Christian Pentzold


Learning or Aligning? Political Visualizations in New Media and Their Impact on Political Knowledge (2023-2025)

"Learning or Aligning" is a project that explores the way in which political identity affects the learning of citizens from graphs and political visualizations. The focus groups examine the way in which discussions develop regarding visualizations. The project is carried out by a research team at the University of Groningen and the University of Leipzig, led by the lead researcher Eedan Amit-Danhi from the Department of Media and Journalism at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. The team also includes Thomas Rakebrand from Leipzig University and Alma Kalisky from Hebrew University Jerusalem.

The project is funded by a personal grant to Eedan Amit-Danhi from the National Science Foundation of the State of Israel (The Israel Science Foundation Grant no. 96/23), as part of the foundation's postdoctoral grants program for outstanding doctoral students in the social sciences.

Success Factors of Local E-Participation: Mapping and Strengthening Digital Civic Participation in German Municipalities (2023-2026)

The project pursues a double objective: On the one hand, to systematically survey existing eParticipation offerings and the contextual conditions of their successful use and, on the other hand, to continuously incorporate the insights gained in the process into the future design of participation practice. Thus, the research dimension and the transfer dimension are integrally interlinked and they complement each other: scientific survey and analysis as well as transfer are thought together.

The project is funded by the Mercator Foundation (grant no: 220276). Together with my Leipzig colleague Christian P. Hoffmann I collaborate with Marianne Kneuer (TU Dresden), Maria A. Wimmer (Koblenz University), and Stefan Marschall (Düsseldorf University). Validation of a News Platform for Urban Publics (2023-2026)

The goal of the project " Validation of a news platform for urban publics" is the further development of an online app that brings together news content from different actors in the urban public and makes it available to users. The app has already been successfully tested and is rated by experts as "best practice" and "practical innovation development" for urban publics. The application is aimed primarily at regions and groups of people that are hardly reached by classic local journalism offerings. This makes "" suitable for making an important contribution to strengthening local publics. This is because existing offerings do not succeed in compiling public interest-oriented content in such a way that an exchange across different urban sub-publics is achieved. The project validates in different cities how relevant local actors can be involved and how different target groups can be reached. In addition, monetization opportunities for freelance journalists are being explored and a cooperative model is being investigated. In this way, sustainable and independent financing of the platform is to be achieved. It will also create the conditions for gradually expanding the service to other cities.

This project is a joint collaboration with the Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research (ZeMKI) at Bremen University and the Leibniz Institut for Media Research Hans Bredow in Hamburg. It is funded by the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF).

Automating Welfare: Algorithmic Infrastructures for Human Flourishing in Europe (2022-2025)

In a world where automation is thought to increase productivity and efficiency with less effort and at lower costs, what happens to human flourishing when this logic is deployed to support decisions in the welfare sector? AUTO-WELF investigates the extensive implementation of automated decision-making in the welfare sector across Europe. It is the first to provide a comparative analysis of automated welfare provision across European welfare regimes to examine the implications of algorithms and artificial intelligence for the future of European citizens and societies. Data-based infrastructures for public administration are shaping not only welfare provision, but also state-citizen relations and prompt questions of human agency in relation to complex socio-technical systems, ethics and accountability, as well as biases and inequalities. The project foregrounds the perspective of people implicated in the automation process including software engineers, case workers and citizens. Implementing a multimethod, interdisciplinary and cross-country comparative approach, the project will develop groundbreaking knowledge on the consequences of automating welfare in two domains: a) core welfare service and b) communal welfare infrastructures. These domains will be explored across eight European countries (Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Sweden) representing four types of the welfare state and its different stages of automated decision-making. The project provides an indepth and cutting-edge understanding of the process of automating welfare from a European perspective producing highly relevant insights into how automated decision-making can support but also harm human flourishing.

Project AUTO-WELF is supported by BMBF, Germany under the CHANSE ERA-NET Co-fund programme, which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, under Grant Agreement no 101004509. Collaboration partners are Anne Kaun, Södertörn University Stockholm, Stine Lomborg, Copenhagen University, Karolina Sztandar-Sztanderska, Polish Academy of Science, Doris Allhutter, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Alice Mattoni, University of Bologna & Ana Jorge, Lusófona University Lisbon.

Selected project publications:

Kaun, Anne; Lomborg, Stine; Alhutter, Doris, Pentzold, Christian; & Sztandar-Sztanderska, Karolina (2023): Welfare. In: Media, Culture, & Society, 45(4), 877-883.

Futurehomestories: Designing Co-Creation (2021-2024)

What does the smart home look like for a residential community of elderly people? What features does your smart home need if you have 15 cats, live on a houseboat or without electrical outlets? To address these and similar questions and concerns in the development of new technologies and applications for the home, innovative participatory design processes are needed. These will be captured and tested in the project. We invite users to create the smart home of the future in co-design workshops. Together with people from different walks of life, we will speculate which routines, experiences and wishes belong to their individual smart home. We will collect the craziest, most boring and most dangerous ideas for the smart home and publish them in a small book. We will use this book of alternative futures to evaluate and criticize the wishes and dreams for the home of the future together with its future inhabitants.

