Volume 10, No. 1, Art. 26 – January 2009

Transculturality as a Perspective: Researching Media Cultures Comparatively

Andreas Hepp

Abstract: Most of the research on media cultures operates in a "national-territorial" frame. Media cultures are considered as national cultures and other forms of media culture (for example professional journalism cultures, diasporas, celebrity cultures etc.) are not investigated in their "deterritorial" character. But it is exactly such deterritorial forms of media culture that are gaining relevance with the ongoing pace of media globalization: they therefore have to be placed in the focus of comparative media and communication research. Starting with this consideration, the article develops a transcultural perspective on researching media cultures. Within this perspective it becomes possible to conduct comparative research on (territorial) national media cultures as well as on other (deterritorial) forms of present media cultures, as this approach moves the processes of cultural construction and articulation into the focus of analysis. To arrive at a better understanding of this approach, "media cultures" are defined as translocal phenomena in their territorial as well as their deterritorial relations. Based on this, the "semantics" of a transcultural research perspective are outlined, which then makes it possible to formulate practical principles for carrying out comparative qualitative research within this framework.

Key words: media culture; intercultural communication; international communication; transcultural communication; comparison; media globalization; qualitative media research; critique; cultural studies; cultural analysis

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Theorizing Media Culture as Translocal

3. Media Cultures as Cultural Thickenings and Translocal Communities

4. Transculturality as Research Perspective

5. Researching Media Cultures Transculturally

5.1 Analyzing cultural patterns

5.2 Comparing manifold

5.3 Criticizing multi-perspectively







1. Introduction

The aim of this article is to develop a new perspective for researching media cultures comparatively, a perspective I want to call "transcultural." This perspective is reasonable, as much media and communication studies research within the field of "intercultural communication" and "international communication" persists in a "container theory" (BECK, 2000, p.23) of society, interpreting "media cultures" unequivocally as "national," and conducting subsequent research as though bounded by territorial containers of national states. But the present media landscape is marked by a higher complexity: in the wake of media globalization, that is the increase of media communication across national borders as well as the addressing of audiences across different states by certain media products (TOMLINSON, 1999; HEPP, 2004), we have to be wary of conceptualizing certain cultural patterns in media communication as being characteristic of a nation. Maybe they are much more related to deterritorial entities that lie beyond the national context, as for example in certain professional journalism cultures (MANCINI, 2007), in transnational diasporas (GEORGIU, 2006) or other forms of deterritorial translocal media cultures (HEPP, 2008b). To be sure, the national context does not disappear altogether and is—especially in a certain "banality" (BILLIG, 1995)—an important reference point for constructing meaning within media communication, and here especially within political media communication. However, as soon as questions of culture come into focus, it has to be noted that while certain forms of media culture remain national-territorial in the sense that the nation and its territory are important reference points of their articulation of meaning, other forms of media culture are much more deterritorial. Comparing media cultures in this complexity calls for a multilevel, transcultural research perspective (ROBINS, 2006). [1]

To outline this perspective I want to argue as follows: first, I want to theorize more precisely what "media cultures" are. Based on this and, as a second step, I want to reflect territorial and deterritorial aspects of present media cultures. Third, I will outline "transculturality" as a perspective within comparative research on media cultures. Finally, I want to demonstrate on a much more practical level how such a perspective can be applied in qualitative media and communication research. [2]

In all, my arguments pick up several more theoretical reflections I have published elsewhere, in part together with Nick COULDRY (beside others HEPP, 2008b; HEPP & COULDRY, 2009). However, the aim of this article is to demonstrate much more concretely the practical relevance of a transcultural research perspective. All methodological reflections are based on the transcultural comparative research we have undertaken during the last few years, as well as others on media events, diasporas and currently on political discourse cultures.1) [3]

2. Theorizing Media Culture as Translocal

The term "media culture" has become a more and more relevant concept in media and communication studies over the last decade, whereas for a long time media and culture had been used as separate concepts. In 1995, for example, Douglas KELLNER titled his book on identity, politics and the media "media culture." In this book Douglas KELLNER theorizes "media culture" in core as the culture produced in the media as industrial organizations and appropriated by the audiences: "Media culture," he writes, "is industrial culture, organized on the model of mass production and is produced for a mass audience according to types (genres), following conventional formulas, codes, and rules" (KELLNER, 1995, p.1). This kind of mediated consumer culture has a main status for everyday life as "media culture" induces individuals to identify with dominant social and political ideologies, positions, and representations (KELLNER, 1995, p.3). However, media culture is "highly complex and so far has resisted any adequate general theoretizations" (ibid.). [4]

