatization is a metaprocess that was discovered studying digital media development, but the concept can and should also be used for the description of other historical developments of media, culture, and society.

3.2 Mediatization as a long-term process that accompanies human development In this section, as a consequence of the above argument, the following question will be discussed: Is mediatization a current process that started with the digital media in the 20 th century or with the technical media in the 19 th century, or is it a long-term process that has been taking place over a long time already?


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Now, as far as we refer to medium theory, it would be an simple argument to say that mediatization research takes over the idea of a long-term development of mediatization from medium theory. We could also refer to the Austrian Josef Riepl, who studied the media of the antiquity as well and showed that in those times there already existed different media that changed over time in production and use, and that no old medium was substituted by the new one (Riepl 1913). Similar conclusions could be drawn from media and communication history. But we want to go a bit deeper and will report two historical case studies: 1) the long-term process of growing literacy in the world, and 2) the process of the changing modes of reading in the outgoing Middle Ages in Europe. Both can be understood as subprocesses of the meta process mediatization, each having a different character. 1. There is broad historical research about the slowly, but continually growing importance of reading and writing from the invention of writing until today (Stein 2010; Raible 2006) which could be called the “becoming literate” of the world. It is described as a process drawing from different sources: the personal interest of some people, a growing number of jobs and working places where reading and writing was important, for example the church, traders, the administration of Kingdoms and cities, the growth of universities in the 13th century and later, and so on, of course, different ones in different phases of history. This growth of literacy, at least in Europe, was a long-term process, that for a long time was controlled by the church and the monasteries and which in most times only integrated a few children and adults. But then the Prussian King Frederik instituted schools for everybody in Germany in the 18th century and so gave all children the chance to go to school, but at the same moment forced them to go to school. As Stein emphasizes in his brilliant historical overview of the development of the ability to read and write in Europe, it was not until the rise of industrial society in the 19th century that the great mass of children learned to read and to write in Germany, the UK, and France. He also shows that with the ability to read the book culture made a great development – that the newspaper culture, the book entertainment culture, reading in trains and elsewhere was growing. Thus, this development may be understood to be a process of mediatization long before the rise of digital media. Of course, it should be noted that this was not a process that the governments of the respective countries promoted in order to give their inhabitants the chance to participate in democracy or to offer them ways of self-realization. Instead, the aim was the production of people who then should be able to work in the factories and produce more complicated things (Stein 2010) or, in the case of King Frederik of Prussia, to get better soldiers. The same is described by the historian Juergen Osterhammel (2011) in his world history of the 19th century. He also describes the rise of schools as a way to enforce segmentation into social classes by promoting children of the higher classes. And Stein (2010) reminds us of the fact that even in 20th-century schools children spent more time in learning good handwriting

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than how to participate actively in democracy and society by writing good arguments and ideas. This did not change until the Internet. Thus, we can conclude that the long-term process of a society becoming literate can be understood to be a part of the human meta process of mediatization. Nevertheless this was not a free decision of the people, but an enforced process. 2. The second historical case study refers to reading in the 11th century in Europe. We here refer to the impressive example given by the sociologist and historian Ivan Illich (2010) (see also Krotz 2012, 2014 for more details; Bösch 2011). Illich wrote a commentary about the book “Didascalicon” written by the monk Hugo of the monastery Saint-Victor in France in the first half of the 11th century. Hugo’s book explained how to read correctly. To understand this, we must start with a description of what a book at that time was. For Hugo, a book is always written in Latin, Greek, or Hebrew, and the author is one of the famous scholars of the Christian church, of the Roman Empire, or of the Greek times like Plato or Aristotle. Reading in this sense is free from any relation to your real life, and you must have high respect for the author and his ideas. In addition, a book is written by hand, without a lot of features that we expect from a book. It neither had a table of content nor subtitles or punctuation, and mostly there would have been no spaces between words. Thus, you can only read such a book aloud, following the sequence of letters, and by listening to what you are saying, if you want to find out what was written there. This was the way to understand the author, whom one must believe and treat with respect. Thus, reading is accompanied by memorizing the text and it usually, at least in the monasteries, ended in a believing meditation. Illich explains all this to his readers, and he also makes clear that Hugo wrote his book in a historical moment of change: a century later, books have been much more like books as we know them today, with all the things that we would miss in Hugo’s books. In addition it then was no longer usual to read aloud and in some sense “by your ears”, but by your eyes. Following Illich, the reason for this development was the change in social life: Changes in agriculture, craft, and trade, in the administration of the church, and of the possessions of the nobles and so on. All that produced a demand for knowledge, and thus books became more practical. They were written in the languages people used in their everyday lives, arranged by titles and subtitles and easier to read. Finally even a critical reading became possible, which by Illich was called scholastic reading. This all happened centuries before the invention of the printing press, but more or less at the same time as the idea of the university came into existence in Europe. This also may be understood as a mediatization development, as here again we have a relation between culture and society on the one hand and media development on the other – it is obvious, that there are complex dialectic relations between all these changes.


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Both examples make clear, that mediatization understood as the relation between media change and cultural and societal change is a process that did not start with the digital media, but includes many developments that had happened before digitalization. We thus can learn a lot about the structures we are living in today, if we understand mediatization as an ongoing meta process that already started long ago, and the relations between media, culture, and society do not only exist today, but already did so in the past. Europe’s becoming literate was evidently a development that fits under the concept of mediatization, as it happened together with a long lasting process of changing culture and society. This process also influenced reading, writing, people’s knowledge, and a lot of other things. The same is true if we look at the transformation of books, and the transformation of reading and its aims that were shown in the second example. We thus conclude that mediatization should be seen as a meta process, that has accompanied humanity since the invention of communication. Also the development of audible and visual media in the 19th and 20th centuries may be analyzed in its relation to changing culture and society. And all this shows that we must take into consideration historical processes if we want to understand the mediatization process of today. An understanding of mediatization that cuts the actual development off from the former developments is thus not helpful. As the examples above show that media development takes place in relation to power in a society, we also need critical consideration and critical research.

3.3 Sub-processes of a meta process: the complexity of mediatization Let us now as the next step in developing the mediatization concept have a more detailed look at problems of how to describe and theorize media change as a part of what mediatization research must analyze. Here we discuss first ways of media change and then sub-processes of mediatization. Both perspectives together make it clear that mediatization is a highly complex meta process that must be studied empirically in a detailed way. As has already been said above, if we want to study mediatization starting with the analysis of media change, we must always ask for the change of the whole media system. This is the case because changes may come up with new media, with resulting changes in old ones, but it also may be the case that only the old media are changing, without new ones coming into existence. In both cases, the relations between media may change, and this may be a starting point to look for follow up changes in culture and society. In addition, in order to describe media changes systematically, it is necessary to remember an adequate definition of media such that one can describe consequences of different ways of media change. Above, we defined media as consisting of four “dimensions”: structurally a technology and an embedded social institu-

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tion, situationally a machine for producing and distributing content in specific forms and a space for experiences (see also Williams 1958, 1990; Krotz 2012). Having this in mind, we should conclude that media change can start everywhere in this square: Structurally by the invention and distribution of a new technology or socially by the rise or disappearance of institutions, for example, if censorship is abolished or new rules for advertising will come into effect, and situationally as shown above by new interests and demands of users or by changing content and its presentation. Examples for this are easy to find – the mobile phone was a technologically driven invention, while radio and the Internet are technologies which were invented by the military and later promoted by the government. An example for a technologically driven media change of an already existing medium today is the cinema, as it becomes more and more an arena for new experiences by technological developments. Complex and expensive innovations take place there, as 3Dmovies, live transmissions of sport events or opera, theater, and music events for public viewing, or the distribution of movies via satellite, which also can be received in restaurants or cafes and not only in classical cinemas. This in the long run may contribute not only to changing communicational habits of the people, as it for example promotes public viewing, but also may change the role of opera, concerts, or sport events as part of our culture. Other media innovations may come into existence directly from the users. They usually are not a homogenous group or audience, and thus specific subgroups may demand other content or new communicational forms. Such groups even may create new forms of mediated communication, which lead to new forms of media use. The classic example for this is the unexpected “invention” of SMS by children and young people when the mobile phone became a medium used by the masses. Another example is given by the above reported research of Ivan Illich about books in the Middle Ages. Here, already existing media are changing fundamentally, and by this or in the context of this the prevailing ways to use a medium will change. Similar conclusions can be drawn for example from the work of Jonathan Sterne (2003) about the coming into existence of audible media. It is also well known that the introduction of the telephone at the end of the 19th century (Degele 2002 with further quotations) spread out much faster in the more open US society than in the much more hierarchical society in Great Britain, where people felt frequently disturbed by the sudden symbolic presence of a caller; here it is obvious again that the relevant conditions of the life of people may be of high relevance for their fears and expectations. As a consequence, we can conclude that mediatization research cannot confine itself to one-medium-studies only and that the history of media cannot be understood as a sequence of upcoming new media, but must include changes of old media and take the whole media system into consideration in any case. In addition, if we look for follow up changes in culture and society, we should not


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only analyze the features of the new media or of the changing old media, but we must see whether and how these new or changing media are becoming a part of the media environment of a person – here domestication theory may be helpful – and whether and how they are really used. Here “the media environment of a person” is an empirical concept that is necessary as it asks for the real existence of the media in the everyday life of people and thus allows understanding the concept “media system” as a social fact in the perspective of the individual. We further can conclude that mediatization research cannot be done in a media centered way. As a consequence, in the context of the analysis of media change further conceptual questions arise. Evidently, there is the question how we can differentiate between two technologies and between two different media. This is of interest, because if we speak of media change, then we must answer the question whether a medium is developing, but still is the same medium, or whether it is developing into a new medium. For example, are colored TV sets a new medium compared with black-andwhite TVs, do we call TV sets with a remote control new media in contrast to TV sets without a remote control, or are all these forms of TV the same category, and a new one did not come up before satellite TV, or perhaps even later with the new generation of TV sets − the LED TV with Internet connection? Similar questions can be asked with respect to other media. In addition, it is unclear, whether an ebook with its paper-like screen is nothing more than a new carrier of written texts and thus is a book, or whether it is a computer, as it usually has a connection to the Internet. This question is of importance, if we state like Riepl (quoted above) that new media may substitute old ones or not (see also Peiser 2008). Thus, if we are concerned with media development, we need a discussion about how to define what. To decide when we speak of a new medium compared with the old ones, there are at least two solutions: We can take a technological invention as relevant to differentiate between two media, or we can ask for different types of uses by people to define a new medium. In the first case, the color would be relevant, if we speak of a new generation of TV sets as a new medium, in the second case the remote control would be the characteristic to make it a new medium, as this changes the use of TV. Similar questions can be asked for the book, the computer, or the Internet. In a mediatization perspective that refers to media change in order to study the developments of culture and society the second way seems to be more adequate, but this needs more empirical research. If we look at this the other way round, then we find out that both solutions may give us different ideas. Take for example the rise of e-books. On the one hand, we can understand them just as a new carrier of texts that are helpful for some purposes. E-books thus are a new invention after paper and parchment, blackboards and similar materials that together with texts make reading possible. It is obvious and well known that those different carrying materials together with institutionally guided rules and norms of how to use such media, give hand-

Mediatization as a mover in modernity


written or printed texts different features, what can be done with them, may be, these for the transport of information, those for better memories, some for instructions, others for entertainment. Thus, not only the goals, when to use what, but also the accepted ways to approach such a written text and to use it, may be different, as it was in the Middle Ages, described by Ivan Illich, or as it is the case today, as most women use e-books on their holidays for entertainment and leisure, while male users use them as part of their work for instructional reading. In such a perspective, the e-book is not so much a computer based medium, but a medium to read, a successor to paper. It could also be regarded as a follower of the first home computers and the early Internet that started with screens only for representing characters and signs, which were used as comfortable writing machines with databases, (and in some cultures, e.g. Japan, as the first typewriters that really could represent all possible signs). Even computer games on the Internet started as texts, if we think of MOOs and MUDs of the early net (see Probably it is still true today that analphabets cannot use the net or a mobile phone or only in a highly reduced way, as people using the net have to read a lot. We perhaps should name the smartphone the smartbook. Thus, in such a perspective, the decline of newspapers printed on paper is not a democratic catastrophe, which will lead to the end of reading, but just a sign of the development of a new carrier of written texts, which for some goals may be better. Thus, society (and the owners of newspapers) should finish sleeping and develop new ideas how to transfer their symbolic capital to newsreaders on screen. But in another view, e-books are computers that in the long run will change reading radically, as more and more pictures, sound, and moving images will appear here and thus reading will become rarer and more difficult. In such a perspective, e-books are dangerous for our culture, which for thousands of years has been based on writing and reading. Evidently, neither view is wrong, and both should be discussed in public. In addition, both descriptions may be understood as sub-processes of mediatization, as they are concerned with the relation between media, cultural, and societal change. Above all, these considerations making it clear that mediatization is a rather complex topic, just as the topic of “media change” must be seen as rather complex. In addition, the above argument makes it clear that the described single processes may be considered as sub-processes of an overall mediatization process. This leads us to the second topic of this section, as the question of sub-processes of mediatization is an old one. As it is well known in mediatization research, the consideration of sub-processes was an early idea of Winfried Schulz and Gianpetro Mazzoleni, who defined mediatization by four sub-processes. They called them extension (to describe that with media one can perceive over space and time), substitution (of communication without media and communication mediated by old media), amalgamation (for mixing mediated communication with other activities), and accommodation (if


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social actors adapt to media logic) (Schulz 2004, 2008; Mazzoleni and Schulz 1999). These four developments are formulated in a very general way, and they may take place in the case of mediatization, but they also may take place in other contexts, and in addition, they are of different type, as we will argue in the following. The Extension sub-process obviously refers to McLuhan’s media concept, for whom a medium was everything that enhanced human perception and action possibilities. Nevertheless, in social reality it must be said that it well may be that the invention of a new medium does not enhance the possibilities of all people, as not all may have access to such a new medium, for example if it is too expensive or too complicated, while at the same time because of substitution old media services may disappear, such that it is only an extension for some. In addition, the extension concept ignores that some new media (e.g. computer games) do not extend something, but create a new form of reality, which makes the simple idea behind “extension” obsolete. Amalgamation is not specific for the media development of today, as it already took place, for example, in the case of driving a car or taking a train while listening to the radio; it depends on the respective media and the ways how it is used in a culture and society. If we look for example to the earlier production of cigars, there was always a person who read the laborers texts while they worked – this already was amalgamation, not depending on media development but organized by trade unions. Accommodation – if we understand media logic as the rise of powerful media as societal actors – may take place whenever something is invented that may influence the power relations in a society, but accommodation of interpersonal media do not make sense. Finally the substitution sub-process should also be regarded in a more diligent way − as we have already argued above, it needs some theoretical ground to say that a medium substitutes another one, which is not given here. Thus, in sum the ideas of Schulz and Mazzoleni are helpful in order to remind us of sub-processes of mediatization, but have to be developed in many ways. Seen from the perspective of mediatization as a meta process, we may define and observe a lot of sub-processes in other historical phases, as we have done in this chapter, and there may be sub-processes following Schulz and Mazzoleni also. But this must be shown in much more detail, and in addition, such sub-processes alone cannot constitute a common long-term process like mediatization. Probably because of this Schulz and Mazzoleni do not have any argument why the processes they mention are the relevant ones for mediatization or why they assume that these constitute the whole mediatization meta process, and what relation exists between the sub-processes. Indeed, it must be said that there are many more sub-processes than those mentioned by Schulz and Mazzoleni, as we have already shown with the process of making a society literate. Furthermore, the development of visual culture with

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the consequences that Benjamin, for example, described (1980) or the creation of sound culture as it is reconstructed by Jonathan Sterne (2003) are also relevant sub-processes of a greater historical mediatization process. Mazzoleni and Schulz ignore all that – this makes clear that the idea of sub-processes has to be elaborated much more. In addition, there are sub-processes of a further type: The example of the changing technology “book” in the European Renaissance as described by Ivan Illich, in the terminology of sub-processes can perhaps be understood as a segmentation of a mediatization sub-process into two other ones: at first the medium “book” was newly arranged for new needs and ways to use it, and after that the printing press was invented to care for an easy and cheap diffusion of this new type of book. While the domestication process (Silverstone and Haddon 1996) describes the development of a new medium as a circle between the households and the industry, here media change is seen as a linear process that consists of two parts. Finally, Mazzoleni and Schulz do not really explain their concept of mediatization as an integrating process, and also not under which conditions and how new or changing media give reason to such developments. The core task of any mediatization concept is that it has to explain what the connection between media development and the development of culture and society is, which means how mediatization as a complex concept “works”. Assuming media logic is not enough. We will develop an answer in the frame of the mediatization concept as presented in the next paragraph. To summarize, we have shown in this chapter that the meta process mediatization is complex and may be considered as consisting of many sub-processes in time and by system. This is what must be studied in more detail by actual and historical mediatization research. But it does not mean that mediatization can be explained or understood only by reducing the overall process to some sub-processes which do not refer to one another.

3.4 How mediatization works After all these critical remarks and examples from history, we now will be concerned with a positive answer about how mediatization works. This gives us the possibility to avoid all those problems and to integrate the given historical examples and empirical observations. Thus, the question here is, what the connection between media change on the one hand and social and cultural change on the other hand is, without referring only to technological influences and without describing mediatization only by independent sub-processes. In order to discuss this, we again have to recall the definition of a medium as a structural and situational entity. With such a definition it is clear that a medium is not a stable thing but depends on culture and society and its developments, in


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which it is a medium, as it is a social and cultural entity, besides being a technology. It is a consequence of this that an invented technology for communication is not automatically a medium, but must become one. Of course, it can be used to disseminate content, which is set in scene for that technology. But only if this technology is used as a space of experience and becomes integrated into society by social institutions, norms, rules, individual and collective expectations, then this technology becomes a medium. Thus, an invented technology must be developed into a medium, and this is a collective process that takes place in a whole society, which means that it has to be developed into a structural and situational reality.5 This happens, if people use a technology for communicational aims and experiences, and if society as a whole domesticates the technology, to refer here in a slightly different sense to the work of Silverstone and Haddon (1996). If people use the newly invented technology for communication, this has a lot of consequences. They communicate differently, they change the media system, and they enhance their personal media environment. They for example manage their personal relations differently if it is a technology of interpersonal communication. In general, if people get access to new media, they also get access to new information and orientation and create a different inner reality of the outer world that then becomes relevant for their further experiences and activities. Thus, they especially interpret reality differently, but they also create different contexts of their own communication and media related contexts for others, if they want others to understand what they communicate. This for example is the process that Joshua Meyrowitz (1990) showed empirically by analyzing the way how hierarchies, gender relations, and group building processes can be changed by television. This is also similar to what happened, when the mobile phone or the Internet came into existence, as from then on the relational environment of most people changed. Further, under these new technical conditions, every single person could be addressed, served with wanted or not wanted information, and observed, or even controlled, in an individual way. In addition, each person using these media may construct her or his social relations in different ways, at work, during leisure time, within the family, and everywhere else, and this is also influenced by changing ways of perception and orientation, the new possibilities for social organization, influence, and control and the production of cultural meaning. All this is concerned with the new forms of communication and is constantly producing new realities. This all together then is the complex background for people reproducing culture and society henceforth differently if new media come up or under the condition of changing old media. The relation between media change and the change of

5 It should be noted that this must hold for media of interpersonal, of interactive, and of media of formerly called mass communication, which should better be called media of standardized and generally addressed communication.

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cultural and social life thus is communication. We do not need media logic, technological constraints, or specific sub-processes to explain the relation between changing media and changing culture and society. It is simple: Media directly can only influence communication in this or that way, and it is this, what is changing by media change. But if human communication is changing because of media changes, then this does not only mean a differentiation of media, but also a differentiation in communication, and thus the communicatively constructed world will henceforth be reconstructed in different ways by the people. A good example for this is the change in book technology and culture and society as described by Ivan Illich. Here, new needs came up and changed what people expected from a book. As more and more books fulfilled these expectations, it can be assumed that the demand for these kinds of books was growing. They got more practical value, for example for education or agriculture, for orientation and understanding the environment. We assume that people thus got new perspectives and orientation, what was real, what was possible, and what they could do. Thus, perception and meaning changed and also new practical activities became possible – this finally is experienced as a change in culture and society. These arguments show the relation between media change and social and cultural change. Media in this perspective are giving communication a specific form if they are used, what may be understood to mold communication. But at the same time, new and other forms can be used to tell other narratives and set already existing ideas into scene. Both together mean that communication and as a consequence, culture, society, sensemaking processes, and so on are changing. And because of this finally we are able to act and to perceive differently as a consequence of media development and construct a different social and cultural reality. This is the reason why the mediatization approach must understand communication as the central connecting link between media change and changes in culture and society, and it is the reason why we are interested not primarily in media, but in the communication possibilities which media are offering.6 The new forms of reading and writing, of using pictures and books, of producing and receiving music, and using other audible media, this is what is relevant, not the media itself. This is also the conclusion of historical research on sound and visual culture, and it is true for media development and its role in culture and society in general: As people use technologies, these become media, and they do so because the new possibilities and functions are helpful for them. Thus the communication modes and styles of the people are changing, because they become modes and styles of mediated forms of communication and this generates different social and cultural relations and facts, different perceptions and orientations, and different meaning, and this finally is what we understand to be social and cultural change.7 6 This is already explained in Krotz 2001, where I analyzed the mediatization of communicative action. 7 A more differentiated view and further historical examples will appear with Krotz 2014.


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4 A final definition and some conclusions As announced above, we finally sum up and thus also offer a definition as to what mediatization means on the basis of the discussions presented here. The mediatization approach is a theoretically based conceptual approach of historical and actual societal and cultural developments in the context of the development of the (communicative) media. It is assumed that media exist and have been developed since the invention of human communication, which means the birth of humankind. Media then are constructed by communication and social action of the people by using technology for communication, and communication is transformed and modified by media. This is expressed in the idea that mediatization is a meta process like Individualization, Globalization, and Commercialization, a complex process of processes. In more detail, new media come into existence as technologies for communication, in as far as these are accepted and used by people and thus become media – structurally as technologies and social institutions, situationally as producing and distributing specific content, such that spaces of experience for the receivers are created. This includes that historically people increasingly use media for more and more intentions, but also, that communicational forms and communicative activities of the people are changing by referring to media. This then means that the world becomes communicatively constructed in a different way, while media are themselves processes, which develop in the respective culture and society where they exist. Of course, there is also the inverse relation, as these developments in communication, culture, and society may create new needs or ideas for new or for other media. The relation is dialectical. Mediatization thus can be analyzed on the micro, meso and macro level – we must ask for changing communication and interaction in everyday life and the personal environments of the people, for changing organizations and institutions, relational nets and enterprises, and for the changes in the overall areas like democracy, economy, culture, and society. Mediatization research then consists of a historical and an actual branch, but also needs a critical perspective. This is of importance because mediatization today takes place mostly in the interest of economy and administration and as reaction to that, but it must take place guided by civil society and the people. Otherwise it is not oriented towards the future of humankind. Thus, it must follow a strong critical perspective. An advantage of the mediatization concept is that we can order academic work by this concept: questions, empirical research, and theoretical approaches. The single developments that belong to mediatization today are studied in a lot of distinct academic disciplines. They are relevant for sociology, political science, psychology, pedagogic, social anthropology, and others. Today, there exists a multiplicity of results of these studies. It is obvious that they all belong together, but until now they have referred only occasionally to one another. Thus, mediatization

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as a concept could be used as a common point of reference to bring the different research results together, to create a common overview, and to create a common theoretically based roof. It also serves to construct a general perspective of the developments of the past and of today, perhaps in some dimensions into the future. And it may serve to analyze concrete developments in a very concrete way, as it is not only an overall process, but has concrete articulations in specific cultures and society. Further it should be mentioned that mediatization includes a way to describe and reconstruct developments. Together with other meta processes of today like individualization, commercialization, and globalization we can describe the ongoing development of culture and society. We even can develop assumptions about the future and thus try to actively shape the development of culture and society. This is necessary, because, as said above with reference to Herbert Schiller (1989), today we live in a great experiment with media and communication, while we have no idea in which direction we finally will go. This development happens guided by the short-term interests of enterprises, accompanied by a government and administration that does not really understand what happens, and a civil society, in the name of which everything happens, but which does not really care and does not have enough information to become active. Here, finally, is the relevance of all this work. Of course, we must develop the mediatization approach in the context of all that into a real theory and connect it with other theories like those of Bourdieu and Foucault, Elias and Schütz, Marx, Durkheim and Simmel, and others, of course also with the relevant theories of communication and media studies. On the basis of the above considerations and arguments we now can say that mediatization research should consist of three branches, as it is explained in the following (see also Hepp 2012, Krotz and Hepp 2013): First of all, there is actual mediatization research to understand the developments and processes in media change of today and its consequences as part of the meta process mediatization. Here, we can ask questions to precise actual research, for example about the Internet, mobile and smart phones, social software, and new questions like augmented reality and so called intelligent software (Krotz 2012). Mediatization may, for example, then serve to bind research in different perspectives between different disciplines together and may by this enhance the knowledge of communication and media studies. This also may include research on the basis of ideas won by historical studies of earlier media. Secondly, there is historical mediatization research in order to understand the coming into existence of specific communicative habits, ways to use media, selection of media, and the ways that technologies work thus that they may become media. Examples for this have been given in this chapter. Here, especially the coming into existence of the old media and the changing old media of today have to be studied. Mediatization research then not only may ask historical questions


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coming from the reflection of actual research, but also may emphasize knowledge gathered in historical studies in order to make it fruitful for a better understanding of the actual developments. For example, it was Bertolt Brecht who once demanded that the radio as a technology missed the possibility that the people can talk back. This comment of Brecht at that time was not an abstract idea but referred to a lot of radio groups of workers and other people, who planned an own radio for workers and their interests. But this changed rapidly; administration and private enterprises got control of the radio, because the government feared that otherwise society would not remain stable. Today, the Internet is frequently regarded as a medium that enables people to contribute to societal development and to make participation in democracy possible – this may be the case but this is not sure. It can become a net of consuming and control, if we do not care, which is much less then it could be possible. Thirdly then, mediatization research should have a third integrative and critical branch, a perspective that understands mediatization as a meta process in the capitalistic society. This, for example, includes taking into consideration that there are, as mentioned above, other long-term meta processes, that are intertwined with the mediatization meta process. Studying these developments together would inevitably lead to critical questions about privacy, about new forms of control, alienation and exploitation, and so on. In addition, it must be seen that the most important difference between face-to-face-communication and all forms of media related communication is the following: In contrast to face-to-face-communication, in all mediated forms a third actor is present, for example, a provider, a search engine, a website owner, or unknown observers. This must be used as a starting point for systematic critical research – in this case compared with historical observations, as letters on paper were effectively protected from misuse. This is no longer the case today with all those new forms of media related communication, as is well known. Mediatization in the here described sense is a mover of modernity and postmodernity and is relevant for all three perspectives. Today we live under social and cultural conditions (if not to say, in a society) which are more and more determined by economic and political interests which try to use and to influence the media and shape the media development to be successful. All great media – books and letters, radio and TV, and finally the mobile phone and the Internet – started with a phase of freedom and creativity, the book culture, the radio culture, and also TV, but they were soon controlled by economy and administration. This is not as easy today with the Internet and mobile phone, but it is not at all out of sight. Civil society then must find a balance between these two forces.

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Eliseo Verón

7 Mediatization theory: a semio-anthropological perspective Abstract: In this chapter, mediatization designates not just a modern, basically 20th-century development, but a long-term historical process resulting from the sapiens’ capability of semiosis. The concept of mediatic phenomenon is defined as the exteriorization–materialization of mental processes under the form of a technical device, and mediatization as the long historical sequence of mediatic phenomena. The crucial moments of this history – writing, the emergence of the book, printing, photography, inventions allowing the construction of time sequences of sounds and images – have three characteristics in common: they produce radial effects affecting all levels of social functioning, they are non-linear processes far from equilibrium and they accelerate historical time. The case of the emergence of writing is briefly discussed as an example. Mediatic phenomena show, all through human history, different modalities of alteration of space and/or time scales, which is the core of mediatization. The central problem for future research on mediatization is to conceptualize adequately the endless tension between the auto-poietic socio-individual systems of the actors and the multiple mediatic phenomena operating in their environment of social systems and sub-systems. Keywords: semiosis, mediatization, mediatic phenomenon, auto-poietic systems, production grammars, reconnaissance grammars, non-linear processes, literacy, writing, space-time alterations.

1 Mediatization and its timespan The (relatively) old problem of the relationships between media and the societies in which the expansion of the communication networks takes place has received a huge impulse over the last 20 years and has consequently adopted a new shape. In recent years, a number of theoretical perspectives and research projects around this problem have been loosely identified as belonging to the study of “mediatization”. As “mediatization” is, linguistically speaking, a noun-naming process, the entities considered as being subject to such a process are in most cases the societies themselves or particular sub-systems of them. In addition, in most cases, the historical period under scrutiny is that of modernity, and sometimes of late modernity, as for example in Hjarvard’s use of the concept: “Mediatization is no universal process that characterizes all societies. It is primarily a development that has accelerated particularly in the last years of the twentieth century in modern, highly


Eliseo Verón

industrialized and chiefly western societies, i.e., Europe, USA, Japan, Australia and so forth” (Hjarvard 2008: 113).1 Here I will adopt almost the opposite point of view, in favor of a long-term historical perspective of mediatization. How long should this perspective be? As we shall see, the longer the better, and this justifies the qualification of such a perspective as “anthropological”. Mediatization is certainly not a universal process characterizing all human societies, past and present, but it is, nevertheless, an operational result of a core dimension of our biological species, namely its capability of semiosis. This capability has been progressively activated, for different reasons, in a variety of historical contexts and has therefore taken many forms. But some of its consequences were present in our evolutionary history from the very beginning, and affected the social organization of Western societies long before modernity. We need some conceptual tools to go further. I will call the products of the semiotic capacity of our species mediatic phenomena. A mediatic phenomenon is the exteriorization of mental processes under the form of a given material device. Mediatic phenomena are, indeed, a universal characteristic of all human societies. The first stage of human semiosis was, therefore, the systemic production of stone tools, beginning around two and a half million years ago. The stone industries, from a semiotic point of view, are secondary meaning-systems (compared with a primary meaning-system such as language) in terms of the classical distinction proposed a long time ago by Claude Lévi-Strauss (1958). The perception, by a member of a primitive community, of a stone arrow head – a material element within the immediate psychological space of the community – implied the activation of a semiotic process, properly speaking: backwards, towards the sequence of technical behavior leading to its fabrication; forwards, towards its use as an instrument to obtain food. Both mental movements are – following the dimensions of a Peirce triad – indexical sequences (secondness) contained in the iconic configuration (firstness) of the stone arrow head. If in the community the perceiver is, say, a hunter, a mental movement concerning the rules for the correct use of the instrument (a thirdness) would probably also be activated.2 The ongoing vigorous discussion concerning the origins of language should take into account the underlying functioning of semiotic processes implied in iconic visual exteriorizations and in indexical sequences of technical operations of the instrument’s production, both processes preceding the appearance of language and qualitatively different from it (Verón 2013, chapter 11).

1 In this respect, cf. also Thompson’s classic (1995). 2 As is well known, Peirce discussed his model of the three categories in many different ways all along his writings. One particularly interesting and clear presentation, probably composed in 1894, has been included in the selection recently published by the Peirce Edition Project: Peirce ( [1894] 1998, Volume 2: 4–10).

Mediatization theory: a semio-anthropological perspective


The central point here is that the mediatic phenomenon of the exteriorization of mental processes has a trifold consequence. In Peircian terms again, its firstness consists in the autonomy from senders and receivers of the materialized signs, as a result of exteriorization; its secondness is the subsequent persistence in time of the materialized signs: alterations of space and time-scales become inevitable, and narrative justified; its thirdness is the body of social norms defining the ways of access to signs which are already autonomous and persistent. In other words: a trifold creation of differences. The conditions are therefore given for the history of mediatization to begin. Some of its moments have already been subject to historical scrutiny: the rise of writing; the passage from rolls to codices, i.e., the surge of the book; the “unacknowledged revolution” of printing, in the happy expression of Elizabeth Eisenstein (1983); the proliferation of pamphlets and the subsequent rise of newspapers. Beginning in the middle of the 19th century, new technical devices allowed the appearance of new mediatic phenomena consisting, for the first time, in the indexical production of time-framing and time-sequenciation of images and sounds, devices culminating, a century later, with the invention of television (for all these crucial moments see Verón 2013 and the bibliography there included). In this context, mediatization is just the name for the long historical sequence of mediatic phenomena being institutionalized in human societies, and its multiple consequences. The conceptual advantage of a long-term perspective is to remind us that what is happening in societies of late modernity began in fact long time ago. The initial stage of each crucial moment of mediatization can be dated, because it consists of a technical-communicational device that has appeared and stabilized itself in identifiable human communities, which means that it has been, in one way or another, “adopted”. There is no technological determinism implied here: each time, the appropriation by the community of a technical device could take many different forms; the configuration of uses that becomes finally institutionalized in a particular place and time around a communication device (configuration that can be properly called a medium), needs only historical explanation.

2 Mediatization as a non-linear process In the first place, the surge of a medium (or several media), operating through a new technical-communicational device, typically produces “radial effects”, in all directions, affecting all functional levels of society in different ways and with different intensities. Secondly, these transversal, radial “effects” of mediatic phenomena are the result of their systemic nature, implying an enormous network of feedback relationships: mediatic phenomena are clearly non-linear processes, typically far from equilibrium (see Prigogine and Stengers 1984; Kauffman 2000). Within the frame


Eliseo Verón

of a theory of social discourse, this non-linear character of communication can be represented by the distinction between production conditions and grammars, on the one side, and reconnaissance conditions and grammars on the other: at the societal level, discourse circulation of meaning is structurally broken.3 Thirdly, the above two aspects explain the most impressive consequence of mediatization: the acceleration of historical time. Each case of acceleration should, of course, be evaluated according to the rhythm characterizing the historical period we are talking about.

2.1 The first primary mediatic phenomenon: writing Let’s just take an example – historically the most important one – of the multidimensional change induced by a mediatic phenomenon: the emergency of writing and literacy. Jack Goody is the best authority in this case; his analysis of the consequences of literacy can be synthesized in the following points:

2.1.1 Adoption of a meta-linguistic position and beginning of the reflection on language Words become enduring objects rather than evanescent aural signals. This transformation means that communications over time and space are altered in significant ways. At the same time, the materialization of the speech act in writing enables it to be inspected, manipulated and re-ordered in a variety of ways. […] Morphemes can be removed from the body of the sentence, the flow of oral discourse, and set aside as isolated units capable not simply of being ordered within a sentence, but of being ordered outside this frame, where they appear in a very different and abstract context. (Goody [1977] 1995: 76–78)

2.1.2 Stimulation and persistence of a critical attitude The specific proposition is that writing, and more especially alphabetic literacy, made it possible to scrutinize discourse in a different kind of way by giving oral communication a semipermanent form; this scrutiny favoured the increase in scope of critical activity, and hence of rationality, scepticism, and logic […] It increased the potentialities of criticism because writing laid out discourse before one’s eyes in a different kind of way; at the same time increased the potentiality for cumulative knowledge, especially knowledge of an abstract kind […]. (Goody [1977] 1995: 37)

3 Non-mediatic communication is also a non-linear process. Mediatization may be described as the macro-generalization of this condition of human circulation of signs, consisting in the structural gap between production and reception (reconnaissance). The conceptual development of these points exceeds the limits of the present paper; see Verón 1987, 2013.

Mediatization theory: a semio-anthropological perspective


2.1.3 Cultural reorganization of mental spaces concerning historical time At the enunciation level, the persistence and autonomy generated by the mediatic phenomenon of writing transformed texts, as a result of accumulation, into material testimony of the passing of time, measured by the different calendar systems that began to take shape. At the statement level, the role of discursive proto-genres should be taken into account, particularly the list (Goody [1977] 1995: 74–111). To produce lists is a cognitive process strongly dissociated from oral communication (Goody [1977] 1995: 80–82). The lists played a fundamental role in the political and administrative control of the new societies where literacy spread.

2.1.4 Transformation of oral exchanges As a result of these new mental spaces associated with literacy, oral communication is itself transformed. In relation with what Goody calls the “decontextualization” produced by writing, he says: I do not wish to imply that these processes cannot take place in oral discourse. For example, we may suddenly stop the flow of speech and repeat something we have just said […] So too one may correct a part of speech or rephrase a sentence even after it has been composed or spoken in order to avoid splitting an infinitive or ending with a preposition. But the very statement of these possibilities makes it obvious how writing can facilitate the process or reorganization, as well as affecting more permanently the sphere of verbal communication. For there are two oral situations: that which prevails in the absence of writing and that which prevails in its presence. These two situations are certainly different, for writing is not simply added to speech as another dimension: it alters the nature of verbal communication. (Goody [1977] 1995: 78)

2.1.5 New forms of control, bureaucratization, and domination The invention of writing produced, from its very beginning, an ideal instrument of social control, which made possible the expansion and stabilization of bigger and bigger empires, facilitating their necessary bureaucratization. “But what is the topic of the bulk of the written material? Even in Assyrian times, it is not the main ‘stream of tradition’, either in the form of literary creations or the recording of myth and folktale, but rather the administrative and economic documents found in temples and palaces throughout Babylonia and covering a wider geographical and chronological extent than the more academic records” (Goody [1977] 1995: 79). In this respect, we can hypothesize a long historical process with many feedback loops. Literacy facilitates the organizational and bureaucratic dimensions of society, legitimating at the same time hierarchical relationships. The increasing complexity and size of literate cultures increases the importance of autonomy and


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persistence of discourses aimed at the management of beliefs, assuring a collective stabilization of the latter. Face-to-face oral situations find it more and more difficult to obtain such stability, leading finally to the notion of “sacred scriptures”, where written materials assume the central role of structuring affects and beliefs concerning the foundational narrative of society.

2.1.6 Transformation of the social conditions of individuation In communities without writing, cultural contents are primarily stocked in individual memory. Elements significant within the multiple situations of everyday life are preserved and activated by personal contacts between members; the rest is forgotten. In a written culture, cultural contents increase constantly, and the individual member of society becomes a sort of palimpsest composed of many layers of beliefs and attitudes belonging to different historical periods (Goody and Watt 1963). In short: literacy transformed the relationship to tradition, and the ways of accumulating and transmitting cultural values; modified profoundly the social representation of time and history; reshaped conversation and interpersonal exchanges; made possible the operation of new economic and political mechanisms leading to the emergence of big empires, and made possible new ways of constructing personal identity. This kind of cluster of social change is what I call “radial effects”, characterizing the non-linear nature of each one of the central moments of mediatization.

2.2 The acceleration of historical time In order to have a minimal narrative, let’s mention at least three points here. 1. When the cultures of the Upper Paleolithic appeared, the products of the stone industries passed from twenty basic types of tools to two hundred varieties and – Richard Leakey (1994) has judiciously remarked – the scale of change passed from hundreds of thousands of years to a rhythm of thousands of years. 2. Printing appeared in the middle of the 15th century; there is, I think, a large consensus among historians that during the two centuries following Gutenberg’s invention, Europe has changed economically, politically, socially, and culturally, more than in the previous fifteen hundred years (see Eisenstein 1979, 1983, 2011). 3. In the last ten years, the Internet has altered the conditions of access to scientific knowledge more than these conditions changed since the surge of modern scientific institutions during the 17th century. Many other examples of this acceleration of historical time resulting from the rise of mediatic phenomena may be identified, of course, in a much more precise way,

Mediatization theory: a semio-anthropological perspective


concerning practically any particular sector of social and/or cultural activity. The transformation of the musical world, for instance (in all its aspects: composition, performance, and audiences), during the two or three decades following the invention of recording at the end of the 19th century, is incomparably more profound than what happened in that musical world during the previous three or four centuries (Philip 2004). The invention of photography, and its consequences upon the traditional frontier between public space and private everyday life, is another case worth mentioning (Verón 1994).

3 Scale alterations We have already underlined the fact that mediatic phenomena produce autonomy from senders and receivers, and persistence of discourses through time. The first consequence of autonomy and persistence is de-contextualization of meaning, which has marked from its very beginning the history of the localization, safeguard, reading, and interpretation of texts – first of the rolls and later of the codices. De-contextualization opens the door for the multiple breaks of space and time produced by each technical device in a specific way, all through mediatization history. The invention of printing democraticized, so to speak, de-contextualization, and made it available to all. From this point of view, the history of mediatization can be told as the interminable struggle between confronted social groups trying to stabilize meanings, struggle that becomes, all through the history of our species, increasingly complex and increasingly condemned to failure. In the social sciences, interpersonal or “face-to-face” communication has been very frequently conceptualized as a “direct”, linear exchange, opposed to communication processes mediated by a technical device. In my view, human communication is entirely non-linear at all levels of its functioning, because it is a self-organizing system far from equilibrium. The specificity of “face-to-face” communication is not its supposed linearity, but the absence of mediatic phenomena. As a consequence, in interpersonal exchanges the enunciation positions (enunciator, discourse, and addressee) are localized at the same homogeneous space-time point. In this context, can de-contextualization take place in a non-mediatic level of communication? Yes, because oral language, in a human community before the appearance of writing, makes possible imaginary alterations of space and time, even if they are fleeting, fragile, and have no material persistence: for example, an adult explaining to a group of children, in an illiterate society, how to behave during the ritual ceremony that will take place next day. We can consider this kind of situation as implying an imaginary distortion of space and time. Mediatic phenomena materialize the distortions and make them space-time breaks. The recently developed methodology of cognigram analyses of prehistoric tool behavior formalizes the distance between problem and solution: a given tool behavior


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is oriented to the material production of an object, say a knapping tool, with material qualities that will be meaningful in other places and/or at other moments (Haidle 2009). With the mediatic phenomena, the differentiation between social systems and psychic systems – in Luhmann’s sense (Luhmann [1984] 1995; Verón 2013) may begin, and with no possible return: with writing, Homo sapiens definitively abandoned a certain kind of space-time structural location. Let’s make a phylogenetic synthesis. Mediatic phenomena are a precondition of the psychic systems of Homo sapiens? The answer is no. Inversely: Psychic systems of Homo sapiens are a precondition of mediatic phenomena? The answer is yes. Psychic systems are a precondition of social systems? The answer is yes, not in a linear way, but through the appearance of mediatic phenomena. Mediatic phenomena are a precondition of complex social systems? The answer is yes. Mediatic phenomena, and therefore mediatization, are as fundamental as that.

4 The never-ending negotiation between social and socio-individual autopoietic systems Today, it seems to me that the central point both for research and theory construction, is to work on the particular relationships between mediatic phenomena and non mediatic phenomena, relationships characterized all through mediatization history by extremely important tensions and contradictions. In other words, we have to pay special attention to the non-mediatized dimensions of social processes. Because if all is mediatization, the concept itself loses most of its interest. This problem has been discussed by Niklas Luhmann under the concept of “interpenetration” between social and psychic autopoietic systems (Luhmann [1984] 1995: 210–254). In my terminology, the operation of the logic of psychic systems (which I prefer to call socio-individual systems) is the crucial dimension not of the production grammars of mediatized discourses, but of the reconnaissance grammars in reception. From their beginning, around the 1980s, the methodological design of most reception studies (including mine) allowed the grasp of only small fragments of the socio-individual systems operations.4 There seemed to be no other way to obtain significant discourse from the individual actors but around a specific mediatic product (newspaper materials, film, television program, etc.). This methodological procedure allowed the evaluation in a much more precise way of the so-called “effects” of such or such mediatized discourse, and was extremely important in

4 All through the “reception turn”, the medium that concentrated most of the research interest was television. See, among others, Morley (1980, 1986, 1992), Verón (1983, 2001, 2013), Livingstone (1990), Katz and Dayan (1992), Silverstone (1994), Liebes and Curran (1998), Dayan (2000).

Mediatization theory: a semio-anthropological perspective


the re-orientation of the debate on mass media power. The clearly different reconnaissance grammars applied by different socio-individual systems to the same mediatized product, indicated (1) the qualitative specificity of the reception logic operating in the reconnaissance grammars (contrasted with the ones of the production grammars); (2) the complexity of the reconnaissance pole within a given society in a given moment; (3) the impossibility to deduce any generalized “effect” by studying only the semiotic characteristics of the mediatized discourse. The time has come, perhaps, to concentrate our efforts in the comprehension of the rules that give form to the multiple strategies activated by the socio-individual systems to cope with an increasingly mediatized environment. In other words, we must find new methodological paths to have access to the processes through which the socio-individual systems use mediatic phenomena to assure their own self-organization. Contrary to Luhmann, who speaks of “communication” as the central concept when dealing with social systems and sub-systems, and of “consciousness” when dealing with what he calls the “psychic systems”, I think that the semiotic processes, in one case and the other, are isomorphic. The qualitative difference results here not from an ontological difference between “communication” and “consciousness”, but from the simple fact that the social and the socioindividual are different auto-poietic systems – the socio-individual being organic systems, which the social systems are not. In other words, the qualitative difference between the logics operating in production and in reconnaissance is a result of a systemic factor, not of a semiotic one. This is not surprising: it would not be improper, at the level of the species, to see the negotiation of the socio-individual systems with their increasingly mediatized social environment as an endless conversation of Homo sapiens with himself.