The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), funding no. 16SV8609. In this project, I'm happy to collaborate with my colleague Arne Berger from Hochschule Anhalt.

Selected project publications:

Becker, Alexa; Haupt, Benedikt; Berger, Arne & Pentzold, Christian (2022): Future Home Stories: Participatory Predicaments and Methodological Scaffolding in the Narrative Speculation on Alternative Domestic Lives. In: Digital Creativity, 33(3), 276-294.

Framing Big Data: The Media Framing of Aggregate Data and New Data-Based Processes in Comparison of Communicative Forms, Time Periods, and Countries (2021-2024)

The project investigates how aggregate data and new data-based processes are framed in the media. Using a broad sampling of materials, it reconstructs in comparative perspective the framing of big data. To this end, it connects three levels: First, frames in professional communicative forms are compared with those from participatory formats. Second, the relations of influence between the journalistic and user-generated frames are traced on a temporal scale. Third, the analysis of these processes considers three countries, that is, Germany, the U.S., and South Africa. With this, the project addresses three gaps in our understanding of cultural sensemaking in the context of extensive datafication. First, it maps the repertoire of frames of big data from journalistic media and mass-self communication. Second, it explores the dynamic unfolding of the discourse around big data across time. Third, it discusses the variance of perspectives on big data in cross-country comparison. More about the project here

The project is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) – project number 447465824/PE 2436/3-1.

Selected project publications:

Knorr, Charlotte; Wolter, Margitta; & Pentzold, Christian (2023): Whistleblower Memoirs: Deconstructing Data Consultants’ Insider Stories. In: Social Media + Society.

Pentzold, Christian & Fraas, Claudia (2023): Media Frames as Adaptive Networks of Meaning: A Conceptual Proposition. In: Language & Communication, 93, 95-106.

Pentzold, Christian & Knorr, Charlotte (2024): When Data Became Big: Revisiting the Rise of an Obsolete Keyword. In: Information, Communication and Society , 27(3), 600-617.

Perspectives and Applications of Digital Participation Procedures in Rural Regional Development (2020-2023)

The project analysed the integration of digital methods in processes of rural regional development. Therefore, the effects of digitization and mediatization on communication methods, social organization and institutions in these processes were examined and we studied how analog and digital formats and procedures can be combined. The findings led to recommendations for action and policy to strengthen the effectiveness of rural regional development processes. More about the project here.

In this project I collaborated with the Institute for Rural Development Research at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University of Frankfurt/Main. The project was funded by the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (funding no: 2820FD011 B).

Selected project publications:

Stein, Veronika; Pentzold, Christian; Peter, Sarah & Sterly, Simone (2022): Digitalization and Civic Participation in Rural Areas. A Systematic Review of Scientific Journals, 2010-2020. In: Spatial Research and Planning, 80(3), 251-266.

Stein, Veronika; Pentzold, Christian; Peter, Sarah & Sterly, Simone (2023): Sociotechnical Infrastructuring for Digital Participation in Rural Development: A Survey of Public Administrators in Germany. In: Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research Online first:

Knowing, Understanding, and Engaging with Embodied Technologies (2020-2024)

The public relations project reaches out to core segments of a changing hybrid society. It provides communicative interfaces with three key target groups: the general lay public, political actors, and industry representatives. Involving these groups, it has three main objectives: First, the project continuously relays the approaches, scientific insights, and innovations brought forward in the CRC Hybrid Societies to its different stakeholders. (Objective 1: Knowing) Thus, it makes the CRC’s subject, methods, and findings accessible to civil society, politics, and industry. Second, the project actively involves these public and professional collectives so to survey their concerns and expectations and to feed them back into the ongoing research of the CRC. (Objective 2: Understanding) Third, it involves people in prototyping and testing scenarios of Embodied Digital Technologies (EDT) solutions where they can experience advanced forms of synthetic environments and participate in their analysis and construction. (Objective 3: Engaging)

The project is part of the Collaborative Research Center (CRC) Hybrid Societies funded by the German Research Foundation at Chemnitz University of Technology (funding no. 1410, INST 270/339-1).

Selected project publications:

Pentzold, Christian; Bischof, Andreas & Rothe, Ingmar (2023): Living Labs as Third Places: Low-threshold Participation, Empowering Hospitality, and the Social Infrastructuring of Continuous Presence. In: Journal of Science Communication, 22(3).

Pentzold, Christian & Rothe, Ingmar (2022): Drawn into the future. The Epistemic Work of Visual Scenarios in the Configuration of Human-Robot Encounters. In: Visual Communication. Online first.

The Mediatization of Time: Media, Data and Temporality (2018-2024)

Recent innovations in the digitalization and datafication of communication fundamentally affect how people conceptualize, perceive and evaluate time to create the kind of world they live in. The exploratory project is meant to lay some conceptual groundwork and draw out some initial analyses for better understanding the interplay of media and data in respect of the way social time is constructed, modulated, and experienced. This should allow us to appreciate how new technologies and representations deeply affect the temporal organization of today’s media suffused societies, and it also sheds light on transformations in mediating time. The project follows the assumption that mediatization as a fundamental societal change that interweaves with the development and spread of communication and information technologies leaves its mark on the ways we process and order the pace, sequence, rhythms and of social reality.