Taking these reflections by Douglas KELLNER as a starting point, they indicate two important aspects when theorizing "media culture": On the one hand, the concept of "media culture" makes sense as "the media" are increasingly a main source for everyday media production. Thus, while reserving the concept of media culture mainly for mass media culture, Douglas KELLNER nevertheless justifies the relevance of the concept by hinting at the main status of cultural mediation in the present. On the other hand, KELLNER emphasizes the complexity of such theorizing, an aspect that gains additional relevance for the methodological reflection of questions of comparative media culture research. [5]

Within the discussion on media culture in media and communication studies since the 1990s, the concept of media culture has widened greatly compared to KELLNER's approach. Jonathan BIGNELL (2000, p.5), for example, defines media culture as "a terrain on which communication between people in a concrete historico-economic situation takes place"—media culture tends to become the whole culture mediated by communication. In the same sense the concept of media culture had been used by Siegfried J. SCHMIDT (1992), Werner FAULSTICH (1998) or Knut HICKETHIER (2003), who define—like Knut LUNDBY (1993)—media culture as a culture in which the mass media are the main resources of meaning production. Such an understanding of media culture is extended if digital media and their "mediatisation" (KROTZ, 2008) of everyday life are also taken into account (THOMAS & KROTZ, 2008). [6]

Taking reflections like these as a starting point one can define as a media culture all kinds of culture whose primary resources of meaning are mediated or provided by technical communication media (HEPP, 2008a, p.124). Such a definition certainly takes into account that no culture is mediatized in the sense that all of its resources are provided exclusively by the media. It is vital to emphasize this, as the present "myth of a mediated centre," as Nick COULDRY (2003, p.2) calls it, has to be reflected in all its complexity: While not everything is mediated by the media (see also REICHERTZ, 2008, p.17), the media articulate themselves, co-operating with other social institutions, in "an ongoing social construction" (COULDRY, 2008, p.3) as the center of society. Thus, media cultures are not just cultures that are marked by mediatization in the sense of an increasing quantitative saturation and qualitative shaping of culture by processes of media communication (HEPP, 2009). Additionally it could be said that media cultures are cultures in which "the media" succeed in constructing themselves as mediating the primary resources of meaning—or in short: the center. [7]

In this sense, media cultures can be regarded as translocal phenomena: routed in processes of media communication, media cultures transgress by definition the local and articulate a translocal horizon. The word translocal or translocality is at this point an analytical concept used to study the communicative connectivity of the media. [8]

There are two reasons for this concept that are appropriate and that one can link with the word locality and its prefix, "trans." Locality emphasizes that—also in the time of media globalization—the local world does not cease to exist. Irrespective of how far the communicative connectivity of a locality goes, this does not prompt questions of whether a person is living his or her life primarily locally (MOORES, 2000). As a physical human being, he or she must reside somewhere. "Trans," as a prefix, guides the focus from questions of locality (on which, for example, media anthropology focuses in particular), to questions of connectivity. If research is centered on translocality this emphasizes, on the one hand, that those questions pertaining to all that is local still matter, but that on the other hand today's locales are connected physically and communicatively to a very high degree. And that is the reason why the local does not cease to exist, but rather, changes. [9]

But besides this, translocality also refers to a specific understanding of culture. Some time ago, Jan NEDERVEEN PIETERSE (1995) divided principal understandings of culture into two: a territorial and a translocal one. To summarize his arguments, one can say that territorial concepts of culture are inward-looking, endogenous, focused on organicity, authenticity and identity. Translocal concepts of culture are outward-looking, exogenous, focused on hybridity, translation and identification. Having said this, it seems helpful to me to perceive media cultures in general in a translocal frame: all media cultures had been more or less hybrid, had to translate, change their identities and so on. In contrast to this, what is problematic for a general territorial conceptualization of media culture is that it refers to the already criticized container-thinking of nation states. With this concept, media cultures are from the beginning interpreted as national cultures of territorial states. More helpful than such territorial bordering is to pronounce that media cultures—as the "sum" of the classificatory systems and discursive formations on which the production of meaning in everyday practices draws (see HALL, 1997, p.222)—transgress the local without being necessarily focused on territoriality as a reference point of their meaning articulation. In this sense, media cultures are a kind of thickening of translocal processes of the articulation of meaning. [10]