References Dayan, Daniel. 2000. Télévision, le presque-public. Réseaux 100: 429–456. Eisenstein, Elizabeth. 1979. The Printing Press as an Agent of Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Eisenstein, Elizabeth. 1983. The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Eisenstein, Elizabeth. 2011. Divine Art, Infernal Machine. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Goody, Jack. 1968. Literacy in Traditional Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goody, Jack. 1995. The Domestication of the Savage Mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. First published [1977] Goody, Jack and Ian Watt. 1963. The consequences of literacy. In: Comparative Studies in Society and History 5: 304–345. Haidle, Miriam Noël. 2009. How to think a simple spear. In: Sophie A. de Beaune, Frederick L. Coolidge and Thomas Wynn (eds.), Cognitive Archaeology and Human Evolution, 57–73. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


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Hjarvard, Stig. 2008. The mediatization of society. A theory of the media as agents of social and cultural change. Nordicom Review 29(2): 105–134. Katz, Elihu and Daniel Dayan. 1992. Media Events. The Live Broadcasting of History. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Kauffman, Stuart. 2000. Investigations. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press. Leakey, Richard. 1994. The Origin of Humankind. New York: Perseus Books Group. Lévi-Strauss, Claude. 1958. Anthropologie structurale. Paris: Plon. Liebes, Tamar and James Curran (eds.). 1998. Media, Ritual and Identity. London: Routledge. Livingstone, Sonia. 1990. Making Sense of Television. London: Routledge. Luhmann, Niklas. 1995. Social Systems. Stanford: Stanford University Press. First published [1984]. Morley, David. 1980. The Nationwide Audience. London: Routledge. Morley, David. 1986. Family Television. London: Comedia/Routledge. Morley, David. 1992. La réception des travaux sur la reception. Retour sur le public de Nationwide. Hermès, Cognition, communication, politique 11–12: 31–46. Peirce, Charles Sanders. 1998. The Essential Peirce. Selected Philosophical Writings, Volume 2. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. First published [1894]. Philip, Robert. 2004. Performing Music in the Age of Recording. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. Prigogine, Ilya and Isabelle Stengers. 1984. Order out of Chaos: Man’s New Dialogue with Nature. Bantam Books. Silverstone, Roger. 1994. Television and Everyday Life. London: Routledge. Thompson, John. 1995. The Media and Modernity: The Social Theory of the Media. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Verón, Eliseo. 1983. Il est là, je le voit, il me parle. Communications 38: 98–120. Verón, Eliseo. 1987. La sémiosis sociale. Fragments d’une théorie de la discursivité. Paris: Presses Universitaires de Vincennes. Verón, Eliseo. 1995. Semiosis de lo ideológico y del poder. La mediatización. Buenos Aires: CBC, Universidad de Buenos Aires. First published [1986]. Verón, Eliseo. 1994. De l’image sémiologique aux discursivités. Le temps d’une photo. Hermès, Paris 13–14: 45–64. Verón, Eliseo. 2001. El cuerpo de las imágenes. Bogotá: Grupo Editorial Norma. Veron, Eliseo. 2004. Fragmentos de un tejido. Barcelona: Gedisa. Verón, Eliseo. 2013. La semiosis social, 2. Ideas, momentos, interpretantes, Buenos Aires: Paidós-Planeta.

IV. Media in society

Göran Bolin

8 Institution, technology, world: relationships between the media, culture, and society Abstract: In this chapter three approaches to mediatization are discussed: the institutional, the technological, and the media as world. Each of these has a different ontological and epistemological background, and it is argued that this has consequences on which questions are posed, and which kinds of answers are possible to give. For these backgrounds it is accounted, with a special focus on how these approaches theorize the relationship between media and society, how media are defined and which historical perspective is privileged. Keywords: mediatization, modernity, second modernity, media technologies, cultural technologies, culture, society, Baudrillard, structuralism

1 Introduction: the different strands of mediatization The widespread popularity of the concept of mediatization has, as is usually the case with popular concepts, brought with it a range of different uses, interpretations, and perspectives. All these perspectives are based in specific epistemological approaches, in turn possible to relate to basic ontological standpoints. In this context I want to focus on three such areas where clarification is needed. Firstly, different takes on mediatization vary in their views of the relationship between the media and society: How can we understand this relationship? What is the possible impact of the media on society? Or what roles do we ascribe the media in mediatization processes? Secondly, and following from the first, it is not always entirely clear what is meant by “the media”, and although various theorists do mention the mass media and digital media, we seldom see differentiation between different types of media in mediatization theory; thus, one could ask whether all media play the same role in social and cultural processes. And although many refer to the media as mass media or digital media, there are few who distinguish between media as organizations and as technologies. Thirdly, although most mediatization theories describe and analyse processes and thus implicitly deal with historical change or modernization processes, the specificities of their historical perspectives are seldom discussed at length.


Göran Bolin

Against the background of these three areas of enquiry, I want to discuss three mediatization approaches. Firstly, I will account for the “institutional” perspective, focusing on the media as institutions and how they have related to other social and cultural institutions. As this account is well represented in the literature, I will deal with it quite briefly. Secondly, I will describe the “technological” approach to mediatization, emphasizing the technological impact of the media on wider social and cultural processes. Thirdly, I will contrast these two perspectives with the “media as world” perspective. This perspective is less insistent on theorizing the concept of mediatization, to the benefit of a more general discussion on the role of media in culture and society. If the two first perspectives emphasize historical linearity and process in an objectivist manner, the media as world perspective is more phenomenological in the sense that it adds an experiential dimension, and is hence more subjectivist. While the two first perspectives, from an objectivist position, focus on the question “What does it look like?”, the third adds the phenomenological question “What does it feel like?”. The following discussion will emphasize the consequences of each of these perspectives on the analysis of the roles and relationships between media, communication, culture, and society. To be clear from the outset, I do not argue that any of these are “wrong” and that there is one, superior and “right” version of mediatization theory. Although I should also make it clear from the outset that I, like anyone else, speak from a certain position and have preferences when it comes to these perspectives, it should be emphasized that they are rooted in the fact that each one opens up for different sets of questions, and that my preferences are based in these sets of questions and not on the intent to dismiss any of the approaches as false, wrong or reductionist.

2 The institutional perspective Quite often in accounts of mediatization the media are theorized in their capacity as institutions, and as such are seen as an external force that has come to affect other social institutions and social life (e.g. Asp 1990; Strömbäck 2008). This take on mediatization builds on a specific set of ontological and axiomatic presuppositions about the nature of society, which often takes its departure in the “media logic” theory of Altheide and Snow (1979). This is the “processual” (Krotz 2007) or the “institutional” (Lundby 2009a: 5; Hepp [2011] 2013: 42; Hjarvard 2013: 4) perspective on mediatization, focusing on institutionalizing processes on the meso level, for example in journalism. This perspective is founded on the drive for causal explanation, and with it follows a specific linear historical perspective whereby events follow in causal order, and the historical direction is described in terms of progress (or, indeed, decline). It is also based in the analysis of institutions, or spheres, related to one

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another, as exemplified in this quote from Jesper Strömbäck: “The process of the mediatization of politics can be described as a process through which the important question involving the independence of the media from politics and society concludes with the independence of politics and society from the media” (Strömbäck 2008: 241). The quote sets up “society” as separate from “politics” as well as “the media”, all of which are seemingly independent from each other. In the article, Strömbäck also marks out “four phases” of the mediatization process, in the first of which – “the media” – becomes “the most important source of information and channel of communication between the citizenry and political institutions” (Strömbäck 2008: 236). Following from this, there was a time when “political institutions” operated without the influence of “the media”, while today these institutions have been invaded, or subsumed, by the media. This quote obviously only makes sense if by media we mean mass media institutions, for example the institution of journalism, as one could well argue that modern mass democracies have never been and could never function without some form of mediating technologies extending the human body (in antiquity, for example in ancient Greece, rhetoric was clearly a communications technology used for political purposes, although not one that extended the human body). The ways of looking at the relationship between media, society, and other social institutions (politics, the economy, education, etc.) naturally differ between scholars. One can also, for example in Stig Hjarvard’s extensive writing from within an institutional perspective, see a gradual nuancing or fine-tuning of these relationships, most explicitly in the introductory chapter of his recent The Mediatization of Society (Hjarvard 2013), where he emphasizes the “role of the media in culture and society” (p. 2, my emphasis). With this he points to “culture” and “society” as larger and more encompassing entities, within which social and cultural institutions are then related to one another. Describing these relationships is a delicate matter, and there are also instances in Hjarvard’s earlier writings that are more unclear when it comes to this relationship, for example in his oft-quoted definition of mediatization as “the process whereby society to an increasing degree is submitted to, or become dependent on, the media and their logic. This process is characterized by a duality in that the media have become integrated into the operations of other social institutions, while they also have acquired the status of social institutions in their own right” (Hjarvard 2008: 113). This quote seems to imply, if we think of “the media” as institutions (for example, journalistic news media), that they are separate from “society” and that their logics would then also be developed from society’s outside. There is, however, another way to read this quote, thinking of the media here not as institutions but rather as technologies having become integrated into other social institutions (that then to a certain extent relate to these technologies in specific ways). Such a reading would perhaps make more sense. The advantage of the institutional perspective is that it can easily be operationalized into the analysis of powerful media institutions affecting or influencing


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various social processes in society – or from society’s outside, as some seemingly suggest. Thus there is a wealth of studies engaging in the mediatization of politics (e.g. Asp 1990; Strömbäck 2008; Mazzoleni and Schulz 1999), war (e.g. McQuail 2006), religion (e.g. Hjarvard and Lövheim 2012), fashion (Skjulstad 2009), and storytelling (several examples in Lundby 2008), to name but some areas of enquiry. A disadvantage is, as Knut Lundby (2009b) has pointed out, that the institutional approach, especially that which leans most heavily on the media logic perspective, often (although naturally not always) brings with it sweeping generalizations, and oversimplifications of the workings of the media. Nick Couldry (2012: 135–136) extends this criticism, questioning whether all media share the same logic, whether this logic is stable or changes over time, and whether this model can actually capture the complex dynamics of the social. Indeed, as Friedrich Krotz (2009: 26) argues: “there is no media logic independent of social and cultural contexts, and independent of history”. Another problem with the institutional perspective on mediatization is that it largely neglects the role of media as technologies in less institutionalized forms. Although there are examples of mediatization processes around which the relationship is not between institutions but between institutions and individual subjects (i.e. children) through “play” (Hjarvard 2013, chapter 5), most institutional perspectives deal with the relationship between journalistic institutions and other institutional spheres in society. It is definitely not overstating the case to say that the mediatization of politics is the dominant perspective in this regard, and that the two institutions of journalism and politics are the most well-researched. The institutional approach also works within a quite short-term historical perspective. For example, this approach seemingly presupposes that politics at one point in history was independent of the media in society, while at a certain historical moment the media entered the political stage and affected the political process, for example the process of opinion formation. However, this only makes sense if we think of the mass media and journalism as institutions, as modern politics has always involved media as technologies (pamphlets, books, newspapers, etc.). Indeed, Jürgen Habermas’ ([1962] 1989) seminal work on the bourgeois public sphere pointed to the centrality of privately owned newspapers as the vehicle through which political deliberation occurred, and around which political discussions were centred. There is of course no denying that political opinion formation has changed in many aspects over the years, even in their less institutionalized forms, and surely the print, electronic, and digital web-based media have been involved in these changes. The question is, however, if they have done so from a position outside society, as Strömbäck seems to imply. As technologies are born and developed within social and cultural frameworks, that is, inside society, it makes little sense to argue that the technologies themselves affect society from outside.

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Neither is there any denying that journalism as an institution, or a field, grew increasingly stronger over the 20th century, and has become an important institution “in its own right”, as Hjarvard (2008: 113) rightly points out. The institutional perspective on mediatization is, of course, one approach that can be adopted for the analysis of these processes, but there are also other, competing, perspectives that can be adopted, depending on one’s research interest (cf. Habermas [1968] 1972). Elsewhere I have suggested another way of analysing this growth in autonomy of the subfield of journalistic production, within the framework of Bourdieuian field theory (Bolin 2007). However, it can also be analysed as a process of professionalization (e.g. Petersson 2006) or as one of institutionalization (Ekecrantz and Olsson 1994).

3 The technological perspective A very different take on mediatization is represented by what could be called the technological perspective, emphasizing the technological impact on the social and cultural process. These analyses are often on a more abstract historical and societal level, even on the level of modernization. Some would argue that it could also be labelled the “second modernity” perspective (Lundby 2009a: 2). Second modernity is said to follow on a first modernity, supposedly marked by rationality, the nation state and the nuclear family. As argued by Ulrich Beck and Christoph Lau (2005), rather than theorizing the present in terms of postmodernity, a term that suggests that modernity is now over, we should speak of second modernity as there is no clear break in societal development, but rather a “transformation” of the basic institutions of society. Today, in a similar argument Scott Lash (2005) claims that mediatization is “the form that reason takes in second modernity”. Lash takes a wide historical grip, taking his departure in the development of reason. The argument is similar to Hjarvard’s, in that Lash argues that ‘the logic of the media is taking over more and more areas of life’ (Lash 2005: 1). However, and contrary to Hjarvard and others who focus on the media as institutions, Lash emphasizes the media as technologies. Where representatives of the institutional perspective highlight institutional forms, Lash talks of “the equivalent to digital media”, emphasizing the technological aspect. The roots of Lash’s perspective are to be found among medium theorists such as Marshall McLuhan and Jean Baudrillard. McLuhan, of course, did not use the concept of mediatization, but his most famous slogan “the medium is the message” (McLuhan 1964) indeed suggests that it is the technology and not the institutional form of the media, or the content, that is of importance. Baudrillard does indeed use the concept of mediatization quite early on, and despite Kent Asp’s (1986, 1990) bold claim to have introduced the term, Baudrillard in fact was already using it at the beginning of the 1970s, for example in the 1971 article


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“Requiem pour les media” (1971, also in Baudrillard [1972] 1981: 164–185), but more elaborated in his L’échange symbolique et la mort (Baudrillard 1976: 98), later translated into English as Symbolic Exchange and Death (Baudrillard [1976] 1993). Here Baudrillard, in a discussion of Walter Benjamin’s ([1936] 1977) theses on photography and film in the age of mechanical reproduction as well as Marshall McLuhan’s (1964) analysis of the impact of television, discusses the idea of “l’information médiatisée”, claiming that today’s object “no longer has anything to do with yesterday’s object, any more than ‘mediatized’ information has with the ‘reality’ of facts” (Baudrillard 1993: 63). It is quite easy to misread Baudrillard’s quote as a suggestion that there is no reality (of facts), which, as Hjarvard (2008: 111) points out, is a simplification of his argument. At the same time it obviously produces ambivalences, as the same Hjarvard argues that Baudrillard, and postmodernist thinkers more generally, “proclaims the disappearance of reality”, and has too-grand theoretical claims (Hjarvard 2008: 111). These ambivalences highlight a common misinterpretation of Baudrillard’s ideas, likely with roots in an insufficient acknowledgement of the philosophical traditions from which he comes. And although Baudrillard is most often dismissed as a “postmodernist”, his thinking is rather rooted in neo-Marxist, structuralist semiology, linguistics, and anthropology. Thus his interest is not in the media as institutions, but rather in the (dis)abilities of the media as technologies to provide for symbolic exchange and communication, and that they provide for simulations of communication, that is, to make us believe we are communicating while we are actually engaged in an empty mimicking of genuine symbolic exchange. And this is a far cry from denying any external reality as such. I will return to this quote, but I first want to take a detour to explain the philosophical roots of Baudrillard’s thinking. Baudrillard has basically two influences: Marxist theories of production and consumption, and Saussurean structural linguistics (and, in its wake, structural anthropology), not least the way the semiological heritage of Saussure was managed by Roland Barthes, for example in his The Fashion System (Barthes [1967] 1990). Rather than proclaiming the disappearance of physical reality, Baudrillard is pointing to a shift in our relation to basic categories of production and consumption, and to ‘the object’. If Marx ([1867] 1976) in Capital pointed to a change in our relation to objects under industrialization and the rising capitalist system of production, whereby the fetish character of the commodity stripped the object of its relations to the labour laid down in the production process (by, for example, an artisan), Baudrillard, in a series of five books (1968; [1970] 1998; 1981; [1973] 1975; 1993), points to another shift whereby the emphasis on production has changed to the benefit of consumption, and the sign qualities of commodities. In traditional political economy from Adam Smith ([1776] 1991) and onwards over Marx and others, the distinction between the use and exchange values of commodities was introduced and theorized. Use value, as described by Marx, is

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that which fulfils a human need, irrespective of whether this need stems from “the stomach” (material needs), or “the imagination” (immaterial needs) (Marx 1976: 125). All objects that fulfil human needs have use value. Objects that in addition can be sold on a market also have exchange value. Exchange value is produced through human labour (plus raw material), as human labour has the capacity to produce more than it takes to be reproduced. However, already in the 1950s it was apparent to economists such as John Kenneth Galbraith (1958) that phenomena such as advertising interfered with these laws of economic theory. Baudrillard was indeed influenced by Galbraith (see, e.g. Baudrillard 1998: 70), but took his ideas on the symbolic dimensions of commodities a step further. In line with Galbraith, Baudrillard argued that the signs attached to consumer goods contributed to the exchange value of the commodity. However, he also argued that this “sign value” is also a value in its own right, contributing to the status of the consumer when consumed. Furthermore, he argued that what we pay for when buying commodities today is less and less connected to their use value – that is, their functionality – and more and more to the sign value itself. An illustrative example from his PhD thesis from 1968 – Le système des objets – is the tailfins of American cars. These fins signify “speed”, but in their functionality actually do not make the car faster (rather to the contrary). But it is not the functionality of driving fast that the consumer pays for, but rather the sign “speed” in terms of “that is really a fast car”. And when consumed by the buyer, this sign value confers to him or her a certain status as “one who drives a really fast car”. Baudrillard thus expanded on the value forms that were introduced in political economy to “utility value, commercial value, statutory value” (Baudrillard 1981: 125). And in Baudrillard’s analysis, there is also a shift in emphasis from the functionality of the object, over its commercial qualities as commodity, to its signifying qualities over time (a relative loss of functionality that Lash [2005] also points to). Let us return to the context of the quote in which Baudrillard refers to “mediatized information”, by quoting the passage in full: Every image, every media message and also every surrounding functional object is a test. That is to say, in all the rigour of the term, it triggers response mechanisms in accordance with stereotypes or analytic models. The object today is not ‘functional’ in the traditional sense of the term: it doesn’t serve you, it tests you. It no longer has anything to do with yesterday’s object, any more than ‘mediatized’ information has with the ‘reality’ of facts. Both object and information already result from a selection, an edited sequence of camera angles, they have already tested ‘reality’ and have only asked those questions to which it has responded. Reality has been analysed into simple elements which have been recomposed into scenarios of stable oppositions, just as the photographer imposes his own contrasts, lighting and angles onto his object […]. Thus tested, reality tests you in return according to the same score-card, and you decode it following the same code, inscribed in every message and object like a miniature genetic code (Baudrillard 1993: 63).1

1 It should be noted that in the French original, “reality” is put in quotation marks in the passage, whereas “l’information médiatisée” is not (contrary to the English translation).


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This quote illustrates the way Baudrillard sees the changing status of the object, and how he incorporates the fact that the value of the object is of another kind today, compared to historically (although the exact period he is referring to is unclear). What we consume today, he argues, is increasingly the sign value of the object, rather than its functional use value. The reason for this shift can be attributed on the one hand to the organizational principles of “the system of objects” (i.e. capitalist commodity production), and on the other, to the ability of the media to technologically organize communication into a structured code, a kind of structure that Danish linguist Louis Hjelmslev once described as “an autonomous entity of internal dependencies” (quoted from Barthes 1990: 3). There is no doubt that the structuralist influences from Barthes’ The Fashion System shine through here, as fashion is a good example of the dominance of sign value over use value, whereby the “signifier/signified distinction is erased” (Baudrillard 1993: 87). Fashion, however, is based on tangible commodities, produced by a combination of raw material (cloth, linen), labour, and design. In the contemporary world of digital intangible objects and commodities, the principles by which fashion works have extended to non-tangible, digital commodities. In the next section I will thus discuss the wider implications of sign value in relation to production in contemporary media and cultural industries.

3.1 Sign value and the labour of signification To Baudrillard, the most important feature of contemporary objects and commodities is their sign qualities. The sign value of commodities as they are conferred on physical objects by, for example, the advertising industry, adds to their economic value according to the logic that consumers are prepared to pay more for a distinctive commodity (one that distinguishes the consumer from his or her fellow consumers in what Bourdieu [1979] (1989) would label a “field of consumption”). To use the analogy of fashion, haute couture is more distinctive than mass-produced clothing from H&M or GAP. The fashion (de)sign of haute couture is produced through semiotic labour, that is, in the practice of signification carried out by the designer: Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, and their colleagues. And the exchange value of haute couture is more dependent on the signifying practices of this group of designers than it is on the quality of the raw material they work with (although this naturally also contributes to the exchange value of fashion commodities). This is what Baudrillard (by way of Barthes) hints at when he argues for the dominance of sign value over use value – the function of covering the body, or keeping it warm, is of less importance than the effect of distinguishing the clothes-bearer from his or her contemporaries. Now, why is an understanding of the fashion system important in the process of mediatization (or, for that matter, anything else outside the fashion system)? This was admittedly a relevant question to Baudrillard at the time his theories

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were formulated. In his attempts at elaborating Marx’s theory of value, Baudrillard wanted to develop a political economy of the sign. However, although he did acknowledge that “the epicentre of the contemporary system is no longer the process of material production” (Baudrillard 1975: 130), which was rooted in his early critique of Marx whom he argued was only useful for analysing “material production” (Baudrillard 1981: 165), he has had surprisingly little to say about the specific character of the opposite, the “immaterial” or intangible commodities supposedly dominant at the time in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It is not surprising, then, that his writings are often incoherent, and that he had obvious difficulty freeing himself of the dominant perspective on commodities as having some kind of material or tangible base. At his best, using examples from fashion and the abovementioned example of the tailfins of American cars, he could point to instances in which the non-functionality of sign value dominated over functional use value. But he did not formulate a coherent theory of pure sign commodities, that is, commodities entirely constructed of combinations of signs. However, just as we can say that the ideas of McLuhan are of more obvious relevance today (cf. Merrin 2005: 45), we can hold that the ideas on sign value and the relative importance of signifying practices are of importance if we are to understand the cultural commodities that circulate consumption markets in the digital present – a present that is – if not dominated – then at least heavily marked by sign commodities. Today, with the widespread digitization of the media, it follows that media content to an increasing degree is becoming separated from its tangible carriers. With the sophisticated personal, digital, and mobile means of consumption of today (hardware such as laptops, mobile phones, and tablet computers, and software services such as social networking sites, Spotify, iTunes, Voddler), the cultural object as an assemblage of digits can travel between a range of different tangible carriers. Before digitization a piece of music, a novel, a feature film, was bound to its material, physical form: the record, the book, the celluloid film. The object itself – the song, the narrative of the novel, the cinematic film – is a construction composed of an “edited sequence”, “scenarios of stable oppositions” that have to be “decoded” according to the “same score-card” they were encoded in. They are pure sign structures that have no tangible base. The semiotic labour of composing the cultural object has its correspondence in the semiotic labour of consuming it. Sign value, then, as theorized by Baudrillard, is – just as is exchange value – the result of the development of the fetish character of the commodity (i.e. the abstracted reified labour) (Baudrillard 1981: 130–142). It contributes to exchange value, as the example of fashion obviously reveals. But it can also be extracted as a value in its own right, which is realized in consumption: the value that differentiates the consumer from other consumers. It therefore also has a relatively autonomous relation to exchange value, and circulates in a different economy, determined by a different logic: that of differentiation. If use value, as theorized by


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Baudrillard, is coupled with a functional logic, and exchange value with an economic or commercial logic, sign value is coupled with a differential logic (Baudrillard 1981: 123). These logics are governed by the general principles of “utility, equivalence, difference” (Baudrillard 1981: 126). In this sense, sign value replaces neither use nor exchange value, but adds a quality to the object, in the same way as exchange value adds the quality of equivalence to the logic of utility. That something has sign value does not mean it is emptied of use value, but rather that the compositions of value are more complex. It could be argued that the intertwinement of these logics is more pertinent today, since cultural objects have become freed of their fixation to tangible carriers. A piece of music in its commodity form was previously bound to its tangible carrier. It thus had a material base in raw material as well as the sign qualities. When you buy a piece of music from iTunes today, this is not the case. Arguably, you need the means of consumption to decode the commodity into consumable form, but the commodity itself – the thing you buy from iTunes – has no tangible base. It still has a material quality, of course, since light floating through fibre optic cables also consists of physical energy, but you cannot put the song as a commodity in your pocket or hold it in your hand unless it is laid down on a physical carrier. The above argument means that the commodity in itself, the thing bought and sold, is a composition of signs without any raw material. There are of course means of production taken advantage of in the process of production (studio space, microphones, instruments, computers), but the act of signification does not tool a raw material into something new. And thus, for the digital commodity, the labour of signification is of crucial importance for its exchange value. Imagine, for example, the production process behind a hit single by Lady Gaga: she or someone else has an idea for a song, a combination of chords and a melody over a beat. When the involved musicians are content with how the tune sounds there will be object form, there will be use value and in the process of marketing and promoting the tune, there will be a commercial form and exchange value added. But what is the signified? The signifier “Bad Romance” as a commodity and object, that is, as a cultural product that has both use and exchange value (it is functional in that you can dance to it, and it has economic value as you can sell it), has no signified besides the tune itself. Of course its individual components in the forms of lyrics, instrumentation, and generic belonging carry a range of connotations, but as a commodity, that is, as a unique combination of signs (sounds, timbre, harmonies, etc.), it has no signified besides its own signifier. Furthermore, it shares this quality with all other pure sign commodities. Admittedly, there were cultural commodities that were pure sign structures before digitization as well. Music pieces as well as television and radio programmes are all examples of non-tangible commodities that existed in the analogue era. But digitization radicalizes the non-tangible sign commodity, if not by

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quality then by scale, reach, and transformability. As non-tangible objects, however, contrary to tangible commodities that become worn down in use, intangible commodities have a potential for eternal life. This is where the commercial sign system must work at its own destruction in order to close the production–consumption circuit. As tangible commodities wear down with use, non-tangible commodities in sign systems wear down by the signifying practices producing new signs: the fashion of 2014 will be destroyed by the introduction of the fashion of 2015. So, to summarize this section, mediatization, as argued by Baudrillard (and his followers, such as Lash 2005), is related to the technological features of the media, rather than the institutional arrangements of the media as media corporations, or the institution of journalism. Instead, the objects and phenomena that are seen as mediatized are subjected to the logic of the medium as a communication technology. Mediatization has to do with form; not in the same way as McLuhan argued that form was the most important effect of the media, but form in the way information and content are subsumed the code imposed by the media. “What is mediatized”, argues Baudrillard, “is not what comes off the daily press, out of the tube, or on the radio: it is what is reinterpreted by the sign form, articulated into models, and administered by the code (just as the commodity is not what is produced industrially, but what is mediatized by the exchange value system of abstraction)” (Baudrillard 1981: 175–176). Mediatization, then, does not result from the impact of technology itself, and neither is it produced by the ways the media are organized into institutions of either mass or personal media. It is rather an effect of the system of signification. This is also where it can be suspected that the root might lie in the misconception of Baudrillard’s mediatization concept, and the idea that he is denouncing the existence of reality. What he is arguing for is thus not the disappearance of physical reality, but the increased presence of what could be called self-directed signifiers, that is, signifiers without signifieds or referents outside the sign system itself. But it does not follow from this that these combined signifiers/signifieds are not real. They might be intangible, but they are nonetheless taken account of by consumers and media users in social action. This means that sign structures are real in the sense that they do exist, are acknowledged to exist, and are acted upon in ways that indicate that media users and consumers think of them as existing. Even simulations are real in this sense – as simulations. And signs and simulations are also part of society. Furthermore, it is equally clear that the simulations are born, interpreted and acted upon inside, rather than outside, society. This brings us back to the discussion on the relationship between media as institutions and technologies on the one hand and culture and society on the other, and in the next section I will introduce a third position.


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4 The media as world perspective A third, more integrated, approach to mediatization can be labelled the “media as world” perspective, whereby mediatization is regarded as a force, perhaps what Andreas Hepp (2013: 54) has termed a “moulding force”, working from within societies (rather than from outside). And indeed, Hepp, his colleague Friedrich Krotz, and their research environment at the University of Bremen can be said to work within this tradition, emphasizing “mediatized worlds” (Krotz and Hepp 2011, cf. Krotz 2001). The roots of this perspective are somewhat harder to trace, and the background is more heterogeneous. Furthermore, although the concept of mediatization is adopted in these debates it is used in a wider sense, referring to the more general role of the media in culture and society. A typical example of this approach can be seen in the following quote from Paul Lazarsfeld’s (1941) classic text “Remarks on administrative and critical communications research”, where he postulates that “critical research is posed against the practice of administrative research, requiring that, prior and in addition to whatever special purpose is to be served, the general role of our media of communication in the present social system should be studied” (Lazarsfeld 1941: 9). We should note that Lazarsfeld is talking about “the general role of our media of communication in the present social system”, which is something quite different from “the independence of politics and society from the media”, as Strömbäck (2008: 241) believes. It is also very far removed from the version of mediatization as subsumption under the code advocated by Baudrillard. So, an underlying presupposition in Lazarsfeld’s quote is an integrated social world. It does not ascribe to “the media” an outside position, as either institution or technology. To quote one of the pioneers of Swedish media and communication research, Kjell Nowak, the media are “an integral part of fundamental social and cultural processes, and of human life in contemporary (and past) society” (Nowak 1999: 68, my translation). Lazarsfeld does not use the concept of mediatization, while Nowak does (Nowak 1996: 159–161; 1999: 67). Still, their view on the role of the media in social and cultural processes is nonetheless the same. Lazarsfeld and Nowak are, of course, not alone in sharing this view on the relationship between our communication media and society. This perspective is far older than that, and some of the influence of what I here call the “media as world” perspective can be attributed to American philosopher John Dewey, who, in his Democracy and Education, proposed that “[s]ociety not only continues to exist by transmission, by communication, but it may fairly be said to exist in transmission, in communication” (Dewey [1916] 1923: 5). This quote was later picked up by James Carey (1975: 2), who used it to distinguish between a transmission and a ritual approach to communication. While the transmission approach privileges causality and linearity in communication, the ritual approach is apt to answer

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other kinds of questions – on shared meaning, culture, identity. If a society exists both by communication and in communication, it also follows that there are no communicating positions outside society. Surely there might be institutions, and these might have autonomous status in relation to other social institutions (political parties, for example). But these institutions will also be a part of the wider society, and contribute to its specific character. So, the institutional perspective on mediatization as I have described it above has to a great degree adopted a transmission perspective on mediatization, while what I call the media as world perspective is closer to the ritual approach. This ritual approach is integrative. It does not presume society as atomistic but rather as a whole – encompassing several dimensions, but nonetheless an integrated unity. Its roots are traced by Carey to the functional sociology of Durkheim ([1912] 2001) in his The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, but it can also be found in the writings of Raymond Williams ([1962] 1966), whom Carey (1975: 19) explicitly quotes. However, to me another quote than that referred to by Carey, taken from the same chapter in Williams’s Communications, is more fitting for illustrating the ritual view on the relationship between media and society: Many people seem to assume as a matter of course that there is, first, reality, and then, second, communication about it. We degrade art and learning by supposing that they are always second-hand activities: that there is life, and then afterwards there are these accounts of it. […] We need to say what many of us know in experience: that the life of man, and the business of society, cannot be confined to these ends; that the struggle to learn, to describe, to understand, to educate, is a central and necessary part of our humanity. This struggle is not begun, at second hand, after reality has occurred. It is, in itself, a major way in which reality is continually formed and changed. What we call society is not only a network of political and economic arrangements, but also a process of learning and communication (Williams 1966: 19).

It is quite clear from the quoted passage that Williams opposes a view that separates mediated communication from reality, and is especially opposed to denigrating communication and art to “second-hand activities”. These are rather to be seen as “a central and necessary part” of society. In this sense the representations, accounts, stories, and ideas of individuals are part of social reality just as much as are the more physical objects society also comprises. The ritual perspective does not primarily analyse casual effects, directions of influence and impact. Although it is also involved in descriptive analysis of the state of the media, seeking answer to the question “What does it look like?”, it is equally occupied with the analysis of meaning. It thus adds the subjectivist question “What does it feel like?” to the objectivist descriptive approach.2 It focuses 2 It should be pointed out that although Baudrillard’s techno-structural perspective is hard to combine with a subjectivist approach, just like all hyper-structuralist accounts, the institutional perspective does not rule out subjectivist approaches. The institutional perspectives of mediatization, however, seem to be less interested in this aspect (but see Hjarvard 2013: 137 ff.).


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not only on the materiality of social and cultural relations but also on subjective perceptions of them. This is sometimes theorized as an oscillation between the two perspectives, a will to overcome the objectivist/subjectivist divide. One example of such an approach is the “constructivist structuralism” of Pierre Bourdieu ([1987] 1990: 123). This approach holds at its centre the axiomatic view that social structures have come into being as a result of social actions formed not only by the objective structures that structure behaviour, but just as much by the agent’s interpretations of these structures. As David Morley (1997: 126) once formulated it, “macro structures can only be reproduced through micro-processes”, and these micro–macro relations can only be studied if one tries to understand the worldviews of individual subjects related to the structuring constraints of previous social action. This is, of course, a classical tension between structure and agency, which has also been formulated by Marx: “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past” (Marx [1852] 1995). The “circumstances” mentioned by Marx have been formed by previous generations, who in turn have acted within the structural constraints as well as possibilities of even earlier generations, in a perpetual generational spiral. The constraints as well as the possibilities to overcome them include all the structuring institutional arrangements made in culture and society, which develop in conjunction with each other. However, the ritual view need not necessarily encompass a linear historical explanation, but is rather open to alternative historical understandings, taking their departure in alternative conceptualizations of historical time alongside the linear, for example in circular time (emphasizing its repetitive, ritualistic quality) or even punctual time (whereby time is defined not by its succession of moments but by its social or cultural quality). This is also a perspective on social and cultural development that could emphasize the role of the media not in terms of causality but as archive, as a common intellectual resource, a heritage that includes prehistoric art and literature, early forms of communication and cultural formation, cultural practices, the assemblage of cultural technologies at our disposal in the form of both technological hardware (machines of different kinds) and technological software, that is, the various techniques men and women have developed for communication (the signifying practice of language as such, poetry, genres, and other presentational forms, etc.) – in sum, all the things that have played a part in the forming of our present social and cultural worlds: the poetry of Homer; the cave paintings of Altamira, Spain; the archaic, Akkadian and Assyrian cuneiform tablets; the Gilgamesh epic. In this approach mediatization points more to the roles of the hardware and software of communication in society and how we as social and cultural beings form – and are formed by – the surrounding media landscape as “material and mental environment” (Nowak 1996). Mediatization, then, points to the increased

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presence of the media as technologies in society, and the consequences of this on its qualitative character (Hannerz 1990; cf. Fornäs 1995). According to Nowak (1996: 164–166), social and cultural action is carried out within as well as with and through the media environment. First, we communicate within an increasingly media rich environment where we have access to increasingly many and more differentiated media technologies. Second, these media technologies increasingly allow human–machine interaction, so that we more often communicate with technology, for example with Apple’s “intelligent assistant” Siri, who “understands what you say, knows what you mean, and has the answers you need”.3 Third, we naturally communicate through technologies such as e-mail, SMS and chat rooms, mobile phones, etc. And if society, as Dewey (1923) argues, exists in communication, this is indeed an increasingly technified – mediatized – form of communication. In combination, these increased communicative possibilities make us live a virtual “media life”, as Mark Deuze (2012) argues in a similar way to Nowak, albeit updated to the contemporary media environment. This media life is virtual, not in the sense of “fake” or “simulated” but in the sense of that which “is so in essence or effect”.4 It is a “real fact” according to the logic that holds that “[i]f men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences”, as the Thomas theorem goes (Merton [1949] 1957: 421–422). In this sense, Baudrillard’s simulations and simulacra are real in their consequences, which is why they should not be dismissed as not having to do with reality. And in this sense, we should acknowledge some mediated phenomena produced in an increasingly mediatized communication environment as important instances of late modern media life. Let me conclude the discussion by giving some examples of media phenomena that indeed have an impact on the character of society, but are difficult to analyse in terms of the media imposing themselves on a supposedly previously unmediated phenomenon. Two such examples are the media event (the Eurovision Song Contest, the Olympics) and the sign commodity (texts, audiences, formats, the brand). These phenomena have little existence outside the media, either as institutions or technologies. Nonetheless, they need to be seen as social and cultural phenomena that are clearly part of our present social realities.

5 Objects and commodities in a media(tized) world In this last section I want to briefly discuss some late modern phenomena that are indicative of our mediatized worlds of the present. They have been chosen because they are examples of phenomena that do not pretend to represent or make a medi-

3 Quoted from, accessed 21 January 2013. 4 Oxford English Dictionary,, entry: virtual. Accessed 21 January 2013.


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ated account of a social reality outside the institution of the media, but nonetheless need to be considered part of everyday social reality. The first example is the Olympic Games in their modern form. While these games do indeed have an unmediated prehistory dating back to ancient Greece (ca. 776 BC to 394 AD), it should be noted that the modern games as introduced in 1896 by Pierre de Coubertin appear during the era of mass communication: the mass press, and the new medium of cinematic film. The modern games are also, contrary to the ancient games, international. This presupposes some form of communication medium to report back to the partaking national audiences. Indeed, it would be peculiar if one arranged an international competition of supposedly great national interest if there were no means to report back to citizens of partaking nation-states. We can thus argue that the modern Olympic Games have never occurred in unmediatized form. The media as technologies and as institutions (sports journalism) have always been an integrated part and a main component. Admittedly, the media technologies have changed since 1896, which has had an impact on the ways the Olympic Games have been mediated back to national audiences, the ways they have been represented. But there has never been an unmediated Olympic moment in the modern era. The Olympic Games are mediated in the meaning that they develop in tandem with the media organizations and technologies involved in their mediation to national audiences. Perhaps even more striking in this respect is a phenomenon like the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC). This long-standing institution in European television history, initiated in 1956 by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and broadcast yearly to European (and some other) audiences, was in fact initiated as a cultural technology (Bolin 2012) to communify the European countries through a common entertainment competition. From having been a limited phenomenon at its start (only seven countries took part in the first competition), it has today grown to be one of the largest non-sport media events in Europe. As a production initiated by the EBU, however, it has little life separate from the media; that is, if by media we mean the integrated efforts of television, the Internet, the tabloid press, weeklies and fan press, as well as the music media – record companies, streaming services, and others with an interest in making revenues out of the music. From an institutional perspective, the ESC is an institution in its own right. It naturally affects other media institutions, including journalism, but it makes little sense to say that this conglomerate of media technologies and institutions has an impact on other non-media institutions in society, as the media form is always already there. There is no unmediated version of ESC that can be affected, and although there is a live studio audience present at each final, the production is clearly not aimed at these individuals but rather at the viewing audience in countries all over Europe (Bolin 2006: 202).

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Most media commodities today also have the characteristic of being sign commodities.5 The most obvious example is the media text, or, as the industry jargon goes, content. The first of these appears with broadcasting technology, whereby the radio programme or television show, initially broadcast live, consists of nothing but airwaves. Indeed, this is just the point Thomas Streeter made when he called his book on the history of commercial broadcasting policy in the US Selling the Air (Streeter 1996). The commodity at the basis of the commercial broadcasting system was a combination of signs that were technologically encoded and decoded in the transfer from broadcaster to the viewing and listening audience. Broadcasting was analogue, at least initially, and with digitization this quality is further established. However, with digitization even media texts that were previously not pure sign structures but were rather firmly bound to their tangible carriers – for example the book or the newspaper – now became intangible and versatile, and could float between technological platforms of storage and distribution. With digitization, then, many (if not most) media texts become pure sign commodities. A specific content form is the format, that is, the basic idea for the production of a television show (often in the reality genres) that allows for national adaptation. Formats are a specific kind of commodity that is bought and sold at the large television MIP-TV and MIPCOM fairs in Cannes, France, and other places in the world. In the words of Australian television researcher Albert Moran, in turn quoting a television producer, a format is similar to a pie, whereby “the crust is the same from week to week but the filling changes” (Moran 2004: 5). However, this crust is, contrary to the crust in an apple pie, not possible to put on a plate, and it is consumed in its sign form, as a principle for how to put together and produce a television show. This is also why the legal frameworks protecting this commodity are so weak, which makes this specific market for formats totally reliant on the common belief among those involved in the commodity. If the involved parties of buyers and sellers were to doubt the value of the commodity, the market would disappear instantly. A second sign commodity that appears, not with digitization but rather with the rationalizations of the commercial mass media, is the audience. Audiences, if we distinguish this commodity based on statistical aggregation from the social subjects who listen, read, and watch mass media, have become an increasingly sophisticated statistical construct. This commodity is worked upon by the marketing and audience analysis divisions of large media companies, and is tooled into the commodity that is the basis of their revenues. This construct is based on mathematical calculation, estimations and probability theory through a range of datagenerating technologies: telephone and postal surveys, people meters, user panels, etc. Although there have been dramatic advances in methodology, all these tech-

5 This section builds on a much more elaborated discussion on sign commodities in Bolin (2011: 117 ff.).


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niques share the disadvantage that they do not represent social reality 1 : 1. They are estimates, ranging from pure guesswork to statistical descriptions with high significance – but they never equal social reality. They are merely representations of this social reality, and the basis for the calculation of prices for advertising (or other marketing techniques). The commodity sold is based on the common agreement between seller and buyer on a price, and the mutual belief that the calculated statistics are good enough. Like any other market, the audience market is based on the belief that the signifier – the figure indicating the size and composition of the audience – has a referent in social reality (cf. Galbraith 1970). A third sign commodity is traffic. In the digital world, media users have increasing access to means of production and distribution on social networking sites and other forums that, as their business model, have user traffic at their centre. The tightened bonds between the telecommunications industry and other parts of the media and advertising industries mean that much of the media economy builds on bytes transferred through fibre optic cables or Wi-Fi networks. In such an economy even waste turns into economic value, because it matters very little to the telecommunications companies what content flows through their networks as long as it produces traffic. Illegal downloading is then also to the benefit of these companies, as is spam mail. Spam mail, in fact, is a very peculiar entity in this economic circuit. Most of it is never opened by its addressee, and quite often it goes directly, via spam filters, to the waste-basket. Nonetheless, it contributes to the “traffic commodity” (Van Couvering 2008). This is, however, a general kind of traffic commodity. Through new business models and opportunities provided for by digitization, there has also appeared a specific traffic commodity. As the telecommunications companies – our telephone and Internet service providers – have access to the data we as users produce, they can also map out our behaviour on the web and produce user behaviour profiles. The websites we visit, the patterns of our e-mail correspondence, our patterns of search on Google, Yahoo! or bing, our postings on social networking sites like Facebook, produce information that can then be sold to third parties to take advantage of through cleverly constructed algorithms that provide us with tailored marketing messages. And all these commodities have the quality of being intangible. They consist of aggregated information in large data banks that can be harvested and turned into economic value by those who control the communication flows. My fourth example of a sign commodity is the brand. A brand can be described as a complex signifier, constructed in semiotic labour with the purpose of producing a specific signified connected to a company or a consumer commodity. The brand is the most obvious sign commodity, as it is a construct that everyone acknowledges as a construct. A brand is descriptive as well as prescriptive. It is “a practical effort to make the world conform to the structures of the conceptual” (Carrier 1998: 2, quoted in Moor 2007: 5). As such it works at the level of the sign, and is thus subsumed by the laws of signification. In the traditional industrial

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production of tangible commodities, brand differentiation was adopted as a strategy to separate one commodity from another within the same functional area. With increased market competition, branding strategies became more important, and hence the sign value of commodities, as the value brands are built on, gradually took command over the functional use values of objects and commodities, and the sign value itself became the most important object of consumption (Baudrillard 1968: 229). We need only take a quick look at the mobile phone market to realize that brand recognition is more important than the technological information of functionality; Apple has been particularly successful through their (de)sign strategies, creating hype around their products, most notably the iPhone and iPad. A strong consumer demand is created through this, built less on functionality and more on sign appearance: “iPhone 5 – The biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone”, as the self-hype on Apple’s web pages goes. This slogan is followed in an animated row by six other slogans, the first dealing with its design and the next five with its functionality (technical performance, new application features, etc.).6 Design is thus the first and most important argument in the brand construction of Apple’s iPhone. These four kinds of sign commodities arguably are indicative of how contemporary media industries work. This is an aspect of “the media” – as institutions and technologies – that is not truly possible to grasp only with the institutional or the technological mediatization perspective alone, and as these examples reveal, there is a need to take seriously the workings of communicative signification as well as approaches rooted in phenomenology and social constructionism if we are to understand contemporary media landscapes. The second modernity perspective, with its roots in linguistic, anthropological, and (post-)structuralist theory, and the world perspective in phenomenology need to be brought together and seen as complementary rather than as rivals, as they highlight different aspects of these roles of the media. Or, to phrase it differently, if we cannot consider the institutional power relations in conjunction with the specificities of both technological and communicative form, and if these cannot be related to the subjective apprehensions of media users and producers, we have little chance of capturing the complexities of late modern media cultures and societies.