Funded by an Institutional Grants from Bremen University, Chemnitz University of Technology, and Leipzig University.

Selected project publications:

Pentzold, Christian (2018): Between Moments and Millennia: Temporalising Mediatisation. In: Media, Culture & Society, 40(6), 927-937. Spanish translation: Entre momentos y milenios: temporalizar la mediatización. In: deSignis, 37(2022), 75-89.

Pentzold, Christian; Konieczko, Sebastian; Osterloh, Florian & Ploeger, Ann-Christin (2020): #qualitytime: Aspiring to Temporal Autonomy in Harried Leisure. In: New Media & Society, 22(9), 1619-1638.

Pentzold, Christian (2020): Jumping on the Practice Bandwagon: Perspectives for a Practice-Oriented Study of Communication and Media. In: International Journal of Communication, 14, 2964–2984.

Pentzold, Christian & Menke, Manuel (2020): Conceptualizing the Doings and Sayings of Media Practices: Expressive Performance, Communicative Understanding, and Epistemic Discourse. In: International Journal of Communication, 14, 2789–2809

Kaun, Anne; Pentzold, Christian & Lohmeier, Christine Eds. (2020): Making Time for Digital Lives. Beyond Chronotopia. London: Rowman & Littlefield.

Lohmeier, Christine; Pentzold, Christian & Kaun, Anne Eds. (2020): Making time in digital societies: Considering the interplay of media, data and temporalities. Special Issue of New Media & Society, 22(9), 1521-1732.

Pentzold, Christian; Kaun, Anne & Lohmeier, Christine (2020): Back to the Future: Telling and Taming Anticipatory Media Visions and Technologies. Special Issue of Convergence, 26(4), 705-856.

Pentzold, Christian; Kaun, Anne & Lohmeier, Christine (2020): Imagining and Instituting Future Media. In: Convergence, 26(4), 705-715.

Lohmeier, Christine; Kaun, Anne; & Pentzold, Christian (2020): Making Time in Digital Societies: Considering the Interplay of Media, Data and Temporalities. In: New Media & Society, 22(9), 1521-1527.

Amit-Danhi, Eedan; Pentzold, Christian; & Krämer, Nik (2024): A Holistic Framework for the Analysis of Predictive Rhetoric in Digital Visualizations. In: Convergence.

Digital Extracurricular Learning and Educational Practices of Adolescents (2018-2021)

The joint research project studied the digital extracurricular learning and educational practices of young people. Its interdisciplinary and triangulating four sub-projects focused on practices that are geared towards both curricular topics of formal school education and vocational orientation as well as towards the more interest-based knowledge and skills of leisure. To combination of projects from general didactics, media education and pedagogy, communication and media studies as well as specialized didactics allowed for a comprehensive perspective on explanatory videos and tutorials. They were especially prominent on video sharing platforms like YouTube where they are extensively used by teenagers and young people. In addition, the project also examined the content and educational dimension of adolescent communicative repertoires in order to describe and analyze the variety of individual and collective practices of extracurricular learning, professionalization, and self-enhancement.

The collaborative project was a joint initiative with Sven Kommer and Frauke Intemann from RWTH Aachen University and my Bremen colleague Karsten Wolf. It was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF; project no: 01JD1804B).

Selected project publications:

Honkomp-Wilkens, Verena; Jung, Patrick; Altmaier, Nina; Wolf, Karsten D., & Pentzold, Christian (2024): Learning Together with YouTube? Adolescents’ Collective Use of Explanatory Audiovisual Content. In: Computers in the Schools. Online first:

The Future in Data Journalism (2018-2021)

In this project, we wanted to study how journalism uses digital data and algorithmic analyses to anticipate, draft, and evaluate future scenarios and developments. With that, we took a novel view on understanding the complex temporal orientations in journalistic practice and its products that sheds light on the largely unrecognized though essential aspect of modern time and its interrelation with modes of witnessing and knowing. Our project conceptualized and examined the prospective and projective dimension of journalism. It concentrated on data journalism as a recent field of communicative innovation that supports various types of engagement with the future.

In this project, I collaborated with Keren Tenenboim-Weinblatt from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, I spent spring 2018 in Israel and visited Hebrew University's Department of Communication and Journalism. The three year project also received a grant from the Central Research Development Fund at Bremen University.

Selected project publications:

Pentzold, Christian; Zuber, Conrad; Osterloh, Florian & Fechner, Denise J. (2023): Redrawing the Lines of Veracity in the Sharpiegate Affair: “Pre-truth” Claims in a Post-truth Order. In: The Communication Review, 26(2), 99-124.

Pentzold, Christian; Zuber, Conrad; Osterloh, Florian & Fechner, Denise J. (2022): How to Make Sense of Nonsense: Political Absurdity and Parodic Memes in the #Sharpiegate Affair. In: International Journal of Communication, 16, 1051-1076.

