Routledge Encyclopedia of Citizen Media: Abstracts [M]

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Marwan M. Kraidy, Annenberg School of Communication, University of Pennsylvania, USA

Though in everyday language media has come to refer to a familiar range of news and digital outlets and institutions, returning to the etymological origins of ‘media’, meaning something that is in the middle between different things or actors, enables a restoration of a broader meaning for the concept. From that perspective, media encompasses a wide range of communicative instruments and practices used to create, circulate and consume information, images and affects.

Throughout history, from Roman slave rebellions to the French Revolution to the Arab Uprisings, repressed people have used media for social and political change. The last decade is particularly rich in examples of citizen media, including social movements in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and the United States of America harnessing various media and modalities (singing, graffiti, manifestos, digital video, political humor, body activism and art, puppetry, theatre, etc) to express themselves, make social and political claims, recuperate or at least share public space with the toxic mix of corruption and repression unleashed by neoliberalism and dictatorship.

This entry will survey the various media used by citizens for cultural expression, social demands and political struggles. After establishing historical and conceptual bases, it will make reference to specific case-studies such as (1) the body in the 1789 French Revolution, (2) puppetry in the contemporary Syrian conflict, (3) public sculpture in contemporary Israel, and (4) television political humor in Trump-era United States.


De Baecque, A. (1993) Le Corps de l’Histoire: Métaphores et Politique (1770-1800), Paris: Calmann-Lévy.

Fahmy, Z. (2011) Ordinary Egyptians: Creating the modern nation through popular culture, Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Kraidy, M. (2016) The Naked Blogger of Cairo: Creative insurgency in the Arab World, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Rodriguez, C. (2001) Fissures in the Mediascape: An international study of citizens media, Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Yang, G. (2011) The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen activism online, New York: Columbia University Press


Media Ecologies

Emiliano Treré, Cardiff University, UK

This entry will focus on the concept of media ecologies and its relation to citizen media and social movement media. It will first review several ecological perspectives that have flourished in the field of media studies in the past decades, which suggest the importance of tackling media from a holistic perspective in order to go beyond specific media instances and appreciate the complexity of media as empirical phenomena. Specifically, the focus will be on the medium theory approach (Scolari 2012), the information ecology perspective (Nardi and O’Day 1999), the communicative ecology perspective (Tacchi, Slater and Hearn 2003), and Fuller’s understanding of media ecology (Fuller, 2005). All have been, and still are, particularly relevant within the field of media studies, although they start from different premises and reach different conclusions with regard to what constitutes an ecological glance at the media.

The entry will then focus on studies adopting the media ecology metaphor to investigate citizen media and social movements media. These studies are part of a promising strand of literature that has emerged in recent years to overcome the communicative reductionism permeating the study of the relation between social movements and communication technologies. The entry will critically review and draw a typology of these studies, connecting them with the more general literature on media and communication ecologies, and with other similar conceptualisations (such as hybrid media systems, Chadwick 2013).


Chadwick, A. (2013). The Hybrid Media System: Politics and power, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Fuller, M. (2005) Media Ecologies: Materialist energies in art and technoculture,

Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Mercea, D., L. Iannelli and B. D. Loader (eds) (2016) Protest Communication Ecologies, Special Issue of Information, Communication & Society 19(3).

Nardi, B. and V. O’Day (1999) Information Ecologies: Using technology with heart, Boston, MA: MIT Press.

Rodríguez, C. (2014) ‘Studying Media at the Margins: Learning from the field’. Paper presented at Scholars’ symposium on media activism, 4-5 December, Annenberg School for Communication, Philadelphia, PA.

Scolari, C. A. (2012) ‘Media Ecology: Exploring the metaphor to expand the theory’, Communication Theory 22(2): 204–225.

Tacchi, J., D. Slater and G. Hearn (2003) Ethnographic Action Research: A user’s handbook, New Delhi: UNESCO

Treré, E. (2012) ‘Social Movements as Information Ecologies: Exploring the coevolution of multiple Internet technologies for activism’, International Journal of Communication 6: 2359–2377.


Media Event

Evgenia Nim, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russia

Twenty-five years after the first publication of Media Events: The Live Broadcasting of History (Dayan and Katz 1992), not only has the concept of media events firmly taken root in media theory, but it has also been developed considerably as a result of multiple critical interpretations. Going beyond a neo-Durkheimian ritual perspective, which emphasized the integrative role of ceremonial media events, has allowed a number of authors to identify such genres as ‘disruptive’, ‘traumatic’ or ‘conflictual’ media events, including, first and foremost, terror, disaster and war (Cottle 2006; Dayan 2008; Katz and Liebes 2007; Mitu and Poulakidakos 2016).

