A Discursive Approach to Mediatisation: Corporate Technology Discourse and the Trope of Media Indispensability

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2439

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A Discursive Approach to Mediatisation: Corporate Technology Discourse and the Trope of Media Indispensability

  • Karin Fast Department of Geography, Media and Communication, Karlstad University, Sweden

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Abstract:  Hitherto, and mainly by way of ethnographic studies, mediatisation research has informed us regarding the relevance, influence, and role of media in various spheres of social life. Less is known, however, about how mediatisation is discursively constructed. The relevance of constructivist approaches to mediatisation has been explicated, e.g., by Krotz (2017), who calls for critical mediatisation studies that consider the economic interests of mediatisation stakeholders, including the ICT industry. Against this backdrop, this article scrutinizes what the alleged ‘mobility revolution’ entails according to some who would benefit most from such a revolution. More concretely, the article studies the discursive practices of three leading corporations in the mobile communications sector: IBM, Huawei, and Ericsson. Stimulated by critical mediatisation theory as well as related accounts of the (technology) discourse-reality relationship, the article 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? Ultimately, the article speaks to the theme of this thematic issue by interrogating how contemporary mobile technology discourse contributes to the (re-)production of social space. Findings suggest that mediatisation is constructed as the response to an internal human drive for connectivity and as an inexorable natural force. Three sub-discourses on mobile technology are identified: ‘technologies of cosmos’, ‘technologies of self’, and, ultimately, ‘technologies of life’. Altogether, these sub-discourses disclose and reinforce the hegemonic nature of mediatisation by communicating the indispensability of mobile media in modern—notably, urban and privileged—lives. In addition to providing answers to the study’s empirical questions, the article includes a discussion about the potential implications of existing discourse overlaps between ICT companies and mediatisation theorists, as well as a sketch for an agenda for the ‘discursive turn’ in mediatisation studies.

Keywords:  discursive turn; media indispensability; mediatisation; mobile media; mobility revolution; technology discourse; Social Construction of Technology (SCOT); social space


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v6i2.1311

© Karin Fast. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.