Pentzold, Christian; Fechner, Denise J. & Zuber, Conrad (2021): “Flatten the Curve”: Data-driven Projections and the Journalistic Brokering of Knowledge During the COVID-19 Crisis. In: Digital Journalism, 9(9), 1370-1393.

Pentzold, Christian & Fechner, Denise J. (2020): Data Journalism’s Many Futures: Diagrammatic Displays and Prospective Probabilities in Data-Driven News Predictions. In: Convergence, 26(4), 732-751.

Communication Memory Studies: Principles, fields, and perspectives (2018-2022)

The aim of the scientific network was to explore, systematize, and develop the nascent field of communication memory studies. It elaborated its fundaments in different areas of social sciences and cultural studies, maps its pivotal areas of inquiry as well as its analytical perspectives. The results were be published in a handbook, disseminated through an open access website, presented in an international conference, and translated into the program modules of an international graduate school. Thus, it addressed different disciplinary academic publics and stakeholder groups in public education, museums, and heritage industries. The network fostered the translocal, issue-driven cooperation in order to survey and compare the disparate theoretical and empirical strands of research on cultural memory and social remembering in communication studies. They were critically reviewed, conjointly documented, and further examined as the constitutive elements of the emerging area of communication memory studies. Due to the variety of paradigms and approaches it was necessary to work across disciplines and interact especially with the social sciences and cultural studies as well as to take an international perspective.

The network was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) – project number 389196641/PE 2436/1-1. More about the network can be found here

Selected project publications:

Pentzold, Christian; Lohmeier, Christine; & Birkner, Thomas (2024): Communicative Remembering: Revisiting a Basic Mnemonic Concept. In: Memory, Mind & Media, 2:e9.

Netzwerk Kommunikationswissenschaftliche Erinnerungsforschung Eds. (2023): Handbuch kommunikationswissenschaftliche Erinnerungsforschung. Berlin, New York: de Gruyter.

Pentzold, Christian & Sommer, Vivien (2021): Remembering John/Ivan Demjanjuk: Inclusive and Exclusive Frames in Cosmopolitan Holocaust Discourse. In: International Communication Gazette, 83(7), 685-707.

The Discursive Construction of 'Big Data in Political Campaigns' (2017-2018)

In this project, we were reconstructing the public news discourse on 'big data'. Its background is the increased presence of big data in business, public service, higher education as well as in all other sorts of social arenas. 'Big data', it seems, has become a topic and a problem in media and academia. The project thus looked at how big data was framed in news reports as an effective though unfathomable socio-material fact presenting threats and chances to social well-being as well as to private and public security.

The project was funded by a grant from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). A German report about the project can be accessed from the website.

Imagining Big Data (2017-2018)

Envisioning ‘big data’ brings up a palette of concerns about its technological intricacies, political significance, commercial value, and cultural impact. Unsurprisingly, given big data’s broad reception, the ambivalent notion inspires different social imaginations. Our paper looks at a chief arena of this emerging sensemaking and considers the spectrum of images on big data as they circulate in news texts. Establishing a powerful imagery is, we suppose, both a key journalistic task and an eminent challenge in order to frame big data as a public issue. In our analysis we collected a complete sample of all images with captions published in the article sections of the online editions of the US daily newspapers New York Times and Washington Post. We employ an analytical framework that combines a quantitative-qualitative image-type analysis with qualitative framing research. Extending previous findings, the results suggest that big data is predominantly framed as a force of nature to be controlled, a resource to be consumed, or as an invisible but all-seeing observatory in need of review.

In this project, I worked together with my colleagues Cornelia Brantner and Lena Fölsche.

Discourse - Digital. Theories, Methods, Case Studies (2016-2022)

In this network a group of researchers coming from linguistics and communication studies worked on a register of kindred projects. Together, they investigated into digital discourse and employed the range of newly developed tools in corpus linguistics and digital methods. For one, the project aimed at systematizing the communicative forms found in current digital discourses and link them to cognate analytical tools. Building on that, the network promoted a set of empirical cases studies that examined the characteristic spectrum of semiotic features and interactive patterns.

The network was funded by a networking grant from the German Research Foundation. More here.

ABIDA. Assessing Big Data (2015-2019)

The interdisciplinary project ABIDA (Assessing Big Data), funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, explores social opportunities and risks of the generation, linking and analysis of huge amounts of data and develops options for political action, research and development. ABIDA approaches the topic of Big Data from a fundamentally interdisciplinary perspective. Sociologists, philosophers, economists, legal and political scientists work hand in hand on this. The project aims to jointly gather existing knowledge about dealing with big data, generate new knowledge, deepen the knowledge, and make it accessible to the widest possible public. The scientists will examine the societal impacts associated with Big Data by using the methods of technology assessment oriented to dialogue and participation.

In this project, I was a member of the political science working group that dealt with Big Data as a subject and source of regulation. For some of the insights, see here.

