Category Archives: Theory

The Bike-friendly City as a Communicative Object

In December 2017, Martin Brynskov and me published a collaborative and exploratory piece on communicative objects. The prompt was a special issue of the Brazilian open access journal Parágrafo, managed and edited by Rafael Grohmann, on “Boundaries of Journalism” (including – inter alia – contributions by Alice Mattoni, Nikki Usher and Rodney Benson). In our article, we address the complexity of a public issue like the bike-friendly city and the various sources of data and media we, as journalism and media scholars, can access to understand processes of public contention. Based on the case study of #Radentscheid in Berlin, we offer a basic contextual framing of communicative objects and develop a typology of such objects. A cornerstone of our article is a discussion of the methodological challenges when investigating public issues through communicative objects, which transgress established disciplinary boundaries and explanatory schemes because they are situated in overlapping social, medial and political contexts.

Abstract

This paper addresses the boundaries of journalism through a perspective of communicative objects. Introduced as a heuristic concept, communicative objects focus attention on the processes and practices of meaning-making inside and outside publics as much as addressing the materiality of these processes that take place in digital and networked media. As more and more platforms and services are developed to involve actors in different socio-cultural settings in forms of public communication, the concept of the communicative object accentuates the materiality and epistemologies of these settings. The article builds on the case study of a citizen’s initiative for a bike-friendly city in Berlin (Germany) to outline methodological inroads and theoretical implications of the communicative object. The aim is to problematize rather than resolve tensions between everyday usage of media technologies, journalistic professional expertise and the practices of meaning-making that exist and evolve outside of journalism. Through the concept we also address new epistemological challenges of analyzing digital media, which emerge as a result of new interaction potentials of communicative objects which we cannot capture in a document-oriented research methodology.

Here you go

Challenging the Boundaries of Journalism through Communicative Objects: Berlin as a Bike-friendly City and #Radentscheid

Cite as

The article was originally published in Portuguese. Please refer to the original source as Raetzsch, Christoph; Brynskov, Martin (2017). “Desafiando as Fronteiras Do Jornalismo Por Meio de Objetos Comunicativos: Berlim Como Uma Cidade Bike-Friendly E #radentscheid [Challenging the Boundaries of Journalism Through Communicative Objects: Berlin as a Bike-Friendly City and #radentscheid].” Parágrafo: Revista Científica de Comunicação Social da FIAM-FAAM 5(2): 110-127. http://revistaseletronicas.fiamfaam.br/index.php/recicofi/article/view/681. Published in English at https://futuremaking.space/blog/challenging-boundaries-journalism-communicative-objects-berlin-bike-friendly-city-radentscheid/

Media Practice and Performative Publics

Quotidian digital media have fundamentally transformed the ways in which public protest is articulated today. Think of movements like Occupy and the Arab Spring, the protests in Gezi Park in Istanbul and the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Protest is nowadays voiced on the street and online at the same time. Or it originates online and stretches further and further, assuming all kinds of material and collaborative forms. Think of #metoo.

Together with Margreth Lünenborg (FU Berlin) and Susanne Foellmer (Coventry), I have edited “Media Practices, Social Movements, and Performativity: Transdisciplinary Approaches” (Routledge). It is  a collaboration between media and communication studies with dance and theater studies. The case studies cover a wide cultural and geographical terrain – from Mexico to Japan, from German to Greece. A common interest is to develop the notion of media practice and performativity and employ it analytically to these divergent settings.

Media Practices, Social Movements, and Performativity: Transdisciplinary Approaches (Hardback) book cover

The volume presents international case studies on the new dynamics of protest, articulation and community along with two programmatic articles on the role and legacies of performativity.  On the basis of these approaches the contributors show the specific local embeddedness of new forms of publicness that emerge in protest movements. As a tribute to Randy Martin, we reprint his programmatic article “A precarious dance, a derivative sociality“, which originally appeared in The Drama Review (2012; 56(4)).

In our article “From Public Sphere to Performative Publics” Margreth Lünenborg and me argue that

the new public modalities in which performative publics emerge need to be understood in terms of a relinking of materialities, competences and meanings, that are nowadays often transposed from the domain of quotidian user practice to the articulation of communal or collective interests. (p. 28)

What interested us in our article (apart from a critique of public sphere concepts) was the perspective of practice, paying attention to how minute shifts in media, knowledge and meaning over time allow for new public articulations to emerge. THE PUBLIC is no longer there. It’s created. Every day. By everyone. And we need to become more aware of how this happens because the usual suspects (journalists) are no longer the first or only to make it happen. What is now far more common is that speaker and audience positions alternate.

