Relational Communication Spaces: Infrastructures and Discursive Practices

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Relational Communication Spaces: Infrastructures and Discursive Practices


  • Alexa Keinert Department of Political and Social Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
  • Volkan Sayman Institute of Sociology, Technical University of Berlin, Germany
  • Daniel Maier German Cancer Consortium, Heidelberg, Germany


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Abstract:  Digital communication technologies, social web platforms, and mobile communication have fundamentally altered the way we communicate publicly. They have also changed our perception of space, thus making a re-calibration of a spatial perspective on public communication necessary. We argue that such a new perspective must consider the relational logic of public communication, which stands in stark contrast to the plain territorial notion of space common in communication research. Conceptualising the spatiality of public communication, we draw on Löw’s (2016) sociology of space. Her relational concept of space encourages us to pay more attention to (a) the infrastructural basis of communication, (b) the operations of synthesising the relational communication space through discursive practices, and (c) power relations that determine the accessibility of public communication. Thus, focusing on infrastructures and discursive practices means highlighting crucial socio-material preconditions of public communication and considering the effects of the power relations which are inherent in their spatialisation upon the inclusivity of public communication. This new approach serves a dual purpose: Firstly, it works as an analytical perspective to systematically account for the spatiality of public communication. Secondly, the differentiation between infrastructural spaces and spaces of discursive practices adds explanatory value to the perspective of relational communication spaces.

Keywords:  discursive practices; inclusion; infrastructures; methodological nationalism; networks; public communication; sociology of space; territory

Published:   23 July 2021


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v9i3.3988


© Alexa Keinert, Volkan Sayman, Daniel Maier. 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.