Editorial Surveillance and Archival Knowledge in Online Collaboration (2016-2017)

Zooming in on the everyday practices of mutual observation, the strategies of Wikipedia authors to watch at and watch over each other through an archive of wiki-based activities are examined on the ground of a three-year ethnographic study among English- and German-language contributors. For one, the technologically enabled gaze on collaborative activities is examined as a form of editorial surveillance. Regarding the status of the knowledge circulated in such environment, the routines of monitoring are then studied for the exploitation of operational cognizance and nescience. Finally, accounting for the reciprocal information gathering by users about their peers invites to redraft, once again, concepts of panopticism commonly mobilized to describe modern societies of control and discipline.

The project was supported through the 8th German-Israeli Frontiers of Humanities (GISFOH) Symposium "Witnessing and Knowing: Challenging Re/Sources of Knowledge" to which I have been generously invited by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH) and the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities (IASH). There, I worked together with, among others, Amit Pinchevski and Keren Tenenboim-Weinblatt from Hebrew University Jerusalem. More about the programme can be found here

Assessing Multi-Disciplinary, Large-Scale Scientific Collaborations (2015-2017)

Science should, arguably, always be a collaborative endeavour. In principle, the peers of the “Republic of Science” constantly exchange their insights so to falsify results and foster scientific progress. Although the reality of scholarship gnaws at this idealistic vision because political, economic, and social contingencies hinder unrestricted collaboration, we nevertheless see a broad range of forms where researchers within and across institutions, disciplines, and countries work together. Given the cost and complexity of organizing such extensive enterprises, digitally networked information and communication technologies (ICTs) were welcomed as enabler for collaboratories or e-science. In our research, we investigate the German academic community. We study if and how projects became increasingly collaborative and examine to what extent and with what implications the media affordances of collaboration have changed over the last thirty years. Our research draws on archival data from the German Research Foundation (DFG) and expert interviews. It aims to extend our understanding of the use of ICTs for fostering the ways, knowledge and insights are generated, processed, and distributed in scientific collaboration.

In this project, I worked together with Claudia Müller-Birn from the Freie Universität Berlin.

International Memory of Nazi War Crimes: Media Framing of the Demjanjuk Trials in Israeli, German, U.S., Dutch and Russian Media Discourse (2015-2017)

John 'Ivan' Demjanjuk (1920-2012), an American citizen since 1958, was a soldier of the Soviet Red Army, German prisoner of war during the Second World War, and an auxiliary police guard, a so-called Trawniki man, at the Nazi extermination camp Sobibór. He stood trials for Holocaust-related crimes, in Israel (1983 to 1993), in the U.S.A. (2001 to 2004), and in Germany (2009 to 2011), where he was finally convicted as an accessory to murder pending appeal, but died before serving his sentence. As the trials’ proceedings developed across different countries, particularly Israel, Germany and the U.S. with reverberations especially in the Netherlands and Russia, a corresponding discourse embedding the case in its wider cultural, historic and judicial context unfolded in the multi-lingual interplay of national and international mass and social media. The Demjanjuk case study is a prime example for an in-depth analysis of the rifts and relations of Holocaust remembrance on a global, transnational, and transcultural scale. The research aims to analyze the trials’ media coverage in a cross-country and cross-linguistic comparison of media frames and thus the discursive aspects of mediated memory cultures in general and war crimes’ memory in particular.

Collaborative project together with Shani Horowitz-Rozen and Shlomo Shpiro from Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel and with Vivien Sommer from the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space.

Social Media – Social Memory. Remembering in Digitally Networked Times (2012-2015)

Together with Christine Lohmeier I have edited a special section of Media, Culture & Society on mediated memories (as issue 6(36)/2014). We believe that media and memory are often closely intertwined. From the very start of human culture, media have been employed to fix, share and store expressions and impressions of individual and collective experiences. Taking this continuing twin relation as its point of departure, this special issue seeks to showcase empirical research that studies the interplay of contemporary media, social change and acts and artifacts of memory.

Moreover, in line with this publication and networking project, I worked together with Christine Lohmeier and Andrea Hajek in a book project with Palgrave Macmillan. The volume focuses on the role, mediated social remembering plays in reviving communities and rebuilding life, both private and public. The book was published in the Palgrave Macmillan Memory Studies Series and thus joined a list a great books including works by Barbie Zelizer, Keren Tenenboim-Weinblatt, Aleida Assmann and Andrew Hoskins.

For this project, I received special funding from the rector's office and administration of Technische Universität Chemnitz.

Crossworlds. Connecting Virtual and Real Social Worlds (2012-2016)

As a Post-Doc I was involved into the Research Training Group Crossworlds. Connecting virtual and real social worlds. It addressed the increase in digitization and its resulting virtualization of processes, communication, environments, and finally of the human counterparts. Overall, its PhD students, Post-Docs and associated researchers studied the new ways of interaction and communication offered by the connection of virtual and real social worlds in comparison with the experience of immediate real interaction and communication.

The Research Training Group was funded by a grant from the German Research Foundation (DFG award no: 1780).

Practices and Institutions for Online Cooperation (2009-2013)

My doctoral research asked how cooperation in online platforms comes into being. Looking at the practices and institutions of succesfull cooperation, the project analyzed the institutional work that goes into accomplishing ordered interaction and communication with regard to rules, code and shared normative meanings. In my three-year ethnographic case study I studied the German and English Wikipedia.

