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A discursive approach to mediatization: ICT companies, coworking spaces, and the construction of media indispensability
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Geography, Media and Communication (from 2013). Karlstad University, Faculty of Economic Sciences, Communication and IT, Department of Media and Communication Studies. (Geomedia Research Group)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6309-2315
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

When the ‘World Wide Web’ started to mature, the ‘information revolution’ was celebrated by researchers, politicians, policy makers, and others. Today, a new kind of technologically driven revolution is said to emerge: the ‘mobility revolution’. Unsurprisingly, the revolutionary potentials of mobile media tend to be particularly promoted by ICT companies. By all means, ICT corporations have a stake in marketing their technological gadgets as useful. Beyond this, however, they have an interest in constructing and safeguarding the idea of media as indispensable; as things necessary to lead a good life. While heavily promoted by technology producers, the media indispensability trope is not exclusive to the ICT industry. Rather, the trope also occurs in media research and in mediatization theory especially. Although there are still many suggestions as to how to define ‘mediatization’ (cf. Lundby, 2009; Hjarvard, 2013; Couldry & Hepp, 2013; Hepp & Couldry, 2016; Ekström et al, 2016; Krotz, 2009, 2017), some researchers foreground media indispensability as key to the concept. Jansson argues that ‘Today, we can see that media are generally, and to an increasing extent, perceived as indispensable to the interactions between individuals and groups’ (2015a, p. 380). Notwithstanding other areas of potential dispute, then, mediatization researchers and the communications industry unite in the recognition of technology as agents of social change. As noted by Krotz (2017), mediatization is not a natural, automatic process, but accomplished by humans. As such, he argues, it ‘must be reconstructed critically in order to find the points where the civil society was not asked’ (p. 114). Krotz calls for critical mediatization studies that consider the economic interests of mediatization stakeholders, including the ICT industry. My paper responds to recent calls for critical mediatization studies (see also Jansson, 2018), by scrutinizing the discursive practices of three leading corporations in the ICT sector: IBM, Huawei, and Ericsson. My overall objective is to approach the ‘mobility revolution’ from a constructivist standpoint in order to inspect what the alleged, media induced, social transformations entails according to some of those who would benefit the most from such a revolution. Stimulated by mediatization theory as well as related accounts of the (technology) discourse-reality relationship (e.g. Berger & Luckmann, 1966; Williams, 1974; Pinch & Bijker, 1984; Marvin, 1988; Fisher, 2010), this paper asks: if mobile media changes ‘everything’ in life – whose lives are being changed? If mobile media are ‘indispensable’ to modern ways of living – what are they supposed to do? Addressing these questions, the paper ultimately informs us about how mediatization is discursively constructed and sold to people.Findings suggest that mediatization is embraced and sold back to consumers as the response to an internal human drive and presented as an inexorable natural force. Three sub-discourses on mobile technology are identified in the empirical data set: ‘technologies of cosmos’, ‘technologies of self’, and, ultimately, ‘technologies of life’. Altogether, these sub-discourses disclose and reinforce the hegemonic nature of mediatization by communicating the indispensability of mobile media in modern – notably, urban, middle-class – lives.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
Keywords [en]
Mediatization, discourse, technology, ICT industry, coworking spaces, social construction
National Category
Media and Communications
Research subject
Media and Communication Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-70449OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-70449DiVA, id: diva2:1269584
Conference
7th European Communication Conference (ECC) "Centres and Peripheries: Communication, Research, Translation", Oct 31 - Nov 1, 2018, Lugano, Switzerland
Available from: 2018-12-10 Created: 2018-12-10 Last updated: 2019-04-25Bibliographically approved

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