The Mediatized Home (III): Contrasting Household Studies on Drivers of Dynamic Mediatization

Period November 2014 to July 2017
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
Talks Vortragsliste
Publications List of publications

The project focused the domestic media use of the online vanguard. This term describes households who have established an online-based domestic media repertoire and have replaced classic analogue media like linear television and radio broadcasting or the printed paper. Thus, it aimed at analyzing how dynamic processes of digital mediatization are initiated particularly within the home. Theoretically, the project related to the concept of mediatization and to the domestication approach, which has been further developed in the preceding projects with regard to participation and new digital media environments. The research interest builds upon insights from previous projects: A qualitative panel study with three examination periods (2008, 2011 and 2013) based on a sample of 25 couple households, systematically allocated by quota according to socio-demographic criteria, has grasped how the mediatized home has changed in a period of six years. Additionally, those couples answered a questionnaire in 2016 in order to continue the longitudinal analysis. A comparison of findings from the mentioned points of data collection shows how the Internet, in the course of its domestication, has been further integrated into everyday life at home. As a consequence, between 2008 and 2014, a profound mediatization of the couple's communication cultures as well as of their everyday practices took place. On the other hand, however, in spite of all differences in detail, the findings make clear that mediatization has come as a gradual transformation rather than a revolution. It has not crystallized into an all-encompassing digitization of media use, but into the co-existence of older and newer media within the media repertoires of the couples. These findings have resulted in the theoretical understanding that mediatization contains both moments of dynamics and moments of persistence in the social use of media. Against this background, the second part of the project followed the idea of contrasting the sample that was questioned for the panel study. By interviewing couples who use online-based media and multimedia comprehensively at home, it aimed at identifying and analyzing indicators for dynamics in the domestic mediatization process in order to understand which factors result in persistence on the other hand. The findings feed the theoretical debate about online-based media use, which can be understood as a specific user-oriented aspect of convergence.


Consequently, a concluding evaluation based on the extensive material of the systematic panel study from 2008 to 2016 was realized. While specifically taking gender relations into consideration, the results shed light on the promoters and inhibitors of digital participation. The second objective was to learn more about the driving forces of domestic mediatization and, therefore, broaden the database. A discrete empirical study with couples, living together in a household, was undertaken. They were interviewed together at home and their domestic media arrangements were inspected. These households are characteristic of a comprehensive mediatization. They used digital media technologies flexibly within the home. In this way, they represent a maximum contrast to the panel which was interviewed between 2008 and 2016 (in terms of grounded theory).

Findings and results

The empirical research emphasizes three distinct reasons why people choose the internet for domestic media reception over classic mass media: a better integration of media use in everyday life, particular demands and interests in specific content and the politics of identity. One the one hand, using the internet for domestic media use allows a better integration of media use into the rhythms of everyday life in order to pursue new ways of media reception like fitting media use into temporal structures and into spatial living conditions. On the other hand, adopting the internet for domestic media use is clearly related to accessing the wide range of content afforded online which is otherwise unavailable in the domestic sphere. The internet is used as a source for media content in order to get information almost instantaneously and in real-time and to use media texts that are meaningful to the respondents such as series, blogs or music from certain subcultures. The freedom of choice is a central reason for online-based media use.