The project was generously funded by a personal dissertation grant from the German National Academic Foundation. Moreover, I received travel grants from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Fazit-Stiftung. In February 2014, my thesis was nominated for the dissertation award of the Commerzbank Foundation.

In May 2014 I won the dissertation award of the Sociology of Media Communication Section of the German Communication Association.

Methods for Sampling and Analyzing Online Discourses (2009-2012)

In this three-year project, a team led by Claudia Fraas developed methods to study convergent transmedia discourses. Combining frame analysis methods from linguistics and communication research with conversation analysis and multimodal analyses, we arrived at a set of tools to study textual and visual discursive patterns and practices on- and offline. As part of the project, we hosted an international and interdisciplinary conference on transmedia discourse analysis.

Supported by the German Research Foundation (award no: FR 1328/5-1).

Learner Communities of Practice (2009-2011)

A research group led by Thomas Köhler examined the routine use of social media by students through their academic life cycle. Following the idea that students form learner communities of practice with and through social media, we looked at how they acquire the necessary tacit and explicit knowledge to successfully handle applications for studying and learning. Empirically, the project relied on focus groups and project seminars to develop guidelines and use scenarios for social media in implicit learning processes.

Funds from the E-Learning Initiative, Saxon State Department for Science and Culture. For more information, see here

Workshops and Conferences

Big Data Discourses: Communicating, Deliberating, and Imagining Datafication (2024)

Approaching datafication through discourse means to understand and to engage with the eminent reality-making power of communication, deliberation, and imagination. It foregrounds the work that goes into rendering datafication a socially relevant phenomenon and problem. The conference sets out from the idea that the public understanding of datafication is driven by discourses in the media and among policymakers and the imaginaries they evoke. The event invites us to look at what datafication is or should be for a variety of publics and speakers and how they discuss, criticize, or envision the collection and use of data at different places, speaking from different situations, and at different times. That way, the conference does not merely interrogate the status quo of big data analytics. Rather, discourses also involve prospective ambitions and normative stances about potential, desirable, or unwanted innovations. The conference turns its attention to discourses whose programs of thought actively shape the social constitution of Big Data and translate into practices, organizational forms, policies, and institutions. Discourses are in fact integral to how we come to engage with datafication. Inquiring into the semantics, interpretations, and cultural values that prelude, accompany, and surround investments and innovations into Big Data requires by definition interdisciplinary work. This includes, among others, critical data studies, STS, sociology, communication, linguistics, political science, cultural studies, geography and education, as well as security studies and gender studies.

Confirmed keynote speaker: Minna Ruckenstein (University of Helsinki). Supported by the German Research Foundation. More info and the full CfP here.

Communicating Memory Matters (2022)

Memory is a communicative affair. Media and the forms of interaction and sensemaking they enable shape the ways people come to connect to a collective past, store personal reminiscences, and return to bygone moments. As such, every new wave of information and communication technology has brought about shifts in mnemonic culture. The practices and processes of media remembering and communicative commemoration receive an increasing academic attention across disciplines. Our conference addresses this nascent area of inquiry. It calls for contributions that explore the fundaments of communication memory studies in different academic traditions, map corresponding fields of research, and scrutinize analytical perspectives. The event brings together theoretical and empirical approaches toward the capacity of communication processes and media environments for memory making. Due to the variety of paradigms, we believe that it is necessary to work across disciplines and embrace an international perspective.The conference is open to research related to questions of memory, media, and communication. And it invites senior as well as emerging scholars to contemplate the future of communication memory studies.

Keynote speakers: Karina Horsti (Finnish Academy & University of Jyväskylä), Andrew Hoskins (University of Glasgow), Carolyn Kitch (Temple University), Randi Marselis (Roskilde University), & Anna Reading (King’s College London). The conference took place at the University of Salzburg in June/July 2022.Christine Lohmeier and I organized this event together with our colleagues in the Memory and Media Network; it was funded by the German Research Foundation, Memory and Media Network Grant. More here

Targeted: Digital Communication and Advertising (2021)

Digital networked media are largely financed by advertising. This applied to older generations of online services just as it is normal for digital platforms today. Even if the origins of the Internet were not commercial, its rise and success are closely linked to advertising in its various facets. Today's dominant corporations such as Google/Alphabet and Facebook base their market power and economic strength primarily on advertising financing.

Against this background, the conference deals with the question of how the structures and dynamics of digital communication are linked to the optimization of advertising communication and marketing. Social media platforms orientate their offers and algorithms towards the highest possible advertising revenue and at the same time organise large parts of our social communication. The currently prominent debates on algorithmic filtering, misformation ("fake news") and micro-targeting thus touch upon the - by no means new - question of the extent to which advertising financing shapes the conditions of social communication.

Joint annual conference of the German Communication Association (DGPuK) Sections "Digital Communication" and "Advertising Communication" held from 11 to 12 November 2021 at the University of Leipzig.