6 Conclusion In the above I have tried to discuss three strands of, or approaches to, mediatization theory. First, I have discussed the institutional perspective, with its mainly causal explanatory approach, leaning towards a linear, transmission perspective, based in an historical view that could be described as close to a modernization 6 Retrieved January 23, 2013, from


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perspective. As the focus is on the impact of the media as an institution affecting social processes, it mainly theorizes the media as a phenomenon that works on social institutions from the outside. This is mediatization as institutional impact, and the logic emphasized is that of the institution. Second, I have accounted for the technological perspective, which is based in linguistics, structural anthropology, semiotics, and Marxism, arguing that we have now entered a second modernity, and emphasizing the play of signifiers, sign value, and a media and cultural production process marked by signifying practices. The historical view is not necessarily linear, although there are also strong such influences. The role of the media in this perspective is on the level of form, and concerns how it provides a code that is decisive for the quality and character of communication. This is mediatization as communicative quality. The logic forefronted is that of the sign, and the impact of signification and difference. The first and second perspectives are both centred on a specific, processual view on history. In the first case linearity and causality are emphasized, while the second approach, in line with its post-structuralist influences, forefronts the break with previous historical developments. But this is also a perspective informed by linear thinking, as you can only introduce a break if there is a previously formed, continuous succession of events. However, both have very little to say about individual action, the dynamics of media use, or the consequences of perception on the structural matrixes that form our cultures and societies. Third, I have pointed to the media as world perspective, rooted in phenomenology and social constructionism, and with a clearer, integrative approach to the relationship between media, culture, and society. It shares with the second perspective an emphasis on the production and sharing of meaning, but is less poststructural and rather rooted in constructionist approaches and the will to overcome the micro–macro divide in theory. If there is a logic emphasized – and it should be stressed that the concept of logic fits less well within this paradigm – it is to be found in the interplay between a logic of relations and a logic of the social, of action. Within the world perspective the interpretive actions of human subjects are acknowledged, and contrary to post-structural sign theories, whereby meaning is produced as an effect of signification, the world perspective has a sensitivity to the range of interpretations made, all resulting from the variations in different experiences of the human subjects. This is the “constructivist structuralism” argued for by Bourdieu, or the lived experience of Williams, and it also appears at the bottom of theories such as the encoding/decoding perspective of Hall ([1973] 1980), and so on. These are all approaches that have tried to overcome some of the problems that at the bottom line can be traced back to the classical tensions in the philosophy of science: subjectivism–objectivism, structure–agency, individual–society. They are, of course, not solved by the arguments above, but their reappearance is constantly provoked by the continuously new constellations and relational conditions of the media, culture, and society.

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References Altheide, David L. and Robert P. Snow. 1979. Media Logic. Beverly Hills: Sage. Asp, Kent. 1986. Mäktiga Massmedier. (Powerful Mass Media). Stockholm: Akademilitteratur. Asp, Kent. 1990. Medialization, media logic and mediarchy. Nordicom Review 112: 47–50. Barthes, Roland. 1990. The Fashion System. Berkeley: University of California Press. First published [1967]. Baudrillard, Jean. 1968. Le Système des objets. Paris: Gallimard. Baudrillard, Jean. 1998. The Consumer Society. Myths and Structures. London: Sage. First published [1970]. Baudrillard, Jean. 1971. Requiem pour les Media. Utopie 4: 35–51. Baudrillard, Jean. 1981. For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign. St Louis: Telos. First published [1972]. Baudrillard, Jean. 1975. The Mirror of Production. St Louis: Telos. First published [1973]. Baudrillard, Jean. 1976. L’échange symbolique et la mort. Paris: Gallimard. Baudrillard, Jean. 1993. Symbolic Exchange and Death. London: Sage. First published [1976]. Beck, Ulrich and Christoph Lau. 2005. Second modernity as research agenda: Theoretical and empirical explorations in the “meta-change” of modern society. British Journal of Sociology 564: 525–557. Benjamin, Walter. 1977. The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction. In: James Curran, Michael Gurevitch and Janet Wollacott (eds.), Mass Communication and Society, 384–408. London: Edward Arnold. First published [1936]. Bolin, Göran. 2006. Visions of Europe. Cultural technologies of nation states. International Journal of Cultural Studies 92: 189–206. Bolin, Göran. 2007. The politics of cultural production. The journalistic field, television and politics. In: Kristina Riegert (ed.), Politicotainment. Television’s Take on the Real, 59–82. New York: Peter Lang. Bolin, Göran. 2011. Value and the Media. Cultural Production and Consumption in Digital Markets. Farnham: Ashgate. Bolin, Göran. 2012. Cultural technologies in cultures of technology. In: Göran Bolin (ed.), Cultural Technologies. The Shaping of Culture in Media and Society, 1–15. New York: Routledge. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1989. Distinction. A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. London: Routledge. First published [1979]. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1990. Social space and symbolic power. In: In Other Words. Essays Towards a Reflexive Sociology, 123–139. Cambridge: Polity. First published [1987]. Carey, James. 1975. A ritual approach to communication. Communication 21: 1–22. Carrier, James. 1998. Introduction. In: James Carrier and Daniel Miller (eds.), Virtualism: A New Political Economy, 1–24. Oxford & New York: Berg. Couldry, Nick. 2012. Media, Society, World. Social Theory and Digital Media Practice. Cambridge: Polity. Deuze, Mark. 2012. Media Life. Cambridge: Polity. Dewey, John. 1923. Democracy and Education. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education. New York: Macmillan. First published [1916]. Durkheim, Émile. 2001. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press. First published [1912]. Ekecrantz, Jan and Tom Olsson. 1994. Det redigerade samhället. Om journalistikens, beskrivningsmaktens och det informerade förnuftets historia. (The Edited Society. On Journalism, Description Power and the History of Informed Reason). Stockholm: Carlssons. Fornäs, Johan. 1995. Cultural Theory and Late Modernity. London: Sage. Galbraith, John Kenneth. 1958. The Affluent Society. New York: Mentor.


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Galbraith, John Kenneth. 1970. Economics as a system of belief. American Economic Review 602: 469–478. Habermas, Jürgen. 1972. Knowledge and Human Interest. London: Heinemann. First published [1968]. Habermas, Jürgen. 1989. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. An Inquiry Into a Category of Bourgeois Society. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. First published [1962]. Hall, Stuart. 1973. Encoding/Decoding in the Television Discourse. Stencilled occasional paper from CCCS no. 7. Birmingham: Birmingham University/CCCS. Hannerz, Ulf. 1990. Genomsyrade av medier. (Saturated by media). In: Ulf Hannerz (ed.), Medier och kulturer (Media and Culture), 7–28. Stockholm: Carlssons. Hepp, Andreas. 2013. Cultures of Mediatization. Cambridge: Polity. First published [2011]. Hjarvard, Stig. 2008. The mediatization of society. A theory of the media as agents of social and cultural change. Nordicom Review 29: 105–134. Hjarvard, Stig. 2013. The Mediatization of Culture and Society. London & New York: Routledge. Hjarvard, Stig and Mia Lövheim (eds.). 2012. Mediatization and Religion. Nordic Perspectives. Göteborg: Nordicom. Krotz, Friedrich. 2001. Die Mediatisierung kommunikativen Handelns. Der Wandel von Alltag und sozialen Beziehungen, Kultur und Gesellschaft durch die Medien. Wiesbaden: Westdeutcher Verlag. Krotz, Friedrich. 2007. The meta-process of “mediatization” as a conceptual frame. Global Media and Communication 33: 256–260. Krotz, Friedrich. 2009. Mediatization: A concept with which to grasp media and societal change. In: Knut Lundby (ed.), Mediatization. Concept, Changes, Consequences, 21–40. New York: Peter Lang. Krotz, Friedrich and Andreas Hepp. 2011. A concretization of mediatization: How mediatization works and why “mediatized worlds” are a helpful concept for empirical mediatization research. Empedocies: European Journal for the Philosophy of Communication 32: 119–134. Lash, Scott. 2005. Intensive media – modernity and algorithm. Roundtable. Research Architecture. London: Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths’ College, University of London. Retrieved December 4, 2012, from Lazarsfeld, Paul F. 1941. Remarks on administrative and critical communications research. Studies in Philosophy and Social Science 91: 2–16. Lundby, Knut. 2008. Digital Storytelling, Mediatized Stories. Self-Representations in New Media. New York: Peter Lang. Lundby, Knut. 2009a. Introduction: “Mediatization” as a key. In: Knut Lundby (ed.), Mediatization. Concept, Changes, Consequences, 1–18. New York: Peter Lang. Lundby, Knut. 2009b. Media logic: looking for social interaction. In: Knut Lundby (ed.), Mediatization. Concept, Changes, Consequences, 101–119. New York: Peter Lang. Marx, Karl. 1976. Capital. A Critique of Political Economy. Volume One. London: Penguin Books. First published [1867]. Marx, Karl. 1995. The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. Retrieved January 21, 2013, from First published [1852]. Mazzoleni, Gianpietro and Winfried Schulz. 1999. “Mediatization” of politics: A challenge for democracy? Political Communication 163: 247–261. McLuhan, Marshall. 1964. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. New York: McGraw-Hill. McQuail, Denis. 2006. On the mediatization of war. A review article. The International Communication Gazette 748: 104–118. Merrin, William. 2005. Baudrillard and the Media. Cambridge: Polity. Merton, Robert K. 1957. Social Theory and Social Structure. Glencloe/London: The Free Press/ Collier-Macmillan. First published [1949].

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Moor, Liz. 2007. The Rise of Brands. New York: Berg. Moran, Albert. 2004. Television formats of the world/the world of television formats. In: Albert Moran and Michael Keane (eds.), Television Across Asia. Television Industries, Programme Formats and Globalisation, 1–8. London & New York: RoutledgeCurzon. Morley, David. 1997. Theoretical orthodoxies: Textualism, constructivism and the “new ethnography” in cultural studies. In: Peter Golding and Marjorie Ferguson (eds.), Cultural Studies in Question, 121–137. London: Sage. Nowak, Kjell. 1996. Medier som materiell och mental miljö. (Media as material and mental environment). In: Ulla Carlsson (ed.), Medierna i samhället: Igår, idag, imorgon (Media in Society: Today, Yesterday and Tomorrow), 159–176. Göteborg: Nordicom. Nowak, Kjell. 1999. Medieutvecklingen och vardagen. (The media development and everyday life). In Ulla Carlsson (ed.) Medierna i samhället. Kontinuitet och förändring (Media in Society: Continuity and Change), 65–68. Göteborg: Nordicom. Petersson, Birgit. 2006. Från journalist till murvel. Journalistyrkets professionalisering från 1900 till 1960-talet. (From Journalist to Hack: The Professionalization of Journalism as a Vocation). Göteborg: Nordicom. Skjulstad, Synne. 2009. Dressing up: The mediatization of fashion online. In: Knut Lundby (ed.), Mediatization. Concept, Changes, Consequences, 179–202. New York: Peter Lang. Smith, Adam. 1991. The Wealth of Nations. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. First published [1776]. Streeter, Thomas. 1996. Selling the Air. A Critique of the Policy of Commercial Broadcasting in the United States. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. Strömbäck, Jesper. 2008. Four phases of mediatization: An analysis of the mediatization of politics. International Journal of Press/Politics 133: 228–246. Van Couvering, Elizabeth. 2008. The history of the internet search engine: navigational media and the traffic commodity. Information Science and Knowledge Management 14: 177–206. Williams, Raymond. 1966. Communications. Harmondsworth: Penguin. [First published [1962]

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9 Mediatization and cultural and social change: an institutional perspective Abstract: This chapter develops an institutional perspective on mediatization in order to grasp the changing structural relationships between media and different spheres of society. Today, we experience an intensified mediatization of culture and society that is not limited to the realm of public opinion formation but cuts across almost every social and cultural institution, such as family, work, politics, and religion. Increasingly, other institutions need the resources of the media, including their ability to represent information in particular ways, construct social relationships, and produce attention through communicative action. Because of this general development, we need to analyze the role of media in a multitude of social contexts, necessitating a firmer rooting of mediatization theory in general social theory. Inspired by recent developments in structuration theory and the institutional logics perspective, media are understood as structures (i.e. resources and rules) that both condition and enable reflexive human agency. The influence of media on cultural and social change is not about the media’s “colonization” of other institutions but about changes in inter-institutional relationships. All institutions, including the media, are dependent on a variety of other institutions, and cultural and social change may emerge through new configurations of relationships between media and other institutions. Keywords: agency, institution, institutional logics, meso-level, middle-range theory, modernity, regimes, rules and resources, structuration, transformation

1 Introduction Walter Lippmann ([1922] 1992) begins his seminal book Public Opinion with a story about a remote island where a few Germans, Frenchmen, and Englishmen lived in 1914. Their only connection to the outside world was a British mail steamer that arrived every 60 days and supplied them with – among other things – the latest newspapers. Since the boat’s latest arrival in the summer of 1914, they had discussed the news about the upcoming court case in France against Madame Caillaux, who had shot the editor of the journal Le Figaro, which had been campaigning against her husband, the French Minister of Finance. Awaiting the mail steamer in mid-September, they were eager to learn more about the outcome of this political-celebrity scandal. Upon the boat’s arrival, the Europeans learned something very different, which not only changed their view of the world but also their internal relationships. Germany had been at war with Britain and France


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since the end of July: “For six strange weeks they had acted as if they were friends, when in fact they were enemies” (Lippmann [1922] 1992: 3). Lippmann uses the anecdote to illustrate the power of newspapers to change “the pictures in our heads”, that is our interpretation of the social world, and how this subsequently comes to inform our relationships with and actions towards other people. Lippmann further argues that the “the pictures in our heads” may not necessarily correspond to the actual reality of “the world outside” because the media’s representations of political and social affairs are often based on illinformed and prejudiced stereotypes and political manipulation. Despite the discrepancy between media representation and reality, news media and public opinion influence the actual world; even if perceptions of the world do not correspond with reality, they may have real consequences since humans act on their perceptions of the world, not on an absolute insight into the “truth” about the world. Lippmann’s ([1922] 1992, [1925] 1993) analyses of public opinion formation are interesting in their own right, but I will here consider them from two perspectives in order to specify the agenda of mediatization research. Lippmann was among the first to acknowledge how “a revolution is taking place, infinitely more significant than any shifting of economic power” (Lippmann [1922] 1992: 158) due to the rise of newspapers and various research-based communication techniques for the creation of political consent. As such, his writings are emblematic of a general development in the inter-war period in which media and communication studies began emerging as a result of political and commercial interest in taking advantage of new communication media to influence public opinion. This was accompanied by public concern over the media’s harmful influences on political and cultural affairs. Lippmann was among the first to recognize that media had come to play a more prominent and influential role in culture and society. Unlike some of his contemporaries, his focus was not just on particular instances of communication but also on the changing structural relationships between newspapers, public opinion, and politics, although he did not himself describe it in these terms. The study of these structural changes in the political public sphere gradually became more theoretically informed (e.g. Habermas [1962] 1989) and has functioned as an important context for the study of the mediatization of politics (e.g. Strömbäck 2008). Lippmann’s studies not only signal continuity between early media and communication studies and contemporary mediatization research but also make evident the profound historical differences between the media–society relationship of the early 20th century and that of today, which should be reflected in our conceptualizations of mediatization. Lippmann’s story about the isolated Europeans appears innocent and outdated to a modern reader simply because it is at odds with our experience of the contemporary media environment. Not only has the print culture of the newspaper long since been supplemented by various forms of audiovisual media, but today, almost every corner of the world is covered by vari-

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ous forms of transnational media (Internet, mobile phones, satellite television, etc.). Media are not embedded and governed within national political contexts to the same degree as earlier, but due to globalization and commercialization, they are both available across national and cultural borders and increasingly under the control of global media conglomerates. In addition, mass media have been supplemented by a variety of interactive media, allowing everyone not only to receive but also to actively engage in various forms of communication with a potentially global reach. As a result, various forms of media have become integrated into the practices of everyday life, from the workplace to the family. From a historical point of view, the study of the structural changes in the relationships between media, public opinion, and politics may be considered a precursor to contemporary mediatization studies, and it is with good reason that this area of inquiry continues to constitute an important part of the agenda of contemporary mediatization theory. The contemporary media environment, however, also reflects a profound quantitative and qualitative change in the relationship between media, culture, and society. Today, we experience an intensified mediatization of culture and society that is not limited to the realm of public opinion formation but cuts across nearly every social and cultural institution, such as family, work, politics, and religion. Media are co-producers of the pictures in our heads, our actions towards and relationships with other people in a variety of private and semi-private contexts, and we should consider this significant “revolution” as well. Due to the very process of mediatization, a theory of the media’s influence on structural changes in culture and society cannot be restricted to the public and political realms alone. As a consequence, contemporary mediatization theory should provide a theoretical framework for media influence in culture and society as a whole while retaining the ability to inform conceptual development and empirical studies within more specific areas of culture and society. The influence of media on the formation of public opinion has not diminished, and one important influence of the media ‒ including interactive digital media used in private contexts ‒ is its ability to push human communication and interaction into a (semi-)public virtual realm through which communication and interaction become observable and retrievable by others. Thus, although the advent of new media does not make the study of public and political communication less important, mediatization studies should address the transformative role of media in a wider set of institutions as well as the media’s influence on the changing boundaries between public and private spheres of communication.

2 An institutional perspective In this chapter, I will argue the advantages of an institutional perspective on mediatization when it comes to grasping the changing structural relationship between


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media and different spheres of society. The notions of social institutions and the institutionalization of social interaction are helpful because they allow us to study processes of mediatization at a level that is at once analytically ambitious in terms of conceptualizing patterns of systematic change and sensitive to empirical circumstances within particular social and cultural domains. More specifically, the institutional perspective is advantageous in terms of considering the following three dimensions: 1. Mediatization concerns the long-term structural transformations of the relationship between media and other social spheres. In contrast to “mediation”, which concerns the use of media for specific communicative practices in situated interaction, “mediatization” concerns the changing patterns of social interaction and relationships between various social actors, including both individuals and organizations. From this perspective, mediatization involves the institutionalization of new patterns of social interactions and relationships between actors, including the institutionalization of new patterns of mediated communication. 2. The institutional perspective locates the analysis at the meso-level of social and cultural affairs. As such, it attempts to avoid both macro-level theorizing about media’s universal influence in culture and society and micro-level analyses of endless variations of social interaction. From this perspective, mediatization theory is a conceptual framework to support the development of theories of the middle-range (Merton 1968). The outcomes of mediatization may vary considerably depending on the historical and geographical context of the field in question, and the institutional perspective serves as a flexible analytical framework for considering the appropriate level of generalization of results in each particular case. 3. Mediatization is a reciprocal process between media and other social domains or fields. Mediatization does not concern the media’s definitive “colonization” of other fields but concerns instead the growing interdependency of and interaction between media, culture, and society. Analytically, we can study these relationships and processes by considering both media and other social domains as institutions (e.g. family or politics) or practices located within particular institutional frameworks (e.g. children’s play within the family or election campaigns within politics). Mediatization concerns the co-development and reciprocal change of institutional characteristics of both media and other domains. These changes may be analytically understood as transformations from one inter-institutional configuration or regime to another. The application of an institutional perspective is not without its theoretical implications since the very notion of “institution” presupposes a particular understanding of culture and society. Not only is “institution” defined differently by different social science theories, but its definition also involves a specific understanding of

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other social dimensions, such as human agency and social structure. As Mohr and White (2008: 488) suggest, to “speak with any specificity of the nature of institutions one must invoke a theory of actions, persons, social organization, cultural systems and the like and these issues are still very much in flux in contemporary sociological theory”. Our institutional perspective on mediatization will, therefore, lead us into general sociological theoretical terrain in order to identify the implications of this institutional dimension not only for our understanding of media but also for our understanding of the media–society nexus. The effort expended on such a theoretical detour will hopefully be rewarded by a deeper understanding of mediatization processes through the use of a much more extensive and welldeveloped sociological framework. From the media studies point of view, our institutional perspective on mediatization is also a means of “mediatizing sociology” by adding and specifying the role of media within a sociological theory of high modernity. In the following, we will develop the concepts of “institution” and “institutionalization” from the point of view of structuration theory (Giddens 1984; Stones 2005), which builds upon the idea of a “duality of structure” in which the structure is both a medium for and an outcome of social practice. Structuration theory is helpful because it transcends the traditional dichotomy between a top-down sociology in which structure determines agency and a bottom-up sociology hypostatizing the primary power of agency. The institutional perspective on mediatization is thus not intended to favor social structure over agency or to highlight institutional order at the expense of social practice but is, on the contrary, committed to elucidating how social structures work as resources for social interaction in particular situations and how social structures are reproduced and perhaps altered through agency. It should, however, be noted that our general concepts of mediatization and institutions are not necessarily dependent on the specificities of structuration theory, and there may be other approaches to considering institutions and institutionalization in relation to mediatization (e.g. Schrott 2009). Institutions provide stability and predictability across time and space yet are also dynamic structures that provide organizations and individuals with material and symbolic resources for acting reflectively and creatively in various circumstances and thereby possibly renewing the institutions themselves. As a consequence, the accumulated change in practices of mediated communication over time may evoke institutional transformations. The emerging theoretical framework of “institutional logics” (Thornton and Ocasio 2008; Thornton, Ocasio and Lounsbury 2012) is used as an inspiration for considering mediatization as an inter-institutional process in which particular practices of mediations (e.g. children’s use of media at home) are influenced by several institutional structures (e.g. the family, the commercial market, the educational system, etc.). The inter-institutional dimension of mediatization also allows for an understanding of how the logics of the media intersect with the logics of other institutional domains. I then move on to


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discuss how institutional change may be conceptualized through the notion of regimes: A process of mediatization does not take the form of a linear evolution but may be understood as a transition from one regime to another, that is from a constellation of relationships and modes of interactions between different institutional agents to a new and different constellation of relationships and modes of interaction between institutional agents. Finally, I discuss how the media may generally be understood as resources or “social tools” of representation of information, communicative action, and construction of relationships, which make them valuable across society as a whole. Mediatization is, obviously, dependent on the proliferation of various media forms, but the transformative process of mediatization is a result of various institutions’ changing access to and varying control over these vital resources.

3 Mediatization: theories of the middle range Mediatization reflects a new condition of the media’s intensified and changing importance in culture and society. Mediatization denotes the processes whereby culture and society become increasingly dependent on the media and their logic as media are integrated into cultural and social practices at various levels. From an institutional point of view, mediatization is characterized by a double-sided development, in that the media have become institutionalized within other social domains at the same time as they have acquired the status of a social institution in their own right. As a result, social interaction – within the respective institutions, between institutions, and in society at large – increasingly takes place under the media’s influence. The notion of a “media logic” is used to recognize that the various media have particular characteristics and modi operandi that influence other institutions and society in general as they come to rely on the resources that the media both control and make available to them. “Logic” as a conceptual category is not restricted to the media alone but is, on the contrary, a general way of describing the particular modus operandi of an entire institution or a smaller cultural and social domain. More precisely, I will understand logics as the particular rules and resources that govern a particular domain. I will develop this general perspective on logics in the sections below on “Institutional logics”. By applying an institutional perspective, I also advocate a level of generalization concerning the processes of mediatization. An institutional approach favors the meso-level of cultural and social affairs since it is concerned with the supraindividual and supra-situational level of human interaction. It focuses on general patterns of practices within a particular institutional context, not on the myriad of variations of situated interaction. At the same time, an institutional approach insists on an empirical grounding of generalizations and theory building and thus remains skeptical of macro-scale assertions of media’s universal influence in cul-

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ture and society independent of context. As such, mediatization theory should support the construction of middle-range theories, i.e. propositions concerning the influence of media within particular institutional domains or sub-domains (like politics or children’s play) in a given historical and socio-cultural context. Merton (1968) developed the notion of middle-range theory and positioned it between the general and the particular, between the macro and the micro: “It is intermediate to general theories of social systems which are too remote from particular classes of social behavior, organization and change to account for what is observed and to those detailed orderly descriptions of particulars that are not generalized at all” (Merton 1968: 39). Considered as a middle-range theory, mediatization theory departs from the medium theory approach of, for instance, Innis (1951) and McLuhan (1964), who make grand-scale assertions concerning the influence of various media on human civilization or societal epochs. Our approach does, however, share affinities with, for instance, Meyrowitz’s (1986) version of medium theory since he is much more focused on the study of broadcast media within a particular historical period and cultural context and their influences on particular relationships between politicians and voters, men and women, and parents and children. From a mediatization perspective, the media can exert influence across a variety of institutional domains, but the outcome of this influence may be varied due to the media’s intersection with other logics. As Hepp (2009) suggests, the notion of “mediatization” is a recognition of the “transgressing power of the media” across different fields, but this “does not result in a homology of these fields; rather, it is transformed by the ‘inertia’ of the institutions within each context field” (Hepp 2009: 154). Boudon (1991) has correctly observed that the notion of “middle-range” theory is not clearly developed by Merton and that it thus does not specify the precise level of generalization to guide empirical enquiry and theory building. Rather, it reflects a double-sided ambition to develop more general propositions and to remain in contact with the empirical world. The looseness of the concept may also be its advantage; it does not a priori favor a particular level of generalization but leaves it to theoretically informed empirical work to decide the appropriate level of generalization within the particular field in question. The institutional perspective also asserts that mediatization is a particular process of (high) modernity comparable with globalization and urbanization and that, in this sense, mediatization may also be considered a macro-theoretical framework concerned with overall societal developments. At this level, mediatization theory builds on general sociological theory concerning modernity, structure, and agency. In order, however, to study processes of mediatization, a meso-level approach is generally preferred for building theoretical propositions, i.e. middle-range theories.


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4 Structuration theory Social institutions are the best-established and most pervasive structures of society, both in terms of historical persistence and geographical reach. Institutions like family and politics do, of course, display considerable variations historically and in relation to social and cultural contexts, but they nevertheless provide a structural framework for the continuous reproduction of particular domains of society. As such “social institutions are the ‘cement’ of social life” (Giddens 1989: 381). From the point of view of structuration theory (Giddens 1984), institutions are conceptually considered similar to social structures in general, but they embody “practices which have the greatest time–space extension” (Giddens 1984: 17). Institutions may thus be located at one end of a continuum extending from practices with the highest level of time–space extension (institutionalized practices) to the those with the lowest level of time–space extension (idiosyncratic practices). In common with structures in general, institutions consist of rules and resources. By “rules”, we should understand “techniques or generalizable procedures applied in the enactment/reproduction of social practices” (Giddens 1984: 21). These may be of an informal (e.g. norms) or formal (e.g. laws) nature. “Resources” provide the infrastructure for social practice and can be either material or authoritative/symbolic in nature. In the field of media studies, such an approach to institutional analysis has at least implicitly informed newsroom studies in order to demonstrate how the practice of news journalism has been conditioned by the formal and informal rules and resources of the journalistic profession and the news organizations (see Hjarvard 2012a for an overview of such studies). Following Giddens’ notion of the “duality of structure”, institutions are not external to social practice. Institutions like the family or religion may certainly endure beyond the individual human being and any particular situated encounter, but they are nevertheless evoked and (re)produced through the interaction of individuals in social situations. Institutions may acquire a permanent and external material presence, for example in the form of buildings or texts, but institutions are also to be understood as mental and embodied rules and resources that inform human interaction. In line with this thinking, institutions are acquired and activated through cognitive schemas (Piaget 1959) and embodied habitus (Bourdieu 1998a, 1998b) that inform individuals’ interpretation of specific situations and guide their role playing in social encounters (Goffman 1956). As such, institutions are sense-making tools, normative compasses, and mental scripts for action, but they are not full-fledged “instructions” that determine sense making and action in an automatic or uniform way. Structuration theory insists on the interdependency of social institutions and human interpretation, of structures and hermeneutics (Stones 2005). Rules are of a methodological nature, and the individual makes use of these in a reflexive manner by adjusting them to the particular situation at hand. Institutional rules and

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resources both enable and constrain social interaction and as such they are not to be understood simply as society’s external pressure on the individual to make him or her conform to existing norms. Through the individual’s socialization in a variety of institutions (family, education, work, etc.), she becomes capable of employing a variety of social rules and resources in particular situations and may be able to act creatively not in spite of but because of the acquired institutional rules and resources. For example, an individual with an extended social network of family and friends, a high level of education, and extensive and varied work experience has more institutional rules and resources to draw upon and may, therefore, be able to act more flexibly and creatively in social situations compared to an individual with a small social network, less education, and limited work experience. Accordingly, institutional structures are not society’s “straitjacket”, constraining the individual to behave in particular and affirmative ways. The individual’s freedom to “act otherwise” is not a subjective residue outside the reach of institutional structures. Institutions may enable and constrain the individual to reproduce the existing social order, but they may also be the medium through which alternative rules and distributions of resources occur. The social reproduction of an institution, for example the family, should be theoretically distinguished from the consolidation of social cohesion (Giddens 1984: 24); the family may continue as an institution, but it may be renewed over time, and its reproduction may not necessarily entail that family members or other social actors depending on the family may become more closely tied to each other than before. A point to which I shall return is that the presence of a variety of (competing) institutional resources and rules within a particular social setting is particularly prone to instigate social and cultural change. Stones has convincingly argued (2005) that Giddens’ contribution to structuration theory concerns a highly abstract and ontological level of analysis and therefore has several shortcomings. Giddens’ abstract theory of structuration builds an important conceptual bridge between structure and agency, but it requires further development if it is to inform empirical analysis. Stones suggests the need to develop a meso-level of conceptual analysis that incorporates variations and relative degrees of structural features’ endurance, importance, and flexibility as well as graduations of social agents’ ability and motivations to alter institutional structures. Combining such meso-level theorizing with a sensitivity to substantive details at the “ontic” level, i.e. the level of empirical study, makes it possible to consider the duality of structure in empirical detail without a priori ascertaining a particular degree of freedom for individual agency or a specific importance of all of the structural features in question. As Stones puts it, “if one is in the business of building bridges between abstract ontology-in-general and substantive, empirically informed, studies then such sliding ontological-ontic scales can be extremely useful” (Stones 2005: 78). Thompson (1989) has criticized Giddens for paying too much attention to individual agency and the reflexive use of structural resources and rules and too little


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attention to the constraining force of external institutional structures that leave little space for “doing otherwise” in particular situations. Not all resources and rules are of such a methodological nature as to be employed by individual agents; they may more accurately be described as a set of conditions that are external to yet influence individuals’ actions. For instance, the existence of a particular media system (for example a public broadcasting monopoly) in a given historical context is a structural condition that cannot meaningfully be understood as a rule in Giddens’ sense of something that an individual social actor can reflectively employ and change through social interaction. Furthermore, Thompson argues, structures are also characterized by a differentiation of possibilities to act according to the individual’s social class or gender, and these differentiated structures cannot be understood as rules in Giddens’ sense of the word. Some structures, Thompson (1989: 66) writes, are not to be understood as rules but are better conceptualized “as a series of elements and their interrelationships which together limit the kinds of rules which are possible and which thereby delimit the scope for institutional variation” (emphasis in original). Stones (2005) acknowledges the relevance of this critique but does not desire a return to a more conventional notion of institutional structures as implied by Thompson’s argument. A conventional notion of structure would eliminate the insights into the interdependency of structure and agency that represent the key contribution of structuration theory. Stones instead develops the notion of “strong structuration” in order to provide a more nuanced understanding of the structuration process. Instead of Giddens’ two dimensions of structuration (structure and agency), Stones divides the process into four components (Stones 2005: 84–85): 1. External structures that condition the actions of social agents. These are autonomous from the social agent in question; 2. Internal structures within the social agent that comprise both internal structures of specific relevance to the situational context and general dispositions or habitus of the individual social agent; 3. Active agency/agent’s practices, including the ways in which the social agent employs structures either routinely and pre-reflectively or consciously and reflectively; 4. Outcomes in the form of (re)production of external and internal structures and as events. Stones labels this four-dimensional model as the “quadripartite cycle” of structuration, and it may thus also be considered a process model of the continuous (re)production of structure and agency in the flow of everyday practices. The distinction between external and internal structures is helpful because it situates human agency as conditioned by an overall societal context at the same time as it recognizes the ability of human agency to make use of internalized social structures in both routine and reflective ways. Stones’ distinction may, however, potentially

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blur Giddens’ key insight that structures are not just external but also have an internal cognitive and bodily existence. External structural conditions such as living in a war zone or in a prison may be completely outside the control of individual agency, but they are very likely highly internalized and influential to the human interpretation and agency that is evoked to survive under such conditions. External conditions may thus only be external in the sense that they are non-negotiable; they are not necessarily external in the sense of not informing cognitive sense making and methodological schemas for agency. Some structural conditions may only be external if they are not recognized or previously learned and internalized, and similarly, some structural conditions may only be internal relative to a particular situational context, such as when an individual’s agency is informed by a moral codex that is out of sync with a contemporary context. In line with this thinking, Stones’ logical distinction between external and internal structures may be better conceived of as a continuum or scale between two opposite poles: On one side of the scale, we find structural conditions outside any control of the individual, and on the other side, we find structures that may be reflectively employed to alter existing structures. All along this scale, structures may have both external and internal presence. Such a gradual scale would also be in accordance with Stones’ own arguments concerning the conditions that enable the individual to “act otherwise” in a given social situation. He suggests that, for a social agent to resist the pressure of structural constraints, he or she should have adequate power to resist them without endangering his or her core commitments, adequate knowledge of alternative courses of action, and adequate critical distance in order to take up a strategic position and act against situational pressures (Stones 2005: 115). In the case of all three requirements, the term “adequate” signals that it is a matter of degree and not an absolute measure. Structuration theory provides an important framework for understanding mediatization processes in several ways. It suggests how media may be simultaneously inside and outside human agency: They represent an external structural condition in terms of the available communicative resources (the media environment) and rules pertaining to their uses (laws, prices, etc.), which are in some senses non-negotiable from the point of view of individual agency, and they are also internal resources and rules in the form of interpretative schemas and scripts for action (for example knowledge of the appropriateness of particular genres and media for interaction in particular contexts), which may enable agents to “act otherwise”.

5 Mediatization as a process of high modernity Under modern conditions, the social reproduction of institutions is characterized by particular dynamics. Almost all aspects of society are subject to a growing


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differentiation through which a specialization, rationalization, and distanciation of practices occur (Giddens 1990; Held et al. 1999; Ritzer 1999). A growing division of labor was prompted first by the industrial revolution and later by the emergence of a global network society (Castells 1998–2004, 2011) that not only increased specialization but also created a global division of labor. Urbanization has moved people out of smaller and traditional contexts and into large-scale modern environments in which more individualized forms of life predominate. Within structuration theory, the dynamics of modernity (Giddens 1990) are understood as time– space distanciations that disembed social practices from local settings and reembed them in larger and more abstract environments. Social practices are “stretched” across time and space and differentiated into sub-practices through specialization and division of labor. Accompanying these processes is a growing reflexivity in which “social practices are constantly examined and reformed in the light of incoming information about those very practices, thus constitutively altering their character” (Giddens 1990: 38). The institutionalization of social practices becomes disembedded from traditional experiences and local contexts and becomes informed by a growing reflexivity among both individuals and within society at large. Both media and various expert systems provide a steady stream of information that guides individuals and organizations to readjust their practices to contemporary conditions, thereby installing an ongoing reflexivity into the very institutionalization of social life. The media are both subject to these processes of modernity and come to play particular functions that depart from the general patterns of institutional developments. Over the past hundred years, the media have become differentiated from other social practices and have become a separate institution in society. The decline of the party political press and the development of independent journalistic media are paradigmatic of this development. Political newspapers were once integral to political organizations and movements as one of a number of venues for political communication. With the rise of journalism as an independent profession and the growing independence of mass media from political parties, news media became a partly independent societal institution, increasingly steered by its own institutional logics, for example professional norms such as news value, etc. (cf. Cook 1998). The uses of various media have concurrently been integrated into the practices of other institutional domains. With the rise of interactive and digital media, this process has intensified, making mediated communication indispensable to nearly every institutional domain, like politics, education, work, etc. At the same time as the media acquired a momentum as a separate institution of its own, the media became omnipresent in almost all spheres of society. The media are used for a plurality of purposes, including to make possible the time–space distanciation of modernity and to relieve social actors from the many coordination tasks that result from living in institutions stretched across time and space. The mobile phone, for instance, seems to support an extensive “microcoordination” of work and family life (Ling 2004).

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The media also acquire a particular position within modern society as they constitute a public sphere that potentially interconnects with all other social institutions. The media’s public sphere is not restricted to political affairs but also involves cultural matters, the commercial market, and increasingly intimate aspects of life as well (Plummer 2003; Dahlgren 2006; Gripsrud and Weibull 2010). A variety of hitherto private matters also achieve a semi-public character through social network media. The media’s public sphere provides a realm of shared experience that to some extent compensates for the differentiation characterizing most social domains. Society as a whole hereby acquires a capacity to reflect on itself as a collective at the same time as the media provide the connecting nodes for the institutions’ internal communication as well as for their interaction with other institutions. For example, politicians can reach their constituencies through the media and vice versa, and private companies can reach their potential consumers at home through commercial advertising. In light of this institutional perspective on modernity, mediatization should be understood as a process of late modernity in which the media are not only subject to key transformations of modern society but are themselves agents of modernization (Thompson 1995). In particular, the media makes possible differentiation and time–space distanciation at the same time as it acquires a particular role as an institution of collective reflexivity concerning both public and private affairs. Media thus facilitate key aspects of modernity while simultaneously being a product of modernity. By connecting the concept of mediatization to the institutional transformations of high modernity, our approach departs from certain strands of mediatization theory. Krotz (2007a, 2009), seconded by Couldry (2012), has suggested that we understand mediatization as a “meta-process” of social and cultural change on par with concepts like globalization and individualization. Following the sociology of Norbert Elias ([1939] 1978), Krotz regards mediatization as a civilizational process that is not restricted to the modern phase but began with the rise of media for writing in early civilizations. Krotz will not specify a more precise definition of mediatization since “mediatization, by its very definition, is always bound in time and to cultural context” (Krotz 2007b: 39, my translation). The notion of “metaprocess” may be useful to the extent that it points to the trans-institutional dimension of mediatization, that is that mediatization occurs across a variety of social domains and cultural contexts. However, it seems to be less productive to make mediatization synonymous with any form of influence from the media since the dawn of civilization. Various forms of early media – from the invention of writing to the printing press – may have had important influences on culture and society (cf. Eisenstein 2005), but it does not necessarily follow as a result that cultures and societies such as the ancient Egyptian Empire, early Christianity, or the Viking Age could aptly be described as mediatized cultures and societies. Writing became important in these cultures, but the media of writing were to a large extent subordinated to religious, political, or military interests.


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In order to speak of mediatization as a cultural and social condition, we need both a more intense proliferation of media and a modern differentiation of social spheres through which the media arise as a semi-independent institutional force at the same time as they are integrated into the life-world of other domains of society. The mediatized condition entails that the media both connect the individual parts of the larger society by constituting a common public sphere to reflect upon collective affairs and are situated “inside” the smaller units of society, for example the life-worlds of family. When considering mediatization in relation to the longer history of mediated communication, we should take care not to confuse an “ontology of communication” with a “history of the media”. From an ontological perspective, communication (with or without media) has always been integral to both the larger society and to the smaller life-world of social existence. Through communication, we not only talk about or reflect on a pre-existing, external reality; in addition, the very act of communication is co-constitutive of the social and symbolic reality in which we live. To the extent that we use technical media to communicate, these media have also been integral to the construction of the reality of both the larger society and the smaller life-world. This does not, however, alter the historical fact that the media only gradually came to be integrated into culture and society and that this integration has intensified during the age of modernity. The radio, for instance, began as a special interest of engineers and the military in the early 20th century while the rest of society – the family, the school system, the music scene, and politics – lived uninfluenced by this medium. During the 1920s and 1930s, the radio became integrated into ever more institutions of social and cultural life and came, for instance, to influence the experience of music for large parts of society as well as for our collective feeling of belonging to a nation. The principal argument ‒ that, ever since the birth of technical media, these media have been integral to human communication ‒ is correct from an ontological perspective, but such an argument completely overlooks the historical perspective in which the cultural and social processes through which media become integrated into society display both quantitative and qualitative differences. By considering the processes of mediatization within the broader institutional changes of modernity, it becomes possible to acknowledge not only the ontological notion that media is inside of culture and society but also the actual historical processes that make this a profound aspect of contemporary life. Friedrich Krotz’s comparison of mediatization to globalization and individualization also seems to indicate that mediatization – despite Krotz’s trans-historical perspective – becomes more dominant within modernity even within his framework since such processes are generally considered to be key dynamics of modernity.

6 Institutional logics The notion of “institutional logics” has received attention in sociological theory over the last two decades, and I will attempt to incorporate some of the insights

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from this strand of social research into our institutional framework of mediatization theory. In particular, I will use “institutional logics” to consider how institutional change can be influenced by the presence of media and how media have come to occupy key functions in the overall “inter-institutional system” of society (Friedland and Alford 1991). “Institutional logics” is a more recent addition or corrective to the “new institutionalism” approach that began influencing parts of sociology from the late 1970s and onwards. The tenet of new institutionalism theory was to consider organizations within a larger social and cultural framework. The structures and workings of organizations were not only to be explained by internal demands concerning production efficiency, technical demands, etc. DiMaggio and Powell (1991: 8) formulated the core idea of new institutionalism as a “rejection of rational-actor models, an interest in institutions as independent variables, a turn to cognitive and cultural explanations, and an interest in properties of supraindividual units of analysis”. From this perspective, organizations adapt to and incorporate prevailing “rules, understanding, and meanings attached to institutionalized social structures” (Meyer and Rowan 1977: 343). For instance, the professional norms of doctors and engineers structure the organization and work of hospitals and technology-intensive industries. Other prevailing institutional norms from the family or state may also inform ways of organizing and conducting work in such organizations. The norms of various institutions work as “powerful myths” (Meyer and Rowan 1977: 340) for the individual organization, and through the adoption of such myths, the organization acquires a higher degree of legitimacy because social actors act in accordance with the prevailing norms of wider society. Because the various institutional considerations may not necessarily work in tandem with or fit the particular objectives of an organization, organizations become complex entities with multidimensional concerns that may occasionally conflict with one another. One consequence of organizational adaptation to prevailing institutional norms is a growing structural isomorphism (Meyer and Rowan 1977; DiMaggio and Powell 1991): Over time, organizations within the same field come to display similar structures and patterns of action. New institutionalism is thus also trying to analyze why there exists a “striking homogeneity of practices and arrangements found in the labor market, in schools, states, and corporations” (DiMaggio and Powell 1991: 9). Similarly, March and Olsen (2004) oppose a purely instrumental view of actions by individuals and organizations and have developed the notion of a “logic of appropriateness”. Social actors not only attempt to maximize their individual interest in particular situations but are embedded in a social collectivity: “Actors seek to fulfill the obligations encapsulated in a role, an identity, a membership in a political community or group, and the ethos, practices and expectations of its institutions” (March and Olsen 2004: 3). Within media studies, the new institutionalism approach has had a particularly strong role in informing the study of news and journalism as well as the interaction between the institutions of news media and politics (Cook 1998; Ryfe and Ørsten 2011).


