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Definitive and Sensitizing Conceptualizations of Mediatization


Corresponding author: Klaus Bruhn Jensen; e-mail:


Departing from H. Blumer's (1954) distinction between definitive and sensitizing concepts, this article suggests that the mediatization literature has overemphasized definitive approaches to conceptualizing media change. Analyzing 2 representative instances, and comparing them with 3 sensitizing approaches, the article argues that future research should clarify several processes entering into mediatization, including social structuration, technological momentum, and the embedding of communication into social contexts as well as physical objects. In conclusion, the essay notes that greater attention to the ongoing digitalization of the contemporary media environment could help both to explain the timing of the turn to mediatization in communication research and to focus future theorizing about the very idea of mediatization.