Automating Communication in the Networked Society: Contexts, Consequences, Critique (2019)

A defining—yet understudied—feature of digital communication is automation: the production of content, the distribution of information and messages, the curation of media use and the governance of content are all increasingly shaped and influenced by automated processes and automated actors. The conferences addresses two sides of the story of automating communication: the few who are shaping, designing, programming and implementing algorithms and other technologies, and the many who are using and are impacted by automated communication. In this regard, automation raises questions of power and power relations. Automating core features of democracy such as the assignment of relevance and legitimacy to issues, actors, and specific content, based on data and algorithms controlled and operated by a few private companies, challenges notions of transparency, due process, and legitimacy. What are the regulatory measures to curb this power? And are automation, algorithms, and artificial intelligence really meaningful answers to social problems?

The conference took place from November 6-8, 2019 in Berlin. The event was hosted by the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society (FU Berlin) and the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society. More information on the website

Articulating Voice. The Expressivity and Performativity of Media Practices (2018)

ICA 2018 Pre-Conference. Sponsored by the Philosophy, Theory and Critique (PTC) Division of the International Communication Association

“Media matter most when they seem not to matter at all.” (Wendy Chun) But how can we understand the practices through which innovations in media and digital data move from being unexpected, novel, and impactful to the negotiated, embedded, and habitual? The pre-conference takes issue with the mundane yet pervasive nature of media habits, rituals, and customs. It assesses the purchase of practice-based approaches in order to see under what conditions and with what consequences they enter studies in communication and media. In particular, we invite participants to consider the expressive and performative dimension of what people actually do and say in relation to media and to the wider communication ecologies in which these articulations take place. We are especially interested in contributions that examine how voices are expressed, represented, or muted and that study the ways practices of voice combine, overlap, or collide with other mediated activities in contemporary societies. With this, we strive for an explanation and critical appreciation of media practices whose accomplishment is a perennial exercise in which we find ourselves immersed. Responses to the contributions will be given by Elisenda Ardèvol (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya); Maria Bakardjieva (University of Calgary), S. Elizabeth Bird (University of Southern Florida); Nick Couldry (London School of Economics and Political Science).

Event date: 24 May 2018, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Prague, Czech Republic; Venue: Main Conference Hotel. Organizers: Christian Pentzold (University of Bremen), Kenzie Burchell (University of Toronto), Olivier Driessens (University of Cambridge), Alice Mattoni (Scuola Normale Superiore), John Postill (RMIT University), Cara Wallis (Texas A&M University)

The Mediatization of Time: New perspectives on media, data and temporality (2017)

Recent innovations in the digitalization and datafication of communication fundamentally affect how people conceptualize, perceive and evaluate time to create the kind of world they live in. The conference invites participants to think through the interplay of media and data in respect of the way social time is constructed, modulated, and experienced. This allows to appreciate how new technologies and representations deeply affect the temporal organization of today’s media suffused societies, and it also sheds light on transformations in mediating time. We assume that mediatization as a fundamental societal change that interweaves with the development and spread of communication and information technologies leaves its mark on the ways we process and order the pace, sequence, rhythms and of social reality.

The conference was organized by Christian Pentzold and Christine Lohmeier from the ZeMKI, Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research, University of Bremen in cooperation with Anne Kaun, School of Culture and Education, Södertörn University, Stockholm. It was held 7-8 December 2017 at the ZeMKI, Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research University of Bremen, Germany.

Power and Politics of Mundane Memories. Tracing, templating and transforming everyday life (2017)

Personal and collective memory-making are usually studied on large scales that bridge rather extensive temporal distances, at least in human time. What is overlooked are the kinds of ordinary phenomena mundane memories are made of. The routines of keeping and recurring records, taking notes and planning the proximate future as well as representations thereof and the tools used to accomplish such activities often seem neither especially consequential nor important. The concept of mundane memories provides a lens through which to examine the largely ignored modes of day-to-day remembering that knit together our activities, events, relations, materials and places of quotidian life along the chronological axis of past, present and future. In their continuity and contingency mundane memories are a recurring trivial issue and a pervasive exercise in which we find ourselves immersed. Often, they are mediated through material relations involving objects and more or less smart technologies. Rather than being of merely parochial interest then, mundane memories arrange and enable our daily occupations in all walks of life. As such, their practices too have become a topic of cultural representations and artistic reflection.

Addressing speakers from different sciences and humanities, from the arts and literature as well as from museums, curatorial institutions and public agencies, the workshop explored the practices and representations of mundane memories in artistic works, social organisations as well as in media forms and technologies from both historic and current perspectives.

The workshop was organized by an interdisciplinary team of junior members of the KCL faculty. It involved Mikka Lene Pers-Højholt, Department of Education & Professional Studies, Sanna Stegmaier, German Department, Sandra Borges Tavares, Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries , as well as Christian Pentzold, a 2015 Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries. It took place at King’s College London.

Mundane Memories. Practices and Representations of Remembering in Everyday Life (2015)

Upholding daily life is about keeping and recurring records, taking notes and planning the proximate future. Given this continuing dimension of civilisation and cohabitation, the workshop explores the interplay between the practices and representations of the day-to-day activities of remembering and the media forms and technologies people had or have at hand to accomplish the scaffolding of everyday life.