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As indicated above, the “institutional logics” approach builds on as well as departs from the “new institutionalism” perspective. It shares with its predecessor the attempt to understand organizational structure and social action as influenced by a wider social and cultural context, but it does not put the same emphasis on the similarities or isomorphism between various organizational structures and actions as an outcome of their adaptation to prevailing institutional norms. Instead, the institutional logics perspective focuses on the processes of institutional change, including how individual and organizational actors may both influence and be influenced by a historically contingent set of loosely coupled institutional logics. The institutional logics perspective thus places more emphasis on two levels and on their mutual dependency: the possibilities for agency at the micro level and the inter-institutional structure at the macro level of society. Institutional logics are generally understood in a way resembling Giddens’ (1984) notion of institutions as structured by resources and rules and is thereby compatible with our notion of “media logics” (cf. above and Hjarvard 2013a). For instance, Thornton and Ocasio (1999: 804) define institutional logics as the “socially constructed, historical pattern of material practices, assumptions, values, beliefs, and rules by which individuals produce and reproduce their material subsistence, organize time and space, and provide meaning to their social reality”. Institutional logics thus encompass both material and cultural dimensions as well as function as a cognitive resource by providing sense-making categories for interpreting the world. The notion of society as an inter-institutional system was suggested by Friedland and Alford (1991) and further developed by Thornton, Ocasio and Lounsbury (2012). The general assumption is that society consists of a number of institutions, each of which have a partly independent history and have partly co-developed through interaction with one another. Friedland and Alford (1991) name five institutions that have played a central role in the development of modern Western societies: the family, the capitalist market, the state bureaucracy, political democracy, and the church. The precise number or labels of these institutions is hardly original since it reflects a categorization found in mainstream sociology, and Thornton, Ocasio and Lounsbury (2012) present a slightly different set of institutions while also expanding their quantity by including, for instance, professions as an institutional order. Seen from the point of view of structuration theory, institutions are not defined in absolute terms but, rather, as structures with the largest time–space extension, thereby allowing for flexibility in our understanding of institutions. As a result, if we, for instance, consider education as an institution at the overall societal level, we may – by scaling down the level of time–space extension – identify (sub-)institutions within the overall institution of education, such as the primary school, secondary school, and university. All of these (sub-) institutions are governed by particular logics that differentiates them from one another, but they nevertheless share some common features in terms of available

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social roles (teacher, student), overall purpose (learning), typical practices (teaching, exercises, exams), etc. I will argue for a pragmatic and empirically based approach with regards to the precise number and types of institutions since boundaries between institutions have changed historically and are contingent on the overall social context. Furthermore, I will not a priori consider any of these institutions and their logics to be more important than any others. Their relative importance is an empirical question, not a logical or ontological one. In relation to the inter-institutional system, the important argument is that each of the institutions “represents a governance system that provides a frame of reference that precondition actors’ sensemaking choices” (Thornton, Ocasio and Lounsbury 2012: 54). However, most contexts of social agency are not governed by one set of logics from one institution alone but instead from multiple, heterogeneous, and often contradictory sets of institutional logics. Social conflicts and transformations are thus often the result of overlapping institutional considerations: “Some of the most important struggles between groups, organizations, and classes are over the appropriate relationships between institutions, and by which institutional logic different activities should be regulated and to which categories of persons they apply” (Friedland and Alford 1991: 256). This may be illustrated by an example from the media: The political regulation of public broadcasting organizations has historically been subject to conflict between various political interests within the political institution. It has also, however, been intertwined with questions and stakeholders from outside of the political domain, which are concerned with the role that public broadcasting ought to play relative to other institutions like the market (e.g. how much advertising should be allowed?), the family (e.g. what sort of programming is suitable for children?), religion (e.g. should broadcasting be religiously neutral or give priority to majority religions?), and the state (e.g. should broadcasting be the voice of the nation-state or of a transnational entity?). In this example, the institutional logics of each institution entail not only different sets of preferred actions in terms of broadcasting legislation and program policy but also different cognitive categorizations of the very idea and purpose of broadcasting (e.g. is it a commercial, cultural, or educational practice?) and of who the viewers are (e.g. are they customers, families, or citizens?). Such inter-institutional conflicts rarely result in the confinement of broadcasting to serve only the interest of one institutional domain but result, rather, in a delicate balancing of various institutional interests. Because of this, broadcasting as a practice involves continuous negotiation between a complex set of institutional logics. As I will return to later, we may historically discern particular configurations (“regimes”) of such intersecting institutional logics, and within each of these configurations, we may observe a stabilized pattern of power relationships between various institutional logics. When one such inter-institutional configuration breaks up, as was the case with the end of the public broadcasting monopolies in Western Europe in the last decades of the 20th century, a


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period of instability and fierce competition between different institutional logics may occur until a new configuration or regime solidifies for a period. A general argument in the “institutional logics” literature is that transformations in social practices may occur when competing logics overlap within a particular domain. The neoliberal deregulating of public sector institutions over the past decades is a prime example of this. Through a state-initiated introduction of market-like steering logics into public institutions like hospitals and public transportation, these institutions have been transformed not only in terms of how they finance their public services but also with regards to the kinds of cultural values that inform their management decisions and how they evaluate their performance. Another example is the hiring of professional media expertise into political parties. The initial rationale for this may be a simple wish to strengthen the political party’s ability to project its own policy to its potential voters, but once the media professionals are inside the political organization, they may introduce new logics to the communication of politics. Change in social practices is often instigated by socalled institutional entrepreneurs who “creatively manipulate social relationships by importing and exporting cultural symbols and practices from one institutional order to another” (Thornton and Ocasio 2008: 115). In the case of political media advisors, they not only provide neutral expertise to the political institution but become a lever for importing new ways of thinking about political communication. This is not a one-way street since political media advisors may move back and forth between jobs in, for instance, political parties and news media, and when returning to their former journalistic profession, they may carry political perceptions and relationships into the newsroom.

7 Institutional overlap Media may introduce structural overlap between institutional logics in three different ways. Firstly, the media provide a public sphere for society’s reflection on itself, and through this the media provide the very forum that both makes the various institutions visible for all and involves a discussion concerning which resources and rules should be available for and apply to nearly every aspect of social life. The public sphere should ideally be understood as a sphere between the state and the civil society in which citizens may deliberate politically about the most sensible solutions to common problems (Habermas 1989). In actual practice, the media’s public sphere constitutes a public realm that is in no way restricted to rational and political deliberation but is open to the public representation and discussion (rational as well as irrational) of matters concerning all social institutions, ranging from the intimate sphere of family and sex to cultural experiences to the world of international politics (Plummer 2003; Dahlgren 2006). The public sphere may be subdivided into a political and a cultural public sphere, but most aspects of social

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life are becoming increasingly present in at least one – and in many cases, both – of these public spheres although in different ways. For instance, questions relating to sex life may be treated in political news media in relation to questions of sexual diseases or sexual abuse while they may be discussed in the cultural sphere through the genres of fictional literature or television satire. When media bring particular institutional orders into the public realm, these institutions are confronted with questions of the legitimacy of rules and resource allocation from other institutional orders and from society as a whole. For instance, as studies in the Nordic countries have demonstrated, news media bring the prevailing Christian religion into contact with the secular values of society, which may cause religious organizations to modify their values and behavior (Christensen 2012; Hjarvard 2012b). Secondly, media are also present inside institutions and have become important for the very practice of “doing” family life, going to school, and getting work done. One important consequence of this internal presence is a virtualization of institutions (Hjarvard 2013a). Digital media are increasingly disembedding social practices from physical settings, for instance allowing various forms of work to be conducted at home and making it possible to carry out bank businesses from a desktop computer. Mobile media have accentuated this virtualization by making it possible to access nearly all institutional domains from any location. Through your tablet computer or smartphone, you can visit the library or an art exhibition, call your family, or post a comment on a political blog. This does not render physical space or place unimportant since most institutions still maintain a core physical location as its main site of interaction, such as the home (the family), the school (education), the parliament (politics), etc. It does, however, mean that physical locations become intertwined with a virtual space as it becomes possible to perform more and more practices outside of the physical location. In general, this virtual dimension makes institutions more fragile because it becomes more difficult to regulate the behavior of the people involved. Children may be present in the home together with their parents while being simultaneously socially engaged in interaction with their peers. An employee may be present at his workplace, yet he may also be chatting with his friends on Facebook or taking care of private bank business on his laptop. Institutional “presence” is no longer provided through physical presence but becomes to some extent a matter of individual choice. In order to ensure sense making and adequate social interaction, institutions need to regulate access to social situations and rules of social interaction. The potential virtual presence of an institution inside the realm of another institution creates an overlap of institutional logics that may induce various forms of change. For instance, when digital media like computers and mobile phones are introduced into the educational system because of their assumed potential for new forms of learning, they may not only create a clash between old and new pedagogical paradigms but also make


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available a whole range of other logics from other institutional orders. With Internet and mobile phones available in the classroom, the educational institution must begin to negotiate its own authority and rules of interaction vis-à-vis other institutions. The “voice” of other institutions may intervene in the relationship between teacher and pupil when parents are able to communicate with their children while they are at school and when pupils can seek alternative sources of information when present in the classroom (Hjarvard 2010b; Carlsson 2010). Similarly, the growing presence of computer-mediated work in the home prompts a renegotiation of the borders between leisure, family, and work life when the logics of the workplace have to find a place within the home. A particular kind of blending of institutional logics is fostered by the media’s ability to bring together mixed content and social roles from different social spheres into the same communicative circuit. Not only are different institutional logics simultaneously available through the media, but they acquire a mixed presence through their integration into particular media and genres. Meyrowitz (1986) points to the influence of radio and television on the modality of social interaction because of the media’s ability to bring very different types of content into a unified information system: broadcasting. Before the advent of electronic media, Meyrowitz argues, information circulated within confined circuits of communication allowing for a greater distance between, for example, the world of children and the world of adults, between men’s and women’s worlds, and between the various social classes. When broadcasting brought information from all sorts of social spheres into the same communication circuit to be heard and viewed by everybody (men and women, children and adults, upper and lower classes alike), a change in behavioral norms occurred. Because all types of information could now be potentially visible to everybody, it was no longer possible to circulate information that was intended only for a particular audience. As a consequence, it became prevalent in broadcasting to blend behavioral norms from a variety of public and private settings for particular audiences into a mixed so-called “middle region” behavioral norm (Meyrowitz 1986; cf. Hjarvard 2013a). Meyrowitz’s observations are clearly based on the experience of mass media and are therefore not necessarily accurate for the present media environment in which digital media have allowed for a variety of other forms of communication flows compared to mass media’s one-to-many structure. It seems, however, with regard to the media’s potential for mixing social contexts that new media may to some extent push in the same direction as mass media. Marwick and boyd (2010) analyze the ways in which users engage in social network media like Twitter and observe a similar blurring of boundaries, which they label as a “context collapse”: “Like broadcast television, social media collapse diverse social contexts into one, making it difficult for people to engage in the complex negotiations needed to vary identity presentation, manage impressions, and save face” (Marwick and boyd 2010: 123). Social network media also seem to bring together various institutional logics and thereby potentially create impetus for social change.

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The media’s construction of a middle region of social interaction points to our third and final way in which institutional logics are influenced by the media. Media not only bring various logics from other institutions into contact with each other; the media have also become a semi-independent institution that increasingly brings its own institutional logics into almost every domain of society. Accordingly, the logics of the media influence not only how social actors from various institutions perform in the public sphere but also the inner workings of other institutions and their interaction with other institutions (that need not be performed in the public sphere). The media are being embedded into other institutional domains because they represent an important resource for communication and interaction. Besides the shared logics of the media as an institution of public communication, the various media possess particular structural features or affordances (Gibson 1979; cf. Hjarvard 2013a) that may influence how they become embedded in particular institutional contexts. For instance, when religious organizations begin making use of Internet websites or social network media as resources for communicating with their followers, they may gradually need to accommodate to the various social, technological, and aesthetic rules that have already been institutionalized in society for these forms of communication. As a consequence, religious organizations may have to perform their authority in different ways, and believers may have the ability to adopt a more individualistic, interactive, and consumerlike orientation towards religious messages (Hjarvard 2012b) compared with earlier forms of religious communication. As media are integrated into the practices of other institutions, they need to accommodate to the logics of these institutions: The particular outcomes of these reciprocal accommodations should be examined empirically, and the logics of the media are certainly not always the most influential. The key point, however, is that the blending of institutional logics provides fertile ground for social and cultural change.

8 Changing institutional regimes Mediatization as a process is dependent on the growing proliferation and use of media in modern society, but the various changes it involves should not be understood simply as a linear process stimulated by an ever-growing media presence. Instead, we should understand social and cultural change as a transition from one configuration of institutional influences within a particular domain to a different configuration that changes the “balance of powers” between the institutions in question and perhaps introduces new institutional resources and rules into a domain. We may analytically understand such configurations as “regimes” that entail a dominant mode of structuration within a particular domain. We should, however, be careful not to equate the existence of a dominant mode of structuration with the absence of alternative practices or lack of conflict. On the contrary,


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Fig. 1: Mediatization as a non-linear process of qualitative shifts from one configuration/regime to another.

within the “regime” of a particular domain, we often find social agents with competing interests, norms, and practices, but their mutual interdependency has created an equilibrium within a given phase and context. Cultural and social change may not necessarily entail a transition from one stable regime to another; it may, in some cases, be more adequate to speak of the breaking up of an existing regime without a new regime following after. In such cases, we may find a period of instability and uncertainty concerning norms and values of practices. For instance, the proliferation of digital media both inside and outside of the educational sector in the Nordic countries has created new impetus for pedagogical innovation, but so far, it does not seem to have resulted in stable new pedagogical paradigms or educational practices. Instead, it has created a state of flux allowing a variety of new educational paradigms and practices to compete and be tested (cf. Carlsson 2010; Sørensen, Audon and Levinsen 2010). Figure 1 presents a schematic model of mediatization as a transformation from one regime to another. Our notion of “regimes” as configurations of institutional influence is often implicit in historical studies that use the notion of “phases” to differentiate between various periods dominated by a particular set of interests, discourses, and practices. For instance, Blumler and Kavanagh (1999: 211) distinguish between “three distinct ages” of political communication, each of which is characterized by “a distinctive organizing principle” due to influences from media, political organizations, and other social factors. Similarly, Djerf-Pierre (2000: 240) distinguishes between three phases in the history of the Swedish public service broadcaster SVT’s news, each of which is dominated “by coherent systems of rules and norms pertaining to news selection and modes of representation”. In her study, Djerf-Pierre (2000: 257) finds little support for the idea of a linear and continuous development from serious to populist news but instead sees qualitative shifts occurring due to the “power struggles between SVT and the dominant institutions in society, as well as the existence of oppositional journalist cultures within media organizations”. Djerf-Pierre and Weibull (2008) advance this argument further and regard the phases as “regimes”. By this, they understand the “fusion of ideals and

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norms on the one hand and practice and production on the other” (Djerf-Pierre and Weibull 2008: 196). From this perspective, a regime describes the dominant discourse of a domain, in this case journalism, in a particular social and historical context. I will generalize this notion of “regime” to include not only the discursive level but also the overall constellation of institutional resources and rules within a particular domain. The discursive level is no doubt important, but material aspects such as, for instance, technology and economy may be just as important factors behind the transition from one regime to another and for structuring agency within a particular regime. From the perspective of institutional logics, Thornton (2004) has studied the historical development of the book publishing industry and stipulates a transition from one phase to another, from the period of the 1950s and 1960s, which was dominated by an “editorial logic”, to the 1980s and 1990s, which was increasingly dominated by a “market logic”. Each of these logics is characterized by a particular structure of organizational identity, legitimacy and authority structure, mission and focus of attention, etc. Again, the development is not linear but should be understood as a transition from one regime to another. Thornton (2004) considers these phases to be “ideal types” because they are analytical constructions to inform theory building on the basis of empirical analysis. The actual empirical world of publishing may thus display many variations and deviations from these ideal types at any given time, but the construction of ideal types may help us to build middle-range theories in order to understand the particular composition of institutional influences within a given period and context. The analysis of particular clusters of relationships between institutions is not restricted to historical research but may also be fruitfully pursued in comparative studies. For instance, Hallin and Mancini (2004) have done a paradigmatic study of the interrelationships between media systems and political systems in the USA and Europe and have used this to develop a typology of three dominant media models: the Anglo-American Liberal Model, the Democratic Corporatist Model of North-Western Europe, and the Polarized Pluralist Model of Southern Europe. These media models provide “a framework for comparing media systems and a set of hypotheses about how they are linked structurally and historically to the development of the political system” (Hallin and Mancini 2004: 5). Hallin and Mancini later attempted to expand this comparative typology beyond the Western world (Hallin and Mancini 2012). Such models always entail the risk of simplifying structural properties within a media model’s given geographic context, and this may also be the case in relation to these models (Hjarvard 2010a), but they nevertheless serve an important heuristic purpose as analytical tools for discerning the interplay between various institutions while taking into account the path-dependencies of the past.


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9 The general resources of the media In this chapter, I have argued for an institutional perspective on mediatization and emphasized the importance of considering the particular institutional contexts of mediatization. We must, however, also consider the supra-institutional, societal level of mediatization and ask if there are special qualities of media that make them influential across institutional contexts, albeit with different “local” consequences. Couldry (2003) makes use of Bourdieu’s own concept of “meta capital” and suggests that media represent a kind of meta capital, which allows them to become influential in a variety of social fields. This is a plausible assumption, yet it does not identify which properties or processes permit the media to acquire this meta capital. Inspired by system theory, Kunelius and Reunanen (2012) posit that public attention is the general “power resource” of the media and, by extension, that mediatization is understood as the “increasing influence of public attention (as the generalised medium of the media) in other fields and institutional domains” (Kunelius and Reunanen 2012: 12; emphasis in original). Kunelius and Reunanen (2012) focus explicitly on journalistic mass media, and in this context, public attention is clearly a prominent resource to which other fields or institutional domains strive to gain access. If we wish to consider media in general (i.e. encompassing mass media [one to many], interpersonal media [one to one], and social network media [several to several]), public attention is not the only attention at stake, and the control of attention in private and semi-private forms of communication may be of equal importance. Furthermore, attention may perhaps better be understood as an outcome of mediated communication than as the actual resource of the media. Generally speaking, media enable users to extend communication in time, space, and mode of representation. From this perspective, the media are a resource to represent information and construct relationships through communicative action. This general resource is put to different uses by the individual media and genres: For instance, social network media such as Facebook tend to structure information as half-public, half-private written conversations among an extended network of “friends” whereas news media typically structure information as news of high importance for society, to be received by a public audience of citizens. In both cases, the attention of Facebook friends and the attention of the public are an outcome of the media’s ability to represent information in particular ways and to circulate it among a particular group of users, who become related to one another in specific ways through this very act of communication. It should be stressed that, in this context, information is understood in a generic or broad sense as encompassing all representational acts used for both informational and entertainment purposes. The media are social tools for the production of attention, but the actual resource is the media’s ability to control how information is represented (e.g. ideologically framed or artistically narrated), how relationships are constructed (e.g.

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who gets to be connected to whom in what ways), and what social purpose the communicative actions serve (e.g. entertainment, education, persuasion, etc.). Because these resources may be important for all kinds of cultural and social interaction, the media may come to exert influence in every social domain, albeit in different ways and with different intensities. In order to gain access to the resources of the media, social agents from other institutional domains must adhere to the various rules that have come to govern the media. Because many media today have become multi-functional, we should not necessarily ascribe particular social rules to the level of individual media. For instance, both television and the Internet are used for a variety of purposes related to different social institutions and cultural practices, and an individual media company like Google is involved in a variety of media genres that relate to different institutional domains like libraries, research, news, personal mail, commercial advertising, etc. We should also, therefore, following Schulz (2004; cf. Hjarvard 2013b), focus on the various communicative functions of the media when we study the institutionalized rules pertaining to their use and not just consider the individual media or media organizations. Lippmann’s ([1922] 1992) study was an early indication of the news media’s development into a semi-independent institution in society during the 20th century. Parallel to this, as Lippmann also noted, various forms of media and communication expertise began spreading within political and commercial institutions with the aim of influencing public opinion in various ways. Today, this double-sided process – through which the media is developing into a semi-independent institution and are being integrated into other institutions – has accelerated. The process is no longer restricted to public and political affairs but has become prevalent across almost all social institutions and cultural domains. As institutions become differentiated and extended in time and space under conditions of high modernity, the media have become indispensable tools for social interaction inside institutions, between institutions, and in society as a whole. As a social process, mediatization is spurred by both the development of the media and the dynamics of a variety of other institutions in which social agents try to make use of the media’s resources for their own purposes.

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Plummer, Ken. 2003. Intimate Citizenship: Private Decisions and Public Dialogues. Seattle: University of Washington Press. Ritzer, George. 1999. Enchanting a Disenchanted World: Revolutionizing the Means of Consumption. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press. Ryfe, David M. and Mark Ørsten. 2011. Introduction. In: Special issue on new institutionalism and the news, Journalism 12(1): 3–9. Schrott, Andrea. 2009. Dimensions: Catch-all label or technical term. In: Knut Lundby (ed.), Mediatization: Concept, Changes, Consequences, 41–62. New York: Peter Lang. Schulz, Winfried. 2004. Reconstructing mediatization as an analytical concept. European Journal of Communication 19(1):87–101. Stones, Rob. 2005. Structuration Theory. New York: Palgrave. Strömbäck, Jesper. 2008. Four phases of mediatization: An analysis of the mediatization of politics. International Journal of Press/Politics 13(3): 228–46. Sørensen, Birgitte Holm, Lone Audon and Karin Levinsen. 2010. Skole 2.0 [School 2.0]. Aarhus: Klim. Thompson, John B. 1989. The theory of structuration. In: David Held and John B. Thompson (eds.), Social Theory of Modern Societies. Anthony Giddens and his Critics, 56–76. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Thompson John B. 1995. The Media and Modernity, a Social Theory of the Media. Cambridge: Polity. Thornton, Patricia H. 2004. Markets from Culture. Institutional Logics and Organizational Decisions in Higher Education Publishing. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Thornton, Patricia H. and William Ocasio. 1999. Institutional logics and the historical contingency of power in organizations: Executive succession in the higher education publishing industry 1958–1999. American Journal of Sociology 105(3): 801–43. Thornton, Patricia H. and William Ocasio. 2008. Institutional logics. In: Royston Greenwood (ed.), The SAGE Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism, 99–129. Los Angeles: SAGE. Thornton, Patricia H., William Ocasio and Michael Lounsbury. 2012. The Institutional Logics Perspective. A New Approach to Culture, Structure and Process. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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10 Mediatization and the future of field theory Abstract: This chapter reviews the recent history of mediatization research from the perspective of its potential contribution to social theory. The starting-point for this is to conceive mediatization not as a logic internal to media contents (as for example in the pioneering work of Altheide and Snow), but as a meta-process that emerges from many simultaneous transformations in specific settings. Only if mediatization is understood this way can it address the differentiated account of social space found in field theory and elsewhere in social theory. But mediatization research also helps us see the need to refine field theory to take account of transversal effects of media across all social space: these are explored through the concept of media meta-capital. This intersection between mediatization research and social theory is placed alongside other possible intersections, for example through notions of institutional logics or figurations. The contribution of each approach is then developed briefly in relation to the challenge of understanding how government is mediatized. In these multiple ways the chapter explores how mediatization research can contribute flexibly to understanding how the possibilities of order within social space are changing through media, particularly digital media. Keywords: mediatization, fields, Bourdieu, figurations, social theory, media logic, media meta-capital, social space. government.

Debates about mediatization have until now been largely an internal concern of media and communications research, yet carry the promise of opening up something more fundamental: a complete rethinking of the dynamics, even the dimensionality, of the space of social action in an age when everyday life has become supersaturated with media flows. This chapter will explore what mediatization theory might plausibly contribute to that larger question within social theory, focusing particularly on how the concept of mediatization, understood from a certain angle, can enter a productive dialogue with those working within the tradition of Pierre Bourdieu’s field theory; there are indeed other possibilities for mediatization scholars to engage with social theory as noted earlier, but this seems one of the most promising for reasons explained below. Such arguments will be developed within the broader context of debates on media’s contributions to late modernity and in particular on the transformations associated with the predominance of digital media contents and platforms. Any such dialogue, however, requires from mediatization scholars two preliminary adjustments. First, mediatization theory must rethink itself as a contribution


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to social theory, and so submit itself to all the requirements that social theory must meet to justify its formulations as plausible starting-points for analysing social action and social space. Second, and more specifically, mediatization needs to be conceived as a meta-process that emerges from the continuous, cumulative circulation and embedding of media contents across everyday social action, rather than as a reproductive logic or recipe already lodged somehow within media contents themselves. The stakes then are high: a repositioning of mediatization theory – and media and communications research – within wider social theory, and, from the other direction, the reenergizing of social theory through a deeper reflection on the consequences of media and communications that it had for so long neglected. The chapter will proceed by a series of steps towards the point where this more ambitious horizon comes clearly into view: first, the history of mediatization as a concept will be reviewed, but obliquely, that is, from an angle concerned with the social-theoretical potential, and limits of specific formulations; second, and for balance, the limits of field theory will be discussed, particularly from the perspective of its failure so far adequately to address the consequences of mass media, let alone digital media, for its model of social space; third, mediatization theory will be reviewed for the possible ways in which it might contribute to the theorization of social space, including an account which is designed to fill the gaps within field theory; fourth, in order to bring out how such a social-theory-oriented research agenda around mediatization might develop, I offer a brief proposal for what mediatization research might look like, if applied to understanding media’s consequences for the broadest practices that seek to manage social space, that is, government.

1 Mediatization’s social theory deficit “Mediatization” is the term around which research within various national traditions about the widest consequences of media flows has come to converge: I will not recap here the debates that led to that terminological convergence (for this, see Couldry [2008a, 2012: 134–135]). The real debate in any case is not about terminology, but about the type of explanation at which we are aiming. The startingpoints are agreed: first, that media influence now extends to “all the spheres of society and social life” (Mazzoleni 2008); second, that, because of this pervasiveness, new types of causal complexity emerge and it is exactly these complexities that we are trying to specify. As Knut Lundby (2009) has pointed out, there has been considerable overlap between the assumptions of apparently separate enquiries into “mediatization” and “mediation”. Roger Silverstone (2005: 189), favouring the term “mediation”, summarized the basic complexity of media’s social effects in these terms: “processes of communication change the social and cultural envi-

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ronments that support them as well as the relationships that participants, both individual and institutional, have to that environment and to each other”. It follows that the transformations of social space that are associated with media’s continuous and cumulative flows must be understood in a non-linear fashion (Couldry 2012: 29). Only very rarely would we expect such transformations to simplify into something usefully approximated via a linear causal account, that is, an account of how one factor changes social life from one state of affairs over time to another, distinct state of affairs. The principle of non-linear explanation is probably now an agreed starting-point among mediatization scholars. At issue however is how we grasp that non-linear complexity. For Silverstone, it was best understood as an open-ended dialectic that resisted further systematization; most scholars now would insist on going further in specifying how such causal complexity works, and its particular consequences for the way that the social is organized. It is here that the difficulties begin. David Altheide and Robert Snow were pioneers in the late 1970s and early 1980s (Altheide and Snow 1979; Snow 1983; Altheide 1985) of an approach which conceived of what media do in and to the social world through the idea that media spread the formats required for media performance: they refer to this (1979) as a “media logic”. But from the point of view of social theory this explanatory account (which we should note in passing Altheide and Snow called “mediation”) was always problematic. Certainly, their approach to media power was original and interesting, suggesting that it derives not simply from institutions’ production of media and audiences’ use of those productions (the two models then available) but from something more complex: the way everyone in society interrelates with media. While this basic insight was profound, Altheide and Snow developed it in a problematic way, seeing media as the new “collective consciousness”, and finding the mechanism of this growing influence in the adoption of a “media logic” across everyday life: “media are powerful” they wrote “because people have adopted a media logic”. Yet the very notion of “media logic” brings explanatory problems from the outset, which can be quickly stated. Do all media have a logic? Is it the same logic and, if not, what is the common pattern that unites their logics into an overall “media logic” (this problem only becomes more acute with media proliferation)? Alternatively, when media change over time (as they are doing intensively today), do they acquire a wholly new media logic or does something remain constant? Finally, even if we can tie down such a notion of media logic, to the regular features of certain media formats, and show that they and their copies are pervasive in everyday life, does that adequately capture the range of ways in which media appear to influence the social?1 Indeed mediatization research has 1 For debate on whether mediatization is best understood through the notion of “media logic”, see Couldry (2008a), Lundby (2009), Hjarvard (2013). Examples of earlier discussions which appeared to continue Altheide and Snow’s notion of “media logic” can be found in Hjarvard (2006: 5, 2009: 160), and Schrott (2009: 47).


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been characterized by a certain instability in which counts as an influence worthy of the term. While some still see mediatization in the sense primarily of a “format”, others use “mediatization” to refer to “the whole of [the] processes that eventually shape and frame media content” (Mazzoleni 2008, quoted in Lundby 2009: 8), or even two new factors (Schulz 2004: 90): the extension of human capacities and the structural organization of social life. A second type of problem from the outset lay in deciding what counts as empirical evidence for mediatization, for example in accounts such as Altheide and Snow’s. Altheide and Snow’s account was not based on any evidence from the social world of systematic patterning by media formats, but in claims (Altheide 1985: 9) about the wider impact of “the diffusion of media formats and perspectives into other areas of life” that in effect were projections from media productions’ known internal features to imagined changes in the external patterning of social action. While acknowledging (Altheide 1985: 13–14) earlier sociology of experience (Goffman’s account of the “frames” through which we orient ourselves to the world; Simmel’s account of social forms as the constant patterns that underlie social relationships), Altheide and Snow proposed, in effect, a rather arbitrary grafting of media formats onto the forms and contexts of social action. This risked from the outset blurring a number of ways in which we might imagine social processes being transformed by media: through actual media presentation formats which may be adopted for specific purposes; through the wider evaluation of media’s authority and importance; through people’s changing definition of what is real; people’s desires for that media reality; and finally, and more broadly, through transformations of social space as a whole. In so far as the term “media logic” continues to be used as shorthand for the type of causal process which mediatization identifies, its very singularity risks repeating such blurring and reducing a diversity of causal processes to one, apparently homogeneous term, so undercutting the multiplicity of processes (Schulz 2004) already acknowledged within the umbrella term mediatization. In doing so, the continued use of the term “media logic” (for example, by extension, to refer to a “new media logic” or “digital media logic”) risks falling short of what William Sewell (2005: 369) has argued should be one of sociology’s tasks: to contribute to “the de-reification of social life”. A multiplicity of mid-range terms would be more productive, of which “logic” can perhaps be one: the problem is not so much with the term “logic” as such (provided its use can be justified in particular settings) as in its reified application. Meanwhile, the underlying social-theoretical grounding of most mediatization research’s diagnosis of social change has remained unstated: most approaches to mediatization have been characterized by a lack of specificity about how they understand social ontology. This is the third and deepest problem, which emerges when we ask the following questions: on what basis do we believe that the social world is liable to be transformed so easily, or at least so directly, by media materials or media-based processes? Indeed should we imagine social space (as a whole)

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as available for transformation by any logic or principle, whether media-based or not? A number of important sociological approaches would cast doubt on precisely that assumption, for example: Pierre Bourdieu’s (1993) field theory which insists that the space of the social is not unitary but differentiated into multiple fields of competition; Boltanski and Thévenot’s (2006) insistence on value plurality in the social world; and Norbert Elias’ (1994) account of social order as something built up through emergent solutions to complex problems of interdependency. Unless mediatization research rejects out of hand all of these accounts of social space, it needs to do more social-theoretical work than it has so far to defend the idea that mediatization refers to a single logic originating in media and working seamlessly across every part of social space; and if mediatization research does not intend any such converging explanatory account, it would be safer to avoid a shorthand language that appears to suggest precisely this! A useful step forward is to follow Friedrich Krotz and insist that mediatization is not a specific transformational process but “a meta-process that is grounded in the modification of communication as the basic practice of how people construct the social and cultural world”. This is to see mediatization as a structural shift comparable to globalization and individualization: this structural shift is associated with the increasing involvement of media in all spheres of life so that “media in the long run increasingly become relevant for the social construction of everyday life, society, and culture as a whole” (Krotz 2009: 24, 26–27). On this approach, mediatization can encompass many different types of process across different sites; it is also, for example, perfectly compatible with field theory’s insistence upon paying attention to the multiple logics or workings of specific fields, or indeed (see Hjarvard’s chapter, this volume) multiple institutional logics. Much work in clarifying exactly what mediatization can contribute to social theory’s understanding of the space of social action remains to be done, but at least this alternative concept of mediatization clears the way for that work, rather than tying us to an explanatory model that is, or inadvertently appears to be, at odds with many approaches within social theory. Our starting-point for this new work is the idea that mediatization is not a single transformative logic “within” media but a meta-category of social description that points to the changed dynamics and dimensionality of the (whole) social world in a media age. It follows that mediatization research, conceived this way, should be interested in the new types of non-linear causality that follow when media become an irreducible aspect of all social processes and their interrelations. As promised from the outset of this chapter, I will explore how much adaptations of field theory can contribute to this discussion. Before, however, we can begin to develop mediatization approaches in that direction, we need to acknowledge the corresponding limitations of field theory itself. For field theory was an explanatory model that found its shape long before the need to consider media’s broader social consequences began to be addressed by social theory.


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2 Field theory’s media deficit Pierre Bourdieu insisted that we cannot analyse sociological processes without first relating them to what goes on in specific fields of practice where particular forms of capital are at stake. Bourdieu’s field concept is a highly sophisticated response to the processes of differentiation in late modernity: Bourdieu readily acknowledges that fields are emergent phenomena and the concept should only be used if it helps us grasp the order in what particular types of people do, but he rules out immediately any account which does not acknowledge the deep differentiation of social space in late modernity. Well-known examples analysed by Bourdieu’s field theory are fields of cultural production, such as literature, art, and politics (Bourdieu 1993, 1996b; Champagne 1990). Over the past decade, work has emerged on journalism as a specific field (Bourdieu 1998; Marlière 1998; Benson and Neveu 2005), and the specific relations between the journalistic field and other fields such as medicine and economics (Champagne and Marchetti 2005; Duval 2005). Here, however, I will be concerned more with field theory’s general model of social space and whether this can account for the types of transversal media effect in which mediatization is interested: by “transversal” I mean linked effects and transformations that occur simultaneously at all or very many points in social space simultaneously. Bourdieu himself, in his early work on symbolic power (collected as Bourdieu 1991) completed well before he developed his field theory, showed considerable interest in the role of symbolic institutions in shaping belief right across social space as a whole. Bourdieu’s concern then was with religious institutions, not media. In an early essay he suggests that some concentrations of symbolic power are so great that they dominate the whole social landscape; as a result, they seem natural and get misrecognized, their underlying arbitrariness becoming difficult to see. In this way, symbolic power moves from being a merely local power (the power to construct this statement, or make that work of art) to being a general power, what Bourdieu (1991: 166) called a “power of constructing reality”. Understood this way, symbolic power plays a deep definitional role in social life and is involved “in the very structure of the field in which belief is produced and reproduced” (Bourdieu 1977: 88). Two decades later Bourdieu (1998: 22) recalled this when in a popular work he made some controversial claims about television’s effects: “one thing leads to another, and, ultimately television, which claims to record reality, creates it instead. We are getting closer and closer to the point where the social world is primarily described – and in a sense prescribed – by television”. How such claims could can be understood to work consistently with field theory remained unclear. A similar urge to understand media’s general consequences for social space characterizes work by Bourdieu’s followers. Patrick Champagne (1990) analysed media’s impacts on the field of contemporary politics, suggesting boldly that the

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journalistic field has acquired a relationship with the political field so close that it becomes “a journalistic-political field”. This relationship, Champagne argued, has transformed the definition of politics in damaging ways. By a “circular logic”, both journalists and politicians “react” to a version of public opinion which they have largely constructed, for example through the framing of questions for opinion polls, through the reported reactions to those polls’ results, and through the influence of journalists’ accounts of politics. We are not concerned in this chapter directly with the particular problem of how to understand media’s influence on the field of political competition. More interesting here are the implications of Champagne’s way of exploring media’s broader influences for the original model of field theory as a whole. For we can ask: how exactly do representations made by actors in one field come to have such influence on the actions and thoughts of actors in another field? Champagne (1990: 237, 239, 243) introduced the notion of “media capital” to capture people’s relative ability to influence journalistic events. But this seemingly plausible and intuitive notion generates major difficulties for field theory’s strictly differentiated social ontology. Either we understand Champagne to be claiming that media capital is a new basic form of capital like economic capital that applies anywhere (a claim he never makes explicitly). Or we try and fit his statement within field theory’s basic assumptions, which is difficult: where exactly is media capital acquired and exercised? In the media field or in the (political, medical, academic, etc.) field where the agent in question primarily acts? Perhaps the point of the hybrid term “journalistic-political field” is that such questions don’t matter, but suppose we were to repeat Champagne’s move in explaining all non-media fields and their relation to media: the result would be either to fuse all fields into one “journalistic-cultural field” or to generate an open-ended series of hybrid “journalistic-specialist” fields (medical, political, and so on), each with its own version of media capital. Either way, field theory (both its social ontology and its toolkit of mid-range concepts, such as capital) would no longer serve to differentiate the dynamics of particular fields. The underlying problem is that field theory was born out of an account of social differentiation developed long before the transversal operations of media’s representational and categorizing power became such a dominant feature of social space. Yet such transversal effects cannot be ignored, and both Bourdieu (in his popular book on media : Bourdieu 1998), and Champagne (1990) in his developed work on the journalistic-political field recognized this. Their difficulty was that field theory’s differentiated model of social space does not provide any obvious way of registering what some educational sociologists have called “cross-field effects” (Lingard, Rawolle and Taylor 2005). But it was exactly such cross-field effects (and what I am calling “transversal” effects) of media flows on social action that mediatization theory was developed to address. Some accommodation of mediatization theory and field theory would therefore seem to be useful. In the next section, I want to explore how field theory might


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be adjusted to take account of universal or cross-field effects, but without undermining the logic of field theory itself. This will start to flesh out what I mean by an approach to mediatization that engages with, and contributes to, social theory. Note already however that this is not the only route by which mediatization theory can enter into dialogue with social theory; indeed, because of the limitations of field theory, other ways must be explored and some further candidates for this will be discussed in the next section.

3 Converging mediatization and general social theory Field theory is, I suggest, the most promising potential interlocutor for mediatization research within general social theory. This is for at least two reasons: first, field theory proponents have in the past decade become interested in media processes, as was Bourdieu in his last years; second, the differentiated nature of field theory’s analyses (which always respect the specific dynamics of, and capital formation within, particular fields) naturally generate a diversity of cases where our thinking about mediatization as a broad meta-process can be refined and applied. This is not the place to consider multiple such examples, but a discussion of how to think through media’s consequences for the fields of politics, art, education, and religion within a broader mediatization approach can be found in Couldry (2012: chapter 6). My interest here is rather in the “meta”-question of how transversal or cross-field media effects can be thought about in ways that both capture their pervasive reach – indeed their potentially disruptive and de-differentiating effect – yet remain consistent with the differentiated nature of social space, as conceived by field theory. Making progress on this is potentially an important contribution to mediatization research, understood in relation to wider social theory.

3.1 Revising field theory from the perspective of mediatization An important clue to squaring this circle comes from Bourdieu’s late work on the state. Bourdieu takes over and extends Weber’s notion of the state, conceptualizing it as a monopoly of not just legitimate physical but also legitimate symbolic violence (Weber 1947; Bourdieu 1996a). This generates a fascinating question: what is the nature of the resulting power that the state exercises over the rest of social space, that is, over all fields and space simultaneously? In his book La Noblesse d’Etat (in English, The State Nobility) Bourdieu was interested in the state’s preeminence over social definitions, for example, of legal and educational status (Bourdieu 1996a: 40–45; 1990: 239–241): clearly this influ-

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ence works not in one field only, but across all fields via what Bourdieu calls the field of power. The concept of field of power is rather undeveloped in Bourdieu, as Göran Bolin (2009: 352–353) notes. Formally, the field of power is the space above and beyond specific fields where the forces that vie for influence over the interrelations between fields operate: the state is the main focus of the field of power, but perhaps not the only one, a point to which I return later. This field of power is arguably not best understood as a “field” in Bourdieu’s normal sense, that is, a bounded space of competition over specific forms of capital by defined sets of actors; rather it is a general space where the state exercises influence over the interrelations between all specific fields and so over the dynamics of social space itself. As Bourdieu puts it, the state is “the site of struggles, whose stake is the setting of the rules that govern the different social games (fields) and in particular, the rules of reproduction of those games”; more precisely, the state influences what counts as “symbolic capital” in each particular field. Bourdieu calls this influence over the “exchange rate” between the fundamental types of capital at stake in each individual field (for example, economic versus cultural capital) “meta-capital”.2 This meta-capital of the state is, crucially, not derived from the workings of any specific field, but works across them. What if media institutions have an influence over what counts as capital in particular fields that is similar in type to the influence Bourdieu attributes to the state? Could the types of pervasive media influence in which mediatization research is interested be conceived – at least in part – along these lines? This too would be a form of “meta-capital” through which media exercise power over other forms of power. It would operate only at the macro-institutional level (the level of meta-process, or “mediatization” in Krotz’s sense), and so would be quite distinct from, although linked to, media-related capital at work through individuals’ actions in specific fields. We could hypothesize that the greater the media sector’s meta-capital, the more likely the salience of media-related capital for action in any particular field, but this would not be a general logic, but rather an emergent process from transformations under way in many fields simultaneously: that is, transformations in the types of capital needed by social actors in particular fields of action where capital derived from media-related activities has increased in importance. By incorporating the broad concept of media meta-capital, mediatization research can give clearer shape to Bourdieu’s own most interesting insights about the media. When Bourdieu (1998) discusses the increasing pressure of television on, say, the academic field, he notes the obvious economic dimension (a large television audience means more books sold), but suggests that television exerts also an indirect pressure by distorting the symbolic capital properly at stake in the

2 See respectively, Bourdieu in Wacquant (2003: 42, added emphasis); Bourdieu (1996a: 265); Bourdieu in Wacquant (2003: 23).


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academic field, creating a new group of academics whose symbolic capital within the academic field rests partly on television appearances. If comparable shifts are occurring in other fields too (see Couldry 2012, chapter 6 for detailed discussion), this requires an overarching concept to capture such a transformation and the concept of media meta-capital performs this role. Another interesting point follows. Although the notion of media meta-capital was developed originally (Couldry 2003) to address the challenges of field theory (and initially outside the context of mediatization research), it points to one of the key ways in which media flows transform everyday social action: through the transformation of what count as resources for action, and particularly as legitimate bases for recognition within particular settings. This is an insight which can be extended to aspects of social life that are not field-focused, for example, within the general domain of media and cultural consumption (Lahire 1999). Meanwhile, the concept of media meta-capital is also quite consistent with Bourdieu’s fundamental point that capital is only realized by agents in specific forms in specific fields. The symbolic capital among chefs, for example, that derives from doing a successful television cookery series is not necessarily convertible into symbolic capital in a very different field, such as the academic field; this is because the former need involve few, if any, of the specific attributes valued by media in representatives of the latter. But this does not make the work of media across fields any less significant; nor does it rule out the possibility that media-based symbolic capital developed in one field can under certain conditions be directly exchanged for symbolic capital in another field. Indeed an interesting development is how particular media domains (for example, business-based “reality” programmes such as The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den in the UK and elsewhere) have become sites where PR companies, politicians, and business people can work together for overlapping promotional advantages (Boyle and Kelly 2010). When the media intensively cover an area of life (cooking, business, gardening, and so on), they alter the internal workings of those sub-fields and so widen the valence of media metacapital across the social terrain. Indeed this is one important way in which, over time, media institutions have come to benefit from a truly dominant concentration of symbolic power. Mediatization approaches have so far been strong in pointing to the social significance of media institutions’ rise to power (see especially Hjarvard 2013), but this refinement, developed through an engagement with field theory, uncovers one key social mechanism through which this has happened. Yet media meta-capital (which concerns ultimately the resources or capital that individual actors have under their control) is only one dimension of the metaprocess of mediatization, as it is worked out in social action. Think of other aspects of what social actors do: the stable configurations of actors, institutions, and infrastructures that shape the space-time in which certain concatenations of action are possible, and others impossible; or the meaning-contexts in which certain types of action make sense, while others do not. Mediatization as a meta-process is con-

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cerned equally with transformations in those dimensions of social action. In a moment I will consider, briefly, how mediatization research could contribute to social theory’s understanding of those areas too. Before that, however, it is worth summarizing what my direct drawing on the language of field theory has, and has not, achieved for mediatization research. First, it has provided a way of understanding of a mass of field-specific transformations in a linked way, but without reducing them to one single mechanism that would cut across the distinctive causal dynamics of each field. Understood this way, mediatization is consistent with diverse outcomes in fields whose structure (their distinctive forms of capital, their closeness to economic power or to the state) differs, perhaps quite substantially. Second, it has helped isolate one process-type to which mediatization research should pay attention: that is, media’s implications for the resources upon which social actors can individually rely to act and to influence the actions of others, whether close or remote, and whether or not within a bounded field of competition. But, third, because it has refused any notion of a general “logic” internal to media contents and media operations themselves, this account has avoided assuming that mediatization will automatically lead to the increasing convertibility of media-related symbolic capital across social space as a whole: that outcome remains undecideable at this stage, even though we can see various evidence from diverse sub-fields pointing in this direction. But my account also leaves certain important questions unanswered. One question is how we should understand the impact of media meta-capital on the state: the state (and the specific fields of practice within the state that generate policy) are certainly subject to media’s meta-capital, via the latter’s operations within the political field and, in turn, politicians’ executive influence over the state. But what deeper implications does this have for political authority in different countries? This requires further investigation. An even broader question is how does media’s meta-capital interact not only with the meta-capital of the state but also with that of business in shaping the overall field of power? Through loose competition, or through a complex hierarchy of forces that we have yet to understand (compare Bolin 2011: chapter 2, 2009)? Resolving these questions would perhaps be mediatization research’s ultimate contribution to field theory, but as yet it is some way off.