3. Media Cultures as Cultural Thickenings and Translocal Communities

By focusing on this framework, it will be possible to describe the change of European media cultures during the last hundred years in a different way. One can take, for instance, the works of Benedict ANDERSON, Orvar LÖFGREN or David MORLEY as examples of this. The rise of national cultures is related to the diffusion of the so-called mass media. When different locales are very intensively connected by media, different people can be involved in a communicative process, and the construction of a common "imagined community" (ANDERSON, 1983), "home territory" (MORLEY, 2000) or "cultural thickening" (LÖFGREN, 2001). Such reflections refer to the level on which questions of territory pertain to translocality. One can take television history as an example. Firstly, television was marketed in the fifties as global, when it was called a "window to the world." Secondly, television had to be appropriated locally, that is to say it had to find its place in local life. And thirdly, the horizon of its first representations had the tendency of being nationally territorial, because the first important television events were national celebrations, national football games or national serial productions; but also the borders of TV networks broadcasting were the borders of nations. Like the print media and the radio before it, television helped to construct the territorialized "imagined community" of a nation. [11]

David MORLEY's metaphor of the "home territory" is, at this point, important in a dual sense. On the one hand, it shows the specificity of these national media cultures. It is possible to describe national media cultures whose translocal communicative thickening has been territorialized in such a way that national frontiers are the main borders of many communicative networks and flows. The process of thickening of the national imagined community was territorially bound. On the other hand, MORLEY's metaphor of the home territory shows us quite clearly that this territoriality of the media-influenced home no longer exists in a pure form. In the time of globalization, communicative connectivity is becoming more and more deterritorialized. With the distribution of media products across different national borders and the emergence of the Internet, global communicative connectivity grows, making the thickenings of national media cultures relative. One must contextualize them as part of different networks of the media.

Figure 1: Translocal communities and cultural thickenings [12]

This means that the borders of the cultural thickenings people belong to do not necessarily correspond with the territorial borders, while at the same time territories still have a high relevance as a reference point of constructing national community (see Figure 1). However, at the same time deterritorial thickenings gain relevance with increasing global media connectivity. [13]

Todays media cultures comprise of both aspects at the same time: on the one hand, there are still rather territorially focused thickenings of communicative connections, which is why it does make sense to talk about mediated regional or national translocal communities as reference points of identities. On the other hand, communicative thickenings exist across such territorial borders, thickenings, which offer the space for deterritorial translocal communities with corresponding identities. Analytically, one can draw a four-level distinction based on ethnic, commercial, political and religious aspects. On the level of ethnicity there is an increasing number of communicative thickenings of migrant groups and diasporas. On the commercial level, the number of deterritorial popular cultural communities, like youth cultures or scenes increases. On the political level, the number of deterritorial social movements, like the critical globalization movement rises. On the religious level, one can observe the re-emergence of deterritorial religious groups. One can argue that all of these examples are based on translocal media connectivity and specific cultural thickenings that offer an important resource point for current identities. Because of that, one can argue that these cultural thickenings are certain media cultures of their own—in the same way as national media cultures are. The complexity of describing media cultures—highlighted by Douglas KELLNER (1995)—gains an additional dimension. [14]

4. Transculturality as Research Perspective

Following these considerations so far, the main question is how comparative research on media cultures should be undertaken. Based on the presented arguments it is clear that a more complex framework is necessary than that common to present comparative media research. Much current media research has an implicit "territorial essentialism," even as it tries to move towards rigorous international comparison. The state remains the principal reference point of comparative research, on the basis of which media systems, media markets and media cultures are theorized. [15]

One can call this an international and intercultural approach to comparative media research (HEPP, 2006, pp.78-80). My contention about this "international approach" is not to deny that there are aspects of media communication related to the state that must be discussed in a (territorialized) state frame. Especially in the field of political communication, with the national territorial focus of political decision-making the national state remains an important reference point (HEPP & WESSLER, 2008). However, there is a tendency in comparative media research thus far to "essentialize" the relation between state, (political) media system, media market and media culture into a model of binary comparison, or what can be called a binary comparative semantic.2) [16]

Focusing particularly on questions of media culture as outlined above, this "territorial essentialism" is highly problematic, since contemporary media cultures are not per se bound in such national containers, and so are not necessarily available to be compared in this way. Questions of media culture overall, evoke a much higher complexity: On the one hand media cultures have something to do with "territorialization"—here understood as a specific process of meaning articulation or construction—and on the other hand with "deterritorialization" in the sense that many present cultural forms cannot be related to specific territories. In all, this shows how problematic an essentialist territorialized "container thinking" is for carrying out comparative research on media cultures. [17]

