Christian Pentzold

The special section addresses the performative dimension of our routine engagement with media technologies and texts. In their conspicuous ordinariness, the practices of handling media and, in turn, the mediation of contemporary practices require us to assess how and with what consequences these dual processes become embedded in our lives. Therefore, the special section strives for an explanation and critical appreciation of media-related practices, what we do with and how we speak about the media, as perennial issues and pervasive exercises in which we find ourselves immersed. In studies of media and communications we often hear about media practices. The notion is invoked to stress the importance of performance and effort in creating and perpetuating patterns of mediated communication. Yet despite the rhetorical prominence, we lack a clear conceptualization and consequential analytical implementation of what media(-related) practices actually are (and what they leave out), their relationship to other types of activity, and what they add to our understanding of how innovations in media and digital data move from being unexpected, novel, and disruptive to the negotiated, embedded, and habitual. To assess the purchase of a practice-based perspective, the special section fosters cross-disciplinary conversation. It brings together scholars from media and communications, anthropology, and sociology. Their conceptual groundwork and empirical analyses scrutinize what media users actually do and say in relation to media technologies, texts, and genres, and the wider digitally networked ecologies within which those practices take place today. The special section is one of the first efforts to substantiate media and communication studies’ interest in understanding the performance, routinization, and habituation of media-related activities. The full OA special issue can be found here.