3.2 Alternative interfaces with social theory Field theory, while it was offered as a complete rethinking of the space of social action, nonetheless has gaps. Bourdieu always acknowledged that fields are emergent, need to be empirically established, and that the boundaries between fields may not be fixed or clear. This leaves open the possibility that some areas of social space are not yet, or have never been, caught up in an external field of competitive action. Bourdieu and his followers tended to neglect this possibility, with the result


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that field theory left under-developed its account of how social action is shaped in spaces that are not fields (Lahire 1999), but there are at least two ways of exploring it. One is to explore media’s growing role in the internal structures and organizational “logics” of specific institutions and institution-types; the challenge there remains to understand how such institutional dynamics link to the wider fieldbased competition in which such organizations are involved (on which see Hjarvard, this volume). Another is to consider media’s many diverse consequences for the only partly competitive space of everyday consumption and leisure. A high proportion of everyday social action takes that form, including many activities where people use for serious or playful purposes media contents and media platforms. How, from the perspective of mediatization research, are we to understand the media-related forces shaping such activities, in a way that is sensitive to the challenges of social theory? Let me focus on this latter route. The arguments against assuming such non-field spaces are structured by any singular media logic (because of the diversity of media types and the changing dynamics and features of media, and so on: see earlier) still apply, but a different type of explanatory account needs to be developed which does not rely on the scaffolding of field theory. One emerging candidate for such work is “figurations”. Norbert Elias (1994) introduced the notion of “figurations” to capture the emergent patterns of practice that arise over time as stable solutions to the many normative, resource, and personal conflicts that derive from the changing weaves of mutual interdependence. His early modern examples include the minuet dance as an ordered form of group entertainment and the rules and technologies of table manners for eating. Such figurations, once established over time, spread throughout social space, not because they contain within themselves any particular logic or generative force, but because they have de facto become working default solutions (though made of many heterogeneous elements) that reduce certain pressing risks, regulate the satisfaction of certain basic needs, and channel the pursuit of certain basic pleasures. Because they multiply, they generate other forms, indeed whole cultures, of extension, adaptation and appropriation. Can the notion of “figuration” help us understand the patterning at work in our contemporary mediarelated practices under conditions of media supersaturation and today’s highly complex relations of interdependence between media and many other institutions? For an excellent recent overview of the latter, see Mansell (2012). It is too early to give a definitive answer to this. I tentatively suggested the notion of figuration in an earlier essay (Couldry 2011: 201–202) as a way of making sense of the enduring role of “reality media” in Western and non-Western media systems since the early 1990s. The detailed explanandum in that case was the rise and surprising persistence of claims to present “reality” in many different and evolving television and online formats, and the curious moral and social force that such formats have acquired: particular rules for presenting social “reality” through media; certain forms of authority to judge everyday and more spectacular perform-

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ance; certain new forms of expertise to underpin such judgements. Why reality media formats emerged at a certain point of history in Europe and North America and quickly spread globally is overdetermined, but some less explored factors are the progressive decline of traditional forms of social authority and role-model, and a growing legitimation deficit affecting not just political but also media institutions. A new stage emerged where “reality” could be presented in a different, compelling, and legitimate way, and where populations could be made to “appear” to each other and to government (Couldry 2011, drawing on Arendt 1958). The result is a phenomenon of primary importance for mediatization research to understand. A new research programme is now also under way in Germany which will explore the usefulness of “figurations” as a concept for understanding the patterns emerging in the multidimensional process of mediatization.3 The outcome of these applications of Elias’ notion of figuration within mediatization research is unknown, but they promise to be an important new front in enriching its interface with social theory. It is worth noting however that the term “figuration” only points in broad terms to a type of emergent order or pattern, without giving any detailed account of how figurations emerge, or of how they do their structuring work. To go further, the notion of “figuration” needs to be connected up with a series of more specific concepts that help us piece together those social mechanisms, as they operate in the relatively unstructured space of everyday leisure and much everyday interaction: a key link here, I will suggest, will be understanding media’s role in contemporary processes of categorization and normformation. There remains a further possibility for mediatization research’s developing dialogue with social theory. This is to bring it face-to-face with the sort of iconoclastic social theory that denies “the social” itself and offers an alternative “associo-logy” (Latour 2005), building its explanations out of contingent networks and assemblages. For sure, if mediatization research is serious about engaging with social theory, it must not evade this challenge to the notion of the social. There is also a related challenge: this argues that the very notion of “mediatization”, because of its root in the term “media”, risks locking in a view of how contemporary worlds are built that overplays the causal importance of “media” (Slater forthcoming). These two challenges – to the explanatory valence of “the social” or alternatively of “the media” – intersect, since mediatization is an attempt to think through the structured ways in which media, and particularly larger-scale media institutions, are involved in the enabling and shaping of social space and action. The means for addressing these two fundamental challenges are also connected. Although there is no space to discuss this in detail here, a key step is to notice the failure of Actor Network Theory (and its successors) to grasp that representations are more

3 ‘Communicative Figurations’, Universities of Bremen and Hamburg, 2013:


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than links in a reified assemblage out of which new spaces of action are built (Couldry 2008b, 2012: chapters 1 and 2). Media institutions are, at their most basic, mechanisms for the production and distribution of re-presentations of the world in which we live and are embedded. While those representations can certainly become routinized, reified, and locked into everyday life and habit through categories and symbols, they are never entirely black-boxed and always remain open to further hermeneutic work (for a hermeneutic sociology, see recently Sewell 2005: chapters 5 and 10). In their semiotic content, they carry the means for further interpretative work: even when temporarily reified, they do work in organizing the social, by providing tools for one category of person or thing to be marked off from another. The outputs of media organizations (representations) provide the raw material for people’s (indeed societies’) ongoing hermeneutic work and transformations. All this open-ended cultural work is absent (Couldry 2008c) from the explanatory models of Actor Network Theory and Latour’s associo-logy, even as they claim to build from different materials a new explanatory model of the conditions of everyday action. By taking seriously media as institutions that produce representations, mediatization research is therefore explicitly and justifiably at odds with the general trend towards non-representational theory in contemporary sociology (for more detail see Couldry 2012: chapter 1).

3.3 Summary Through these various approaches to media’s consequences for social ontology, it should, I hope, have become clear that mediatization research occupies a distinctive position within the explanation of everyday action, allied particularly to hermeneutic approaches to culture and social organization (Sewell 2005). It is not the case (contra Slater) that mediatization research allocates to “media” in advance a prevailing importance in the overall mix of social explanation, at least not if mediatization research is understood, following the argument of this chapter, as open to multiple causal dynamics. Mediatization research’s only assumption – surely uncontestable in large, “developed” societies – is that media platforms and contents play a large and significant role in people’s and institutions’ everyday lives, and more specifically in their rules and resources for everyday action. In this way, mediatization research contributes directly to the understanding of the “structure” of social action (compare Sewell 2005 chapter 4, discussing Giddens 1984) in late modernity societies supersaturated by media.4

4 For “supersaturation”, see Couldry (2012: 5–6).

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4 Government and the future of social-theoryoriented mediatization research At this point, a further challenge comes into view. Mediatization research, if it is serious about engaging with and contributing to the wider space of social theory, should be willing to address the question of what it would mean to say that government is mediatized. A lot of the initial research in mediatization looked at political communications and the most competitive aspect of government communications (during elections and so on). But there has been less consideration of mediatization as a meta-process affecting the general nature of government.5 It would be absurd to claim to treat such a large topic in any substantive detail here. My aim instead is to sketch the shape of a plausible approach to the mediatization of government by way of illustrating the social-theory-oriented approach to mediatization research in general that has been developed in this chapter (compare also Ihlen, this volume, on public bureaucracies and mediatization). Government in modernity is the attempt to manage the totality of human affairs within a defined territory, and it is common knowledge that it is saturated by media processes at every level. Mediatization debates have contributed to our understanding of these processes.6 Government is the most ambitious institutionally-based process that mediatization research could track in attempting to understand media’s contribution to social change. It is inconceivable that media have not changed how government is done and is imagined. Government is a multidimensional process and, though of course it involves a very direct and continuous instrumental use of media which arguably (Couldry 2012: 148) is one sphere where something close to “media logics” (plural) play out daily, the overall process of government cannot be understood if it is reduced to the processes of government that are directly “about” media communication. It is necessary also to think about how political strategies are formed and framed, how policy is generated, how policy is implemented and resisted, in other words, media contents’ and contexts’ role in the transformation of all stages in the governmental process. To understand the mediatization of government in the broadest sense requires us to think of mediatization from within multiple perspectives on social theory. It is essential to follow how governments are, or are not, able today to exercise power over particular fields of competition, and media’s role in shaping that process of exercising power in what Bourdieu calls “the field of power”. The concept of media meta-capital already discussed is one way into understanding this, since media are clearly a central tool today for governments to influence the terms of play within the fields they wish to dominate: governments everywhere from the USA to

5 For an exception see Cook (2005). 6 See for example Mazzoleni (2008); Strömbäck and Esser (2009).


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China use negative media coverage as a threat and a weapon over their opponents, and in the long term this may affect what counts as capital in particular fields. It is also important however to think about how the general flow of media messages – from and about government – affects governments’ conditions of operation, including their possibilities for taking action and sustaining legitimacy (Rosanvallon 2011). Much of this interplay occurs in general discourse, rather than being confined to the specific boundaries of the field of political competition. One way forward to grasp this would be to look at the role media processes play within the specific institutions of government (compare Hjarvard, this volume). Another approach is through the concept of figuration which may point us towards some key aspects of how mediatization works in this context. Speculatively, one might see as a figuration the necessity for professionals in the political field (whether or not politicians) to be “on message” at all times, that is to conform all their communications, public and increasingly also private, to a communications “line” (whether of policy, or more frequently, just of how to interpret a policy or an event or another communication). There is no tolerance for communication deviance because the costs (in terms both of damaged capital and further interpretative turbulence) are too great. It is not just politicians of course but every institutional actor in the governmental process, who must submit to the overwhelming need, at all costs, to control and conform their communications: indeed all are deemed accountable for such conformity, whether it is desirable in a wider sense or not. This is an area where communications pressures, because such communications are continuously feeding on themselves, are having profound implications for the mediatization of management in all institutions, and above all for government as the institutionallybased attempt to manage “everything” (Bimber 2003). The structural account of social space and the field of power derived from field theory is particularly helpful for grasping the complexity of government’s communicational and organizational task under conditions of mediatization. Government seeks to dominate the field of power, but it is no longer the only force in that field: media and broad forms of corporate power, as already noted, compete in that space to influence the overall terms of competition and basic existence in society and in specific fields. Government nonetheless is specifically accountable for (and its legitimacy depends on) how far it appears able to control key activities and outcomes in every, or most, specific fields. But media affect every aspect of that process: first, the instruments of government (the tools it uses to communicate its actions, proposals, responses, sanctions) are mediated; second, the objects of government action (the actors in each field) compete with government for media attention, and good media coverage; third, every action in each field is potentially mediated, and is available to be interpreted and presented in multiple ways through media, and most actors with whom government interacts work from that starting-point. The idea that government regulates the operations of any field “freely” from the outside is not sus-

Mediatization and the future of field theory


tainable under these conditions because both government and governed are entangled in an open-ended skein of actual and anticipated mediated communications. The very stuff of government, its space of possibility, is already (and has been for more than a decade) profoundly mediatized (Meyer 2003). There is clearly a great deal more work to do on understanding how in detail the mediatization of government plays out, but we have done enough already to establish that mediatization research needs to operate flexibly, drawing sometimes for example on field theory, sometimes on notions of figurations, if it is to be adequate to grasping the complex ways in which something like “government” is mediatized. Actor-Network-Theory-inspired notions of assemblage and infrastructure will also no doubt contribute to understanding the mechanisms whereby this occurs. What matters in mediatization research most now is a commitment to explanatory plurality as the best way of dealing with the epistemological challenges set by media’s supersaturation of the social.

5 Conclusion This chapter has argued that mediatization is best conceived as a contribution to wider social theory, rather than understood narrowly as a branch of media studies. This reconceptualization has as its precondition that mediatization research moves beyond an explanatory model that treats mediatization as something that works through a logic that is internal somehow to media contents. Instead mediatization research must be alive to multiple explanatory models of how the meta-process of mediatization is worked through in specific domains and fields, while at the same time looking for a linking account that enables us to see the connections, say between how the mediatization of politics and the mediatization of the literary field might work: that was the rationale for reintroducing here my earlier work on media meta-capital, as a concept that can supplement field theory in such a way that cross-field effects derived from media are understood without disrupting the basic principles of field theory. The chapter has also however argued for mediatization research’s need to be open to other ways of interfacing with social theory, including through drawing on Elias’s concept of figurations. We have explored the implications of such alternative approaches, whether independently or in tandem with an approach to mediatization oriented more to field theory. This chapter has aimed to illustrate how an understanding of mediatization and a corresponding programme of empirical research, provided it is flexible and draws on a range of conceptual toolkits and explanatory models from across social theory, can begin to tackle quite fundamental questions, as yet unanswered in social theory, about how everyday life’s supersaturation by media contents is changing its very possibilities of order.


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References Altheide, David. 1985. Media Power. Beverly Hills: Sage. Altheide, David and Robert Snow. 1979. Media Logic. Beverly Hills: Sage. Arendt, H. 1958. The Human Condition. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Benson, Rodney and Erik Neveu (eds.). 2005. Bourdieu and the Journalistic Field. Cambridge: Polity. Bimber, Bruce. 2003. Information and American Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bolin, Göran. 2009. Symbolic production and value in media industries. Journal of Cultural Economy 2(3): 345–361. Bolin, Göran. 2011. Value and the Media. Aldershot: Ashgate. Boltanski, Luc and Laurent Thévenot. 2006. On Justification. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1977. Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1991. Language and Symbolic Power. Cambridge: Polity. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1993. The Field of Cultural Production. Cambridge: Polity. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1996a. The State Nobility. Cambridge: Polity. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1996b. The Rules of Art. Cambridge: Polity. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1998. On Television and Journalism. London: Pluto. Boyle, Raymond and Lisa Kelly. 2010. The celebrity entrepreneur on television: Profile, politics and power. Celebrity Studies 1(3): 334–350. Champagne, Patrick. 1990. Faire L’Opinion [Producing Opinion]. Paris: Editions Minuit. Champagne, Patrick and Dominique Marchetti. 2005. The contaminated blood scandal: Reframing medical news. In: Rodney Benson and Erik Neveu (eds.), Bourdieu and the Journalistic Field, 113–134. Cambridge: Polity. Cook, Timothy. 2005. Governing With the News. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Couldry, Nick. 2003. Media meta-capital: Extending the range of Bourdieu’s field theory. Theory and Society 32(5/6): 653–677. Couldry, Nick. 2008a. Mediatization or mediation? Alternative understandings of the emergent space of digital storytelling. New Media & Society 10(3): 373–392. Couldry, Nick. 2008b. Form and power in an age of continuous spectacle. In: David Hesmondhalgh and Jason Toynbee (eds.), Media and Social Theory, 161–176. London: Routledge. Couldry, Nick. 2008c. Actor network theory and media: Do they connect and on what terms? In: Andreas Hepp et al. (eds) Cultures of Connectivity, 93–110. Creskill, NJ: The Hampton Press. Couldry, Nick. 2011. Making populations appear. In: Marwan Kraidy and Katherine Sender (eds.), The Politics of Reality Television: Global Perspectives, 194–206. London: Routledge. Couldry, Nick. 2012. Media Society World: Social Theory and Digital Media Practice. Cambridge: Polity. Duval, Julien. 2005. Economic journalism in France. In: Rodney Benson and Erik Neveu (eds.), Bourdieu and the Journalistic Field, 135–155. Cambridge: Polity. Elias, Norbert. 1994. The Civilizing Process. Oxford: Blackwell. First published [1939]. Giddens, Anthony. 1984. The Constitution of Society. Cambridge: Polity. Hjarvard, Stig. 2006. The mediatization of religion: A theory of the media as an agent of religious change. Paper presented to 5th international conference on Media Religion and Culture, Sigtuna, Sweden, 6–9 July. Hjarvard, Stig. 2009. Soft individualism: Media and the changing social character. In: Knut Lundby (ed.), Mediatization: Concept, Changes, Consequences, 159–178. New York: Peter Lang.

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Hjarvard, Stig. 2011. Mediatization: The Challenge of New Media. Keynote address to Mediatized worlds conferene. University of Bremen, 14–15 April 2011. Hjarvard, Stig. 2013. The Mediatization of Culture and Society. London: Routledge. Krotz, Friedrich. 2009. Mediatization: A concept with which to grasp media and societal change. In: Knut Lundby (ed.), Mediatization: Concept, Changes, Consequences, 21–40. New York: Peter Lang. Lahire, Bernard. 1999. Champ, hors-champ, contre-champ [Field, extra-field, anti-field]. In: Bernard Lahire (ed.), Le Travail Sociologique de Pierre Bourdieu – Dettes et Critiques, 23–58. Paris: La Découverte/Poche. Latour, Bruno. 2005. Reassembling the Social. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lingard, Bob, Shaun Rawolle and Sandra Taylor. 2005. Globalizing policy sociology in education: Working with Bourdieu. Journal of Education Policy 20(6): 759–777. Lundby, Knut. 2009. Media logic: Looking for social interaction. In: Knut Lundby (ed.), Mediatization: Concept, Changes, Consequences, 101–121. New York: Peter Lang. Mansell, Robin. 2012. Imagining the Internet. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Marlière, Philippe. 1998. The rules of the journalistic field: Pierre Bourdieu’s contribution to the sociology of the media. European Journal of Communication 13(2): 219–234. Mazzoleni, Gianpietro. 2008. Media logic. In: Wolfgang Donsbach (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Communication, Volume VII, 2930–2932. Malden, MA: Blackwell. Meyer, Thomas. 2003. Media Democracy. Cambridge: Polity. Rosanvallon, Pierre. 2011. Democratic Legitimacy. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Sewell, William. 2005. Logics of History. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Schrott, Andrea. 2009. Dimensions: catch-all label or technical term. In: Knut Lundby (ed.), Mediatization: Concept, Changes, Consequences, 41–62. New York: Peter Lang. Schulz, Winfried. 2004. Reconsidering mediatization as an analytical concept. European Journal of Communication 19(1): 87–101. Silverstone, Roger. 2005. Media and communication. In: Craig Calhoun, Chris Rojek and Bryan Turner (eds.), The International Handbook of Sociology, 188–208. London: Sage. Slater, Don. Forthcoming. New Media, Development and Globalization. Cambridge: Polity Press. Snow, D. 1983. Creating Media Culture. Beverley Hills: Sage. Strömbäck, Jesper and Frank Esser. 2009. Shaping politics: Mediatization and media interventionism. In: Knut Lundby (ed.), Mediatization: Concept, Changes, Consequences, 205–224. New York: Peter Lang. Wacquant, Loïc. 2003. On the tracks of symbolic power: Prefatory notes to Bourdieu’s “state nobility”. Theory, Culture and Society 10(3): 1–17. Weber, Max. 1947. The Theory of Social and Economic Organization. New York: Free Press.

V. Movement and interaction

Andreas Hepp and Uwe Hasebrink

11 Human interaction and communicative figurations. The transformation of mediatized cultures and societies Abstract: This chapter introduces the concept of “communicative figurations” as an analytical tool for investigating mediatization with a special focus on changing human interaction. The concept of “communicative figurations” is used to develop a transmedial analysis of the changing communicative construction of mediatized cultures and societies. Foci of this approach are the communicative forms, media environments, actor constellations, and thematic framings of social entities, for example the mediatized family, mediatized organizations, or the mediatized field of religion. This makes it possible to investigate patterns of belongings, power, rules and segmentation within processes of mediatization. The arguments are as follows: First, the chapter outlines a general approach on how to reflect the interrelation between mediatization, interaction and communication. Based on this, the concept of communicative figurations is introduced. This is followed by a reflection of the empirical grounding of communicative figurations, and then a conclusion regarding the relevance of this concept for mediatization research that is oriented to questions of interaction and communication. Keywords: interaction, communication, communicative constructivism, communicative figurations, translocality, transmediality, belonging, power, rules, segmentation, mediatization

1 Introduction A main problem of any mediatization research is how to ground it in a practicable empirical approach. When we argue that within an ongoing mediatization process our cultures and societies transform, how can we investigate this in detail? What might be the intermediate concepts by which it becomes possible to research empirically in which way mediatization is related to the change of culture and societies? By posing questions like these, it becomes evident that media as such “do” nothing on their own. They become influential in the way that they “alter” the processes of symbolic interaction or, to be more precise: of communication. We are confronted with complex processes of interweaving in which certain human practices become institutionalized and reified in something that we call “a medium”, which – itself continuously changing – “alters” our (communicative) construction of cultures and societies. If we want to analyse the mediatization


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of cultures and societies in such a way, we need an intermediate concept for a corresponding analysis. This chapter outlines the concept of “communicative figurations” as such an approach: This concept makes it possible to develop a practical, transmedial analysis of the changing communicative construction of mediatized cultures and societies. To grasp these considerations, we want to argue in three steps. First, we outline a general approach on how to reflect the interrelation between mediatization, interaction, and communication. Based on this, we continue by introducing the aforementioned approach on communicative figurations. This is followed by a section which outlines an empirical grounding of communicative figurations. And finally, we conclude with some arguments for a mediatization research that is oriented to questions of interaction and communication.

2 Mediatization, interaction and communication If we consider the present state of mediatization research, we can distinguish two intertwined traditions that we can call “institutional” and “social-constructivist” (cf. Hepp 2014). Both differ in their focus on how to theorize mediatization: While the “institutional tradition” is until recently mainly interested in traditional mass media, whose influence is described mostly as a “media logic”, the “social-constructivist tradition” is more interested in everyday communication practices – including their relation to digital media and personal communication – and focuses on the changing communicative construction of culture and society. While these two traditions have certain different foci of research, they have nevertheless come closer together over recent years, which makes it possible to formulate a core definition of mediatization across the two. Doing this, we can define mediatization as a concept to analyse critically the (long-term) interrelation between the change of media and communication, on the one hand, and the change of culture and society on the other (for further aspects of defining mediatization see part one of this volume). In such a general orientation, the term mediatization implies quantitative as well as qualitative aspects. With regard to quantitative aspects, mediatization refers to the increasing temporal, spatial, and social spread of media communication. That means that over time we have become more and more used to communicating via media in various contexts. With regard to qualitative aspects, mediatization refers to the role of the specificity of certain media in the process of sociocultural change. This means that it does “matter” which kind of media is used for which kind of communication. The differences between the two traditions is how they define this media specificity – either as an institutionalized “media logic” or more openly as a highly contextual moment of “altering” communication. Another point of dispute is the question of a historical perspective on mediatization, that is if mediatization is rather a short-term process since (early)

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modernity or if it is a process that has to be theorized as a long-term historical process (for these differences again see the various chapters in part one). However, beyond such differences “social interaction” becomes a central concept for both traditions. In his recent volume on the (then) present state of mediatization research, Knut Lundby (2009b: 108) argued that we have to consider “social interaction as the key” to describing processes of mediatization. With reference to the institutionalist tradition of mediatization research, his argument is that “media logic” as a concept refers back to a certain understanding of “forms” or “formats” of social interaction. Originally and with reference to Georg Simmel, David L. Altheide and Robert P. Snow (1979: 15) argued that “media logic constitutes […] a form”, that is “a processual framework through which social action occurs”. In their later work they preferred the concept of “format” to describe this social form (cf. also Altheide 2013). As Knut Lundby puts it: “Media logic is a codification of how media formats work; of rules, ways, and regulations in ‘the underlying interactive order’” (Lundby 2009b: 108). If we have more the social constructivist tradition of mediatization research in mind, social interaction is obviously crucial. The reason for this is that any constructivist approach is based on the argument that the social world of human beings is not a given but “constructed” in social interaction. As Hubert Knoblauch puts it: “Social constructivism in this sense assumes that social reality is built on, by and through social actions” (Knoblauch 2013: 299). As part of this tradition, “communicative constructivism” has gained a higher relevance over recent years. Referring back to the original insights of Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann (1967) and the later development by Luckmann himself (2006), the idea of “communicative constructivism” is to emphasize the central role of communication for the constitution of cultures and societies. This does not mean that any aspect of “social construction” is communication – but always when questions of meaning are involved does communication play a role. This is the reason why symbolic interaction is in such a perspective the core for understanding the constitution and transformation of cultures and societies. Such a central positioning of symbolic interaction is not unquestioned in mediatization research. For example, Stig Hjarvard recently reminded us of some problems when overemphasizing “social interaction” in a “one-sided” way as this might “obscure the question of how to grasp the specificities of the media” (Hjarvard 2013: 18). However, this being said, he nevertheless acknowledges that social interaction is fundamental for any understanding of mediatization – we will come to this later. At this point it becomes important how we define “social interaction”. In the most general understanding – and this is also the way Georg Simmel (1972) used the concept, and referring back to him Altheide and Snow (1979) – social interaction is fundamental for social sciences as a whole. It was Max Weber in his “basic sociological terms” who made “social action” – that is, action oriented to other


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human beings – to the fundamental unit of each analysis (Weber 1978: 4). Understood in this way, any social and cultural analysis deals with the (inter)action of human beings. Mediatization research then becomes preoccupied with how this social interaction changes when technical communication media become part of it. A more specific understanding of social interaction comes from “symbolic interactionism” as a particular approach within social sciences. Referring back to scholars like George Herbert Mead (1967) and Herbert Blumer (1969), who developed it out of the American philosophical tradition of pragmatism. The fundamental idea of this approach is that “human beings are distinct from other creatures because they have the capacity for language and thus can think, reason, communicate, and coordinate their actions with others” (Sandstrom 2007: 1). One main concept of symbolic interactionism is the idea of “significant symbols”. These are all words or gestures that have the same meaning for a certain group of people who share them. If we follow symbolic interactionism, most human interactions are based on these “significant symbols”. And we can refer this back to concepts as they have been adopted in mediatization research. For example, Kent Sandstrom argues that Altheide’s and Snow’s idea of “media logic” as a “format” is the main way symbolic interactionism found its way into media and communication research (Sandstrom 2007: 5 f.). Reflecting this overall discussion, we can say that communication is one kind of social interaction. There are other kinds of social interaction, and communication is interconnected with them. When we build something together (a garden fence for example) we socially interact on this process of building, and we coordinate this by communication. The characteristic of communication as a form of social interaction is its foundation in symbols. In other words, “communication” means any form of symbolic interaction conducted either in a planned and conscious manner or in a highly habituated and socially situated way (Reichertz 2011: 159–160). Communication therefore involves the use of signs that humans learn during their socialization and which, as symbols, are for the most part entirely arbitrary, depending for their meaning upon conventionalized social rules. Communication is fundamental to the social construction of reality: that is, we ourselves “create” our social reality in multiple communicative processes (beside other forms of social interaction). We are born into a world in which communication already exists, we learn what is characteristic of this world (and its culture) through the (communicative) process of learning to speak; and when we proceed to act in this world our action is always related to communicative action. Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann formulated this as follows: “The most important vehicle of reality-maintenance is conversation. One may view the individual’s everyday life in terms of the working away of a conversational apparatus that ongoingly maintains, modifies and reconstructs his subjective reality” (Berger and Luckmann 1967: 172).

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For describing communication as one form of social interaction, different concepts are common in media and communication research. These are “forms”, “patterns”, “practices”, and “types” of communicative action. Basically, all these different concepts refer to the same fundamental idea. This is an understanding that communication is not solely “ephemeral” but based on “social rules” which are performed situatively. These rules not only refer to the “use of symbols” but also to “rules of how to use these in action”. The difference between the terms above is the level on which they locate and how they contextualize these rules. In a certain sense we can say that “forms” is the most general word reflecting that different kinds of “content” can be communicated alongside various “forms” of communicative action. These can be very “small” as for example the “replies” and “responses” analysed by Erving Goffman (1981: 5–77), or the “conversational sequences” investigated by ethnomethodology (Sacks 1995). The term “forms” is, however – and here especially in media and communication research – additionally used on a more general level to name certain “formats”, for example of radio, television, or internet-based media. This is also the way Altheide and Snow used the term in the aforementioned way of defining “media logic”. The term “pattern” in this context means very generally that there are certain regularities in communicative interaction. These regularities can be either at the level of single communication actions. Here the term “pattern” is more or less a synonym for the “small” kinds of communicative action discussed above. But also – and at this point the term is an extension – variations of these “small forms” can build more complex patterns. These can be either patterns of how these forms are typically linked (for example questions, response, explanations etc. in a discussion). Or it can also be other kinds of patterns, for example how a certain group of people uses specific forms of communication, and thus builds a certain culture. If we come to the concept of “practice”, again different nuances of meaning come into play. First of all, this term refers to a more general “practice approach” on media that moves the human agency/human acting into the foreground of analysis in place of a more detached investigation of “media contents” or “media effects” (Reckwitz 2002; Couldry 2004). Practice, in this case, is understood in an inclusive way, not only practices of media use, but also all other kinds of practices that are related to the media, including practices of media production. Beyond this overall context, the term “practice” mainly refers to how different “forms” altogether build a more complex and socially situated “pattern” of acting with media. Here we can think of the “practice of online dating” which involves different “forms” of personal data representation in online dating platforms, certain “forms” of searching in these platforms, other characteristic “forms” of online chat, and so on. Therefore, the term “practice” emphasizes more the social embedding of a set of communicative forms as well as their relation to human needs (cf. Couldry 2012: 34). Finally, the possibly most complex concept is the concept of “type”. Again it can be understood in a very wide sense, meaning that communication as well as


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human interaction in general is based on a reciprocal perception of the alter ego referring to “typifications” we learned in the process of socialization (Berger and Luckmann 1967: 28–33). Here, we can think about the typification of the other as “representative” of a certain social role (“teacher”, “journalist”, etc.) or a certain social collective (“British”, “French”, etc.). But also what has so far been called “form” can be understood as a typification of action, that is typifications of “how to do it right” (in the social sense of the word). The term “type” gains an additional complexity if we relate it to questions of methodology. Then the process of describing “forms”, “patterns”, and “practices” of communicative action is a way of “typifying” them by analysing specific occurrences. At this point Max Weber’s concept of “ideal types” (Weber 1978: 20 f.) is still of relevance. “Ideal types” are forms of typification that are built analytically; that is, beyond the assumption that they would exist in a “pure way”. However, these ideal types are helpful when describing different forms of human action as they offer an analytical framework. When media and communication research refers to “basic types” of communication (for example face-to-face communication) as a point of departure for describing more specific “forms”, “patterns”, or “practices” of communication, a comparable understanding of building up conceptual tools is present. If we take these fundamental reflections on communication as a form of social interaction as a starting point, the striking question is: How can we relate this to mediatization research? At this point, it is worth recalling John B. Thompson’s reflections on the “mediazation of culture”. Interestingly, he already argued across the “institutional” and “social constructivist” traditions of mediatization research. For Thompson, mediatization is fundamentally about the transformation of communication as a form of symbolic interaction, a statement which can be proven by his analysis of the emergence of modern society. So he wrote about early modernity: “Patterns of communication and interaction began to change in profound and irreversible ways. These changes, which loosely can be called the ‘mediazation of culture’, had a clear institutional basis: namely the development of media organizations […]” (Thompson 1995: 46). Thompson’s description of mediatization1 is closely related to a distinction of three basic types of communicative interaction, that is “face-to-face-interaction” (dialogical interaction as conversation), “mediated interaction” (dialogical communication with media as a mobile phone call), and “mediated quasi-interaction” (monological communication with media as television) (cf. Thompson 1995: 82– 87). Mediatization is therefore a process in which new basic types of mediated interaction develop, types that make possible a translocal communicative action “at a distance”: “today it is common for individuals to orient their interactions towards others who do not share the same spatial-temporal locale” (Thompson 1995: 100). 1 As said, John B. Thompson uses the term “mediazation”. However, for consistency we will stay with “mediatization” in the following.

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In a comparable orientation, Friedrich Krotz (2001: 73–76) also argued that mediatization is not about a direct effect of the media but about how media “change” the various forms of communication. As he wrote, with mediatization “increasingly more and more complex forms of media communication developed, and communication takes place more often, with a longer duration, in more areas of life and in relation to increasingly more topics in relation to the media” (Krotz 2001: 33).2 However, having the increasing relevance of computerized environments in mind, Krotz distinguishes a fourth basic type of communication, namely the communication in virtual software environments. This comes together with another idea by John B. Thompson, that is the idea of an emerging reflexivity of mediatization: With an increasing “self-referentiality within the media” (Thompson 1995: 110) we are confronted with what he calls “extended mediazation”, meaning that “media messages” become “incorporated into new media messages”. If we consider more recent reflections, these early arguments of focusing mediatization research on questions of symbolic interaction and communication are supported by new evidence. For example, in his aforementioned chapter “Looking for social interaction”, Knut Lundby argued that we have a “need for middle-range explorations” (Lundby 2009b: 113) that move “social interaction” into the focus of analysis if we want to understand what happens with mediatization. As he writes, it is necessary “to specify how various media capabilities are applied in various patterns of social interactions” as “transformations and changes in the mediatization process take place in communication” (Lundby 2009b: 117). This goes hand in hand with Eric Rothenbuhler’s thoughts about the theorem of “media logic” that maybe “the logic is not in the medium but in the communication” (Rothenbuhler 2009: 228). The same line of argument can be found in Nick Couldry’s book Media, Society, World, in which he argues for an approach that locates what he calls “mediatization debate” (Couldry 2012: 134) in the frame of field theory (see also Couldry in this volume). For him, this means an investigation of communication practices and their relation to changing media environments that is sensitive for the specific character of different social fields, and not positing a general “logic” of change. And while Stig Hjarvard in his most recent definition of mediatization stays with the concept of “media logic” as a “shorthand for the various institutional, aesthetic, and technological modus operandi of the media” (Hjarvard 2013: 17), he nevertheless emphasizes the necessity to reflect social interaction as the “logic of the media influences the social forms of interaction and communication” (Hjarvard 2013: 17). Therefore, irrespective of the preferred detailed concept of mediatization, there is a shared understanding in present mediatization research that any description of mediatization must be based on an analysis of how media change is related to its “influence on communication”, that is symbolic interaction.

2 This and all following non-English quotes are translations by the authors.


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Tab. 1: Basic types of communication. Direct Communication

Reciprocal media communication

Produced media communication

Virtualized media communication

Constitution in time and space

Co-present context; shared system of space and time references

Separation of contexts; extended access to space and time

Separation of contexts; extended access to space and time

Separation of contexts; extended access to space and time

Range of symbolic means

Variety of symbolic means

Limitation of symbolic means

Limitation and Relative limitation standardization of and standardizasymbolic means tion of symbolic means

Action orientation

Oriented to specific others

Oriented to specific others

Oriented to an indefinite potential number of addressees

Oriented to a potential space of action

Mode of communication





Form of connectivity


Translocally addressed

Translocal open

Translocally indefinite

Source: Hepp 2013: 65, based on Thompson 1995: 85 and Krotz 2007: 90–92.

If we take this as a common ground it is helpful to refer back to the above mentioned distinction of basic types of communication and systematize them further. It seems to be appropriate to distinguish four basic types of communication (see Table 1): – firstly, as direct communication, that is, direct conversation with other humans; – secondly, as reciprocal media communication, i.e. technically mediated personal communication with other persons (for instance, through the use of a telephone); – thirdly, as produced media communication, characterizing the sphere of media communication classically identified by the concept of mass communication (newspapers, radio, TV); – fourthly, virtualized media communication, namely communication by means of “interactive systems” created for this purpose; computer games are one example, and another would be robots. If we refer this back to questions of mediatization, we can first of all argue quantitatively speaking that the spread of technical communication media is first of all related to the emergence of basic types of communication beyond direct communication: Only with technical media can we think about reciprocal media communication, produced media communication, and virtualized media communication.

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All of these offer the possibility to extend our symbolic communication translocally while at the same time narrowing the range of symbolic means. Additionally, we can say that these different basic forms of media communication became more and more familiar in temporal, social, and spatial terms. Qualitatively speaking, we can argue that each kind of media – the mobile phone, social web, television, etc. – shapes the related basic types of communication in a different way. This is where the various concepts to analyse this media specificity come in: “media logic”, “media affordances”, “moulding forces of the media”, and so on. Irrespective of their detailed theoretical roots, these concepts try to describe how certain media have an “influence” on the way we communicate – whereby this is not understood as a process of direct “effect” but as a process of appropriating these media.3 If we locate this in the present discussion about communicative constructivism, we gain a certain understanding of how all this is related to the transformation of cultures and societies. Following the idea of “communicative constructivism” we can argue that “communicative forms are the major ‘building blocks’ for the construction of reality in that they allow us to coordinate actions and motives” (Knoblauch 2013: 306). In other words, we construct our cultures and societies as meaningful realities by communication, namely forms and practices of communicative action. The main argument at this point is that what we call media are on the one hand “institutionalizations” and “reifications” (or “objectivations”) of communicative action: With media we “institutionalize” the forms we communicate and “reify” the possibilities of communication in technologies, infrastructures and interfaces (cf. Hepp 2013a: 58–59; Hepp 2013b). And as soon as communicative action is “institutionalized” and “reified” by a medium, this in turn has a certain influence on our communication. We are confronted here with an interrelated process of change in which we cannot define what the driving force of change is. The aforementioned basic types of communication are to be understood as an analytical point of departure for describing the specific forms and practices of communicative action that are involved in this process. This becomes more complicated when we consider that the communicative construction of culture and society presently does not only rely on one single medium but on a variety of media working together. This is reflected for example in statements such as we would need a new perspective on the present situation of the “media manifold” (Couldry 2012: 16), of “polymedia” (Madianou and Miller 2013: 169), or “transmediality” (Evans 2011: 17) to understand what’s going on 3 This is a highly important point, more generally outlined by Hans Matthias Kepplinger (2008) who argued that mediatization research is not a new form of effect research. Stig Hjarvard (2013: 2–3, 17) for example emphasized the same in relation to his understanding of “media logic”. The core idea of “affordances” is about the influence of specific (material) objects in processes of interaction (Gaver 1996). And also the idea of the “moulding forces” of the media is explicitly positioned against the “effect paradigm” (Hepp 2013a: 54).


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with media change. While concepts like these differ in their detailed analytical orientation, all of them share the same fundamental argument: That is that the present situation of “media-saturation” (Lundby 2009a: 2) and a “mediation of everything” (Livingstone 2009: 1) asks for a media and communication research that does not focus on one single medium but on how different media in their entirety are involved in the changing construction of culture and society. Therefore, it would fall short to discuss the transformation of the communicative construction of mediatized cultures and societies only in the perspective of one medium; rather we need an approach that is able to include a variety of different media in the analysis as far as they are relevant for a certain change.

3 Communicative figurations as an intermediate concept While arguments like these are driven theoretically, a more practical question is: How can such a transmedial analysis be undertaken practically? It is obvious that we need an intermediate concept beyond the more general approach of mediatization to analyse the referred to change of symbolic interaction and by that the transformation of the communicative construction of cultures and societies. As we want to argue in the following, such an intermediate might be developed if we focus on “communicative figurations”. What is a communicative figuration? As a first approximation some examples are helpful: Families can be described as a communicative figuration since they are sustained as communitizations through various forms of communication: conversations, communication via (mobile) telephones and the social web, (digital) photo albums, letters and postcards, or by watching television together. Also (national or transnational) public spheres can be comprehended as communicative figurations sustained via different kinds of media and confronted with special normative expectations. Among these media are not only traditional media of mass communication but increasingly also so-called new media like Twitter and blogs. We are, however, also dealing with communicative figurations of learning when school teachers, for example, use interactive whiteboards, software applications, or intra- and internet portals in order to teach in a “contemporary” manner. More generally speaking, communicative figurations are patterns of processes of communicative interweaving that exist across various media and have a thematic framing that orients communicative action. Such an approach to communicative figurations picks up reflections like those formulated by Norbert Elias, but takes them a step further. For Elias, figuration is “a simple conceptual tool” (Elias 1978: 130) to be used for understanding social-cultural phenomena in terms of “models of processes of interweaving” (Elias 1978: 130). For him, figurations are “networks

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of individuals” (Elias 1978: 15) which constitute a larger social entity through reciprocal interaction – for example, by joining in a game, or a dance. This could be the family, a group, the state or society. Due to this kind of scalability, his concept of figuration traverses the often static levels of analysis of micro, meso and macro. The figuration as developed by Elias is considered to be one of the basic descriptive concepts of the social sciences and cultural studies and was adopted in different ways in theoretical as well as empirical works. The significance of the figuration concept for media and communication research has been more and more emphasized (Ludes 1995; Krotz 2003; Couldry 2010; Willems 2010). The relationship between figuration analysis and current media and communication research can be found in the common interest to describe actors and their interweaving which, according to Georg Simmel (1972), can be conceptualized as a common pattern of interdependency or reciprocation. Unlike the also widely discussed current developments of structural network analysis (see, for example, White 2008), the figuration concept is better at enabling the integration into research of not only the dimension of communicative “meaning”, but also of historical transformation. The concept of communicative figuration therefore becomes an ideal starting point for analysing the transformation of communicative construction processes in relation to mediatization. When claiming that transmedia communicative figurations exist, we mean that a communicative figuration is based on different communication media – often, therefore, integrating several of the aforementioned basic types of communication. Which of these kinds of communication and, based upon them, which communication media must be taken into consideration when describing a specific communicative figuration depends on their characteristics: The communicative figuration of a political commission is different from that of a national public sphere. The transformation of both communicative figurations is, however, connected and refers back to certain communication media. Consequently, it can be assumed that the communicative figuration of political commissions changes as soon as the direct communication of everyone involved does not only rely on the documents carried along but also on instantly-accessible online information and the possibility to transmit decision-making “live” to the national public via smartphone. Integrating people in the public sphere is, due to the diffusion of digital media, no longer a “two-step flow” (Katz 1957) from manufactured or produced mass communication to direct communication. These days it is much more a case of creating an additional “public connection” (Couldry et al. 2007). Such statements show quite plainly that the analysis of communicative figurations has to deal with a careful investigation of the role of various media in the communicative forms and practices which are characteristic for each communicative figuration. As argued at the beginning of this chapter, concepts to describe this regularity become relevant when considering that the characterization of a practice-oriented access does not only deal with purely situational actions, but


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that it moves the regularities and socio-cultural embedding of communicative actions to the fore of the analysis (Couldry 2012: 33–35). For the description of communicative figurations it seems not only possible but necessary to work out the regularities and their transformations. In an analysis of communicative figurations, the terms of “form”, (overlapping) “patterns”, and “practices” of communicative action are expedient since they detach our view from the individual medium and are applicable to different levels. Consequently, the guiding idea is the assumption that the characteristic, reciprocal relationships of media-communicative and socio-cultural transformations, described by the term mediatization, are materialized in specific communicative figurations. With the alteration of communicative figurations, processes of communicative constructions of socio-cultural reality are changing. At this level, an analysis of the transformation of cultures and societies becomes accessible as it takes place with mediatization.

4 Approaching communicative figurations empirically To sum up the arguments developed so far: As demonstrated, communicative figurations are defined as patterns of processes of communicative interweaving that exist across various media and have a thematic framing that guides communicative action. In and through these communicative figurations, humans construct in symbolic interaction their symbolically meaningful socio-cultural realities. Consequently, communicative figurations do not constitute static phenomena but must rather be observed in their constant state of flux – as a “process”: They are realized in communicative practice, thus re-articulated and, hence, they continuously transform to different degrees. In the sense of social constructivism, we can consider communicative figurations as the basis of the communicative construction of socio-cultural reality: The reality of a culture or society is “constructed” in or through the different communicative figurations. Making this more general idea of communicative figurations researchable in an empirical way, we can argue that each communicative figuration is defined in core by four features (see Figure 1): – Firstly, we are dealing with forms of communication. This concept includes the different convention-based ways of communicative action, which develop into more complex patterns of practice (communicative networking or discourses, for example). – Secondly, in respect of these forms of communication, a specifically-marked media ensemble can be described for each communicative figuration. This refers to the entire media through which or in which a communicative figuration exists.

