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Conducting mediatization research is no easy task. Linked with this term is not only the idea that media have a certain ‘specificity’, which as such exerts an ‘influence’ on culture and society: the term also implies a process of change. But how can we find a practical approach to mediatization research when the time we live in is shaped by the ‘mediation of everything’? How can we carry out this kind of analysis if the focus is not to be merely one single media – the television, the mobile phone, the social web – but all different kinds of media in their entirety?

These questions are the departure point of this article, which has the aim to develop a transmedial approach of mediatization research. I start with a short review of two of the main traditions of mediatization research. This builds the foundation for an understanding of mediatization that focuses on the “communicative figurations” through which we construct our “mediatized worlds”. Such a conceptualisation makes it possible to re-theorise mediatization research from a diachronous and synchronous perspective.

In order to develop this kind of argument, it is necessary to clarify the underlying understanding of ‘media’. When I use this term in the following, I don’t mean “primary” media like, for example, language or acting theatre. Also, I don’t have “generalised” media in mind – like money, love, or power. In contrast to this, all my arguments refer to technical communication media, i.e., the various kinds of media we use to extend our communication possibilities beyond the here and now: television, the (mobile) phone, the social web, and so forth.

About the author

Andreas Hepp
Andreas Hepp is Professor for Media and Communication Studies with the special areas Media Culture and Communication Theory at the ZeMKI, Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research. Hepp graduated in 1995 from the University of Trier with an MA-degree in German Studies and Political Science, focusing on media communication. Between 1995 and 1997, he was a research associate in the interdisciplinary research project “Talking about Television. The Everyday Appropriation of TV“ at the University of Trier (funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG). In 1997, he finished his doctoral thesis on everyday appropriation of television, combining various perspectives of Cultural Studies with sociological conversation analysis. After having done some post-doctoral research at the University of Trier, Andreas Hepp was a lecturer at the Interfaculty Institute for Applied Cultural Studies at the University of Karlsruhe (TH) in 1999. Between 1999 and 2003, he worked as a research associate at first, and later-on as an academic assistant (wissenschaftlicher Assistent) at the Institute for Media and Communication Studies at the Technical University of Ilmenau. During that time, he was also a research fellow at the Nottingham Trent University, UK, and a visiting researcher at the University of Sunderland, UK. In 2004, he finished his habilitation thesis on media cultures and globalisation. In 2003 and 2004, he was a deputy professor for media sociology and media psychology at the University of Muenster. From 2005 to 2010 he was professor for communications at the faculty for cultural studies, University of Bremen.