Media studies

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Media studies is the academic engagement with the media , including the mass media and public communication , but also aspects of the aesthetics, history and theory of the media. Media studies are based on the linguistic and humanities occupation with the media in literature , theater , art and music studies . Depending on the media term, the focus is on individual media such as print media ( newspaper and magazine ), radio , television or online media . With a broader media term, however, infrastructures, networks or technologies also come into focus. Many media scholars also include film studies as part of their discipline.

The main areas of work in media studies are media analysis , history and theory . In contrast to social science communication studies , in which the focus is often on the interactions between mass media and society (reception), questions of aesthetics, technology and history are in the foreground in media studies.

History and disciplines

The beginnings of media studies go back to scientific research in the field of newspapers and magazines. In 1916, Karl Bücher established an institute for newspaper studies in Leipzig . Erich Everth became the first professor . A broader media science did not establish itself as an independent discipline until the late 1970s. It is located at the intersection of language , literature , theater and cultural studies , sociology , social work , psychology , political science , economics , law , pedagogy and computer science .

Logo of a media science course at the University of Bayreuth

In Germany, two trends can be observed in the history of media studies: on the one hand, the orientation as humanities and cultural studies, on the other hand, as social science or based on social science communication studies.

Media studies as humanities and cultural studies

The first major aspect of media studies is based in the humanities and cultural studies, such as theater studies and literary studies, and has expanded significantly since the 1990s. It is in this direction that science in Germany has mainly developed and established today.

It is difficult to establish a clear beginning for media studies, because media studies theses and questions have always accompanied other humanities and cultural studies - for example, ancient philosophy already discussed differences between language and writing, two of the oldest media. These perspectives can now be called media studies in retrospect without the term or even an institutionalization of the discipline already existing at the time.

In the 1960s, German studies in particular turned to other media because, as part of a reorientation, the focus was now on everyday texts. The institutionalization of media studies took a detour, to a large extent through the establishment of film and television science institutes.

The humanities form of media studies emerged from the 1970s and 1980s from text-based humanities German studies and theater studies as a counterpart to the more empirical , social science journalism and communication studies.

One of the first publications on this new direction is the volume literary studies - media studies edited by Helmut Kreuzer , which summarized the presentations of the Düsseldorf Germanist Conference in 1976. In the preamble to the tape, there is still talk of “risky diletting”.

At the beginning of the 1980s in particular, it was recognized that the key social function of the media would make it necessary to expand the canon of literary texts to include publications in the mass press , radio plays and, ultimately, television plays . The role of text transfer from one medium to another, such as the film adaptation of literature , was also problematized. In addition, there was the recognition of the condition and dependence of every literary work on its medium, i.e. the drama on the stage performance, the radio play on the radio, the novel on the book. Sometimes there was a paradigm shift from literature to the media.

In 1984 Thomas Koebner and Karl Riha founded the department media studies: Reviews in Marburg , which reports on current book publications from media studies research fields. German studies and literary studies as well as journalism and communication studies approached each other methodically, for example at the symposium “Empirical Methods in Literary Studies” in Siegen in 1981 , where literary scholars invited journalists and communication scholars, or vice versa at the symposium “Paths to Communication History” in 1987 at the Institute for Media and Communication Studies at the University of Vienna .

In 1988 he published the work Views of a Future Media Studies (edited by Rainer Bohn, Eggo Müller and Rainer Ruppert) based on the 1969 book Views of a Future German Studies by Jürgen Kolbe, in which the idea of ​​media studies research within German studies was already expressed .

Today's media studies are characterized by a plurality of approaches, methods and objects. Sometimes this perspective of media studies, in contrast to social science media studies, is also referred to as "media culture studies".

Media studies as social science

Media studies in the tradition of other social sciences such as communication studies, sociology and economics focuses primarily on the mass media , their political, social, economic and cultural role and the effect they have on the audience with the creation and distribution of media content . In some cases, media science institutes with a focus on the humanities are also based on social science communication science or in some cases also use empirical methods that are actually typical for this science.

An important social science question within media studies is the importance of the media for the creation of gender-specific identities. Starting from the central function that the media play in the construction of belonging to communities, the gender-specific dimensions of inclusion and exclusion are investigated. At the center of gender-sensitive media studies is the question of gender hierarchical constructions that lead to unequal opportunities for men and women to participate in the symbolic resources of society.

Central fields of work

The strategy paper of the Society for Media Studies from 2008 describes the core areas of the subject as follows: "Media studies deals with the theory , history and aesthetics of media and media systems, particularly from the point of view of their social functions, their technical conditionality and their cultural integration, acceptance and effects Media are understood as technically, functionally, culturally or aesthetically differentiated units of media systems that can be described through their aesthetics, their form, their communicative and epistemological function and their technical organization. "

Today the boundaries are blurring and the research is supplemented by additional aspects. The sub-disciplines, which in many cases overlap with other subjects, range from media anthropology to media education and media philosophy to media law .

Public forums

The International Association for Media and History (IAMHIST), which publishes the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television , was founded in 1977 for scientific exchange and as a public forum . The Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS), founded in 1959, is also internationally oriented . In the German-speaking area there is the Society for Media Studies (GfM), the German Society for Media and Communication Studies (DGPuK) and the Broadcasting and History Study Group (StRuG). The Adolf-Grimme-Institut continuously examines the German television programs for quality programs and awards corresponding awards annually, each of which is based on intensive media studies and advice. Which take place annually also Mainzer days of television criticism of the ZDF are one of the other forums that people from practice and media scientist to a public review, inventory and perspectives event gather. The Munich Media Days organize an annual, internationally oriented media congress. - In France, the Société pour l'histoire des médias (SPHM) is committed to researching media history.

Instruments for literature research

The subject repository media / rep / of the University of Marburg provides publications from the field of media and film studies according to the principles of open access . The specialist information service for media, communication and film studies is operated at the Leipzig University Library .


Media studies can be studied at various European universities. The study portal Medienwissenschaft studieren offers an overview of German-language offers in media culture studies . Depending on the academic focus, it is often offered in combination with the related subjects of communication , literature and theater studies. Theater, film and media studies (TFM) has established itself as an independent subject since the 1980s . Due to the partly artistic-creative orientation, there are also courses at universities of applied sciences or at artistic universities. Due to the high attractiveness of the subject, the allocation of study places is based on a local selection process ( numerus clausus ), and aptitude and selection tests are also often carried out. Particular emphasis is placed on a very good knowledge of German , a good knowledge of the English language and sometimes other foreign languages. Some media science courses serve as training for professional practice, while others are purely scientific.

See also

Portal: Media Studies  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the topic of media studies


Web links

Wiktionary: Media studies  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. MEDIA Studies: Reviews - About Us , MEDIA Studies: Reviews / Reviews, Philipps University of Marburg, accessed on September 30, 2019.
  2. ^ Society for Media Studies (2008): Core Areas of Media Studies, p. 1
  3. International Association for Media and History ( Memento from June 15, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) (IAMHIST; article in the English language Wikipedia )
  4. ^ Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS; article in the English language Wikipedia )
  5. Society for Media Studies (GfM)
  6. Société pour l'histoire des médias (SPHM; article in the French-language Wikipedia )
  7. Repository for Media Studies media / rep /
  8. Studying media studies - GfM course database. Retrieved May 20, 2019 .