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Fig. 1: Heuristics to analyse communicative figurations.

– –

Thirdly, a typical constellation of actors can be determined for each communicative figuration which constitutes itself through its communicative action. Fourthly, every communicative figuration is characterized by a thematic framing; thus there is a guiding topic which must be specified.

To explain these four features further, it is helpful to link them to our reflection on mediatization and communication. If we take the argument that symbolic interaction is the core anchor to describe mediatization, it becomes obvious how far “communication” builds the first feature of each communicative figuration. However, if we consider communication as part of figurations, we are less interested in the “individual utterance” but more in the forms of communication which are characteristic for a certain communicative figuration. Families as communicative figurations, for example involve other typical forms of communication than political public spheres do. To describe the different communicative forms as they are characteristic for a certain communicative figuration, the distinction of basic types of communication is helpful insofar as it orientates our focus to the fundamental differences between various communicative forms. In addition, each communicative figuration is located in a certain “media environment” (Morley 2007; Meyrowitz 2009) that can be described in relation to this figuration as its media ensemble. At this point it becomes possible to integrate


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media specificity into the analysis of communicative figurations. As outlined, in present mediatized cultures and societies it is not one single medium that shapes the communicative construction of a certain entity, but rather a group of (different) media in their entirety. This means we are not analysing one single “media influence”, but how the “institutionalizations” and “reifications” of different media altogether “mould” communicative figurations. Focusing media ensembles – which correlate in individual perspective with “media repertoires” (Hasebrink and Popp 2006; Hasebrink and Domeyer 2012) – seems to be the appropriate way to analyse the complexity of present mediatizing processes. With reference to constellations of actors, we have in mind that each communicative figuration is also defined by a certain intertwined group of typical actors. These can be either individual actors (humans) or collective actors (organizations of different complexity). The term “constellation of actors” as we use it is influenced by Uwe Schimank’s theory of social action, who in his approach also refers back to Norbert Elias (Schimank 2010: 211–213). In such a view we are confronted with a constellation of actors as soon as we have an interference of at least two actors who themselves recognize this interference as such (Schimank 2010: 202). The argument at this point is that each communicative figuration has one specific constellation of actors who perceive themselves as part of this communicative figuration. There is no need that this constellation is “harmonic” or “friendly”, it can also be “conflicting” and “struggling”. However, the involved communicative actors are aware of each other as being part of this communicative figuration. Maybe the most complex point about communicative figurations is their thematic framing. Using this term, we refer less to the “framing analysis” as it is well known in media and communication content research. Our terming is much more grounded in fundamental social theory, and here the “frame analysis” as it was outlined by Erving Goffman (1974: 21–40). Frames in his understanding have an interactionist as well as a cognitive moment: On the one hand, frames orientate our interaction as it becomes understandable, for example if we consider a teaching situation in a classroom as a frame: We “produce” this situation by our interaction being oriented to a shared frame of action. On the other hand, recognizing “frames” makes it possible for a person who enters a room to understand “what’s going on”. In such a more general sense, also communicative figurations have a certain thematic framing: Their communicative forms, media ensemble, and constellation of actors build up a “unity of meaning” which orientates the ongoing procedure of “producing” as well as the “perception” of this communicative figuration. By describing the characteristic forms of communication, media ensemble, constellation of actors, and thematic framing, we can describe a communicative figuration on a fundamental level. However, to get a deeper understanding of communicative figurations a further contextualization is necessary. This is the point where the four construction capacities of description come in that we have

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to have in mind when describing communicative figurations. They can be described in a first approach with the help of four questions: How do communicative figurations construct our different “belongings”? How are certain “rules” created through communicative figurations? How does a communicative figuration produce characteristic “segmentations”? How do communicative figurations create or maintain “power”? The construction capacity of belonging picks up the work on inclusion, communitization, and socialization through processes of media communication. This includes issues of a mediated construction of national communitization, while the present research presumes that only with continuing mediatization was a comprehensive communicative integration into a nation possible, and an implementation of national culture (cf. Anderson 1983; Schlesinger 1987; Billig 1995; Hjort 2000; Morley 2000). From the viewpoint of political communication research, a debate on mediated relationships is about integrating people into a national and transnational public sphere, which may also happen through conflicts (Dahlgren 1995; Gripsrud 2007; Wessler et al. 2008; Koopmans/Statham 2010). Especially with an increasing mediatization, the possibilities for relationships in and through media communication have increased; complex forms of “citizenship” are emerging which are much more based on popular culture than on political affiliation (García Canclini 2001; Couldry 2006; Dahlgren 2006). Different communitizations and socializations should be mentioned which also contribute to the gains of relevancy of media and communication change. This concerns transnational diasporas (Dayan 1999), popular-cultural communitizations (Jenkins 2006), religious communities (Hoover 2006) or new social movements (Bailey et al. 2008). It also concerns commercialized belongings with companies and associations as to be found in or through PR, or changing links on the level of personal networks and groups (Granovetter 1983; Gauntlett 2011). The construction capacity of rules does not only concern political and legal regulations of media communication but also social and cultural rules as they are discussed for example in communication and media ethics. Consequently, this construction capacity is about all processes of setting and changing rules, ranging from a “top-down-regulation” and a “co-” and “self-regulation” to “spontaneous negotiation of rules”. In today’s communicative figurations, processes of rule-making change as the national frame, which for a long time was the primary vanishing point for regulations, is losing this role as a consequence of the self-transformation of the state (Chakravartty and Zhao 2008). Besides state regimes, privatized and hence new spheres of influence appear in regulation, for which “ICANN”, responsible for the regulation of Internet addresses, or the World Summit on the Information Society are mentioned as prime examples (McCurdy 2008). Other problems of rules become tangible due to the public discussion surrounding copyright, security issues and private sphere on the Internet. Besides privatized and globalized regimes, supranational regimes gain importance, as exemplarily demonstrated by the guidelines of media politics in Europe (Levy 2007; Kleinsteuber and Nehls


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2011). This issue continues to sharpen as with the continuous establishment of digital media, the demarcation between traditional forms of public and personal communication becomes blurred and, consequently, the role of public-service media institutions for civil society must be determined in different ways. On top of this, digital media demonstrate that especially media-ethical and aesthetical rules are reified through “code” – the software-technical or algorithmic architecture of platforms or communication services (Lessig 2006; Zittrain 2008; Pariser 2011). If we investigate communicative figurations, we also have to have this construction capacity of rules in mind. The construction capacity of segmentation is more or less related to the tradition of investigating inequalities in media and communication research. One of the questions of research on “knowledge gaps” is about whether the distribution of certain media increases the difference between the “information-rich” and the “information-poor” (Tichenor et al. 1970). Such a discussion was picked up by the so-called digital-divide research (Norris 2001), which investigates to what extent, with the expansion of digital media, socially existing segmentations increase in respect of certain criteria like age, gender, education, etc. Issues about media and inequality, however, reach a lot further. From the point of view of mediatization research such descriptions appear to be problematic, if they exclusively depart from the diffusion of an individual medium. Especially in the case of the “digital divide”, a cross-media perspective is just as central as the consideration of direct communication because insufficient “access” and “ways of use” of one medium can generally be balanced with other forms of media – while this is, however, not an automatism (Madianou and Miller 2012). In this sense, the “digital divide […] has to be understood as a dynamic multi-level concept” (Krotz 2007: 287) which takes into account the different “equalities” and “inequalities” in their potentially reciprocal enforcement and their possible compensation. From this point of view, the “digital divide” as well as other segmentations in changing communicative figurations refer to the very basic question of the extent to which, according to Pierre Bourdieu (2010), communicative figurations and their growing mediatization increase “economic”, “cultural” and “social capital”. Finally, the construction capacity of power is of high importance also to describe communicative figurations. The change of communicative figurations thus involves a change of the possibilities for “empowerment” and “disempowerment”. Manuel Castells discussed this in great detail for the establishment of comprehensively mediatized “network societies” (Castells 1996, 1997), in which social movements are able to unfold a new form of power with the help of their “project identities”. Yet he increasingly refers also to opposing moments due to the roles of companies and governments as “switches” between power-networks (Castells 2009). In addition, even communicative figurations related to the audio-visual are about power. Thus, hegemonic concepts of “individualized life styles” in consumer societies are communicated through transmedia productions, such as can be found

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in nomination shows and make-over formats (Ouellette and Hay 2008; Thomas 2010): The paradigm of “individualized choice” and “selection” is legitimized through the (e.g. internet-based) voting and the representation of an individuallyselectable life in such programmes. If we take these four construction capacities – belonging, rules, segmentation, and power – together it becomes obvious how we have to contextualize our analysis of communicative figurations further: If we understand communicative figurations as the structured ways by which the communicative construction of culture and society takes place, they are also the means by which power, segmentation, rules, and belonging are produced. And therefore we have to consider this in our investigation of communicative figurations. However, it is important to have in mind that our operationalization is not about describing communicative figurations as such. As outlined above, we understand them as an intermediate concept to analyse mediatization practically. They are a helpful tool to focus what “changed” with mediatization. More generally speaking, the concept of communicative figuration offers a way to reflect that media are not the only driving force for change. Therefore, the more prominent question might be to investigate how mediatized cultures and societies transform and which role media have for this transformation process. The concept of communicative figuration gives us the possibility to research this question in a twofold manner, either in a “diachronous” or in a “synchronous” way (for a more detailed explanation see Hepp 2014). Clearly diachronous mediatization research entailing a comparison over time is the more obvious way: We investigate the communicative figurations at different points in time and compare the results of this. We can investigate for example the communicative figuration of families of the 1950s, do the same in the 1980s and 2010s, and then compare the results. For sure, the family has changed, and this is interwoven with media communicative change. The same can be said for other communicative figurations like the communicative figurations of public spheres, for example. To give a more detailed answer to how this change takes place in its relation to media communication we must turn to an analysis of the changing communicative figurations over the period of time in question. But not only for practical reasons – diachronous research of this kind is enormously elaborate and mostly also expensive – is there also the need for synchronous mediatization research. The main reason for this is that the mediatization process is not linear but has certain “eruptive” moments we might call “mediatization waves”. This term indicates that certain media developments might result in a qualitatively different media environment that makes completely new communicative figurations possible. We can understand the recent phenomenon of digitalization as such a “mediatization wave”, which is at the same time related to a farreaching transformation of formerly non-digital media – television becomes Internet television, cinema becomes digital cinema and so forth. But also other, never-


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theless far-reaching changes in media history can be identified, like for example the emergence of photography and related visual media. It is especially this kind of synchronous mediatization research that needs further methodological reflection than it has been undertaken up to now. This is a point where Actor Network Theory (ANT) can be a help for mediatization research. Starting with their methodological standpoint to “keep the social flat” (Latour 2007: 159), this approach is interested in how the social is made up by humans and their (inter)action with things. From such a more general, sociological point of view, also the emergence of certain media became an object of investigation, so for example the Kodak camera and the “mass market” of amateur photography. If we follow at this point Reese Jenkins’ (1975) historical analysis and Bruno Latour’s (1991) interpretation, we can capture a detailed step-by-step process in which the Kodak camera (as a certain media technology) and the “mass market” of amateur photography (with all its related practices) emerged simultaneously. Therefore, it is not the invention of a “new medium” which then was appropriated. In contrast, it is a circular, simultaneous process of “developing” this medium, on the one hand, and its “appropriation” by a wider group of people on the other. Therefore, important for synchronous mediatization research is an investigation of the close interweaving of media development and its appropriation. This is not something that came up lately, as it is often assumed in research on “social media” and the relation of programmers and users there. Rather, this seems to be a general pattern of media emergence. While we also find concepts of such close interrelations in media and communication studies (see for a classical approach Mansell and Silverstone 1998), detailed analysis on these processes are far less common. The typical argument within media and communication research is rather the idea of the “diffusion” of an “innovation” (Rogers 2003); that is, the dissemination of a medium that is thought as something already “complete”. In extension to this, synchronous mediatization research might learn from ANT and comparable approaches that media change happens in a much more complex way – namely, in an interweaving of emerging media and the articulation of further media related practices. It becomes necessary to investigate such processes of co-articulation, especially in moments when so-called “new media” come up and turn the media environment upside down, and therefore the communicative figurations we are involved in and by which we communicatively construct our culture and society.

5 Conclusion: the transformation of communicative figurations This article covered a broad spectrum of arguments: We started with the reflection that mediatization research should be grounded in symbolic interaction, a perspective that moves “communication” into the foreground. Because of that it is neces-

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sary to reflect how far the mediatization process is linked to the spread of four basic types of communication – types that still offer us a fundament to analyse specific forms, patterns, and practices of communication. However, such an overall approximation falls short of providing an appropriate foundation for a practical investigation of mediatization. For this, we need a middle-range concept to ground the overall general idea of mediatization in symbolic interaction and in so doing make it researchable. We therefore outlined the concept of communicative figurations. The potential of this approach is that we can use it to analyse various phenomena at different levels. As Elias already wrote when he developed the idea of figurations: The potential of this idea is that we can analyse figurations across micro, meso and macro levels. This general statement is also correct for communicative figurations while our idea of communicative figurations is much more concrete: We understand communicative figurations as defined by certain forms of communication, by a typical media ensemble, by a constellation of actors, and by a thematic framing. In so doing, communicative figurations are the structured communicative processes by which we construct our changing culture and society, related belongings, power relations, segmentations, and rules. In such a view, a practical mediatization research means the analysis of changing communicative figurations (diachronous research) and upcoming new (synchronous research). The core point for us is that such a move from an overall “meta process” or “panorama” of mediatization to symbolic interaction, and then to communicative figurations, also means a re-orientation of what mediatization research is about: Taking seriously the idea that mediatization research is interested in the interrelation between media-communicative and socio-cultural change, we have to develop an analytical narrative that avoids moving the media unquestioned into the centre of our conceptualizing of change. Also other “factors” can be driving forces of change. Again at this point the idea of communicative figurations is most helpful: It offers us a way to analyse the transformation of mediatized cultures and societies by focusing the changing communicative construction process as such. Only from such a conceptual starting point do we have the chance to reflect where the media are highly important for this transformation and where they are less so. In this sense, the outlined approach of communicative figurations is also a plea for a non-media-centric form of mediatization research.

Acknowledgement This article was written within the research network “Communicative Figurations” (University of Bremen, University of Hamburg) which is supported as creative unit by the institutional strategy “Ambitious and Agile” of the University of Bremen, University of Excellence, funded by the Federal Government and the Federal States.


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André Jansson

12 Indispensable things: on mediatization, materiality, and space Abstract: This chapter approaches mediatization as a movement through which media technologies and related artifacts become indispensable to people in their everyday lives, and places and practices become materially adapted to the existence of media. This perspective emanates from a broader conceptualization of mediatization as a meta-process involving interconnected regimes of media-related dependencies and normalizations. The chapter introduces a three-level framework to the study of material indispensability and adaptation. It includes Ihde’s notion of “I-technology-world” relations (media technics), Bourdieu’s theories of sociocultural legitimation and practical knowledge (media properties), and Lefebvre’s phenomenology of the materialization of everyday life (media textures). Altogether, these perspectives enable the researcher to identify internal tensions and fluctuations within the mediatization meta-process as it unfolds in relation to different technological regimes, during different periods, and in diverse socio-cultural contexts. In particular, the chapter detects an ongoing shift from mass media textures to transmedia textures, signifying the coming of a new sub-stage of mediatization: transmediatization. This shift actualizes how new media forms, understood as both technics and properties, amalgamate with pre-existing socio-material patterns in increasingly flexible and open-ended ways. Keywords: mediatization, materiality, social space, phenomenology, everyday life, technology, culture, communication

1 Introduction One of the clearest expressions of mediatization is the historical pervasiveness through which various media forms have become materially indispensable to people in their everyday lives, and how people have (re)arranged their life environments materially in response to the appearance (and disappearance) of media. This chapter establishes a theoretical framework for sorting out the different mechanisms that are involved in these historical and ongoing movements. How and why do “media things” become indispensable? These questions beg for complex answers that must ultimately take into account the contextual conditions where media are actually put into use. One way of introducing the theme of this chapter, then, is to peek into the diverse everyday spaces where material indispensability


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and adaptation come to surface. The following interview extracts are taken from a recent Swedish research project:1 Quote 1: We have six TV-sets. Three upstairs, one in the living room, one in the basement and one downstairs in the playroom. Only two of them are connected to the cable, for watching television. One is for video and the home-theatre, one is for TV-gaming in the basement, and the kids have one each with DVD players in their rooms. And then one in our bedroom where we can watch television, just like in the living room. (35-year-old man, Swedish small town) Quote 2: I’ve had an iPhone since last Christmas, I held out for a long time, I was waiting for my old Nokia to break but it never did. You just discover new uses for it everyday, I’d be lost without it. I don’t have a great number of apps but Travel, Dictionary, Wordfeud, messages, email. (65-year-old woman, Stockholm city) Quote 3: Without my mobile I would feel like I was missing something. I would miss the contact with the Internet, yes the whole information society. I mean, if I’m in town without my phone, then I’ll have to wait until I get home before I can check out what’s happening in the world. So I would feel like being left behind, strange as it might sound, but I wouldn’t be updated until I got home. (33-year-old man, Swedish mid-size town) Quote 4: In the new factory there are mounted cameras, about ten cameras, which overlook the whole production in the new hall. And those who built the new factory can watch it, in Slovenia. […] Right at the steering unit there was a camera pointing straight down on us, and we never understood why it had to be there, so we poked it upwards a little, just so it couldn’t see us. Because it felt like nobody trusted us. (26-year-old man, Swedish small town)

Many of us can probably identify, at least to some degree, with the experiences and conditions reflected in these statements. They are more or less ordinary, albeit contextually specific. Whereas mediatization may involve a plethora of everyday material transformations, a common denominator is the experience of living with media things as naturalized elements of the lifeworld (Schutz and Luckmann 1973). The indispensability of media things, and thus the material force of mediatization, becomes particularly obvious at occasions of absent or malfunctioning media technology. As the third informant puts it, without the media “one would feel like one was missing something”. A closer look at the quotes may also help us reveal some important distinctions as to what mediatization does and does not mean in the context of material transformations. Firstly, mediatization cannot be described merely as a linear process of material accumulation making our social spaces occupied, or cluttered up, with more media technologies (including everything from books and letters to television 1 The interviews, 48 in total, were gathered in 2010–12 within the research project Secure Spaces: Media, Consumption and Social Surveillance, funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, Sweden.

Indispensable things: on mediatization, materiality, and space


sets and smartphones). Whereas the first quote may indeed point to such a process of escalating media-over-abundance, ongoing technological developments also point to the integration (or remediation) of a multitude of old media forms, as well as services, within transmedia platforms. As reflected in the second quote, the emergence of such platforms, and the expansion of entire transmedia environments, bring along the successive marginalization or elimination of many “standalone” media forms (such as newspapers, radio receivers, etc.). Secondly, mediatization does not only refer to people’s celebration of, and longing for, new media stuff. As a meta-process (Krotz 2007), mediatization also includes social, cultural, and ideological resistance to such consumption practices. Not everyone would like to have six television sets at home, even though it would be economically and spatially possible. Not everyone welcome the increased reachability and potential monitoring, enabled by mobile, interactive media. The last quote provides a striking snapshot of a directly oppositional intervention into the material normalization of ubiquitous media infrastructures. Such resistances and negotiations, and their material and spatial consequences, are also part of the mediatization meta-process. Thirdly, the material and spatial dimensions of mediatization cannot be unveiled only, and perhaps not even most prominently, through analyses of the very material presence of various media. As mentioned in the beginning, one must also take into account how various places and practices are materially adapted to the existence of media. This condition holds an implicit presence in the first quote, where the home environment is not only filled with media, but also accommodated to particular forms of media consumption. It is also shown in the last quote, where the factory workers themselves probably do not feel that surveillance cameras are indispensable for their work, but nonetheless have to adapt their performances to the potential tele-presence of others. I will return to these interview extracts throughout the chapter. I will use them as prisms for discovering and illuminating the material complexities, as well as the common traits, of mediatization. My aim is not to conduct a sociological analysis of the stratified, and otherwise socially structured, ways in which mediatization unfolds materially. Rather, I will approach mediatization from a generalized, sociophenomenological point of view, guided by the works of Ihde, Bourdieu, and Lefebvre. As already stated, the premise here is to think of mediatization as a movement through which media technologies and related artifacts become indispensable for carrying out practices that are essential to the maintenance of society in its various parts, and places and practices become materially adapted to the existence of media. Media things do not become indispensable by themselves, however. There are no media (if we think of “media” as means of communication operating through certain symbolic codes) whose social success was given already at the time of their invention. Over the years, many technologies have failed to reach any major social


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significance (Marvin 1988, Gitelman and Pingree 2003), while others have rapidly fallen into obsolescence due to various contextual (cultural, economic, technological, and so on) circumstances (Löfgren 2009; Acland 2007). Media (like other technologies) become indispensable only when practical affordances are brought into a meaningful relationship with pre-existing, or emerging, socio-material conditions, thus giving shape to a particular cultural form (Williams 1974). This is an important reminder of the non-media-centric nature of mediatization research; we must never isolate the significance or impact of the media from surrounding processes in society. Indispensability can thus be understood as a bonding force between social subjects, technologies, and the world. Whereas the term does not say anything about the functional linkages that keep such “I-technology-world” relationships (Ihde 1990) together, it points to the strength of these relationships, and their level of social embeddedness (Giddens 1991). The third interview quote illustrates this duality, pointing both to the felt need to stay connected to the world via smartphone and to the socio-spatial articulation of such needs (albeit the very usage of smartphones may have a disembedding effect upon social life), giving rise even to feelings of “being left behind” if connectivity cannot be granted here and now. It goes without saying, then, that the formation of “relationships of indispensability and adaptation” may look very differently depending on type of technology and socio-cultural context. It would take more than this chapter to cover the whole spectrum of factors at play when indispensability arises, consolidates or wanes away. Therefore, my ambition here is more modest. My aim is to introduce a systematic approach for studying the social construction of material indispensability. It does not mean that I claim this model to be the only one; rather I would like to suggest three complementary levels of analysis, each suggesting a certain array of analytical entry-points for empirical study. I will also assert the value of combining these three analytical levels for gaining relatively holistic understanding of indispensability. At the first level, and at the core, I discuss media things as technics, following Ihde’s (1990) phenomenological view of technology and the lifeworld. At the second level, I look at the media as properties in a Bourdieusian sense (Bourdieu [1979] 1984, [1997] 2000), addressing the cultural shaping of indispensability. Finally, following Lefebvre’s ([1974] 1991) understanding of textures, I discuss how the media, as both technics and properties, become part of the felt cultural-material fabric of everyday social space. Throughout these discussions, and in the concluding part of the chapter, I pay particular attention to the ways in which the material shape of mediatization has altered due to a general shift from mass media textures to transmedia textures (see also Jansson 2013). The categorical distinction between “mass media” and “transmedia” operates as shorthand for a bundle of technological developments marking out the digital era (including for example convergence, interactivity, streamability, and miniaturization) which at the level of everyday life come to

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surface as a successive shift from stand alone media fixtures to increasingly integrated and flexible media environments. This transformation, which I also refer to as the coming of transmediatization, implies that material indispensability and adaptation are brought about under altered conditions, exposing partly new features. This is neither to suggest the end of mediatization, nor to advocate a mediacentric or techno-deterministic perspective. My point is that transmediatization is to be understood in terms of ongoing qualitative, socially shaped transformations within more foundational regimes of mediatization. In order to explicate this perspective the chapter begins with an outline of my conceptual view of mediatization based on Lefebvre’s triadic model of social space.

2 A triadic conceptualization of mediatization In spite of ongoing academic debates and several recent efforts to gather a comprehensive view of the concept of mediatization there are still conflicts as to some of its key meanings and implications (see Lundby 2009; Hepp 2013; Hjarvard 2013). Notably, there is a general division between those using the term mainly to describe the growing autonomy and expansive logic of “the media” as a composite institution (see e.g. Hjarvard 2008; Strömbäck and Esser 2009), and those referring to mediatization as a meta-process, comparable with individualization and commercialization, involving contradictory forces and contextual variations within the general movement towards further media saturation and dependency (Krotz 2007; Hepp 2009a, 2010). The former perspective has certain advantages, especially as a platform for social critique, but its relevance can be empirically sustained only as long as the analytical focus is on well-defined media institutions. A case in point here is Asp’s (1990) classic studies of the mediatization of politics, which explicate the adaptation of political agency to the logics of (mainstream news) media and public exposure (see also Boorstin [1961] 1992). The very conception of media influences in terms of successive processes of “adaptation” or “accommodation” (Schulz 2004) steers the analytical centre of gravitation away from more linear notions of media uses and effects (mediations) towards mediatization. Still, if we want to study the adaptations of everyday life, we cannot rely on any clear-cut model as to what media (technologies, texts, and institutions) different groups and individuals primarily adapt to and under what circumstances. Everyday life does not to the same extent as for example politics or commercial life follow a goal-oriented rationality-type with homogenous rules and resources. Furthermore, contemporary media environments, where the eras of mass media and transmedia intersect, are too multifaceted for being approached as a coherent institution, albeit certain media institutions and actors may indeed hold a dominant position within certain social contexts. For many individuals today everyday life takes on the status of a “media life” (Deuze 2011) marked by the seamless


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integration and penetration of media forms and contents in all social regions. Conceiving of mediatization as a meta-process is a way of increasing one’s analytical sensitivity to these complexities. Still, in order to make it possible to actually pin down and explain concrete expressions and consequences of (trans)mediatization today we need analytical categories that are comparable across time and space. As for the transformations of the everyday social world, which is at the centre of attention here, I have previously (Jansson 2013) suggested a categorization based on Lefebvre’s ([1974] 1991) triadic model of social space. My point of departure is to think of mediatization as a meta-process that brings about (amongst other things) altered dynamics in the production of space. Space, in turn, is to be understood as a social product, always “under construction” and the object of negotiations and struggles in material, representational, and mythological/ideological realms. Whereas these three realms, which Lefebvre terms perceived, conceived, and lived space, are mutually dependent, inseparable in spatial production, they allow us to distinguish three separate regimes of mediatization. Mediatization is a movement that operates not only within the representational realm, shaping the symbolic order of people’s lives; it also holds a material, ideological, and mental presence, affecting the ways in which everyday environments are spatially arranged and how people go about and make meaning out of their daily routines. The three regimes are mutually interdependent and pertain to processes related to both mass media and transmedia: 1. Material indispensability and adaptation (corresponding to perceived space): A key feature of mediatized society is that certain types of tools and systems are seen as necessary, or indispensable, for leading a comfortable and socially integrated life. The indispensability of new “media things” refers to the general social acceptance of literally buying into a particular way of communicating, and to the restructurings through which the material presence of these things are naturalized in people’s day-to-day lives. A key example is Moores’ (1988) study of how radio entered the ordinary living-room, occupying not only a particular place in the household, a “box on the dresser”, but also giving rise to a series of material adaptations to the physical, visual and audible presence of this new object. 2. Premediation of spatial experience (corresponding to conceived space): The media not only shape our expectations and anticipations of future events and experiences, but also generate particular forms of action and interaction that are performed, or staged, in order to become mediated within a certain representational register (Grusin 2010). A good example is tourism, whose very existence largely rests upon the circulation of phantasmagorical media images, and where the sharing and storing of spatial representations via postcards, photos, and other media are essential parts of the experience (Strain 2003; MacCannell [1976] 1999; Jansson 2002). Mediatization implies that an expand-

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ing register of spatial experiences is premediated in a similar manner via various (trans)media circuits. Normalization of social practice (corresponding to lived space): The last regime refers to the ways in which the appropriation of media changes social norms, conventions, and expectations at the level of everyday practice. These normalizations, which operate through common sense and thus contribute to the maintenance of shared value systems and mythologies, pertain both to the timing and spacing of people’s life activities. During the mass media era, for instance, television brought along the normalization of certain rhythms and rituals within households and other communities, as well as informal agendas of “media-related talk” and modes of domestic monitoring and control (e.g. parents vs. children) (see Lull 1990). These phenomena evolved in relation to pre-established structures of lived space, such as politically and religiously grounded family values, and were thus not the product of television alone (Spigel 1992). In times of expanding transmedia networks we can see many new forms of social normalization taking shape, notably related to what we may call “smartphone culture”, which does not necessarily mean that foundational values are altered (Goggin 2006; Ling 2008).

Breaking down mediatization into these three regimes enables us to delineate social and cultural change with greater specificity, and discern internal contradictions within the meta-process at large. A key point here is that the three regimes are interdependent. The relations between them may take on antagonistic as well as symbiotic qualities depending on contextual conditions. To a great deal, and what is normally meant by mediatization, alterations within one regime correspond in a positive manner with alterations within the other two. For example, the common experience of not managing one’s life without a smartphone (indispensability) is positively correlated to managing and planning all kinds of upcoming events online (premediation) and a sense of belonging to a well-functioning modern media society where such practices are positively sanctioned (normalization of practice). However, as mentioned already at the outset of this chapter, mediatization also involves tensions. The indispensability of a smartphone may thus also be linked to feelings of ambiguity and stress; feelings of being forced into certain modes of routinized sociability (notably via social media platforms) and exposed to spaces, events, and (commercial) publicity beyond one’s actual wants and desires. These points, and the general socio-spatial approach to mediatization, are important to keep in mind throughout the remainder of this chapter. The forthcoming three sections deal exclusively with perceived space and the regime of material indispensability and adaptation. Nevertheless, this regime, which I deconstruct further via the concepts of technics, properties, and textures, cannot be uncoupled from the rest of the triadic model.


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3 Media technics A particularly relevant starting-point for understanding how different technologies are appropriated, perceived, and positioned as indispensable parts of the lifeworld is Don Ihde’s “phenomenology of human–technology relations” (1990: 72). Ihde introduces four principal sets of human–technology relations. The first set consists of embodiment relations. In this set, typically represented by optical technologies such as eyeglasses, the world is perceived through a technology, whose presence is barely noticed or reflected upon by the subject. When wearing glasses, if they function well, they “withdraw” from the wearer’s experience of the world. Embodiment relations may thus be described as “the symbiosis of artifact and user within a human action” (Ihde 1990: 73). This means that the user and his/her tool or equipment become one, as in contexts of long-developed relations of handicraft (hammer, knife, etc.) or sports (skis, racing car, etc.). As Ihde points out, the dream of seamless body–technology relations has been pertinent throughout modern history, giving rise to utopian as well as dystopian prophecies of human cyborgs. Still, media technologies have rarely managed to occupy such a symbiotic, invisible relationship with the body and the senses. Probably the telephone is the best example of a medium of communication whose technological functioning and material presence “withdraw” during the act of use. The second set of human–technology relations Ihde calls hermeneutic technics. Here we encounter the type of relations that have most generally marked mass media society. In contrast to embodiment relations they involve some act of reading, where a technology is positioned as the interface through which the user can read the world. This is to say that hermeneutic technics, such as maps, charts, and written texts, provide (potentially premediating) representations of space (cf. Lefebvre 1991). In ideal cases, when hermeneutic technics are working smoothly, the user does not reflect on this interface even though the object of perception is precisely the technology as such rather than the world. One could say that a different type of symbiosis or transparency occurs, one between technology and the world, when the user enters the representational realm through the praxis of interpretation. As Ihde (1990: 82) explains, “textual transparency is hermeneutic transparency, not perceptual transparency”. This means that a technology, whether we speak of a thermometer, a newspaper, or an industrial switch-board, can become transparent and thus integrated as part of the taken for granted lifeworld only if the user possesses the appropriate hermeneutic skills, that is, masters one or several codes. The relationship also depends on the user’s trust in the mediating capability of a technology. Transparency is immediately threatened if the reader does not find a certain scale trustworthy or suspect that information is incomplete or biased – a problem which has been scrutinized extensively and from different perspectives in media and communication studies ever since Shannon and Weaver ([1948] 1963) introduced their influential model of radio transmission.

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The third and fourth variants of human–technology relations are called alterity relations and background relations, respectively. These sets are distinct from the previous ones in the sense that technology does not in any significant way mediate between the individual and the world. Nevertheless, these types of technologies are essential to the composition of modern lifeworlds. In the case of alterity relations, technology itself becomes the object of attention; the user is not given access to any other world than the imaginative space of technology itself. This is also an often mythologized or ideologically saturated (lived) space. Ihde mentions several different forms of alterity relations; the personalization of technology, through which artifacts are fetishized or sacralized; the othering of technology as something to master or contest; technology as a toy or object of fascination, and technology as something to interact with as a competitor. As Ihde argues, many technological innovations in history have attained the status of sacralized objects of fascination, before successively being turned into more mundane objects for daily use. This condition also holds true for many media technologies (Marvin 1988; Mosco 2004). The final variant, background relations, is different from alterity relations in the sense that technology is not placed at the centre of attention, but operates in the background of other practices. In background relations technologies function as “texturing” devices (Ihde 1990: 109) for creating certain environmental experiences (visually, audibly, or materially), either within open spaces or as means for generating spatial encapsulation (e.g. Jansson 2007a). Background technologies thus attain the position of “an absent presence as a part of or a total field of immediate technology” (Ihde 1990: 111). This does not mean that they are neutral or less significant to the lifeworld than focal technologies, however. As Ihde argues, background technologies attain different types of texturing affordances and often “exert more subtle indirect effects upon the way a world is experienced” (1990: 112). A case in point here is the taken for granted but nonetheless crucial presence of audible background media in such commercial spaces as department stores. There is an important common denominator to these four variants, pointing to the very core of the mediatization meta-process. Ihde’s phenomenology of technics, which I have introduced just briefly here, clarifies in a systematic way how experiences of indispensability, and the necessity of adaptation, run parallel to the naturalization of artifacts in the lifeworld. This does not mean that a particular technology in fact, or in any fundamental sense, becomes indispensable to social life or human existence just because its existence is taken for granted. However, the more a particular medium is taken for granted and the more it becomes transparent as technology, the more difficult it is to exclude it from the practices of day-today life. This is also the point of departure for Deuze (2011) in his perspective on “media life” (albeit Ihde’s work is overlooked). It is possible to assess, at least in a tentative manner, the significance of mediatization according to each of the four human–technology relations mentioned


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above, and gain a more systematized understanding of how the indispensability of media evolves as a socio-material phenomenon of our times. Even though Ihde’s systematization preceded the vast expansion of mobile media technologies, it is particularly apt for clarifying how the introduction of networked, portable computers, touch-pads, and smartphones has propelled the mediatization meta-process into a sub-stage of “transmediatization”.

3.1 Lubricating mediatization: transmedia technologies and their disappearance In the qualitative interviews referred to in the Introduction (which were conducted in diverse social contexts in Sweden between 2010 and 2012) we asked our respondents which medium was the most important one in their lives. Most respondents mentioned television, laptop, and/or mobile telephone. The latter two were motivated in terms of their portability and versatility, highlighting the social significance of the technological leap from “ordinary” cellphones to smartphones (basically computers). The original transparency of telephone technology that Ihde talks about, the propensity of technology to “withdraw” through embodiment when talking to somebody, is combined with both portability and a number of other human–technology relations. The smartphone, and related platforms, thus represent technologies that cannot be categorized according to just one of Ihde’s four variants, but involve processes of naturalization and “disappearance” at different levels, making them increasingly indispensable omnibus devices. As Wise argues, what is new about “the clickable world” is not disappearance as such, but “the scale of the disappearance, and the power the attenuating technologies potentially have over our lives” (Wise 2012: 162). Still, in order to systematize our discussion, we may look at each of the four sets of relations separately. Firstly, the fact that technological miniaturization makes it easier to carry, even wear, digital communication devices close to the body, implies that a whole new range of embodiment relations have emerged. Even though most functions embedded in for example smartphones require some kind of interaction via an interface, and thus imply hermeneutic relations, the experience of “nakedness” when not wearing one’s mobile indicate that the very habit of having permanent, and instant, access to contacts, information, entertainment, and so on, via the online realm implies a sort of technological embodiment. Secondly, the development of new software applications and refined interfaces has contributed to the transparency of hermeneutic relations and thus provided a sort of lubricant to mediatization processes. The appropriation and installation of new mobile devices rarely requires any separate instruction manuals; users are guided through the installation process, and can start using the new device within minutes. There is thus less hermeneutic work and a less arbitrary learning process involved for “getting started”. Furthermore, the iconography of smartphones and

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touch-pads entails a more direct code than older, text-based menus and commands, which dominated the digital realm just a few decades ago. Today, even one-year-old children quickly learn how to master these devices, and navigate between different functions and contents. In addition to this, the interactive nature of many applications, as well as online search engines and commercial websites, integrate algorithms that to some extent enable technologies to adapt to the user and his/her habits and preferences. As users we encounter special offers and recommendations, based on aggregate data categorizing us into certain patterns and segments. This means that it becomes easier to find relevant information and services, provided that we submit to a certain degree of surveillance (e.g. Andrejevic 2007, 2014). Our view of the world, which the (mass)media have traditionally provided via news and other types of content, is thus to a growing extent combined with a view of an interactive “service space” (banking, e-commerce, and so on), as well as a mirroring view of ourselves, our habits, and preferences. We do not merely “read ourselves into any possible situation without being there”, as Ihde (1990: 92, italics in original) puts it, but also track ourselves, and even start developing our lifestyles according to “nudging” applications (Wilson 2012). Altogether, the altered shape of hermeneutic relations sustains indispensability in two complementary ways: on the one hand, through adaptable software and simplified interfaces that make technology increasingly transparent, and on the other hand through the opening of a multitude of worlds via one single (and potentially interconnected) media device. Whereas these factors do not in themselves explain (trans)mediatization, they are important to its lubrication. Thirdly, smartphones and associated devices make the lines between hermeneutic technics and alterity relations diffuse. As already indicated, the types of “worlds” that these technics provide access to are increasingly diverse, and some of them also more or less self-contained and self-referential. For instance, many lifestyle applications where users are encouraged to track and improve their performances, typically in sports, are designed to enable a significant degree of playability and shareability. It means that users enter into a world of play and competition, which on the one hand refers to a social world outside of techno-space (and thus can be seen as a hermeneutic relation), but on the other hand contains modes of representation and attention-building that are more akin to alterity relations. Besides the fact that new technology may occupy a more or less sacred position within the lifestyles of certain groups and individuals, related to novelty and particular brand value, an entire new world of game and play is thus created. These worlds can also be accessed almost anywhere and anytime due to the portability of new online devices, making these devices indispensable for “killing time” while waiting or in transit. These examples highlight the complexity of indispensability, and clearly illustrate how this regime of mediatization is tied to both premediations (conceived space) and to the successive normalization of new social practices (lived space).


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Finally, the media have a long history of generating and entering into background relations, in private as well as public spaces. Perhaps radio and other audible media have had the most prominent role for giving a certain “feel” to spaces and situations marked by other social functions and practices (Tacchi 1988). Here, the main key to extended indispensability is whether such background relations involve a sustainable form of textural amalgamation between media uses and other practices, or not. As Schulz (2004) argues, amalgamation is one of the basic forms that mediatization takes, and it is not limited to relations through which media technologies produce socially shared environments. Again, the portability and versatility of new media devices enable single users to generate their own, technologically invisible, soundscapes through which they can experience the world around them, for example while exercising (see Bull 2001, 2007). It becomes a mode of being alone together with others (see also Deuze 2011). One may of course discuss whether this generation of private, encapsulated textures, operating at the same time (and interchangeably) as text and context (Jansson 2006, 2007b), is a valid sign of material indispensability. Wouldn’t it be possible to dispense with media under such relatively exclusive conditions? Wouldn’t it be possible to exercise without listening to one’s favourite music, for example? Questions like these are ultimately tied to moral philosophical concerns and the dilemma of what constitutes an actual need among human beings – materially, socially, or in other ways. If we consider the other aspect of this regime of mediatization, adaptation, however, the picture becomes clearer. The amalgamation of private media technologies and other practices through the creation of background relations constitutes a good example of how certain individual activities are ritually adapted to the material existence and affordances of the media. I return to these issues in relation to Media Textures (Part 5).

4 Media properties As demonstrated in the previous section, mobile transmedia technologies (compared to singular media) may be incorporated within the lifeworld in increasingly complex, open-ended ways. This must not be misunderstood as a techno-deterministic view, however. Even though it is clear that technologies are significant in themselves, notably by means of their technological “disappearance”, the actual magnitude of (trans)mediatization can never be estimated or understood without also taking into account the contexts, or social lifeworlds, within which particular “I-technology-world” relations materialize. In other words, “media things” are much more than technics. To a significant extent they are also cultural properties that may be appropriated or rejected on the basis of cultural values as much as functional assets. This is to say that our key concept, indispensability, is to be

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seen partly as a cultural construct, whose phenomenological status fluctuates according to structural conditions. Here, Bourdieu’s work on taste and practical knowledge provides a bridge between phenomenology and structuralist theory on socio-cultural reproduction. An illustrative example is Bourdieu’s ([1979] 1984) discussion of “the taste for necessity”. In Bourdieu’s analyses such an orientation is identified primarily among the working classes, where the habits and preferences of social actors often remain stable even though the material conditions have altered. The inclination of demanding considerably less than what might be economically possible to appropriate implies that the taste for necessity is “operating out of phase, having survived the disappearance of the conditions that produced it” (Bourdieu [1979] 1984: 374). In other parts of social space, however, the force of habitus – the invisible hand of socially inherited dispositions – may look considerably different. Among mobile middle class groupings, particularly among the “new bourgeoisie”, one might discern conditions where subjects have a vested interest in expressive consumption. This is partly due to the need for acquiring “correct” lifestyle attributes that can match the standards of one’s social aspirations. It is also, and at the same time, connected to a social desire for “ethical retooling” (Bourdieu [1979] 1984: 310) of the economy as such. The interests of emerging middle-class factions benefit from the continuous production of symbolic and social needs; a hedonistic morality based on consumption and spending practices that reject the traditional ethic of sobriety, saving, and accumulation. If we combine such lines of thinking with Bourdieu’s general argument regarding economic versus cultural capital, we can conclude that the social judgment of such phenomena as “necessity” and “indispensability” may fluctuate not only in terms of to what extent individuals and groups are inclined to appropriate new media things – that is, making them their properties (Bourdieu [1997] 2000: 134) – but also what types of things they regard as desirable and/or necessary properties in their lives. Most of the time these judgements are not reflexively developed, but integral to the lifeworld itself, structured by the force of habitus. Processes of appropriation are thus thoroughly interlaced with practical knowledge, and inform the structures of classification that provided the conditions for cultural judgments in the first place: [P]ractical knowledge is doubly informed by the world that it informs: it is constrained by the objective structure of the configuration of properties that the world presents to it; and it is also structured through the schemes, resulting from incorporation of the structures of the world, that it applies in selecting and constructing these objective properties (Bourdieu [1997] 2000: 148).

This perspective adds a contextualizing layer to Ihde’s phenomenological view of technics, stressing that the constitution of technological relationships partly depends on whether those can be legitimized within a certain socio-cultural setting or not.


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From this also follows that whereas the economic epicentre of mediatization, that is, mediatization seen as a materially expansive process, is located in those parts of social space where the production of new mediatized needs are deemed socioculturally beneficial (typically within the mobile middle classes), there are also social sites where processes of extensive media appropriation are met with moral and cultural skepticism, and where the functionalities of certain new media forms may collide with practical knowledge.