So, where to start comparative research? The answer I want to outline in the following involves developing a new comparative semantic, that I call a "transcultural approach." By using the term "transcultural" I do not want to imply focusing only on forms that are standardized "beyond" or "across" cultures. Rather, I borrow the term from Wolfgang WELSCH (1999), who used it to indicate that currently important cultural phenomena cannot be broken down into dimensions of traditional cultures based in specific territories. Instead, contemporary cultural forms are increasingly generated and communicated across various territories. [18]

The transcultural comparative semantic I want to suggest takes the existence of global media capitalism as a starting point. Across different states, global media capitalism becomes a structuring force in the sense that in different regions of the world media communication is more and more considered as an "exchange of economic goods" and not only as a communication process with the aim of a better reciprocal understanding (HERMAN & McCHESNEY, 1997; HESMONDHALGH, 2002). Such statements should not be misunderstood in the sense that there are no "alternative" uses of media, especially of the Internet (for example diaspora web pages or radical political information portals). However, even these alternative uses are also framed by a more and more commercial structure of the Internet, whose infrastructure is nowadays more of a commercial enterprise than the utopian network of communication as it was considered in its beginning. The same can be said for public media that have to take currently an economic responsibility for their acting, often expressed in the relation between "fees" and "reached publics." Commercial criteria are a highly important frame especially in relation to the "investment" of a communication across national borders. Nevertheless, one has to consider that this global media capitalism does not standardize the articulation of meaning because of its "over-determination" of meaning (ANG, 1996). Quite often, global media capitalism rather seems to be a source of ongoing cultural fragmentation, contestation and misunderstanding—not only between national cultures but also across them. [19]

Within global media capitalism, political media systems are the most territorially related entities, because the legitimacy of political decision-making still is, to a high degree state, related. Nevertheless, as soon as questions of media culture come to the fore, based on my previous arguments it becomes clear that cultural thickenings can either be broadly territorialized (as with national cultures, articulated with reference to a state and its territory) or they can transgress states and their territories. Examples I have mentioned for this are diasporas, popular cultures, social movements or religious belief communities. The articulation of these communities refers to deterritorialized transmedial communicative spaces. [20]

Concerning the question "How to compare?" a "transcultural approach" overcomes the binary of an "international approach" without excluding the state and the nation as a possible reference point of comparison. In detail this means that a "transcultural approach" does not operate with a concept of media cultures enclosed by territorial states but with an understanding of the thickening of these phenomena in the frame of an increasingly global communicative connectivity. Such a "comparative semantic" tries to consider the specificity of such thickenings and the complex interrelations between them. [21]

5. Researching Media Cultures Transculturally

Up to now the presented reflections have been rather fundamental, aiming to formulate a transcultural research perspective in general. This research perspective has to be understood as an approach that can be adopted methodologically in very different ways. Thus, for example, surveys on media use could be carried out in a transcultural comparative perspective, which means that data is not just aggregated in a national frame but data clustering is proceeded along different, and also transcultural, criteria like religious orientation or popular interests. Standardized content analyses can serve as a base for interpreting the data not as typical for national media cultures, but looking for transcultural specificities of—for example—the representation of "the other" in the tabloid press or professional journalism cultures. Additionally, further research projects could be undertaken in the outlined transcultural research perspective. In this sense it is a very fundamental principle of structuring the semantic of cultural comparison of data gathered and analyzed by highly different methods. [22]

However, a transcultural perspective is highly relevant, especially for qualitative media research. This is because such an approach is related to a research orientation that aims to analyze the processes of cultural construction or articulation themselves in a comparative frame. In a certain sense it extends Nick COULDRY's (2003; 2008) argument to a comparative frame that research should focus on the construction of the "mediated center" instead of sharing the assumption that the media are the center of society. The main point is to analyze critically in different cultural thickenings the status of the media for articulating them. Doing this in a comparative manner offers a deeper insight into such processes of cultural construction or articulation, as it allows one to understand the cultural specific much better by comparing it to other cultural specificities:3) It makes the processes of constructing the "cultural" through "the media" accessible. [23]

With this in mind, I would like to suggest a three-step approach for such a qualitative research on media cultures in a transcultural perspective. While the described steps are interrelated with each other, it is, nevertheless, useful to perceive them as separate procedures in practical media research. Analyzing cultural patterns, making manifold comparisons and criticizing multi-perspectively imply different foci of research and build a progression of analytical work. [24]

