Abstract - The Information Society 26(5)

Living in the mediatope: A multi-method study on the evolution of media technologies in the domestic environment

Thorsten Quandt and Thilo von Pape

Domestication is a productive concept for analyzing the sense-making processes behind the integration of media technologies into everyday life. However, researchers have yet to take advantage of the full heuristic potential of this metaphor. So far, most studies have focused on single devices and employed qualitative methods, mainly case studies, to generate insights into the process of domestication. We suggest broadening of perspective onto the overall do-mestic ecology within which media cohabitate and compete. Towards this goal, we conducted a large-scale multi-method study involving observations and interviews in 100 households. We thereby analyzed not only the ‘birth’ of individual media devices into households, but also examined how they reside in certain ‘mediatopes’ (media environments), how they com-pete as different media ‘species’, and how they change their social and spatial positions dur-ing their lifecycle. More generally, the study demonstrates how to apply domestication re-search to the topography of a domestic media environment that is complementary to the eth-nographical descriptions, which have dominated the literature thus far.

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