4.1 Cultural battles of (trans)mediatization As a case in point, we may here return to the first of the introductory interview extracts. Even though the respondent, when describing the various functions of the household’s six television sets, does not define those properties in terms of “indispensability”, he provides a rationalized explication of what type of “I-technology-world” relation each television set is needed for: gaming, video films, children’s programmes, and so on, depending on their functional status. Accordingly, older machines are successively moved to more peripheral places in the home, used for more confined purposes. But these are not value free judgments. In a different social setting, obeying a moral economy (Silverstone, Hirsch and Morley 1992) marked for instance by the possession of greater amounts of cultural capital, such a mode of legitimization would have been less likely. The cultural skepticism towards television in general, and excessive television watching in particular, which also manifests itself through the material shaping of households – such as the placement, size, and quantity of television sets and associated properties (video recorders, satellite dishes, and so on) – has been reported repeatedly in studies of broadcasting audiences (see e.g. Moores 1993; Jansson 2001). Furthermore, it follows from the autonomizing logic of cultural capital that most popular forms of alterity relations – the fascination with new technology; the sacralization of certain brands; “escapist” forms of gaming, and so on – are met with suspicion. This way of handling media things, as markers of taste and lifestyle, proves that we cannot understand the fluctuations of material indispensability and adaptation merely through the lens of technological-relational dependency. As indicated by the empirical examples, the felt need for (or disgust with) certain media, regardless of what type of phenomenological relation they may represent, points beyond the realm of technics. The need for properties is certainly not the same thing as the need for technics, and sometimes this leads to experiences of ambiguity among social subjects. This is shown in the second interview example. The respondent, a 65-year-old female teacher in Stockholm, describes how she “held out” and wanted to use her old mobile phone as long as it was still working, expressing a distinct moral (antimaterialist) attitude towards the value of properties, informed by cultural rather than economic capital. Eventually she got herself a smartphone, due to the felt

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need for staying in touch with her son (who helped her to decide) and other relatives around the world via social media. As a further consequence, she has successively established a growing number of world-relations via her smartphone, and now finds it difficult to do without it. In this case, thus, the process of appropriation is rather stretched out and grounded in the value of particular hermeneutic relations rather than in the symbolic value (alterity relation) of the artifact itself. A parallel example is the declining market for traditional newspapers. In Scandinavian countries the daily broadsheet has had an extremely strong position for many decades, especially due to subscriptions, and often been a more or less indispensable part of people’s everyday (morning) rituals. Due to the competition from other media, including online distribution, this position is threatened, not only in economic terms, but also from a cultural point of view. Readers are more or less forced to appropriate new technologies for getting access to their favourite news source. This signifies a general shift in the movement of mediatization, through which one relation of indispensability replaces another one. The shape of this new era of immediacy (Tomlinson 2007), in which news is expected to be available “at one’s fingertips”, is illustrated by the third interview extract. Disconnection from the world of news becomes more or less unthinkable, as told by the informant’s experience of being “left behind” after less than a day offline. However, to certain groups of the market such a shift means much more than just the adaptation to a new form of hermeneutic technics. It also means, potentially, the loss of a signifying property, namely the classified and classifying marker of the printed newspaper, enhanced by the value of particular brands. When analysing the significance of properties from a Bourdieusian perspective we are thus able to grasp in a deeper and contextualized sense the phenomenological complexity of technological relations, and thus the dynamics of mediatization. The fact that certain groups are willing to defend their printed newspaper, for example, unveils that there are alterity relations, such as the sacralization of print media, at play, besides the hermeneutic value of news-reporting. This, in turn, can be taken as an illustration of the internal tensions of the mediatization meta-process – an expression of resistance to (trans)mediatization linked to the cultural desire for maintaining clear boundaries in terms of time, space, and social relations. From such a view-point, the integrated and system-dependent nature of transmedia technologies constitutes a threat to individual autonomy and established criteria of cultural quality (such as “originality” and “objectivity”). The introduction of converging (trans)media platforms tends to diffuse such modern categories. Transmedia devices hold the potential to establish a diverse array of relations, and can be dynamically adapted to different functional needs. At the same time, the interconnectivity and open-ended flow of digital data between different platforms (smartphones, cameras, computers, and so on) imply that the material spaces of everyday life are turned into integrated media environments, where one particular function or relation might be established via various


André Jansson

access-points. As Madianou and Miller (2012) argue, the question of which media to use for fulfilling which social need is not related to functionality alone, but also, and increasingly, to moral and cultural predispositions in combination with situational conditions. As processes of media appropriation become more openended, so does the value of “media things” as properties. In a material environment where there are (hypothetically) no longer any record collections, newspapers, and books to put on display, the cultural value, and thus indispensability, of various devices will to a greater extent follow from how they are put into use, that is, how they are embedded in textural relations.

5 Media textures Analysing textures does not mean that we turn to an entirely new dimension of media things. Rather, reaching the third level of analysis means that we look at media things in their dual capacity as technics and properties; the means for building certain world relations as well as the means for cultural classification. Studying textures also means that we look at the ways in which media things become indispensable not merely through their functional and symbolic capacities, but also through what they feel like when they enter into patterns of amalgamation through social practice. Texture thus brings together the key ideas of a materialist framework, which as Wise (2012: 160) argues, “is more about resonance than representation, about forms and substances brought into relation”. To some extent we have already touched upon these issues. In Ihde’s work there are overlapping arguments in his discussions of the lifeworld as a “technologically textured ecosystem” (Ihde 1990: 3), as well as in his discussions on background relations. In Bourdieu’s ([1997] 2000) analysis of bodily knowledge we find corresponding observations as to how the positionings and relations of people and properties in social and physical space are both enacted by and inscribed in the body as a sort of ongoing material socialization, and/or social materialization. More significantly, however, my understanding of texture builds upon Lefebvre’s (1991) critical theory of the production of space. Here, the concept of texture points to the “communicative fabric of space” (Jansson 2007b), established through the meaningful repetition of spatial practices and ordering of communicative properties in space, as well as to the naturalized bodily and sensory experience, the “feel”, of this fabric (see also Adams, Hoelscher and Till 2001). Spatial practices are sometimes of a deliberately communicative nature, such as dinner conversations around the kitchen table, or crowds of people gathering at the movie theatre in the evening. But they also include those infrastructures and everyday streams of activity that leave meaningful, communicative traces in social space: daily-commuting patterns in the city; the spatial organization of our home environ-

Indispensable things: on mediatization, materiality, and space


ments; border arrangements at airports, and so on. All such arrangements are communicative. Textures enable and give shape to certain types of communication in a given setting, while excluding other types of communication (as well as groups of people). They thus support our sense of continuity and belonging (or “out-of-placeness”) both at the representational level and in an embodied sense, as we learn how to move and act in various settings (Moores and Metykova 2010; Moores 2012). Accordingly, textures do not appear at random; they materialize through certain spatial and temporal regularities and rhythms: Paths are more important than the traffic they bear, because they are what endures in the form of the reticular patterns left by animals, both wild and domestic, and by people (in and around the houses of village or small town, as in the town’s immediate environs). Always distinct and clearly indicated, such traces embody the ‘values’ assigned to particular routes: danger, safety, waiting, promise. This graphic aspect, which was obviously not apparent to the original ‘actors’ but which becomes quite clear with the aid of modern-day cartography, has more in common with a spider’s web than with a drawing or plan. Could it be called a text, or a message? Possibly, but the analogy would serve no particularly useful purpose, and it would make more sense to speak of texture rather than of texts in this connection. […] Time and space are not separable within a texture so conceived: space implies time, and vice versa. (Lefebvre 1991: 118)

The last point helps us to further explicate the nature of indispensability. When theorizing how media things and associated media practices amalgamate with other spatial practices (Schulz 2004) we may distinguish the spatial/vertical dimension and the temporal/horizontal from one another.

5.1 Vertical amalgamations Along the vertical dimension amalgamation takes the shape of layerings or “thickenings” (cf. Hepp 2009b) of practices and artifacts at a particular place. This refers to the fact that social actors learn what to expect from certain places, and also shape places, in terms of “what goes with what”. In many institutional settings there are functional reasons to this type of amalgamation. In a train station, for example, travellers expect to find electronic information screens, timetables, clocks, and surveillance cameras; these are part of the preconditions for the provision of efficient and safe transit systems. As illustrated by our fourth interview extract, even though the systemic imposition of abstract technologies, notably surveillance cameras, is not always socially embraced – depending on type of setting and cultural context (see Jansson 2012) – these systems are part of constructing the need for textural adaptation and routinization on behalf of social agents. There are also spatial amalgamations based on cultural conventions and ritual practice. Many of us have the habit of reading the newspaper, checking out Facebook, or playing Wordfeud, while waiting for or travelling by public transit. Certain


André Jansson

media forms, translated into practice, thus have a stronger potential to amalgamate with certain spatial practices than others. Through repetition these amalgamations are turned into durable sediments, implying that we “cannot have one thing without the other”: “no running without my portable music”; “no breakfast without my newspaper”, and so on. The indispensability of a media device can here be traced to the fact that the overall feel of texture, the “comfort of things” that Miller (2008) speaks about, is ruptured, and associated practices even disabled, if the particular device is somehow missing or displaced. The indispensability of media becomes symbiotically linked to the normalization of social practices, thus reinforcing the overall mediatization of social space.

5.2 Horizontal amalgamations Along the temporal/horizontal dimension we find textural amalgamations grounded in routinized, or functionally interdependent, sequences of practice. We can express this type of temporal ordering as such: “after doing this, I have to do that,” or; “before doing that, I have to do this.” Horizontal amalgamations thus create certain rhythms in everyday life, which may take on different shapes in different cultural and historical settings. In contexts of agrarian society we can envision the regular, mostly cyclic, sequences related to the cultivation of land and cattle. The integration of media technologies, however, took off, and had an accelerating effect, during the industrialization process, which among other things demanded more abstract forms of time-keeping (Schivelbusch 1987; Kern 2003). Clocks and other time-keeping devices have had a pervasive effect on modern life, also within the private realm; even the very adjustment and maintenance of such technologies have been an amalgamated part of everyday textures (such as winding up the clock in the morning, or adjusting the alarm clock before going to sleep). Perhaps even more prominently, however, the time-binding role of the media has been associated with broadcasting, and the scheduling of radio and television programming. Such examples range from the ritualized forms of Friday night gatherings in front of the television set, to the more practical necessity of listening to weather forecasts before setting out on journeys in the mountains or on the sea. Omitting such media practices, or the technologies that are indispensable for them, may evoke feelings of insecurity as well as emptiness. Still, we must keep in mind Lefebvre’s basic point that time and space are impossible to keep separate in actual processes of texturation. Horizontal amalgamation most often implies vertical amalgamation, and vice versa, since a particular (mediatized) practice may have the tendency to occur at a certain time and place according to certain, functionally or culturally conditioned, logics. The textural inseparability of time and space testifies to the strength of certain amalgamations

Indispensable things: on mediatization, materiality, and space


of media; the fact that particular technologies (often by way of the contents they carry) are felt to be indispensable at a certain time and place.

5.3 Transmedia textures It is difficult to say whether the ongoing shift from mass media textures to transmedia textures generates “stronger” or “weaker” amalgamations. One can at least say that they are qualitatively different; indispensability evolves in partly new ways. This is reflected in how people’s horizons of expectations shift, in terms of when and where they expect certain media devices and information flows to be available and for what purposes. In the era of mass media, most access points were temporally and/or spatially fixed and predefined. Newspapers were categorized as “evening papers” or “morning papers”, distributed according to institutionalized transport routes to particularly assigned media outlets, or to the customer. Radio and television technologies were for a long time highly stationary technologies – a type of everyday fixtures – whose contents were not easily transferrable to other platforms (Moores 1988; Adams 1992). Sound- and video-cassette recorders, as well as portable devices, successively enabled some degree of flexibility (such as “timeshifting”), but it is not until the above discussed expansion of converging digital media that we can discern a major textural shift. Above all, “transmediatization” means that the ways in which media amalgamate with other practices are becoming more open-ended and individualized. When media contents are expected to be available anytime and anywhere, and through different platforms, textures are no longer (to the same extent) institutionally determined. This does not mean that the material force of mediatization has weakened, however; as shown repeatedly throughout this chapter, and by the opening quotes, the versatility of transmedia devices enables them to interweave with everyday textures in increasingly complex ways. Sometimes this involves the amalgamation with stable routines, such as regular Spotify listening in the car every morning. At other times, as Soukup argues in an ethnographic account of postmodern media culture, everyday life is rather characterized by “fleeting moments without clear unity or sequence” marked by “the experience of being between screens and/or cultures rather than firmly entrenched in a single machine or cultural boundary” (Soukup 2012: 234–235).

6 Conclusion: the coming of transmediatization Following Lefebvre’s triadic model of social space I have argued that mediatization may be divided into three mutually interdependent regimes: (1) material indispensability and adaptation, (2) premediation of spatial experience, and (3) normaliza-


André Jansson

tion of social practice. Together these regimes chart out the complexity and pervasiveness of mediatization in modern life. In order to grasp how mediatization operates as a socio-material force of everyday life I have in this chapter focused on the first of these three regimes. This does not mean that the other two regimes have been entirely left out of the picture, however. Rather, the analytical framework suggested here unveils the ways in which different forces are interwoven in the shaping of mediatization. The analytical framework includes a three-level approach to the study of material indispensability and adaptation. I have argued that a fuller understanding of this regime can be reached through a combination of Ihde’s (1990) core notion of “I-technology-world” relations (media technics), Bourdieu’s ([1979] 1984) sociological theories of socio-cultural legitimation and practical knowledge (media properties), and Lefebvre’s ([1974] 1991) phenomenology of the materialization of everyday life (media textures). Whereas certain technological shifts, such as extended portability and simplified iconographic interfaces, may indeed contribute to the “disappearance”, or naturalization of media within the lifeworld – and thus to the “lubrication of mediatization” – the full potential of such innovations of technics can only be realized so long as their affordances resonate with pre-established structures of practical knowledge and legitimation within concrete settings of appropriation, and if the practical usage of new media devices creates strong textural amalgamations with various other social practices in time and space. By means of various real-life examples I have demonstrated that the threefold approach suggested here is instructive for identifying the internal contradictions and fluctuations of the mediatization meta-process. Another key theme of this chapter has been the altered shape of mediatization. One of the main strengths of the mediatization concept is the avoidance of technological determinism; the non-media-centric view of interdependencies between media developments (technological, institutional, and representational) and structural conditions in society. Such a perspective is integral to the analytical framework outlined in this chapter. Still, one cannot deny that the general appearance of mediatization, the way it looks, is largely linked to the ways in which the media operate, that is, to what types of communication existing technologies enable and what types of communicative needs they satisfy in certain contexts. Here, I have tried to outline the implications of digital transmedia technologies in terms of a qualitative shift within the regime of material indispensability and adaptation. This is not to say that mediatization has essentially acquired a new meaning or that entirely new regimes are emerging. However, the ways in which such conditions of media dependence and normalization develop look considerably different in the transmedia era, compared to the mass media era. From the viewpoint of indispensability I have chosen to describe this as a textural shift, through which new media forms, understood as both technics and properties, amalgamate with pre-existing socio-material patterns in increasingly flexible and open-ended, yet integrating, ways. This is what transmediatization signifies – the new face of mediatization.

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Niels Ole Finnemann

13 Digitization: new trajectories of mediatization? “Media matter to practices of communication because embodiment matters.” (J. D. Peters 1999: 65)

Abstract: The purpose of this chapter is to clarify what the concept of digital media might add to the understanding of mediatization and what the concept of mediatization might add to the understanding of digital media. It is argued that digital media open an array of new trajectories in human communication, which were not anticipated in previous conceptualizations of media and mediatization. If digital media are to be included, the concept of mediatization has to be revised and new parameters must be integrated in the concept of media. At the same time, it is argued that the concept of mediatization still provides a variety of perspectives of relevance to the study of digital media. The claim that the concept of mediatization has to be reinterpreted can only be legitimized if digital media are considered distinct from the media formerly referred to in mediatization theory. Such characteristics are presented and digital media are defined in section 2, while section 1 is devoted to theories of mediatization and the notion of media. Section 3 analyses the relation between mediatization and digitization. Finally, in section 4, medium theory is revisited with a view to harvest some missing fruits in contemporary mediatization theory. Keywords: digital materials and genres, digitization and mediatization, grammar of digital media, institutionalization of media, Internet and mass media, materializations of media, media theories: modern or general, medium theory, modes of mediatization, notion of networked digital media

1 Theories of mediatization For years processes of digitization have represented a major trend in the developments of modern society, but they have only recently been related to processes of mediatization. Among the unresolved questions in recent discussions on the concept of mediatization are the following questions: When did mediatization emerge? Which media are taken into account? How do different media add to the concept? How are the relationship between the time/space properties, the material characteristics of various media, and the institutional forms understood?


Niels Ole Finnemann

Some answers to the first question refer exclusively to “contemporary media” (Strömbäck 2008; Hjarvard 2008); others refer to all sorts of communication throughout history (Rothenbuhler 2009). The most dominant idea, however, is to see mediatization on a par with processes of individualization, modernization, and globalization, which are closely connected to modern media, print, radio, film and television, and digital media (Krotz 2007; Lundby 2009; overview in Finnemann 2011; Hepp 2013). Except for Rothenbuhler (2009), focus is exclusively on modern media or what Altheide and Snow (1979: 11) called modern “overshadowing” media. The second question, about which media are taken into account, refers back to the first question of emergence. But the question of “which media” is not simply a matter of historical origin and the particular long-term perspective referred to; it is also a matter of which communicative activities within a given society are included. Thus, it remains unsettled whether the concept includes the overall set of media within a given society (Rothenbuhler 2009), a selected set (Hjarvard 2008), whether it relates to a specific medium (Strömbäck 2008) or it refers primarily to an evolutionary logic in the incorporation of new media whenever they emerge (Schulz 2004). The third question, about what different media add to the concept, is more complicated. According to Krotz (2007), mediatization is a metaprocess that does not depend on particular media. Mediatization is everywhere, at least in modern societies. On the other hand, mediatization can only exist in particular practices, as there is no general logic of media. However, it also seems that mediatization has a kind of history that unfolds itself somehow, though the agencies in these processes are seldom made explicit. Others have argued that the concept is closely connected to specific institutional forms, which also add a sort of historical agency, an ability to impose a particular logic, and agenda-setting capacities (Hjarvard 2008; Strömbäck 2008). The fourth question – How is the relationship between the time/space properties, the material characteristics of various media, and the institutional forms understood? – seems to be the most difficult; there have been quite a lot of indications that the materiality of media does not matter at all, but very few attempts to provide an answer. It appears that all sorts of media technologies – writing systems, the printing press, the telephone, television systems, the Internet – are simply reduced to “technology”, which can be left out of the analysis of media cultures. Hepp builds on a distinction between “first order media”, such as “the internet as a vehicle for the transmission protocol/internet protocol (TCP/IP) model”, and “second order media”, which “are in addition social cultural institutions of communication” (2013: 4). In this case, media technology, for instance TCP/IP Internet protocols, does not seem to be part of a social cultural institution of communication. This is a surprise. Media and communication studies are based on these “technical media”, the properties of which it will exclude in a theory of

Digitization: new trajectories of mediatization?


mediatization. Since digital media introduce a radical change in the materialization of media, this blind spot will be further discussed below. To include digital media, the concept of mediatization will in the following be used as a metaconcept, referring to the basic characteristics of human communication: it is always mediated, but in a variety of historically distinct forms. Consequently, mediatization cannot be said to comprise a general set of properties characterizing all sorts of mediated communication or a family of properties distributed in different ways among the members. Instead the concept will be used to denote main parameters for analysing particular mediatization processes related to particular media in particular constellations of media. Any such constellation of media which is available in a society is denoted as a matrix of media. The particular institutionalizations are denoted as media systems. The matrix may be the same, even if usages and institutionalizations differ in say different countries, as shown in Hallin and Mancini (2004) for print news media. Mediatization processes will always refer to both dimensions. The matrix, the set of available media, specifies the material repertoire as well as the time and space constraints of communication, but it does not reveal how the repertoire is institutionalized and used in a given society. Thus, agencies and institutionalizations are not part of the matrix, but of the media systems that comprise the whole chain of communication within a society, including all communicating agencies (Finnemann 2011). Usages come into question in both dimensions. On the one hand, usages are constrained and facilitated by the properties of the available media in the matrix. On the other hand, the selected utilizations also depend on the interplay between the economic, institutional, political, social, and cultural needs of the citizens. The metaconcept is derived from Krotz, but in a more generalized interpretation, embracing the whole history of human communication. This is in accordance with the claim that all forms of human communication are externalized, materialized and encoded in a shared social system (Peters 1999; Rothenbuhler 2009: 287). Thus, mediatization is not exclusively related to modern media, even if they add a series of new trajectories for communication. In this there are two hard pills for modern media theory to swallow. First, writing and speech are both considered media. Since its emergence in the 1970s and 1980s, the discipline of media and communication studies has defined itself in opposition to a narrow concept of text as written or printed. While print is sometimes included, writing is seldom acknowledged as a medium. It seems that “the media” come into play only when “mechanical devices” detached from the human body are involved in the reproduction process. This is the modernist bias of media theory. The second pill is perhaps even harder to swallow, as speech is most often considered a conceptual antipode defining “non-media”. Speech is seen as opposed to externalized, tangible media and is often also associated with authenticity and intimate privacy. Here media theory is in accordance with a more widespread ignorance in modern thinking.


Niels Ole Finnemann

In a recent discussion of the genesis of the media concept, Guillory stated that a notion of “media” for modern communication technologies appears only in the late 19th century “as a response to the proliferation of new technical media – such as the telegraph and phonograph – that could not be assimilated to the older system of the arts” (Guillory 2010: 321). He also argued that modern thinking did not make room for a notion of media, even if it did often stumble into the need, referring, among other things, to Ferdinand Saussure’s interpretation of writing as subordinate to speech, while ignoring other media in his theory of language. One cannot but think of Plato and Descartes’ distinctions between the ideal world of forms, res cogitans, both outside the constraints of time and space, and the material world, res extensa, which only exists in time and space. Since media are material vehicles for ideas, they belong to both spaces or to a third space in between; the existence of such a space is excluded in these dualisms. To capture the field excluded by Cartesian dualism, one may need to redefine the concept of a medium, which in the following will be used for any sort of organized physical material used for some symbolic purpose, i.e. for communication. This is comparable to a classic definition given, for instance, by Altheide and Snow, according to whom a medium is “any social and technological procedure or device that is used for the selection, transmission, and reception of information” (1979: 11). Even if this is a wide definition which explicitly includes calendars, fashion, and dance as media, it completely excludes the material properties of media. Whether the physical material takes the more fluid form of energy or the more fixed form of matter is important for the understanding of the distinct properties of different media, but it makes no difference for the fundamental definition. Both energy and matter are physical, and if organized for communicational purposes and intentions, this organization is what turns physical material into media. Media are always in between, mediating between matter and mind as well as between humans and between humans and our imaginations, experiences, and ideas of the world. The triple nature of this definition can be clarified by the distinction between three types of noise derived from Shannon’s mathematical theory of information, though he did not explicitly identify all three forms (Shannon and Weawer [1949] 1969). The first form is trivial physical noise disturbing communication, as the physical forms used for communication are more or less drowned by, for instance, background noise or other sources. The second form is semantic noise, which occurs when the message is not properly understood due to coding discrepancies between the sender and the receiver, when they do not use the same codes for interpreting the physical forms as mediated signs. The third form is media noise in the form of the occurrence of a physical form that is legitimate form in a given coding system, say an alphabet, but not meant to be part of the actual communication. Shannon found the third type particularly interesting, and his solution was to increase the redundancy in the messages transmitted (Finnemann [1994] 1999a: 156–196).

Digitization: new trajectories of mediatization?


There are two main reasons for leaving the platonic and the modernist bias behind. First, speech and writing that predate modern mass media have never been fully replaced, while their functions and usages have changed relative to the inclusion of new media in the matrix. The histories of all societies include a history of rostrums for speaking in public – be it thing steads, thrones, pulpits, cathedrae, courts, chairs, lecterns, Hyde Park corner, or wherever people might gather around a speaker. Such floors where speakers can speak to somebody in front of them are institutionalized parts of the media systems in all known societies. Around the formalized thrones and chairs there is always also a sphere for more or less informal and often less public spoken negotiations. Second, when it comes to digitization, there is no exclusive limit between media and non-media. Speech, writing, radio, as well as television can be made subject to digitization. Such digital reproductions can be combined deliberately. This is possible, because they are already mediated, speech included, although in different physical forms. Digitization implies that non-digital originals are converted into a shared physical format – the binary alphabet – that can be mechanically processed bit by bit, simply because the bits are defined as physical units. The question of whether it is possible to limit mediatization to not include speech and writing and only embrace some digital media and not all of them will be further discussed below. Since the history of media is characterized by the recurrent advent of new media, it follows that processes of mediatization take on new forms and properties. These processes take place neither as an additive aggregation of forms, nor as a mere increase in the number of different types of media, but as major reconfigurations of the relations between media on the level of institutionalization as well as on the level of the matrix. In this respect, the point of departure is Wolfgang Riepl’s theory of media evolution (Riepl 1913), modernized, among others, by Meyrowitz (1985), Schulz (2004), Krotz (2007, 2009) and Finnemann (1999b, 2011). According to Riepl, new media seldom or never fully replace old media. More often they initiate functional changes. If so, new media lead to the establishment of a new general matrix of media that is more complex, both because the array of media is widened and because old media are often developed and used for new purposes and functions. The introduction of new media implies that a new layer is incorporated in the communicational infrastructure. The invention of writing induced a more complex matrix of media and led to a variety of new media systems, ranging from the systems found in Greek city states to the systems found in Chinese, Roman, and other empires and medieval European principalities. Without writing there would be no state, no general law, and no clear distinction between past and present. In Europe the take-up of print based on movable types in the 15th century also brought new layers to the matrix, as did the invention of radio and television in the more globalized and US-dominated world of the 20th century.


Niels Ole Finnemann

Since evolutionary theory is often described as linear and deterministic or not applicable to cultural phenomena, three things should be noted. First, no determinism is necessary, as there is no reason to claim, for instance, that writing caused the development of state, law, and the writing of history. Writing is merely a necessary precondition for these developments, and they, of course, have to be explained in a broader analysis of the dynamics of the societies in question. Second, some of the most interesting aspects of evolutionary processes are precisely their nonlinear nature, manifested in the principle of refunctionalization identified by Riepl and others. In modern evolutionary biology the notion of exaptation has been proposed, focusing on the non-deterministic increase in complexity. The concept of exaptation was introduced in Gould and Vrba (1982) as “the process by which features acquire functions for which they were not originally adapted or selected” (Oxford English Dictionary). Among the examples, Gould (1991) mentions the development of human speech: a most vital medium of human communication. For a critical discussion see Buss et al. (1998). Third, attempts to stress a fundamental ontological distinction between natural processes of evolution and cultural processes make sense only in a Cartesian, dualistic interpretation of bodies living in a biomaterial world (as part of res extensa) and human minds living in a distinct mental world (res cogitans). As said, Cartesian dualism did not allow for any sort of medium in between the two realms. It has been argued (Hepp 2013: 51), with reference to Norbert Elias (1991), that there is a difference between the “instrument of transmission and change” in biological evolution, which is driven by genes, and sociocultural development, which is driven by symbols. If there is a difference, it cannot be a difference between two completely separate spheres. It has to be a distinction in the very same biological or biosemiotic universe. Biology as a science may not include culture and, thus, still reserve itself to a reductionist stance, but human communication is necessarily embodied and mediated in between living organisms. The mind operates in the very same time and space as the brain and both are incorporated in the body of a living organism. In the following it is assumed that all media always mediate between physical, biological, and mental dimensions. This is possible only because they are materially organized to fulfil some sort of symbolic articulation. Epistemologically this implies a move from the psychophysical parallelism of the 20th century (information theories, game theory, structuralism, etc.) to noncausal psychophysical interactionism. Today we can safely assume that mental processes are materially processed in the neurophysiological system; res cogitans is intertwined with res extensa. The brain is a medium of the mind; mental states may change physical states and vice versa. Reductionist theories deny such characteristics, as they do not allow individual events that are not rule-governed. However, if all individual events were determined by previous events, there would be

Digitization: new trajectories of mediatization?


no language and no meaning. If all parts of a linguistic sentence were causally determined by rules, it would not be possible to express any unique message in that language. This is the point of departure for the anchoring of the media concept in between biophysical and symbolic processes, which again is a precondition for anchoring the concept within human communication. Media become part of human epistemology, as they both limit and allow communication. What we can know about the universe depends on the available media for observation and communication. Contemporary ideas of the universe, including theories of the Big Bang and black holes, are based on indices provided by mediated recordings of digitized signals from outer space, thus making our worldview conditioned by the capacities of digital observation media. The worldviews of today could not exist without digital media. Even if this notion of media goes well beyond the usual perspectives of media and communication studies, there are no safe arguments for a more restricted conceptualization. The main parameters for all known kinds of human communication relate to time, space, material form, and institutional form. It is argued that following these four parameters all media may be characterized as unique relative to each other. For any medium, additional parameters, for instance perceptual and semiotic parameters, may come into question, but all sorts of human communication can be characterized according to these four parameters, cf. Finnemann (2011). The space, time, and material characteristics of media relate to technologies that – even if they are societal constructs and thus variables – are also transcendent to the particular social context in which they are constructed or used. This is why they can be identified as media. Face-to-face communication is the only form of communication, if any, in which the communicating partners can be in almost the same situation. But only almost in the same situation. If nothing else, language will always extend beyond the situation. The same is the case for memory, which also connects the individual to extra-situational experiences. Thus, all media, speech included, somehow transcend the situation in respect to time and/or space. The relevance of mediatization theory relates both to an understanding of the general characteristics of a given constellation of media and to the characteristics of changes in the set of available media and media institutions within a society. It may also be included in the analysis of the relation between media epochs and wider issues of historical epochs. Finally, mediatization theory in this form makes it possible to predict a range of new trajectories opened by the advent of new media as a result of the identification of ways in which they may be used to change the overall matrix, including time, space, material, and institutional aspects of human communication. The concept of mediatization is not applicable on the micro level of the single act of communication, as it refers to general features, which are transcendent to any particular communication act. No such singular act provides sufficient infor-


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mation to reveal whether it is part of established routines, belongs to any specific cultural context, or eventually becomes part of a new trajectory. These questions can only be answered if one adopts perspectives which transcend the situation. The world cannot be conceived of as consisting of associated situations and localized contexts only or as an infinite array of mediatized worlds separated from each other. The global reach of the Internet does not imply a global village, but it does imply that any situation can easily be extended globally by any citizen. Today, we have synchronous face-to-face communication and textualized near-synchronous communication across any distance on earth, and you can never know if you end up on YouTube tonight. However, in the case of digital media, the issue is not simply a matter of the number of particular characteristics of new media. It is a matter of conceptualization of both mediatization and of digital media.

2 The concepts of digitization and digital media Digital media emerge as materials of stored content, as a repertoire of methods for search, analysis, and presentation, and as media for communication. Digital media always convey some sort of digital material, and they are always also search engines which provide a repertoire of possible methods for analysing and presenting in a perceptible form otherwise invisible, stored digital materials. If they are interconnected, they may also serve as a means for communication in all spheres of society. These three basic dimensions of material, method, and media are intertwined and their interrelations are variable. As a consequence, the utilization of one of these dimensions will also affect the two other dimensions, but since the relations are variable, this is not a predetermined relationship. Each of the three dimensions provides a register of new opportunities for human communication and together they open up for a far-reaching reconfiguration of the communicational infrastructures in human history – insofar as some of the new opportunities are selected and utilized to meet certain needs and desires. In the following, a few unique characteristics of each of these three dimensions will be presented briefly to indicate a profile of the disruptive potentials of digital media in the history of media.

2.1 Digital materials Digital materials are manifested in the binary alphabet. This is their only shared characteristic. The hidden algorithmic structures and the semantic representations on the level of the interface may vary. Thus, digital materials differ from each

Digitization: new trajectories of mediatization?


other, because they are somehow marked according to their provenances, what they are about, how they are produced and used, and in what sorts of formats. This is where culture and politics sneak into the very roots of digital media in still new ways. Brügger and Finnemann (2013) distinguish between digitized materials and “born” digital materials. The former includes all analogue materials that have been digitized, as is the case with a growing range of cultural heritage materials, such as digitized print materials, newspapers, radio programmes, and television programmes. Digitized materials are reproductions of non-digital originals. Depending on the source, the reproduction is subject to some sort of distortion or noise. A linguistic text coded in the Latin alphabet may be reproduced in its entirety. The digitized reproduction of the material qualities of the paper will be noisy. A tiny grain on the paper may look like a punctual mark, i.e. noise type three. Digitized reproductions of non-digital sounds and images will also be noisy due to the binary coding of colours varying on a continuous scale, as is well-known. Nevertheless, digitization of non-digital materials gives rise to a range of new opportunities for the use, further reproduction and distribution and, not least, the study of these materials, due to the characteristics described below in sections 2.2, 2.3 and 2.4. Born digital materials, of course, come without such distortions. They also differ from digitized materials because digital materials may include hypertextual and interactive features as original features, whereas such features can only be non-original additions to digitized materials. Digitized materials exist in a digital format, which is defined a posteriori to the original format. Born digital materials can both be created in their own digital format and recreated in different formats; the latter is, for instance, the case with archived web materials, which constitute one of the most complex sets of data materials. Digital materials also include a huge variety of forms which are seldom included in media and communication studies. This is the case for geo-located online information, which is now frequently utilized even in the online editions of mass media. We also find a growing variety of digital materials distributed via mobile devices in public – sometimes interactive – spaces, such as cities and other networked spaces, making these spaces communicational spaces not formerly considered mediatized. Digital media are used for surveillance of people’s behaviour in public as well as private spaces. This is both performed by separate surveillance media and by utilizing the huge amounts of information “given off” by people travelling the net. Service providers increasingly create so-called “data doubles” of the people using the services. People also produce an increasing number of digital self-representations, such as personal profiles on a variety of digital platforms. While some are private profiles, created for use in connection with home banking or online health services,


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others are anonymous and semi-anonymous usernames used in various debate and chat forums, online gaming sites, quasi 3D universes, etc., and finally others are public personal profiles, such as those used on Facebook, LinkedIn, and similar services. The range of such “avatars” widens over the years, thus reflecting changing age, personal preferences, tastes and interests, identities, and social belonging. The universe of digital materials goes even further as it also includes the use of digital circuits in mechanical devices, be it traffic lights, cars, washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators, ovens, watches, printing presses, electronic measuring instruments, robots, or alarms; the Internet of things; more sensitive utilizations such as electronic tags on prisoners, children, and senile people; circuits incorporated in pacemakers or operated into the body to replace ruined nerve fibres and connecting patients and hospitals for monitoring and adjustment purposes; observational data from scanning our interior parts, including the brain; and creating data from outer space, which all together allow us to reconsider the structure of the universe as well as our ways of thinking and creating meaning in and of the world. Thus, the question is raised whether it is possible to limit the concept of mediatization to include only some of these digital materials and methods and ignore others. Of course, this question also concerns the very notion of media and the delimitation of the object proper of media and communication studies. These questions cannot be safely answered without looking at the dimensions of search and communication.

2.2 Digital methods for search and representation Digital materials can only be accessed by means of digitally supported search and retrieval methods to establish the re-presentation of the invisible, stored content on a screen or another output device. This relation is not conceivable in phenomenological interpretations of media communication, but it is a part of all forms of digital media and a fundamental part of the contemporary processes of mediatization, if digital media should be included. Any digital device includes a digital search engine, as it is the mechanism used to set in motion any sequence of bits processed in the machine, whether a mainframe, a PC, a laptop, a web server, a mobile device, a pedometer, a scanner, or other. Even without recognizing it as such, the mobile devices people carry in their pockets today work as search engines. People feel uncomfortable without it. The search engine inherent in all digital devices opens a new trajectory in human communication as the basis for a fast growing amount of digital search procedures, also accompanied by the development of software-supported methods for analysing digital materials.

Digitization: new trajectories of mediatization?


Search is an old activity, but mechanical search is rather new. Mechanical search by means of punch cards was developed before the advent of modern digital computers. Also radio receivers were early on capable of detecting radio stations based on wavelength. But the rich semiotic potentials of digital search were only slowly and gradually acknowledged, until Google short-circuited the classic search paradigms in the late 1990s (Halavais 2009). The cultural role of digital search for digital materials, search engines, and the ever-growing array of search methods and paradigms takes digital media beyond formerly known media. Insofar as contemporary culture is increasingly articulated in digital forms, it follows that the methods used to find, use, and study these matters will increasingly have to exploit digital search methods. None of this applies to any formerly known machines or media. The new methodological perspectives go beyond the scope of this article, but an example may give an indication. Survey methods are well-established. Web surveys constitute an emerging field. The conditions of validity differ from former survey methods, and a whole range of new options are to be explored, as it is now possible to utilize the hypertextual, interactive, and multimodal repertoires in combination with scalable reach according to the local/global and time scale. Thus, it is possible to develop interview strategies which combine quantitative and qualitative questions, to use answers given to ask new questions, to stretch the time scale, to establish dialogic relations between interviewers and respondents, or to include references to materials from the web. The array of new methods also includes, among others, website analysis, web-sphere analysis (Foot and Schneider 2006), and a range of link- and big data analyses. This does not mean that older methods should necessarily be dismissed. They may still be useful and incorporated in the composition of multi-layered methodologies developed as a response to the increasing complexity of the media systems and the overall matrix. However, without utilizing software-supported methods there will be significant and growing lacunae in what we do know in media and communication studies. All media convey materials, but in different formats, allowing different kinds of operations and all media may serve as means of communication in one or several respects, but most do not include a methodological component, either for search or for making the materials visible. Digital search engines represent one of the most fundamental and unique innovations provided by digital media and form the basis for major changes in the role of media in a society and, thus, in the history of media.

2.3 Digital communication institutionalized “New media” studies tend to consider “new media” the sole media in history and often also ignore the history of digital media and the transformations of the media systems. Thus, one might look to mediatization theory to bridge the gaps.


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However, even if mediatization theory includes institutionalization, changes in the media systems due to the utilization of digital media and the new, more complex matrix are seldom addressed. Even Schulz, who describes a set of evolutionary features, concludes in the end “that new media are not actually that new” (2004: 97), though he did not analyse the new media system. Recent interpretations tend to give up the idea of the existence of a media system. Dahlgren and Alvares (2012) claim that the distinctions between old and new media are eroding, but they leave the erosion process itself out of sight. This is strange, as almost all mass media have been striving hard to reinvent themselves in recent years, offline and online (Küng, Picard and Towse 2008). According to Schulz (2004), the media system comprises economic, technological, and semiotic dimensions. Digital media are used as game changers in all three dimensions. In the development from stand-alone computers to networked digital media these media have changed from being mainly instrumental for the mass media to being a new field for their activities. In the late 20th century, the mass media had gained editorial control over public communication. With the Internet, their position as gatekeepers to the public had weakened. Direct access to the public for everybody was primarily provided via the web protocols published on the Internet in 1991. The open Internet allowed a much more varied set of editorial criteria to be practised. Individual citizens, communities, professional expert systems as well as all kinds of political, cultural, and social agencies were now able to bypass the mass media and communicate directly to the public. With the American decision in 1993 to open the Internet for commercial activities (Boucher’s Bill) new commercial enterprises entered into the business field of mass media, providing news, background information, opinion building processes, and entertainment. For a wider public the value of the Internet was made clear in the wake of the 9/11 terror bombing in New York during the burst of the IT bubble in 2001, as the Internet turned out to be superior to other means of communication for governmental institutions, companies involved, relatives, and other concerned people around the globe. In the early 21st century a new business model emerged. It was centred on the search engine, providing a set of search facilities for free, while financing the activities by relating ads to the inputs of users. The basic model could be applied on any scale from local to global and for any sort of activity. Within few years, however, a small group of new global players (such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, YouTube) became dominant. Each of these services was used by a wider audience than any of the mass media and they took over a large part of the revenues in the media industries. The new players, thus, became a threat to the mass media, due to economy, due to their scalable reach, ranging from local to global, due to the scalable variation of public, semi-public and private communication and, more generally, due to their better understanding of the new modes of com-

Digitization: new trajectories of mediatization?


munication and search made possible by the Internet. The media systems experienced still ongoing structural changes on a global scale (Castells 2009). In the same process the mass media tried to digitize themselves and enter the networked digital platforms. They changed from being anchored primarily in a particular media technology (print or electronic) to becoming multi-platform media corporations (Wurff and Laub 2005). Their role as gatekeepers for access to the public and for maintaining the distinction between what should – and what should not – be considered of public relevance with respect to moral and quality standards has weakened, but they still hold an important role in public opinion building in many countries. To perform this role, however, they have had to establish themselves on the Internet and they are increasingly dependent on the wider array of public voices articulated elsewhere on the Internet. A most important feature underlying this process is the speed and global reach of digital communication, as it allows for near-synchronous communication between people and all sorts of digital archives on a global scale, be it news archives, health services, image archives, or any other sort of information or news service. This is why concepts like interoperability between different kinds of digital resources have grown into prominence in the IT strategies of today, for instance in the world of libraries as well as in the US and EU research infrastructure initiatives and elsewhere. There is no reason to rely on the idea that these developments will remain irrelevant to the mass media. On the contrary, if mass media do not adjust to keep pace, they will be “googled” once again, as they were “googled” with the launch of Google ads in the early 21st century. Networked digital media have also made possible the development of a range of new short, written formats, ranging from email, chat, messaging, texting, blog entries to comments, status updates, and tweets (Baron 2008). Thus, personal near-synchronous and asynchronous typewriting is included in the range of public media. The speed of electronic media is a precondition. But so is the storage capacity. While writing and print media are storage media which may be distributed, analogue electronic media are primarily media of high-speed communication. The related storage media, if any, are usually separate, such as the gramophone record, the film roll, the (video) tape of the tape recorder. The seamless integration of the speed of electronic communication and the storage capacities of print media in one digital device forms the basis for a growing variety of digital genres in between and beyond previously existing genres, whether spoken, written, printed, or electronic. Finally, it also makes everything digital searchable. In this respect too electronic digital media differ radically from analogue electronic media. Analogue electronic media are also gradually digitized, which means that properties of digital media are gradually built into formerly analogue media. Teletext can be seen as an early and popular example, predating the short formats mentioned above, but utilizing only a limited set of digital features. The existence of intermediary forms in between analogue and digital media does not reduce the significance of the


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differences. On the contrary, it documents that analogue electronic media cannot fulfil contemporary needs for communication. The integration of storage and high-speed communication in globalized networks changes the conditions of media and communication studies. It affects the fundamentals, not simply of the objects and the people who use the media, but of scholarship and media and communication studies as a discipline, including theories, methods, and materials (Reips 2008), allowing shortcuts in the academic knowledge production chain (Finnemann 2013).

2.4 Digital media defined Compared to former media materials, digital materials differ in a number of respects, some of which become evident when comparing analogue materials with their digitized equivalents. For instance, a printed text can only be “manually” searched, while a digitized version of the text can be searched mechanically for any particular sequence. To this comes the range of hypertextual, interactive, and multimodal facilities of contemporary digital media, which have only rudimentary forerunners in the printed world. For images the difference is even more fundamental, since the digital representation implies that even still images, formerly existing and understood as units independent of space and time, in their digital form become a product of serial processes performed in time, even if they are still perceived as still images. This is also the case for television, but digitization implies textualization of the image with respect to editability. In the extreme, each pixel in a digital image can be ascribed and edited in keeping with its own distinct timeline. There is no final limit for the editability of digital images. Any single image can be converted into any other possible digital image. While all images may be digitized, there is no way back from a digital version to the analogue original. Instead, we have an indefinite repertoire of possible printouts of new instances of any sort of digital material, limited only by the question of whether it makes sense for somebody. Digital media do not imply the end of print, but rather the end of out of print. Digital materials cannot be handled without the use of digital methods for storing, searching, combining, analysing, and presenting. They may, in some respects, still be analysed using well-known methods, but since a fast growing number of social, cultural, and political activities are articulated in digital forms and performed via digital platforms, it follows that the development of digital methods, both in society at large and in research, will have a still more significant role to play. Thus, media and communication studies are confronted with a medium which trespasses the boundaries between the object and the methodological devices and architectures for studying the object, which at the same time has become a moving target.

Digitization: new trajectories of mediatization?


The variability of the relations between digital materials, methods, and modes of communication makes these media more open for projections of different ideas than any formerly known device. They come with a variable functional architecture, both on the level of the devices and, even more so, on the software level. The relation between fixed hardware and modifiable software is itself variable. It may, in many cases, be convenient to dedicate a device to a limited set of purposes by integrating a greater part of the functional architecture in the hardware. This is why the explosive growth of software formats and genres goes hand in hand with an explosive growth of dedicated devices and gadgets, ranging from mainframes and PCs to mobile devices and microchips, which may be implemented in everything and everywhere. The functional architecture can be modified according to any set of ideas, needs, and desires. Digital media can be made responsive to the content of individual messages. Thus, they allow us to produce growing amounts of still more different kinds of digital materials and digital devices, which may be tailored to almost any convenient physical form and are mainly restricted by the human need for interfaces to make sense of binary processes. In Brügger and Finnemann (2013) we argue that the ongoing development of new types of digital materials combined with the variability of the functional architecture as well as the growing number of dedicated devices calls for a reinterpretation of the computer. Thus, “digital media” is used to denote not simply the networked connections between many computers, but also to replace 1) the concept of uniform digital datasets with the notion of heterogeneous digital materials, 2) the idea of computation as a uniform (mathematical, logical, rule-governed) process with the conceptualization of digital processes such as search, storage, and representation, supported by hypertextual, interactive, and multimodal means, and 3) the idea of the computer as a programmed machine performing the same limited set of repetitive or iterative operations (and the equivalent idea of IT as a given constant) with the idea that digital media have a variable functional architecture. This definition of digital media deviates, on the one hand, from the concept of the computer as a rule-governed machine, which originally developed in connection with the interpretation of the mainframe machines of the 1950s and 1960s. On the other hand, it deviates from the Human–Computer Interaction (HCI) conceptualization of a digital toolbox interpreting the personal computers of the 1980s, and which paved the way for the spread of computers from the specialized fields of IT experts into society at large. Both of these definitions were based on stand-alone computers. The definition of digital media, however, also deviates from the widespread “new media” concept (or the implicit assumption) of the computer as a plastic and freely malleable device that comes with no built-in constraints. The definition will be further unfolded in section 5 by drawing on main insights from medium theory. This prehistory of the concept is still important, not simply because previous conceptualizations are still around, but also because the prehistory reveals that


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digital media enter into the history of media from the outside and were only very recently recognized as media, both by the mass media and the media scholars. During the 1980s and 1990s the literature on IT came predominantly from other areas than media and communication studies.

