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Mediatization 3.0? The future of the research field

  • 12.10.2022
  • Online

Online pre-conference before the 9th European Communication Conference

Since its inception, mediatization has been a contested term within media and communication research that includes different perspectives on the interrelation between technological and sociocultural change. While it can be argued that mediatization as a meta-process is an omnipresent part of human history, mediatization research is primarily a response to the progressing digitization and datafication of society and its consequences for human interaction and sense-making. The mediatization approach is characterized by different perspectives: constructivist, institutional, material and cultural as well as critical giving academics the possibility to discuss theoretically and methodologically socio-technological change. Where traditional communication research focused on media as independent entities, mediatization research contributed by highlighting interrelations and the interweaving of media and practices within different fields of human interaction.

However, as technology and society change, many of the claims that set early mediatization research apart have become self-evident in the light of the ubiquity of technical gadgets, social networks, and a sprawling digital infrastructure. As computers of different shapes and forms have not only become part of all symbolic operations, they have also evolved into “smart” infrastructures that act as gatekeepers between humans and the reality they live in, affecting us on a deeper level. What was once theorized and studied within specific communities and practices is now a widely accepted fait accompli that touches every aspect of everyday life.

Through all of this, mediatization has remained a useful yet broad concept that offers various points of contact for researchers from different disciplines. At the same time, mediatization has become an all-encompassing umbrella term for studying social and technological change. Its proponents find themselves targeting and discussing their research within more specialized, thematically relevant contexts. With core issues of mediatization research being widely discussed in various contexts, the boundaries and benefits of mediatization research are at risk of becoming diluted, raising the question of what makes this approach unique and compelling for future research?

Mediatization approach, theory and field have met with many critical objections over the past years, to which valuable answers have been formulated. At the same time, however, the dynamics of change in the media environment have accelerated further; giving way to datafication, algorithmization, platformization, and the growing influence of artificial intelligence. This raises questions about the status of the research field of mediatization; the relationship between processes and meta-processes; and fundamental definitional issues about what media and communication are now in the context of complex technological processes (the importance of big data and the analysis of users’ data and behaviour), new economic conditions (data capitalism, forecasting and surveillance) and new socio-cultural conditions, including pandemic and post-pandemic reality.

We want to invite researchers to discuss the past and the future of mediatization research as a broad yet unifying approach. Hence, this call addresses both established mediatization theorists, senior researchers, and early-career academics, from different backgrounds utilizing the concept of mediatization. We hope for theoretical and empirical ideas of how mediatization is currently understood and how the concept inspires future research.

We suggest the following topics:

- main objections to mediatization research, responses and defenses

- research challenges related to contemporary technological processes (platformization, datafication, algorithmization, artificial intelligence)

- necessary methodological, phenomenological and ethical transformations concerning the research field

- possible and needed new directions of development of the research field

- existing and potential threats related to the near future of mediatization research

- desirable transformations of particular research areas and topics (stabilized and emerging)

Planned conference day schedule

To discuss these issues, we plan a one-day online pre-conference in the week leading up to the main conference in Aarhus. First, we would like to kick off the event by allowing researchers to present their recent work on mediatization, with particular attention to the status of the field, its challenges, problems, and possible directions for development, subsequently, we would like to open up the discussion, , inviting senior scholars, including Göran Bolin, Nick Couldry, Kirsten Frandsen, Andreas Hepp, Stig Hjarvard, Knut Lundby, Friedrich Krotz, Carlos A. Scolari and other guests to provide responses, comments, and to discuss and explore the future of mediatization research.

Please fill the form to submit your abstract: https://bit.ly/3IyP71e by 30.06.2022.

The conference is free of charge.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the organizing team:

- Katarzyna Kopecka-Piech, katarzyna.kopecka.piech@gmail.com

- Rita Figueiras, ritafigueiras@fch.lisboa.ucp.pt

- Jakob Hörtnagl, jakob.hoertnagl@phil.uni-augsburg.de

- Jeannine Teichert, jeannine.teichert@uni-paderborn.de

- Mateusz Sobiech, mateusz.sobiech@o2.pl

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