There is another set of events, however, that target social and cultural change but do not exactly fit the ‘integrative/disruptive’ opposition, even when they take the form of protest, given that “protests and strikes are agreed forms of sanctioned disruption” (Katz and Liebes 2007: 159). Until protest grows into a revolution or civil war, it may be considered an instance of ‘ritual’ chaos, constituting part of the established order. Events of this type exhibit some features of social drama and cultural performance (Turner 1974, 1982; Alexander 2006, 2011). Nevertheless, not every transformative media event has such radical goals and sweeping scale. Transformative media events are initiated in public spaces by citizens who wish to express disagreement with certain social conditions and/or call for change. The transformative power can be an inherent element of the event (for instance, in the case of a protest action), or can emerge as a result of public response to a published opinion or document (such as a YouTube video recording police abuse). The latter case includes practices of ‘sousveillance’ (Mann et al. 2003) or ‘citizen witnessing’ (Allan 2013) directed at the democratization of social relations. A key feature of transformative media events is their tight connection to the citizen media by means of which they become visible and powerful. In this context it is useful to consider media events as ‘user-generated media events’ (Mitu 2016), ‘new media events’ (Neverson and Adeyanju 2017), or ‘transmedia events’ (Bacallao-Pino 2016), among other conceptualizations.


Cottle, Simon (2006) ‘Mediatized Rituals: Beyond manufacturing consent’, Media, Culture & Society 28(3): 411-432.

Couldry, Nick, Andreas Hepp and Friedrich Krotz (eds) (2010) Media Events in a Global Age, Abingdon: Routledge.

Dayan, Daniel and Elihu Katz (1992) Media Events: The Live Broadcasting of History, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Fox, Andrew (ed.) (2016) Global Perspectives on Media Events in Contemporary Society, Hershey: IGI Global.

Mitu, Bianca and Stamatis Poulakidakos (eds) (2016) Media Events: A Critical Contemporary Approach, London: Palgrave Macmillan.


Media Practices

Hilde Stephansen, University of Westminster, UK
Emiliano Treré, Cardiff University, UK

This entry will focus on the concept of media practices as it relates specifically to citizen media. For context, we will begin by briefly covering the key premises of practice theory (as developed in the work of Bourdieu, Schatzki, Reckwitz and others). We will then provide an overview of the origins of the ‘turn to practice’ in media research, referencing Couldry’s (2004) much-cited call for a new practice paradigm, but also covering antecedents in media anthropology, Science & Technology Studies, audience research, alternative media studies and communication for social change. We then turn to contemporary developments in the study of citizen media, focusing especially on how the concept of media practices has been taken up by scholars studying alternative- and social movement media as a means of developing non-media-centric analyses of the emancipatory potential (or otherwise) of activists’ media use. We will draw on specific examples and case studies from the research of scholars active in this field, to illustrate different ways in which the concept of media practices has been used and the range of different media practices that media activists and citizen journalists engage in. Finally, we reflect on the challenges and limitations of the concept in light of recent social and technological developments.


Barassi, V. (2015) Activism on the Web: Everyday struggles against digital capitalism, London: Routledge.

Bräuchler, B. and J. Postill (eds) (2010) Theorising Media and Practice, New York: Berghahn Books.

Couldry, N. (2004) ‘Theorising Media as Practice’, Social Semiotics 14(2): 115-132.

Mattoni, A. (2012) Activist Media Practices: How precarious workers mobilise, London: Routledge.

Stephansen, H. (2016) ‘Understanding Citizen Media as Practice: Agents, processes, publics’, in M. Baker and B. Blaagaard (eds) Citizen Media and Public Spaces: Diverse expressions of citizenship and dissent, London: Routledge.



Andreas Hepp, University of Bremen, Germany

The concept of mediatization is used to critically analyze the interrelation between changes in media and communications on the one hand, and changes in culture and society on the other (Couldry and Hepp 2013:197). At this general level, mediatization has quantitative as well as qualitative dimensions. With regard to quantitative aspects, mediatization refers to the increasing temporal, spatial and social spread of mediated communication as we become increasingly used to communicating via media in various contexts. With regard to qualitative aspects, mediatization refers to the specificity of certain media within the process of sociocultural change: it matters what kind of media is used for what kind of communication.

This entry will begin by outlining the most recent understandings of mediatization (Lundby 2014; Lunt and Livingstone 2016), as well as the challenges involved in researching the dynamics of mediatization empirically (Driessens et al. 2017). A special focus will be placed on what is called deep mediatization, that is the recent centrality of digital media and datafication in everyday life. Taking such a general reflection as a starting point, the entry will focus in more detail on what (deep) mediatization means for citizens and civil society. Here, a special emphasis will be placed on the mediatization of social movements (Mattoni and Treré 2014) and the emergence of new movement-like collective actors like pioneer communities such as the Quantified Self and Maker movement (Hepp 2016).


Couldry, N. and A. Hepp (2013) ‘Conceptualising Mediatization: Contexts, traditions, arguments’, Communication Theory 23(3): 191-202.

Driessens, O., G. Bolin, A. Hepp and S. Harvard (eds) (2017) Dynamics of Mediatization, London: Palgrave.

Hepp, A. (2016) ‘Pioneer Communities: Collective actors of deep mediatisation’, Media, Culture & Society 38(6): 918-933.

Lundby, K. (ed.) (2014) Mediatization of Communication, Berlin and New York: de Gruyter.