3 Digitization meets mediatization The processes of mediatization meet digitization processes in two ways. First, since the 1970s digitization has taken place from within in many particular parts of the media institutions, mainly as a substitute for a particular function like typesetting or bookkeeping, without wider implications for the function of the media in society. Today most processes in the production, technical reproduction, administration, and communication of media are digitized. In principle, the mass media could have been fully digitized without affecting their functioning in society significantly. However, the very same processes also open up for quite different developments as a result of social and cultural needs and desires and changes in the conceptualization of digital media and the whole range of new facilities they provide (Finnemann 2014). Second, digitization processes came to the mass media from the outside. Even if the mass media started digitization processes in the 1970s, they did not become a main agency in the innovative usages of digital media, which took place in the same years, leading to the Internet, and were later followed by a growing array of dedicated digital devices, some of which are mobile devices. The mass media were absent from the development of the international digital networks and, thus, more or less absent in the first fifty years of digital media. Mediatization theory has followed the mass media and did not confront itself with processes of digitization and the spread of digital media before they became disruptive in the history of mass media in the early 21st century. As a consequence of this, a main issue for mediatization theory is to specify the criteria for inclusion of digital media in the conceptual framework. Is it possible, for instance, to delimit only the processes which relate to the mass media? Or should the concept be extended to include all sorts of digitization processes? Conceptually, mediatization comes off as a broader concept than digitization, as it includes references to a number of non-digital media. On the other hand, it is still unclear whether it should include all kinds of digital processes, as described above. If mediatization does not include all sorts of digital processes, where the limit should be drawn will become a constant issue. A most familiar suggestion would be to include only digitization processes in the sphere of mass media. These are usually limited to television, radio, and printed newspapers. Today such an approach would have to include some parts of the Internet, such as the websites of mass media, their Facebook sites, and

Digitization: new trajectories of mediatization?


other external forums under the editorial supervision of established media. It fails, however, as news production and news distribution and public opinion building also take place in numerous places elsewhere on the net. Mass media are not the only agencies that can now publish on a 24/7 basis. This is also the case for politicians, lobbyist groups, any sort of expert system, and every citizen. Why should their contributions not be included? Even Google cannot keep track of this new universe of news, while the mass media are left further behind, because they are unable to include the long tails of diversified news and information of relevance to people. According to a survey on media usage in Denmark in 2009, television was still the most widespread medium, while print media and radio fell behind the Internet. Most people also used Google and Facebook, but even more people also used a number of specialized websites, each of which may only have been used by relatively few (Finnemann et al. 2012). The Internet is fit to serve such long tail patterns, which are increasingly important due to the exponential growth in knowledge and news production and entertainment. Some critics might suggest that an editorial quality criterion could form a basis for deciding what counts as media, thus refraining from including all digital media as such. It would be easy, however, to identify numerous websites which outdo a majority of existing mass media with regard to quality of information. A wider approach might include all sorts of public spaces on the Internet, including blogs, debate and chat forums, some parts of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, some mailing lists, commercial as well as civic sites addressing issues of common interest. Such an approach also fails, because the very distinction between private and public – and semi-public – spaces on the net is not decided by “the media”, but by individuals and groups who may change their priorities from situation to situation, making some information public one day and private the next due to changing perspectives and motives. The concept of media is most often used for articulations manifested in externalized communication media. A third distinction, therefore, might be related to externalization. Digital processes are only included if they are manifested in externalized, tangible devices, which can be handed over between people. This would equal a distinction between “unmediated” speech and mediated writing, as the product of writing can be handed over to others, whereas speech cannot. However, wireless communication between a pacemaker and a hospital, scanning internal bodily states, brain states for instance, can easily be made part of public communication, because externalization in a tangible, stored form is already required. Thus, digital media transcend the distinction between internal and external. They can do so, because both internalized and externalized processes mediate between physical and mental processes. Thereby, they also reveal the dogmatic assumption that speech is immaterial and unmediated or less material than externalized media articulations. This distinction is rooted in Cartesian dualism, while res cogitans in today’s epistemologies is moved into res extensa, as argued in section 1, as a result


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of the study of brain processes, revealing that mental processes are embodied and situated in time and space, even if the content of the mind may be fiction, mere imagination, memories of the past, or ideas and phantasies of the future. Insofar as the notion of mediatization includes all sorts of digital processes, it opens up for the inclusion of a growing list of new trajectories, not simply because digital media are already incorporated in existing institutional frames (e.g. religion, education, home banking, media for the public, etc.), but also due to the innovation of new – digital – communicational features, genres, strategies, and eventually new societal fields, as there are no areas left that can remain permanently untouched by digitization. Still, digitization makes a difference both to nondigital phenomena and different kinds, strategies, and genres of digitization. This is not to say that everything will be made digital. First, it is most likely that, in many cases, people will prefer non-digital interactions. Second, digital processes can never be made exclusively digital. They exist only as distinctions within a continuous physical universe. Embodiment matters for machines as for humans. There will always be some degree of materialization and anchoring in time and space in the form of a device and an interface allowing humans to make sense of the processes. So far, it seems that digitization should be seen as a particular mode of mediatization or rather a set of particular modes of mediatization. These modes will always share the use of the binary alphabet, allowing the blending of expressions and genres as well as of platforms, while search, both on the algorithmic level of syntax and on the semantic, interfacial level of human experience and meaning, occurs in different modes and still evolving genres. As previously argued, they will also always deploy different forms of hypertextual, interactive, and multimodal means of expression. The inclusion of all sorts of digital materials does not settle the issue of how mediatization relates to digitization. While mediatization is a broader notion than digitization, because it includes non-digital media, digitization is still a broader notion than the concepts of mediatization developed so far, because digitization includes not only digital materials, but also the coexistence of digital materials, digital media, and digital search facilities. The coexistence of these is unique, insofar as the relation between the material, the search method, and the media is variable. There is always a layer of software in between the tangible device and the genres and messages. This layer can both be used to define (and vary) the functional architecture of the device and to make the device responsive to the content of individual messages. None of this can take place in analogue electronic media or print media. Whether ordinary language (spoken or written) could be said to allow for similar interrelations will remain an object of further analysis. Consequently, the machinery itself can never be left out as an invariant precondition for digital communication. Traditional “Newtonian” machines, however complex they are, can be defined as based on an intended repetitive functional

Digitization: new trajectories of mediatization?


architecture built into a physical, fixed form. Furthermore, the materials processed were not meant to interfere with the modus operandi of the machine, as it would disturb the processing. The images on the television screen should not change the functioning of the screen. Digital media are also mechanical devices, but they differ from “Newtonian machines”, because the functional architecture can be defined in the form of organized physical energy, delivered as editable software. Thus, digital media enter more directly into the genres and content of communication than former media. As a consequence, the notion “media” is often both used for software applications (such as social media for instance) and for the devices in which they are implemented alongside other applications. Digital media are, in this respect, less able than older media to be transparent when used. They draw more attention to themselves than radio and television. To use the terms of Meyrowitz (1993), the functional architecture of digital media enters into the grammar of communication and not simply into the settings and channels.

4 Medium theory revisited Within media and communication studies, medium theory is routinely criticized en bloc for being deterministic or dogmatic. The criticism may be directed towards the strong ideologies of McLuhan and others, who try to establish a very close relation between a particular medium and a general worldview, or it may be directed towards particular concepts like the notion of “bias” or, as is the case in Hepp, it may be argued that medium theory “leaves the impression of being an inadequate approach to the description of media culture, precisely because it reduces this media culture to that of one dominant media culture. But this is too simplistic: cultures moulded by media are much too contradictory to be reduced to any one dominating medium” (2013: 16). This may be true, but it depends very much on what is meant by “dominating” and by “moulded”. It also depends on the choice of sources. The criticism, for instance, does not fit well with Walther Ong and his analyses of the intricate relations between speech, writing, printing, and analogue electronic media, as expressed, for instance, in the notion of a secondary orality which denotes an “electronically mediated” oral form presupposing both writing and print (Ong 1983: 136). Likewise Meyrowitz (1985) repeatedly stresses that literacy remains important, and they both subscribe to the idea that old media are seldom replaced by new media. See also Meyrowitz (1994) for a less simplistic description of first and second generation medium theory. Even if medium theory in some interpretations reduces media culture to one dominant medium and culture, it is not necessarily an intrinsic part of the approach. Furthermore, the idea of dominant media does not necessarily imply a reduction of media cultures, but it does imply the existence of relations between media,


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the complexity of which is a matter of empirical study. For Altheide and Snow there is no doubt that “every historical epoch is marked by the dominance of some media over others” (1979: 11). Today it would be difficult to find a medium that is not affected in a variety of ways by our usages of digital media. The issue is rather how such relations between media develop. There are plenty of theories of the relations between media, including replacement theories (new media replace old media), theories of extension, different theories of convergence, theories of media evolution (both linear like Schulz [2004] and theories of increasing complexity), and finally theories of coevolution; see Finnemann (2006) for an overview. These and other theories also deviate in what they claim to be significant characteristics of the various media. There are also many empirically oriented cross-media and communication studies to consider. Hepp is correct, however, in arguing that McLuhan, Meyrowitz and Ong and others include analogue and digital electronic media in one overarching concept of electronic media, but there is a huge amount of literature that clearly distinguishes between analogue and digital electronic media, focusing on the particular biases and affordances of digital media as markedly different from those of analogue electronic media. For examples see Zuboff 1988; Bolter 1991; Landow 1992; Lanham 1993; Poster 1995; Levinson 1997; Castells 1996–1998; Deibert 1997; Finnemann 1999a, 2011; Benkler 2006; Baron 2008; Cardoso 2008. Thus, it seems more preferable to consider medium theory part of a series of attempts to reflect the specificity of certain media, whether denoted as biases of media (Innis [1951] 1977), as enabling and disabling capacities of media (Pool 1990), or as affordances in the tradition of J. J. Gibson (1979). While biases refer to properties of a particular medium, affordances refer to a particular relation between an organism and the surroundings. The concept has been transferred to human computer interaction and media and communication studies by Norman (1998) and Hutchby (2001) and others, referring to features that “invite” media users to engage in certain actions rather than others. While biases are more common in macroanalyses, affordances seem more popular in microlevel studies of particular media usages. A main difference, though often ignored, is whether the properties referred to are considered the properties of a medium, a bias, or refer to a relation between a medium and a particular kind of usage, an affordance anchored in particular properties of both. Refuting medium theory approaches, but nevertheless asking for reflections of the specificities of media, Hepp suggests the notion of a “moulding force of media”, which “reflects that media are at the same time an institutionalization as well as a reification of communication” (2012: 24), thus also including a loosely identified power issue, which may explain why the moulding force cannot “be seen beyond its context.” It is not completely clear, however, how the notion of a moulding force differs from the established notion of affordances. If there is a difference, it seems to be that affordances are anchored in a relation between an

Digitization: new trajectories of mediatization?


organism and the surroundings, while the moulding force seems to be fully defined by and absorbed into the context in which it is identified. But if so, one might ask why the moulding force is not merely a part of the context, rather than “a force of the medium” (Hepp 2013: 60)? It is not clear yet what the notion of a moulding force might add to the understanding of media and mediatization, but on the basis of medium theory approaches and other contributions it is possible to identify spatiotemporal, material, perceptual, and semiotic criteria characterizing particular media, though it will be necessary to include the whole matrix of media, as does for instance Ong (1983), when identifying the characteristics of each. It will also be necessary to distinguish between historical time/space relations related to the media generally available to society at large and the time/space scales of particular communicational acts. A main question today is how these notions are affected by the advent of digital media, as it is possible to digitize all former media, if we so want. Thus, all the characteristics – biases and affordances – of the former media that were assumed to be stable become variable and editable in the new medium. The fixed text – formerly written, typed, or printed – becomes dynamic and hypertextual. The moving images as well as dynamic speech become storable in the very moment of digitization – even if they are redistributed in streamed formats, which cannot be stored. The flow television, formerly defined by the institutionalization of the mass media, now becomes an option on a par with other options for deciding when to see what on which screen. This is, of course, an option on the level of institutionalization, as it presupposes an open Internet, rather than proprietary systems, such as French Minitel in the 1980s or America Online (AOL) in the USA in the 1990s. The time/space characteristics of the 5 major media epochs is presented in Finnemann (2011). As mentioned in the previous section one of the crucial dimensions of this change can be described as a transition of a range of media characteristics from what Meyrowitz (1993) defined as the settings of the medium, referring to the relatively stable parts of a media landscape, to the grammar of the medium, referring to the set of variables which can be used in the articulation of individual messages in a given medium. The grammar of a medium equals linguistic grammar, as it specifies an array of rules and redundancy structures allowing the composition of an infinite number of different messages. However, the grammars of modern media, at the same time, differ from the grammar of both written and spoken language, as modern media come with an externalized and institutionalized grammar separate from the human memory. What a grammar does is primarily to describe possible rule-based or redundant patterns for articulation of meanings; in this respect, it will always transcend actual use, as do the linguistic grammars of our mother tongues. There is an infinite array of possible sentences still left to be articulated in the future.


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Like writing, print, radio, and television, digital media also open up for new trajectories marked as different from those opened by the former media. Regardless of whether this is progress or not, it is an empirical fact. For digital media such new trajectories are opened both due to the navigation-, browse-, and search facilities and due to the hypertextual, interactive, and multimodal potentials of computers. All digital expressions can be related to these dimensions in one way or another. For the Internet of today, based on a globalized set of standardized protocols, such as the TCP/IP, and generally open for new entry points, we can add three more grammatical dimensions to the new trajectories. These are the seamless variations on the scales of a) public, semi-public, semi-private, and private communication, b) local, national, and transnational reach, and c) the choice of communication partner, both on the side of senders and receivers (Finnemann 2005). Any digital expression utilizes these dimensions, and its particular utilization of these may be analysed; some are defined on the level of the software used, some are defined on the level of sociocultural selection and institutionalization, and some are defined by the individual users according to their individual purpose and skills. In the end, all these dimensions are anchored in the fundamental structure of digital media which, contrary to formerly known mechanical devices, are characterized by a variable functional architecture that always represents some search method for combining and presenting data in a perceptible form, allowing people to make sense of it. Insofar as new media do not replace old media, there is still a need for a concept of mediatization that refers to the overall set of available media, the matrix, and which cannot be reduced to the forms of mediatization implied by the use of any single medium, however dominant it may turn out to be in a long-term perspective. To include digital media, media and communication studies should provide itself with a concept of digital media, and to do so, it has been argued, it is also necessary to redefine the concepts of media and mediatization.

Acknowledgements The author would like to acknowledge the contribution of the COST Action IS1004 WEBDATANET: web-based data collection, methodological challenges, solutions and implementations.

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Mirca Madianou

14 Polymedia communication and mediatized migration: an ethnographic approach Abstract: This chapter investigates the cumulative consequences of new communication technologies for the phenomenon of migration. Drawing on a five-year-long comparative and multi-sited ethnography of long-distance communication within Filipino transnational families I demonstrate that the recent convergence in new communication technologies has profound consequences not just for the migrants and their left-behind families but for the phenomenon of migration as a whole. Although new media cannot solve the fundamentally social problems of family separation, they have become integral to how these relationships are experienced and managed. Despite the transnational asymmetries in infrastructure and media literacy, the increasing availability of transnational communication is used as a justification for key decisions relating to migration or settlement in the host country. This discourse, which ultimately normalizes migration decisions, is also evident at an institutional level. The chapter brings together research with institutional actors as well as migrant families and shows that transnational communication through new media – understood as an environment of polymedia – has become implicated in making female migration more socially acceptable while ultimately influencing patterns of migration. By bringing together an analysis of interpersonal communication as mediation and social change as mediatization the chapter shows that media do not just add a new dimension to the phenomenon of migration – they transform it altogether. The chapter also outlines the distinct contribution of an ethnographic approach to mediatization. Keywords: migration, transnational families, interpersonal communication, family relationships, social change, media anthropology, ethnography, new communication technologies, media environments, polymedia, convergence

The field of migration research offers fertile ground for the investigation of the consequences of new media. The continuing rise in global migrations is a key phenomenon for contemporary societies affecting both sending and host countries. Migrants as transnational subjects can be sophisticated users of new communication technologies in order to keep in touch with left-behind families (Madianou and Miller 2012), or to improve their life chances before and post migration (Elias and Lemish 2009; Hiller and Franz 2004). Contrary to popular stereotypes which cast migrants as perpetually destitute and information poor, recent research points out that certain groups of economic migrants (though certainly not all) are early and avid adopters of new technologies (Fortunati, Pertierra and Vincent 2012; Mad-


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ianou and Miller 2012; Qiu 2009) who are prepared to invest in hardware and face the necessary connection costs. Of course, many other social groups are, or are claimed to be early adopters of new media. What makes some migrants’ experience significant is their dependency on new technologies, for example, under conditions of family separation. While for most people family life will involve a combination of mediated and non-mediated interactions (Clark 2012) for many migrants family life is almost entirely dependent on communication media (Madianou and Miller 2012). The experiences of such migrants exemplify a form of “media life” (Deuze 2012). Traditionally, most research on media and migration has focused on the question of representation – the ways migrants are (mis)representend in various formats of news and popular culture (Moore, Gross and Threadgold 2012) and the way such representations reproduce racism and xenophobia in society (Hartman and Husband 1973; van Dijk 1991; Philo, Briant and Donald 2013). Although the issue of representation of difference is of unquestionable political and social importance, it does not address the ways migrants themselves become creative users, or producers of new media not only to keep in touch at a distance, but also in order to develop their own content and take control over their representation. The migrants’ perspective is very important as it reveals the issues that matter to them the most as well as the difference that the media make (or not) to their own lives. A number of audience-centred studies (Gillespie 1995; Georgiou 2006; Madianou 2005b; Sreberny 2005; Sun 2009 among others) have contributed important insights with regards to questions of identity, belonging, and exclusion. Less common are studies that bring together the migrants’ perspectives as well as those of other institutions and relevant stakeholders, such as government representatives, non-governmental organizations, and telecommunications companies themselves. Adopting a wider analytical lens helps to address the cumulative consequences of the media for migrants themselves and for the phenomenon of migration more broadly. What does it mean for a migrant woman from the Philippines to leave the webcam on for the whole weekend in order to achieve a sense of co-presence with her left-behind children? What are the implications of “ambient co-presence” achieved via constantly updating and checking social networking sites on one’s smartphone (Madianou forthcoming 2014)? Do these communication practices have any implications for decisions relating to migration or settlement in host countries (Madianou 2012) thereby shaping patterns of migration? This chapter addresses the cumulative consequences of new media for the phenomenon of migration. Drawing on a long-term ethnography (2007–2011) of transnational communication between UK-based migrant women and their leftbehind children in the Philippines, I argue that new media are more than channels for personal communication while they have significant consequences which affect the whole process of migration, including the motivations to migrate and settle abroad as well as the justifications for such decisions. The increasing taken-forgrantedness of transnational communication made possible because of the avail-

Polymedia communication and mediatized migration: an ethnographic approach


ability and affordability of new media emerges as an important catalyst for the transformation of patterns of migration and migratory experiences. The Philippines, one of the most intensely migrant societies, has come to exemplify the phenomenon of transnational mothering and left-behind children due to the prevailing feminized migration flows (Asis 2008; Parreñas 2001). The research on which this chapter is based investigated the role of the ever-proliferating new communication technologies for Filipino families whose members experience extended periods of separation. What makes the Philippines particularly interesting for examining the convergence of new media and migration is that the country is at the forefront of new media developments, especially mobile phones (Madianou and Miller 2012; Pertierra 2010). The primary aim of this chapter is not to report on the findings of this research as this has been done elsewhere (see Madianou 2012 and Madianou and Miller 2012), but to address the deeper implications of the increasingly ubiquitous presence of new media in transnational family life. As a theory of social change mediatization provides a very suitable framework for assessing the cumulative consequences of new media on migration. There are, of course, different traditions of mediatization research (for a discussion see Couldry and Hepp 2013; Lundby 2009b). This chapter develops a hybrid approach that draws on the social constructionist tradition of mediatization (Couldry 2012; Couldry and Hepp 2013; Hepp 2012, 2013) as well as on the growing field of media and digital anthropology (Ginsburg, Abu-Lughod and Larkin 2002; Horst and Miller 2012; Madianou and Miller 2012). Given the parallels between the two traditions there is scope for theoretical convergence. My integrative approach brings together the migrants’ own perspectives and the wider social and institutional contexts. Media anthropology has traditionally resisted the temptation to isolate the focus on media texts, production or consumption and has instead insisted on “following the thing” (Marcus 1995) – that is, following the subject of study and its relationships in a multi-sited, transnational context. Adopting a wide-angle approach and bringing together different levels of analysis is essential for capturing social change. There are strong parallels here with mediatization research and some earlier work on mediation (Livingstone 2009; Silverstone 2005; Martin-Barbero 1993). Apart from highlighting the cumulative consequences of new media for migration, this chapter will also discuss what a media anthropology perspective can contribute to a mediatization approach. Although the title of the chapter refers to mediatized migration it is evident that migration is too complex and diverse a phenomenon for a single type of social change to occur. The Philippines, of course, is one of the most intensely migrant societies globally, but it cannot possibly represent all types of migration flows which can be long term, short term, or circular; voluntary or forced; documented or undocumented to name a few (Castles and Miller 2009). Moreover, the context of the destination country is very important in shaping migration experiences and


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outcomes. For example, migrations from the Philippines to the UK and the US are fundamentally different (Madianou, in preparation). Also significant are the media which are available to each population. The Philippines, for example, is at the forefront of mobile media developments (Pertierra 2010) and this particular media environment – different for other countries in the developing world – shapes the contours of mediatization. The argument developed here concerns a specific type of migration, that is predominantly female economic migration from the Philippines to the UK which is often described as short-term and individual, often involving family separation at the nuclear level. Migrants are typically employed in the care sector occupying different types of low-skilled (domestic work) and highskilled (nursing) jobs although even those in low-skilled jobs are often secondary school- or college-educated prior to migration. The characteristics of this migration are presented in detail in section 3 so this brief discussion only serves to indicate that the present argument on the mediatization of migration is primarily related to the particular migration flow I have been working with and, possibly, to other similar flows. Although it is conceivable that some of the arguments presented here could apply to very different migration flows, this will need to be the focus of a comparative research inquiry. This chapter discusses the ways in which members of transnational families maintain personal relationships at a distance and the implications this has for the phenomenon of migration more broadly. The research reported here points to two parallel processes of mediatization: the mediatization of family life through practices of parenting at a distance and the mediatization of migration. I will here only focus on migration research although I fully recognize that social change or mediatization occurs at the level of relationships themselves (for a discussion on motherhood, individualism and ambivalence see Madianou 2012). The following two sections are dedicated to the key literatures informing this chapter, namely research on media and migration; and mediatization. Following that is a discussion of Filipino migration with special reference to the UK as destination/host country before moving on to the research design. The empirical discussion brings together the perspectives of various stakeholders involved in the process of migration. We will first consider the institutional and public discourses regarding new communication technologies in the context of migration followed by the perspective of the migrant women and their left-behind children. This is supplemented by a consideration of mediated communication in the context of migration before addressing the social transformation of migration through new media.

1 Media and migration: the story so far Migration and media research are flourishing interdisciplinary fields. Although there has been a significant body of research on media and migration within media studies, migration research has largely ignored the media (some notable excep-

Polymedia communication and mediatized migration: an ethnographic approach


tions include Baldassar 2008; Vertovec 2004). As a result the following paragraphs will primarily focus on work within the field of media research, some of which has had an impact in social science more broadly. Research on media and migration has typically fallen into one of the three dominant approaches in media studies, either focusing on text/representation, production, or reception/consumption. Textual research has mainly addressed the important question of representation of difference and the reproduction of racism in Western contexts. The debates around representation of difference are very important as they point to overt or banal – yet always pernicious – forms of xenophobia and racism which are becoming increasingly prevalent (Hartmann and Husband 1973; Kaye 2001; Loshitzky 2010; Moore, Gross and Threadgold 2012; van Dijk 1991). Debates about immigration have always been politically sensitive if not controversial, and this trend has been exacerbated by the global economic downturn since 2008 during which migrants have often been scapegoated for the rise in unemployment and other social problems. The steep rise of xenophobia and racism in Europe coupled with the rise of the radical right (Guibernau 2010) are often attributed to the negative media coverage of immigrants and asylum seekers (Kaye 2001; Moore, Gross and Threadgold 2012). The other tradition of media research focuses on production – the ways in which journalists covering immigration understand, research, and report on the subject. Fewer studies have emerged from this approach – a notable recent exception is the groundbreaking work of Benson (2013) who developed a cross-country (French and US) comparison of journalistic accounts on reporting immigration. Within the production approach we also find studies which have focused on the production of migrant and community media by migrants themselves (Husband 2005). Kosnick (2007) has developed an exemplary ethnography of Turkish media in Germany which also took into account media discourse. Recent years have seen the development of research that examines the rise of migrant blogs or production of content on social media as part of their efforts to gain visibility and amplify their voice in the public domain (Franklin 2001; Mitra 2001; Siapera 2005). Transnational audience research has been expanding over the past two decades encompassing significant work on reception as well as consumption and wider cultural practices (Georgiou 2006; Gillespie 1995; Madianou 2005a; Sun 2009 among others). Recent studies on media consumption in the context of diasporas and immigrant groups have pointed to the changing and dynamic nature of ethnic and cultural identities; the diversity within ethnic groups, for example along lines of gender or class (Georgiou 2006; Hegde 2011; Sreberny 2005); the multiplicity of belongings; migrants’ social (rather than merely ethnic) uses of media (Robins and Aksoy 2001; Madianou 2005b); and finally, the boundary-making role of the media contributing to processes of exclusion from public life (Madianou 2005b) or conditions of subjugation (Sun 2011). Media consumption emerges as a key site in the symbolic articulations of identities which are recognized as processes of negotia-


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tion and ambivalence, a point made early on by Gillespie (1995). Identity – a term that can be too bounded to explain the dynamism and fluidity of transnational phenomena – dominated the agenda in this earlier generation of transnational audience research (for a discussion see Madianou 2011). The advent and proliferation of new media has opened up the research agenda moving beyond the preoccupation with identity to include questions around transnational practices and relationships (Baldassar 2008; Vertovec 2004). Studies have focused on a range of practices from the instrumental uses of new media as part of the preparation for migration (Hiller and Franz 2004) and the ways in which new media help close knowledge gaps (Elias and Lemish 2009) to the ways in which transnational communication through new media helps revitalize diaspora connections (Miller and Slater 2000) or contributes to the entrenchment of asymmetrical power relationships (Sun 2011). This second generation of studies has paved the way for the mediatization perspective discussed here although most work rarely moved beyond the reporting of particular cases. There are some notable exceptions which have made broader arguments for the consequences of media for migration and wider social change. For example, Qiu’s (2009) work on (internal) migrant workers in China argues that information technologies are implicated in class formation. Despite new media’s opportunities for social capital for the “information have-less”, new media can also be responsible for entrenching social positions and hierarchies (Qiu 2009). Although he doesn’t draw on mediatization, Qiu’s argument on the way media are implicated in social class formation is remarkably close to the mediatization approach discussed in this volume. Madianou’s earlier work (2005a) on minority exclusion and silencing as the result of cumulative processes of mediation represents another example. Diminescu (2008) also adopted a wide lens approach when making a broad argument about “the connected migrant” while recent work by Hepp (2013) on “communicative figurations” and Wallis (2013) on gender and mobility in China also represent efforts to address wider social transformations.

2 Mediatization, mediation and polymedia Mediatization has emerged as one of the most exciting and promising intellectual developments in media and communications research in recent years. Mediatization represents the convergence of efforts to capture the cumulative social consequences of media. Various terms and approaches have previously aimed to do so including mediation (Silverstone 1999; Martin Barbero 1993; Livingstone 2009) and mediazation (Thompson 1995) while parallel efforts can be traced in research within media and digital anthropology (Ginsburg, Abu-Lughod and Larkin 2002; Horst and Miller 2012). Consensus is currently emerging around mediatization as the most suitable term to capture the deeper implications of what it means to live

Polymedia communication and mediatized migration: an ethnographic approach


in intensely mediated environments. In my past research I drew on a mediation framework (see also Silverstone 2005) – not dissimilar to the mediatization approach proposed here – to argue for the boundary-making role of the media in the context of exclusion and belonging in the nation-state (Madianou 2005a). Here I argue, following other scholars, that a terminological differentiation between mediation (a term which can be too ambiguous given its various meanings in social theory) and mediatization is a useful way forward – both terms are retained, each serving a distinct purpose. This chapter broadly draws on the social constructionist perspective on mediatization (Couldry and Hepp 2013) as well as a media anthropological approach. As noted earlier, ethnographies within the rapidly expanding field of media and digital anthropology have also often been taking a wide-angle approach to media, not just focusing on a specific moment (for example the production or consumption of a specific text) but trying to describe a wider process of social change. This wide-angle approach is often achieved through multi-sited ethnographies (Marcus 1995) where researchers “follow the thing”, that is the subject of research, transnationally. Media ethnographies have moved beyond a presentist perspective and often include historical accounts (see Larkin 2002) as well as the perspective of multiple actors from institutions, the state, and individuals as well as the media and technologies themselves. Importantly, ethnographic fieldwork because of its open-ended and inductive nature can reveal surprises (Strathern 1996) and so the unexpected consequences of the media. Given that social change is often unpredictable, such insight is invaluable for a mediatization approach. One of my secondary aims in this chapter is to highlight the ways in which media anthropology can inform mediatization theories. This anthropological perspective is compatible with the social constructionist approach to mediatization which emphasizes the role of media in the social construction of reality (Couldry and Hepp 2013; Berger and Luckmann 1967). In this vein, mediatization aims to reveal both how the social is captured in the media and how in turn the media have “a contextualised consequence for the overall process of the social construction of reality” (Couldry and Hepp 2013: 196). This approach, which echoes Silverstone’s earlier conceptualization of mediation (1999 and 2005) as a dialectical process centred on the “circulation of meaning”, is more open than the concept of “media logic” which has dominated the institutional approach to mediatization (Hjarvard 2008, 2013). The inevitably singular notion of “a logic” seems less suited to capture processes of convergence as media, technologies and practices continually intersect (for a discussion see Lundby 2009a). Recent research points to the conceptualization of media as environments with “media ecologies” (Horst, Herr-Stephenson and Robinson 2010, among others) and “polymedia” (Madianou and Miller 2013) representing two such efforts. Additionally, social life (and social change) is often messy and unpredictable and thus not always subject to “a logic”, however appealing that might be. What we’ll see here


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is that mediatization does not have a pre-determined consequence; it’s the result of the mutual shaping of technology and social contexts. The benefit from comparing migrations from the same country (Philippines) but to different destination countries (UK and US) which have differing legal frameworks and labour markets reveals that media change is dependent on the social contexts (Madianou, in preparation). If mediatization is the framework to capture social change then is there still analytical value in the notion of mediation? I argue that retaining both terms is useful as each can do a different kind of analytical work. Couldry and Hepp (2013: 197) describe mediation as “the process of communication in general” following Krotz (2009) for whom mediation can simply help distinguish between mediated and face-to-face communication. I argue that things are a bit more complex than that given that even face-to-face communication is socially mediated (one can think of language as the most fundamental form of mediation). A crisper definition of mediation matters for the present chapter as its thesis draws on a study of mediated interpersonal communication and its wider social consequences. At a very fundamental level mediation is the process of communication. This is a useful starting point, but it is clear that mediated communication takes different guises and shapes depending on the media and platforms employed. Communication media introduce structural and technological parameters in human interactions. Different media have different affordances (Hutchby 2001; see also Baym 2010) allowing users some interactions and preventing others. In other words, interactions through social media, or email, or an environment of polymedia (Madianou and Miller 2013) will be structured differently. In order to understand mediation we need a socio-technical approach that is attentive both to the architectures and affordances of specific platforms and to the social dimension of human relationships. Rather than implying that affordances introduce a version of media logic at the level of mediation, I argue that mediation requires a combined understanding of technological form and the social shaping of technology (MacKenzie and Wajcman 1999). I propose that the theory of polymedia (Madianou and Miller 2013) can offer this approach. Polymedia understands media as part of a composite environment within which each medium is defined relationally to all other media. In the past, when users mainly had access to one medium – say, letter writing – to keep in touch, we observed that the particular medium would shape interactions in specific ways. For example, the temporality of letters would cause frustration as “news” was actually one month old (Madianou and Miller 2011). By contrast, today users can choose from a plethora of media and platforms; what one platform cannot achieve can be accomplished by another. Increasing convergence intensifies the switching between platforms as is evident in research with smartphone users (Madianou 2014). Polymedia pays attention to the ways in which users exploit the differences among media in order suit their interactions and manage their relationships.

Polymedia communication and mediatized migration: an ethnographic approach


Assuming users have unconstrained access to and can skilfully use at least half a dozen communication media, the choice of one medium (for instance, email) over another (say, Skype) acquires communicative significance (for example, a user may wish to introduce some distance in the communication context exploiting the temporal structure of email). The recognition of media as an environment and the emphasis on the ways in which users navigate this environment can provide a magnifying lens revealing the inner workings of mediation. Polymedia can provide an analytical framework to unpack mediation – a term often criticized for being too vague or abstract. This matters because mediatization only occurs because of mediation – so to understand the latter is essential for understanding the former. In sum, this chapter adopts a hybrid model of mediatization drawing on the social constructivist tradition as well as media anthropology. Mediatization as a theory of media and social change is differentiated from mediation which is understood as the analysis of technologically mediated processes of communication. The sociotechnical theory of polymedia (Madianou and Miller 2013) helps unpack the workings of mediation by providing an analytical framework to reveal the ways users navigate the environment of new communication technologies.

3 The empirical and research contexts This chapter reports on empirical work with Philippine transnational families. With over 10 % of the population working abroad and over one million migrants (equivalent to 3,500 daily departures) deployed annually (Asis 2008) it is hard to think of a more intensely migrant society than the Philippines. Remittances reached 24 billion USD for 20121 making the Philippines one of the top three remittance-receiving countries globally, behind China and India, both considerably larger countries (Jha, Sugiyarto and Vargas Silva 2009). The dependency of the Philippine economy on remittances explains why migration has become a clear economic policy for the Philippine government (Acacio 2008; Asis 2008) as the state actively promotes and regulates migration. Ever since the years of the martial rule, migrants have been hailed as “the heros of the Philippine economy” (Asis 2008). In recent years, dedicated government agencies identify needs in the global labour market and then actively recruit, train, and deploy Filipino workers. The Philippine government has signed bilateral agreements with countries, especially in the Middle East, to provide them with workers usually on short-term contracts. The one million annual deployment figure quoted above was an official government target (Asis 2008). The demand for care and domestic work in what is called the “global north” has been one of the factors contributing to increased female migration (Parreñas 2001). So although in previous decades Philippine migration 1


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was predominantly male with emphasis on seafaring and manual labour, in recent years women are as, or more likely, than men to migrate. Given that many of these female migrants are mothers the Philippines has come to exemplify the phenomenon of transnational mothering (Hondagneu-Sotelo and Avila 1997; Hochschild 2000; Parreñas 2005). Female migration and transnational mothering has been a source of controversy in Philippine society. Although the government promotes and encourages female migration there are strong voices in Philippine society which oppose the family separation this often entails. Interestingly, similar concerns are not expressed for male migrants who presumably are as likely to be fathers separated from their children, confirming the prevalence of traditional gender roles and stereotypes about motherhood and mothering as “the light of the home” (ArellanoCaradang, Sisin and Caradang 2007). Although there are precedents of internal migration involving women who left their island communities to seek employment as maids in Manila, female migration remains contested. The national press is full of references to the social costs of separation and “bad mothers” who leave their children behind, while popular culture is awash with stereotypes of troubled youth who grow up without maternal love and care (see Parreñas 2008). Popular films such as Anak2 (the Tagalog word for child) portray a left-behind daughter who falls into a world of vices after her mother leaves for Hong Kong. Migrant women are caught in the midst of contradictory discourses that simultaneously brand them “bad mothers” and “heros of the economy”. My ongoing research with Filipina migrant women focuses on how they negotiate these contradictory discourses and articulate their own personal and maternal subjectivities through their everyday practices, whether mediated or unmediated. The UK is the sixth most popular destination for Filipino workers (POEA 2009), officially estimated at just over 200,000 although the real number is likely to be higher than that. Many migrants arrived between 1999 and the mid-2000s as the UK’s National Health Service systematically recruited nurses from the Philippines. The UK Filipino population also includes domestic workers and nannies who arrived via the Middle East and caregivers who typically came to the UK on student visas and therefore do not appear in the official statistics. Their strong presence in the care sector suggests that the UK Filipino population is strongly female as confirmed by earlier statistics (POEA 2005). Although there are no official data, my long-term involvement with the Filipino communities in England suggests that these migrants tend to be well educated often with college degrees which are common even among domestic workers. Although there are occupational divides which map onto digital literacy and exclusion – nurses, for example, are much better connected than domestics (as are their largely urban middle-class families

2 Anak was a very popular Filipino film released in 2000 and directed by R. Quintos featuring the local film star Vilma Santos.

Polymedia communication and mediatized migration: an ethnographic approach


back home) and thus better equipped for long distance parenting – the arrival of smartphones and cheap netbooks seem to open up the opportunities for transnational communication for even the least privileged of migrants within this group. Broadly speaking, many Filipino migrants in the UK (though certainly not all) come from what would be considered middle-class backgrounds confirming migration patterns to other destinations (see Constable 1999), although the notion of middle class in the Philippines does not entail the same degree of security as in Europe or the US (Parreñas 2001). This confirms a pattern in migration research that migrants need to already possess the necessary economic, social, and cultural capital in order to undertake the expensive project of migration (Portes and Rumbaut 2006). This observation, of course, contrasts starkly with phenomena such as involuntary migration or refugee experiences where social exclusions, including digital, are very profound. Acknowledging the characteristic Filipino migration to the UK (a group diverse in itself) matters for a chapter on the mediatization of migration. The ways this particular migration is transformed because of the increasingly ubiquitous presence of new communication technologies depends on its defining parameters and prevailing issues, a point to which I will return later on. The research which informs this chapter consists of participant observation and interviews which took place in three waves between 2007 and 2010.3 The first period of research (2007–2008) was UK-based and consisted of 53 interviews with Filipino migrants, mainly women with children left behind. During this time we developed links with and spent time at Filipino associations and centres in London and Cambridge. This first research phase was followed by fieldwork in the Philippines during 2008/9 consisting of 53 in-depth interviews and participant observation with the (young adult) children of some of these mothers as well as other leftbehind children. During this period we also met several other participants (family members, carers, and younger left-behind children) as part of the ethnographic encounter while I also interviewed representatives from government agencies and regulatory bodies dealing with migration as well as officials from migration agencies, advocacy groups, and telecommunications companies. I also attended the mandatory Pre-Departure Orientation Seminars organized by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency for migrants prior to their deployment to the UK. On returning from the Philippines, I re-interviewed and maintain contact with 13 of the initial informants. In total, 106 participants were interviewed (several of whom more than once) and we were able to pair 20 mothers and children. This research has traced participants involved in different aspects of the migration process. The empirical section will begin with a discussion of the public and

3 Fieldwork, especially in the early stages of the research, was conducted jointly with Daniel Miller. I would like to acknowledge the support of the ESRC in funding the study ‘Migration, ICTs and the Transformation of Transnational Family Life’ (RES-000-22-2266).


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institutional discourses regarding new media in the context of migration and family separation. Such accounts reveal the wider social assumptions about the role of communication technologies in the context of family separation. We will observe the optimism regarding the arrival of new media, especially mobile phones, for alleviating the social costs of migration. We will then contrast the perspective of migrants as well as their left-behind children. Contrasting the two will allow us to assess the success of transnational communication. Bringing together these perspectives allows us to observe the circulation of discourses on migration and transnational communication (cf. Silverstone 1999) and the implications this has for the phenomenon of migration.

4 The institutional perspective As a theory of social change mediatization necessitates a wide-angle approach which in this particular research was greatly informed by media anthropology. As a study of new media and transnational families the research reported here had to move beyond the narrow focus on new media use and examine the wider social, political, historical, cultural, and economic contexts. This explains the transnational focus of the research as well as the inclusion of various stakeholders, from government agencies dealing with migration to telecommunications companies. I will specifically focus on these two here, beginning with the government agencies which, as already mentioned in the previous section, are pivotal in encouraging and regulating migration. The government sponsored “pre-departure orientation seminars” have become an essential part of the Filipino migration experience. These are mandatory for all migrants before deployment and are typically organized by the dedicated government department dealing with emigration. The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (henceforth POEA) issues all visas and contracts and these will typically be signed on the successful completion of a pre-departure orientation seminar. These are usually one-day long and consist of practical information about the destination country as well as advice about conduct and behaviour. I attended such a workshop in the crowded and labyrinthine POEA building in Manila in January 2009. The workshop was aimed for migrants departing to Europe – including the UK – and the overwhelming majority of participants in that workshop were women who were taking up care and domestic jobs. A whole section of the workshop was dedicated to the migrants’ responsibilities to the leftbehind family which included the duty to keep in touch. In the following extract the workshop leader takes the mobile phone – and thus the availability of transnational communication – for granted: “there’s no excuse not to communicate”. “And you have a duty to your family. Who are married? Raise your hands. [Do not] forget about your family in the Philippines. […] because your family is the reason why you’re leaving

Polymedia communication and mediatized migration: an ethnographic approach


the country. You’re providing financial and moral support to your family in the Philippines. And you have to communicate. You have to communicate with your family as often as you can. There’s no excuse not to, because we all have cell phones now. In the previous years, OFWs [Overseas Foreign Workers] didn’t have cell phones. How did they communicate? They’d send letters because overseas calls were very expensive. Sometimes they’d record their voices. The families here would listen to them on radio through cassette tapes. But shipping takes a while. It takes one month, two months to send something to your loved ones. But nowadays, there’s no excuse anymore. You have the cell phone. You can call your loved ones. You cannot abandon your families, okay?” Seminar leader, Pre-departure orientation seminar (PDOS), Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA), Manila, January 2009

Similarly, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (henceforth OWWA), the other major government unit dealing with migration and especially the migrants’ welfare, recognizes the importance of transnational communication and has developed a dedicated digital literacy training programme for migrants and their leftbehind families. The Tulay programme (tulay meaning bridge in Tagalog) was developed in partnership with Microsoft and takes place in Community Training Learning Centres (CTLC) throughout the country as well as in international destinations with significant Filipino populations, such as Hong Kong. The officer in charge of the training programme was very optimistic and spoke with certainty about the ability of the Internet and webcam in particular to bring the families together. ”So this is about training. It gives them a way to communicate across the distance because you see the problems of our OFWs; they are being lonely because they cannot see their loved ones. But because of the webcam, they can now see their loved ones everyday. And of course it keeps certain bonds with the family because of these internet facilities.” Tulay programme officer, OWWA, Manila January 2009

Such optimism is echoed by representatives of mobile phone companies themselves which now recognize the importance of the potentially lucrative migrant market. Mobile telephony is very developed in the Philippines which is popularly labelled as the texting capital of the world with over 1.4 billion SMS messages sent each day (Reuters 2008). More recently other pioneering mobile phone innovations have been launched in the Philippines such as G-Cash, a mobile phone application which allows users to send remittances bypassing banks or other traditional intermediaries. G-Cash is effectively mobile money (like Kenya’s M-Pesa) and was one of the first such applications to be launched globally (in 2004) precisely to meet the large demand for remitting money to the Philippines. It now has a range of wider uses reminding us that it is not just new media which have consequences for migration – the reverse is also true. Both major telecommunication companies, Globe and Smart, have dedicated departments for product development and marketing for overseas populations. Globe’s marketing strategy for the OFW market included slogans such as: “With Globe’s Worldwide Services, the family will always be together.” [Palagi buo ang


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pamilya.] And: “Christmas is more colorful and happier when the family is together.” Or: “With Globe, you