The Mediatized Home II: A Qualitative Panel Study about the Change of Domestic Communication Cultures

Period November 2012 to October 2014
Conductor Prof. Dr. Jutta Röser
Dr. Kathrin F. Müller
Institution Department of Communication
University of Münster
Bispinghof 9 – 14
48143 Münster
Funding Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), Terra Digitalis - Eine Forschungsreise
Publications List of publications

The project aimed at looking at the change of domestic communication cultures in a process-oriented manner. It was based on the understanding that the digital mediatization of the home is becoming more and more dynamic because of the internet and other media. The integration of digital and mobile media has caused and is still causing a change in the communication practices of the members of the household, a change in the meaning of established media, and has been and is also still intensifying the medial connections of the domestic home with external spheres. The overall objectives of the project were to observe how the participation in digital media use develops over time and how factors of inequality are caused, how gender relations are negotiated in the context of domestic media use, how media use may create fragmentation or community in households as well as how external spheres become part of the domestic sphere, for example by work-related internet use. Theoretically, the project was based on the theory of mediatization and also on the theory of domestication, which both relate to the Cultural Studies.


At the heart of the project was a qualitative panel study that explores the development of the mediatized home from the media user’s point of view. Thus, a sample of 25 households was examined in 2008 and again in 2011/12. In 2013/2014 a third phase of data collection took place for continuing the long-term observation of the mediatization of the households, resulting in the study covering a period of six years. The sample was allocated according to socio-demographic criteria such as age, educational background, and gender. For this reason, the panel enabled the examination of questions of social differences and other questions of social inequality. As heterosexual couples were analyzed and interviewed simultaneously, the project evaluated gender constellations and also discourses on gender. Overall, the sample represented the adult German middle class – a group which is rarely analyzed in media reception research. The interviews were supplemented through ethnographic inspection of the homes of the couples interviewed and also through photographs of the media setup in the household. Standardized instruments such as questionnaires were applied to support the qualitative research, such as questions concerning the existing media technology.

Findings and results

The study has shown that mediatization always comprises moments of dynamic and persistence. Whereas parts of the domestic sphere have changed because of the integration of new, online-capable media, others just change slightly, e.g. domestic media repertoires: In 2014, they consist of classic analogue media, like linear television or radio broadcasting and the printed paper, analogue technologies as well as digital media.

Furthermore, the data shows that the domestication of the internet has proceed strongly. Even respondents who have formerly used the internet in a limited way have integrated it comprehensively into everyday life. The domestication of the internet was supported by the appropriation of smartphones and mobiles for domestic media use. Gender-related labor with the internet was intensified, but we also observed processes of de-gendering concerning the usage of the internet in general. Dynamics were initiated by biographical changes like childbirth or separation. We also found that the internet was used more frequently in order to work at home during after-work hours.