Lunt, P. and S. Livingstone (2016) ‘Is ‘Mediatization’ the New Paradigm for Our Field? A commentary on Deacon and Stanyer (2014, 2015)’ and Hepp, Harvard and Lundby (2015)’, Media, Culture and Society 38(3): 462-470.

Mattoni, A. and E. Treré (2014) ‘Media Practices, Mediation Processes, and Mediatization in the Study of Social Movements’, Communication Theory 24(3): 252-271.


Migration Studies and Citizen Media

Moira Inghilleri, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, USA

The field of migration studies is approached through a range of disciplines, from global economics, through sociology and social geography as well as cultural analysis and anthropology. Where citizen media have achieved the most visibility within migration studies has been at the intersection of media studies, human rights and ethnographies of political/cultural activism as conceptualized through some of the above disciplines. Generally speaking, however, migration studies journals have been late in providing a context for accounts of even mainstream ethnic media, focusing instead on common themes from diaspora identity, transnational ties and ‘victim’ status to geopolitical issues and social policy. But in recent years, there has been significant migration-studies-relevant research, particularly in cultural and media studies, in which citizen media broadly defined have been the object of research and analysis, despite persistent gaps.

This entry will chart forms of citizen media research that pertain to the experience of forced migration, specifically that of political refugees, asylum seekers and international labour migrants. I will explore this body of migration-related citizen media research under the recurring themes of human security, exilic consciousness and performativity and conclude with an account of areas where more research might usefully be targeted. The entry will examine the research profile of different forms of citizen media that provide a context for migrants to give voice to their own experiences, including the research into different forms of music and film making, street art, agitprop theater and other artistic media produced by migrants agitating and advocating on their own behalf (Lai 2010). In some instances, these public performances may bear the hallmarks of what Naficy (2001) termed ‘accented’ (in relation to cinema) to describe the kinds of performances of identity that are the outgrowth of displaced exiles living in a diaspora that will never be home. However, they can also be moments in which individuals reclaim and recodify their present experiences without a hint of nostalgia for their homeland or any sense of victimhood (Inghilleri 2017), and where ‘place’ becomes the stage on which migrants view themselves as acting agents in relation to events “that reproduce place and produce it differently” (Rotas 2011).


Inghilleri, Moira (2017) Translation and Migration, London and New York: Routledge.

Lai, Ming-Yan (2010) ‘The Sexy Maid in Indonesian Migrant Workers’ Activist Theatre: Subalternity, performance and witnessing’, Performing Ethos (1)1: 21-34.

Naficy, Hamid (2001) An Accented Cinema: Exilic and diasporic filmmaking, Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.

Rotas, Alex (2011) ‘From ‘Asylum-Seeker’ to ‘British Artist’: How refugee artists are redefining British art’, Immigrants & Minorities 30(2): 211-238.


Mobile Technologies

Michael Daubs, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

The first part of this entry delivers a brief overview of the history of mobile technologies, beginning with the emergence of rudimentary mobile telephones in the late nineteenth century through the development of modern mobile phone systems in the 1970s and ending with the concurrent emergence of mobile broadband and smartphones in the early 2000s. This overview provides the foundation for a discussion of how mobile technologies have evolved into Internet-capable computers that give access to a range of tools including messaging services, social media, photo and video capture/editing, mobile content streaming, and specialized mobile applications. These tools have blurred the lines between previously distinct concepts such as public/private, work/leisure, and presence/absence and led to expectations that people be constantly available. At the same time, these tools have enabled people to generate and share their own media content, including personal content made to share with friends and family, to social commentary and political content.

This entry will incorporate a case study of the Occupy Wall Street movement and ‘influencers’ on Instagram. Those involved in the Occupy movement used mobile technologies for both political and personal objectives, including to livestream protests, sometimes as a form of sousveillance; to share comments, images, and videos on social media via mobile apps; and to create a variety of specialized mobile apps that would, for example, notify a pre-selected list of friends and family if the user was arrested during a protest. Instagram allows users to share selfies, images users take of themselves using a mobile phone and uploaded to a social media site, and other photos, and thus publicly share ‘private’ moments. However, so-called ‘influencers’ can use Instagram to ‘self-brand’ and profit from that crafted image.


Deuze, M. and The Janissary Collective (2012) ‘Mobile Media Life’, in P. Snickars and P. Vonderau (eds) Moving Data: The iPhone and the Future of Media. New York: Columbia University Press, 296-308.

Fortunati, L. (2002) ‘The Mobile Phone: Towards new categories and social relations’, Information, Communication & Society 5: 513-528.

Hesmondhalgh, D. (2010) ‘User-generated Content, Free Labour and the Cultural Industries’, Ephemera: Theory and politics in organization 10: 267-284.

Marwick, A. (2015) ‘Instafame: Luxury selfies in the attention economy’, Public Culture 27: 137-160.

van Dijck, J. (2009) ‘Users Like You? Theorizing agency in user-generated content’, Media, Culture & Society 31: 41-58.