The Important Role of Mediatization in Understanding Society and Politics

Categories: MediaSocial Media

Literature Review

Lunt and Livingstone (2016: 462-447) have conducted an in-depth research on the valuable contribution of mediatization research to the analysis of modernity. The author has investigated fundamental questions that critics have proposed about mediatization. For example, it cited Krotz (2009) that as the increasing tendency of globalization, individualization or commercialization, the demands of cross-disciplinary work on mediatization research are of essentials. In terms of how mediatization works in the process, Lunt and Livingstone (2016: 464) disagreed with Blumer (1954: 7) on a precise definition of what exists before the social investigation.

They proposed the mediatization as a sensitizing concept that offers direction and guidance to researchers. Besides, Lunt and Livingstone (2016: 465) have an advanced analysis of the relations between mediatization and social changes. It demonstrated that the power to mediate goes beyond what we used to identify the media itself. In this process, the power of traditional media and communication industries is still stable and consolidated while a host of newcomers either has no space to survive or seek for growing publicity.

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Unlike the idea of Hepp (2014: 183) and Silverstone (2005), the authors regard mediatization as a high-level societal metaprocess concerned with the historical adjustment to or appropriation of media logics by institutions and cultural practices across diverse domains of society’ (Lunt and Livingstone, 2016: 466).

In terms of the increasing spread of mediatization across the institutional and intimate realm, a more recent research (Murdock, 2017: 119-135) has investigated the integration of political economy into the core concept of project mediatization. It analyses the resurgence of market fundamentalist models of capitalism and its central role in reorganizing the relationships between media and society.

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While the mediatization integrates into social life at every level, it causes the fragmentation of attention that weakens the understanding of the role of media in the contemporary society. New commercial media has emerged and rapidly developed since the mid-1970s. However, the transformation of modern capitalism from welfare to market fundamentalist models did lack a systematic attempt to consider its impact on media interaction. Murdock (2017: 127) suggested that there is more mediatization theory’s tendency to ‘identify the political domain with party politics and to focus on the organization of media representations.’ And it also cited the idea of materiality from Lievrouw (2014: 25) and referred that there is a need to investigate the raw materials and natural resources. These materials firstly were used up in producing and operating media machines, then return to the labor processes finally were transformed into commodities.

Critical Reflection

During this week, I have learned about the mediatization, as a concept, and its fundamental role in the further study. Since media communication now mediates into our social life, social events and social relations, people get access to the society through the eyes of journalists as if we live in a ‘transmedia world’ (Chua, 2017). This part reminds me of Lewallen’s research on social media like Instagram (2016:108-109). The Social media raises audience’s the self-awareness to achieve a better appearance and behaviour through the pictures posted in the public. I found that the main reason lies in audience’s further demand for information and even audience’s dependent on the media. On the one hand, there is an urgent need to understand changes in the evolving society, so mediatization opens up our mind of the surrounding world. On the other hand, the emergence of mediatization breaks the traditional barrier of information production and offers a lower threshold to information release. For example, everyone could become a ‘reporter’ that allows the mediatization of social relationships and cultural identity. I also realized that in the mediatization society, media is related to all kinds of changes and participation in the world. It is not only the process that exported these changes through the media but also media’s further impact on the happening changes (Lunt and Livingstone, 2016: 445). I found that the concept of mediatization seems to have illustrated this phenomenon well. In terms of whether mediatization has positive or negative consequences, however, it hasn’t come to a definite conclusion that the question needs to address regarding specific contexts over individual institutions. From a historical perspective, this information of authenticity, timeliness, and readability, are likely to selected and conserved after the process of mediatization (Lunt and Livingstone, 2016: 468). In this case, the heritage of mediatization could be lasting and positively evaluated at that time.

Besides, it has become a hot topic that the development of social media also impacts increasingly in the contemporary political communication for the reason that the mediatization of politics seems related to the political application of social media (Murdock, 2017: 127). I can relate to Mansell’s research because it highlighted the reduced neoliberal defences of market-oriented developments what the state and government sector could do with regard to the public profit in many segments of Internet area (Mansell, 2011: 21). In general, political dialogue means purposeful propaganda about policies. As far as I concerned, however, social media now could act as a decisive role to provide advice and thinking. For example, in China politicians and political institutions use the social media to increase the transparency of political information and activities. At the same time, it stimulated the political enthusiasm among the people and expanded the scale of public participation in politics. On the opposite side, however, the frequency of renewal causes the overlap of various information. It harms the authority and accuracy of governments, as well as the censorship from external institutions. For the mediatization could also increase the opportunities for the public to expand the freedom in the modern capitalism, just like the postal, telegraph and telephone did in the past (Murdock, 2017: 129). As Mansell (2011: 21 23) puts it, social media and communication networks were regulated historically from telecommunication to broadcast. While the core of social media lies in the reconstruction of social relationships, the focus of politics lies in the rebuilding of power and resources (Lunt and Livingstone, 2016: 465). Both governments and social media redefine social interaction in a dynamic process. Therefore, the mediatization could be understood as the social media prompted a continuous advance of the whole society in depth and breadth.

Research Scope

The mediatization plays an essential role in understanding various aspects of society and politics. And it builds the basis of our thoughts and cognition of new media in the Internet era. But it still seems remote from case studies and another phenomenon especially when they are less connected. Compared with the experimental research, is it possible to use any practical model and how could we develop our understanding of this concept or theory itself?


  1. Blumer, H. (1954) “What is wrong with Social Theory?” American Sociological Review, vol. 19, no. 1, 1954, pp. 3-10.
  2. Chua, C. (2017) Mediatization and the Contemporary World. Lecture 6.
  3. Hepp, A., Lunt, P. and Hartmann, M. (2014) “Communicative Figurations of the Good Life: Ambivalences of the Mediatization of Homelessness and Transnational Migrant Families.” In Wang H (ed.) Communication and ‘The Good Life. New York: Peter Lang, pp. 181–196.
  4. Lewallen, J. (2016) “When Image Isn’t Everything: The Effects of Instagram Frames on Social Comparison.” The Journal of Social Media in Society, vol.5, no. 2, 2016, pp. 108-133.
  5. Lunt, P. and Livingstone, P. (2016) “Is ‘Mediatization’ the New Paradigm for Our Field? A Commentary on Deacon and Stanyer (2014, 2015) and Hepp, Hjarvard and Lundby (2015).” Media Culture & Society, vol. 38, no.3, 2016, pp.462-470.
  6. Mansell, R. (2011) “New visions, old practices: Policy and regulation in the Internet era.” Continuum, vol.25, no.1, pp. 19-32, doi: 10.1080/10304312.2011.538369.
  7. Murdock, G. (2017) “Mediatisation and the Transformation of Capitalism: The Elephant in the Room.” Javnost – The Public, vol. 24, no.2, 2017, pp.119-135, doi: 10.1080/13183222.2017.1290745.
  8. Lievrouw, Leah A. (2014). “Materiality and Media in Communication and Technology Studies: An Unfinished Project.”
  9. Gillespie, T., Bockzkowski, P. J. and Foot, K. A. (ed.) Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society, pp. 21–51. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262525374.003.0002

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The Important Role of Mediatization in Understanding Society and Politics. (2021, Sep 11). Retrieved from

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