Since the beginnings of human culture, techniques and tools have been devised to schedule and manage the temporal relations that connect people, places, events and things. The workshop seeks to look at the daily routines of scheduling, keeping and recalling that arguably make up a core part of people’s quotidian occupations. It is also interested in representations of such practices as they can be found in artistic works, social organisations or in the affordances of media forms and technologies, both in historic and current perspective.

I organized the workshop in cooperation with Anna Reading from the Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries, King's College London. It was held November 27 2015 at KCL's Somerset House East Wing.

Media Communication between Complexity and Simplification. Theory, Methods, Practice (2015)

Media and communicative practice are in constant change. That said, these ongoing transformations move between complexity and simplification and encompass the fields as well as the theories and methods of current communication research and media analysis. For example, information sources diversify in their form but unify in their content. Then, novel media-related activities multiply but work within a limited range of platforms and applications. Moreover, media organizations seek to provide unique services but merge into larger corporations. Regarding these manifold dynamics, communication research and media analysis face a dilemma. Accounting for the environments, circumstances, processes and outcomes of communicative interactions and media-centred actions in their complexity challenges received theories, methods and procedures. Consequently, in order to engage with the empirical variety and variability and to develop meaningful explanations often demands to limit the analytical focus and to reduce the relevant aspects.

Focusing, thus, on the dual movements toward increasing and decreasing complexity, the conference assembled contributions from communication research and media analysis that discuss conceptual perspectives, present methodical approaches, explain empirical research or provide insights into practical issues in fields like media education, business, or media regulation.

The conference started with evening lectures interrogating concepts and methods for understanding and examining today’s complex societies in face of digital media and big data delivered by Professor Mike Savage from the London School of Economics and Isabelle Sonnenfeld, lead of Google’s News Lab in Germany. The event was hosted by the British Embassy in Berlin and a video can accessed from here.

The conference was organized by Christian Katzenbach and Christian Pentzold together with the chairs of the Computer-Mediated Communication Section (Christina Schumann and Monika Taddicken) and the Sociology of Media Communication Section (Jeffrey Wimmer, Marian Adolf and Sigrid Kannengießer) of the German Communication Association (DGPuK). It was hosted by the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet & Society, Berlin, and took place 5-7 November 2015.

Moving Memories. Remembering and Reviving Conflict, Protest and Social Unrest in Connected Times (2014)

The seminar explored the role memories play in conflicts that are increasingly communicated and conducted in and through connective and ubiquitous media. It assembled a rich array of both scholarship and practical advice on the ways memories come to play a role in times of struggle and rebellion, both in terms of re-enactment or remembrance of past conflicts and with regards to the production and circulation of memories of protest via digital technologies and new media. It first considered how the presence of conflict can come to bear upon memories of things past. Second, the seminar asked how memories of conflict and the re-enactments and revivals thereof are utilized by different actors in the present. Overall, the seminar was based on the idea that contemporary social movements, from religious and ethnic conflicts to the current social struggles in all parts of the globe, have been heavily involved, on the one hand, in reviving experiences, ideas and practices of past struggles and, on the other hand, in recording, archiving and disseminating documents of the unfolding contestations for future mobilization. Plots and notes of settled – won or lost – conflicts are, therefore, essential in motivating and moving present struggles and protests, as is the creation and dissemination of (counter-)memories via visual arts and social networks. In other words, frames of memories may become strategic resources in present and future mobilization.

The seminar which I organized together with Andrea Hajek (University of Glasgow), Christine Lohmeier (LMU) and Jordana Blejmar (University of Liverpool) was hosted by the School of Advanced Study, University of London at Senate House. It took place 27 November 2014. The seminar received funds from the School of Advanced Study's Institute of Modern Language and Research and the Institute of Latin American Studies as well as from Goldsmiths.

Reforming Formats. Producing and Protecting Program Formats in Convergent Media. An International Workshop (2013)

The workshop focused on three aspects: First, it looked at the evolving practices of manufacturing program formats for convergent media. Second, it shed light on the policies, regulations and agents involved in protecting formats. Third, it asked how these two developments can be studied by comparing different national and transnational media markets.

The workshop was held in December 2013 at the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, Berlin. It was hosted by Jeanette Hofmann, Christian Pentzold and Christian Katzenbach from the Internet Policy & Governance working group in cooperation with CREATe, the Research Councils UK Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy at the University of Glasgow.

Modes of Governance in Digitally Networked Environments: Interdisciplinary Workshop (2009)

Together with Malte Ziewitz, I organized an international and multidisciplinary workshop on modes of governance in digitally networked environments at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford. Supported by a British Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) grant (EP/FO/3701/1), the workshop brought together junior researchers from different cultures and disciplines, including anthropology, computer science, legal studies, political science, sociology and science & technology studies to explore issues of governance in mediated worlds. A key concern of this project was to better understand how and to what extent different approaches to governance in digitally networked environments perform the worlds in which they have their place and what the implications are for the practice of governance and governance research.

For a report, see Malte Ziewitz & Christian Pentzold (2010): Modes of Governance in Digitally Networked Environments: A Workshop Report, Oxford Internet Institute Forum Discussion Paper No. 19. Full text here