Profile of the Media Reality Division

The research of the Division takes place at the interface of communication studies and various social, technical and cultural sciences. We focus on three main thematic areas, including a broad spectrum of qualitative and quantitative methods of empirical social research:


Mediatization and Media Culture
The availability and distribution of digital communication media and the scope of the related (mediatized) everyday actions is increasing constantly in quantitative terms. Also, from a qualitative point of view, media have a lasting influence on various social areas, such as politics and education, with regard to their significance and meaning. In order to understand this epochal development process and its cultural, social and technological contexts, we further develop various communication theory concepts, such as the concept of media culture. In addition, we examine these theories empirically using current case studies such as computer game cultures, integration of migrants or urban development.


Public Communication and Participatory Research
Our evolving society and media require a more differentiated definition of the changing character of new forms of media and political participation, their cultural position (such as an altered general understanding of politics) as well as technological requirements and characteristics (such as cyber activism or e-participation). Our case studies address the following aspects: media and politics, forms of participation and social web involvement, as well as transnational social movements, such as Indymedia, Occupy or Youth Initiatives. Areas of counter-public, criticism and alternative media are also afforded particular attention.


Virtualization and Digital Methods
Buzzwords such as ‘gamification’, ‘HCI interfaces’, ‘augmented reality’, or ‘Smart TV’, illustrate how several areas of everyday life can now be considered to have become 'digitized'. The social normalisation process of digital media technologies does not exclude innovations, e.g. serious games can sensitise people to questions of environmental and health communication. However, the transformation process also creates new problems (keywords: digital stress and media dependency). We explore this dialectical potential further in case studies exploring application-oriented and methodological aspects.


The department supports the initiative for public communication science: