In Mediatization, Knut Lundby is editor for a series of essays that discuss the dynamic concept of mediatization. The term has roughly come to mean the process and resulting state of communication media influencing societal change while simultaneously being a vehicle for it.
Lundby notes that high-modern (or postmodern?) societies are media-saturated and people are shaped as they relate to their media environments. “As the concept emphasizes interaction and transaction processes in a dynamic perspective, mediatization goes beyond a simple causal logic dividing the world into dependent and independent variables. Thus, mediatization as a concept both transcends and includes media effects” (11).
Krotz discusses how mediatization is a valuable tool for measuring the ways in societies change. “What we need is a social theory of media and media changes, and the label mediatization can make it clear that we are concerned with a development of culture and society that by importance, impact, and meaning for culture and society should be treated in a similar way as globalization, individualization, and similar meta-processes” (26). He differentiates this from medium theory, which works with fixed socio-cultural states resulting from technologically given media logics. Mediatization, on the other hand, is a social and cultural approach that is more concerned with developments made by human beings and NOT as a consequence of technology (media logic, not technological determinism?). However, they both refer to the basic idea that the content transported by media is not relevant for ongoing changes of culture and society, but rather the changing communication practices of the people who refer to media (28).
Schrott sets out to develop an analytical concept of mediatization that can be adopted within a wide thematic range of communication studies (41). For her, mediatization is a social process of media-induced social change that functions by a specific mechanism. Said mechanism is the institutionalization (both a condition and a process) of media logic within social spheres that were previously considered to be separate from the mass media. She posits five dimensions of mediatization: 1) causes and rational criteria (defining the structuring idea of the institutionalization process); 2) context (limiting factor of media logic in the sphere of public communication); 3) control (power to exert sanctions); 4) contingencies (how do public actors handle deviation from media logic, or how are unintended consequences of mediatization actions processed); and 5) competition (what other institutions are in conflict with the actor’s behavior). The media have become a central institution for the socialization of society.
Friesen and Hug discuss how pedagogy can work with media, citing Jenkins’ work on participatory culture, and McLuhan’s assertion that youth notice a gap between their TV environment world and cold, fixed classroom world.
Clark defines, delineates, compares, and contrasts the important voices (Postman, McLuhan, Ong, Meyrowitz, Innis, etc.) in the fields of media studies, media ecology, cultural studies, and communication studies. Interesting topics were humans as cyborgs (techno/human hubrid), positive and negative feedback (all change is the product of positive feedback? 95), the viability of technological determinism (Williams said technologies can become meaningful and useful only when social practices exist before them 92), speed brings uncertainty (Paul Virilio?). The telegraph shaped future imaginings of telephone and radio, and “this recursive approach to studying the interactions at the nexus of the actor-network seems a good model for the kind of scholarship that can take place in the study of mediatization as a process that explores media ecology’s interest in communication technology and change is ‘soft’ rather than ‘hard’ in its determinism” (97).
Lundby notes that is not viable to speak of an overall media logic but instead specify how various media capabilities are applied in various patters of social interactions. Social interaction always involves communication, and to paint it with a broad brush obscures the patters of interaction.
Hoover looks at how mediatization of and within religious culture is complex, nuanced, and layered. This is because media and religion have been integrated all along (128). Mediatization does not flow in a single direction. It can support and encourage traditional religious sensibilities and behaviors then oppose others (125).
Hepp reiterates the idea that mediatization of certain cultural fields must be investigated carefully and cannot assume a singular media logic. There are certain molding forces in society that bring about change. We can investigate mediatization along three dimensions: the social dimension of individualization, the spatial dimension of deterritorialization, and the temporal dimension of the coming of an intermediacy (rapid delivery and ubiquitous availability)(154).
Hjarvard discusses “soft individualism” and the media as it changes social character. Soft individualism depends on weak social ties. “A paradoxical combination of individualism and sensibility towards the outside world has gained ground. At the same time, strong social ties towards family, school, and the workplace experience increased competition from weaker social ties enabled through media network.” (160). Weak social ties mean less responsibility but more knowledge of the outside world. There are various levels of recognition that humans search for (love, self-confidence, respect, self-respect, esteem, and self-esteem), and the media have created a series of new interactional spaces and forms through which recognition may be exercised, and boundaries between them blurred (173).
Skjulstad discusses contemporary, dynamic Web interfaces as culturally framed texts that mediate fashion (180). Various fashion brands are embracing unique Web interfaces that allow for a variety of potential meanings that can occur through processes of individual actions, albeit in common spaces.
Mediatization is defined, once again, as an inherently process-oriented concept, focused on how media influence has increased in a number of different respects. Stromback and Esser look at media logic vs. political logic and the dimensions wherein each one is dominant. They note media logic is gaining ground (219) and demonstrate the 4 dimensions of interactivity (216). They also discuss “media interventionism”.
Hartmann suggests that “the engagement with the media that is expressed in the idea of domestication (engagement meaning the whole range of possible encounters from nonuse to fandom, from imagination to conversion) is necessary fro mediatization processes” (235). Mediatized domestication vs. domesticated mediatization is part of Harmann’s discussion, and the conclusion seems to be simply that everyday mediated activities are a good nexus for studying where phenomenology and mediated communication theory meet.
Jansson examines the triangular relationship between mobility, mediatization, and belonging. Cultural praxis (our activity with people/places/products that are familiar to us) and cultural capital (the aspects of our identity we carry with us—education, taste, skills, attitude, etc.) are woven together in a cultural-materialist perspective and, once again, analysis of mediatization can find a bridge between phenomenological studies of mediatized spaces of belonging and structural studies of global geometries of communication (including both media and mobility) (259).
Rothenbuhler offers some observations about mediatization. Everything is changing and yet stays the same. We are tempted to see mediatization in terms of theoretical and historical continuity, as another example of communication in general and the long steady growth of social structures in size and complexity; yet, the concept does seem to organize our attention to a phenomenon that appears genuinely new and seems to work differently in its different settings. (290) Communication is self-propagating, and media is a catalyst.
Lundby, K. (2009). Mediatization: Concept, changes, consequences. New York: Peter Lang.