We need to ask, what kinds of discursive positions can become articulated in performative publics and how do these publics emerge and are sustained over time. Nowadays, the structures in which publics emerge are by and large communicative structures, which can be mobilised, adopted and transposed to new contexts as new issues emerge and new actors stand up to speak on their behalf. (p. 29)

See the full list of Contributions

Introduction: Media Practices, Social Movements, and Performativity: Transdisciplinary Approaches (Susanne Foellmer, Margreth Lünenborg, Christoph Raetzsch)

Part I: Framing Media Practices: Theoretical Perspectives

1. From Public Sphere to Performative Publics: Developing Media Practice as an Analytic Model (Margreth Lünenborg/ Christoph Raetzsch)

2. Reframing Modes of Resistance: Performing and Choreographing Protest Through Media Practices (Susanne Foellmer/ Matthias Warstat)

Part II: Approaching Media Practices: Mobilities – Movements – Interventions

3. Mobilising the homeless? A proposal for the concept of banal mobilisation (Maren Hartmann)

4. Gezi Uprising: Performative Democracy and Politics of the Body in an Extended Space of Appearance (Gurur Ertem)

5.Mobilise, justify, accuse – the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood strategies in the context of changing media practices (Carola Richter)

6. The Mechanics of Signification – Making the Story of Embros (Gigu Argyropoulou/ Natascha Siouzouli)

7. “Narco Culture” and Media Practices: Negotiating Gender Identities in Contexts of Violence (Teresa Orozco Martínez/ Martha Zapata Galindo)

8. Performing fragmented realities: Interventionist media practice by LIGNA, Rimini Protokoll and plan b (Patrick Primavesi)

9. Succession or Cessation: The Challenge of New Media for the Japan-Korea Solidarity Movement (Misook Lee)

Afterword: A precarious dance, a derivative sociality (†Randy Martin)

 

  • See more about the book and its contributors
  • Order your review copy  or download the flyer
  • Full reference [Article]: Lünenborg, Margreth; Raetzsch, Christoph. (2018). “From Public Sphere to Performative Publics: Developing Media Practice as an Analytic Model.” Media Practices, Social Movements, and Performativity: Transdisciplinary Approaches, edited by Susanne Foellmer; Margreth Lünenborg; Christoph Raetzsch, 13-35. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Full Reference [Introduction]: Foellmer, Susanne; Lünenborg, Margreth; Raetzsch, Christoph. (2018). “Introduction: Media Practices, Social Movements and Performativity: Transdisciplinary Approaches.” Media Practices, Social Movements, and Performativity: Transdisciplinary Approaches, edited by Susanne Foellmer; Margreth Lünenborg; Christoph Raetzsch, 1-10. Abingdon: Routledge.

 

Journalism Studies beyond Journalism

In 2014, I joined a conference in honor of Michael Schudson at the University of Groningen (NL).  Some of the contributions to that conference are now published in a special issue of Journalism Studies titled “The Unlovable Press? Conversations with Michael Schudson” (edited by Marcel Broersma and Chris Peters).

This is what my article is about:

This article discusses the work of Michael Schudson and encourages research in journalism studies that addresses the formation of publics rather than only journalistic institutions. Reviewing Schudson’s work on the cultural history of modern journalism, the article focuses especially on the relation of journalism to culture and technology.

The first part argues that Schudson’s proficiency in cultural history distinguishes his writings as both profound, witty and appealing for expert and non-expert readers alike. His early works vividly explore the historical contingencies that defined modern journalism as an important site for cultural negotiation over what it means to live in the present.

The second part critically points out Schudson’s reluctance to theorise the relation of journalism to technology, even though he has implicitly interrogated the “content of the form” of modern journalism throughout.

The last part is a plea for an extension of journalism studies to understand processes in which publics are forming today. In regard of a radically pluralised field of public contestation in social media and other online platforms, Schudson’s insistence on the relevance (and privilege) of journalistic institutions should be amended by a methodological renewal to investigate new modes of public articulation—beyond journalism.

Article link: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1461670X.2017.1338151

See the response by Michael Schudson on all articles in the Special Issue: “Second Thoughts: Schudson on Schudson” (http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1461670X.2017.1343931). Republished in Schudson, Michael (2018) Why Journalism Still Matters. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Image taken from The People’s Almanac, 1834. New York: David Felt. Double page spread and detail enlargement “Aspects, Holidays, Weather, Remarks, &c.” . Courtesy American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, MA.