5.1 Analyzing cultural patterns

The focus of research on media cultures in a transcultural perspective—as in cultural analyses in general—are "cultural patterns." But what precisely does "cultural pattern" mean? In answer to this, it is helpful to return to the exposed understanding of (media) culture as a thickening of the classificatory systems and discursive formations on which the production of meaning in everyday practices draws. Relating to the present discussion about praxeology in comparative cultural research (RECKWITZ, 2005, p.96) this understanding integrates all three established discourses in the tradition of social constructivism: a mentalistic (emphasizing the relevance of classificatory systems), a textual (emphasizing the relevance of discursive formations) and a praxeological (emphasizing the relevance of everyday meaning production through practices). The idea behind this is to understand that everyday practices are central in "articulating culture"; however, additionally, that "culture" cannot be reduced to this. "Culture" is also present in discursive formations and classificatory systems people rely on in their everyday practices, in the most cases without any "discursive knowledge" in the sense of Anthony GIDDENS (1989).4) It should be noted that this differentiation is a heuristic one. Actor Network Theory (ANT) demonstrates that "thinking" is based on (also material) knowledge practices (LATOUR, 1992); discourse analysis has pointed to the fact that discourses are produced by practices, but they also produce them as they produce certain knowledge (FOUCAULT, 1994), and practices themselves are formed by sedimented mental relevance structures, as social phenomenology has shown (SCHÜTZ, 1967). [25]

The argument I want to make at this point is that a comparative research of media cultures should look for cultural patterns in all three perspectives, "patterns of thinking," "patterns of discourse" and "patterns of practices" or "doing," while reflecting at the same time on their interrelation. Using the term "pattern" might be misleading if one relates it to something "static." In contrast to this view, cultural analysis is also interested in patterns of the process. However, the term pattern tries to express the idea that a cultural analysis should not analyze just the single thinking, discourse or doing, but should typify, based on an analysis of different single phenomena, the typical "way" of thinking, discourse or doing in a certain cultural context. In other words, a cultural pattern is a specific "form" or "type" highlighted in cultural analyses. [26]

In this sense (media) cultures are analyzed as a thickening of specific patterns of thinking, discourse and practice. This is the point where an additional aspect of thickening comes in. Many of the cultural patterns that are typified are not exclusive to the culture to be analyzed. It is precisely at this point where the overall hybridity of all cultures manifests itself. However, within the articulation of certain connectivities of different patterns there is a certain specificity of a (media) culture as a territorialized or deterritorialized thickening. At this point, the term thickening emphasizes the specificity of the culture in the articulation of its totality of patterns as well as the openness of a culture in the sense of the in-exclusivity of many or most of its cultural patterns. [27]

Having said this, any analysis of media cultures starts with analyzing its specific cultural patterns. And a highly practical tool for doing this is the coding process as outlined in much of the approaches of grounded theory and empirically based theory formation (for example GLASER & STRAUSS, 1967; KROTZ, 2005): a coding that starts with finding concepts to analyze certain phenomena and then categorizing them for naming certain cultural patterns found in different kinds of empirical data (interviews, media products, diaries, observation protocols etc.). As a certain everyday complexity of cultural patterns is likely to occur, a triangulation of different data collecting methods is highly recommendable for this. [28]

5.2 Comparing manifold

But how does the transcultural perspective enter into this kind of media culture research? This question is related to the way the comparison is undertaken within the research. A comparison from a transcultural perspective does not start within the binary semantics of national comparison (understanding each cultural pattern as an expression of national media culture), but develops a manifold process of comparison. As GLASER and STRAUSS (1967) have explained, the formation of a "grounded theory" is comparative in general: Different cases of interviews, media products, diaries, observation protocols etc. are compared with each other to synthesize in an ongoing process the main categories for analyzing the data across the different cases. [29]

It is precisely this process that is also realized within transcultural media research; but without aggregating the data nationally from the beginning. The cases across the selected different cultural contexts are compared with each other in order to arrive at a category system that does not merely analyze national differences, but also transnational commonalities of cultural patterns. In this way a more complex analysis can be obtained, making it possible to open up access to media cultural thickenings beyond the national-territorial and to analyze them in more detail. In practice, this manifold comparison comprises of the following steps:

  • First, data has to be structured in cases of social entities, as for example, individuals (combining different person-related data sources like interviews, media diaries etc.), organizations (combining different organizational related data sources like interviews with different person, group discussion transcripts, observation protocols etc.) or similar entities.

  • Second, the process of comparing these different cases transculturally follows by categorizing different cultural patterns. The important point here is to be open to different cultural mappings; having a careful view on the question whether a certain pattern is, for example, national-specific, transculturally stable or characteristic of a deterritorial community, like for example a diaspora, a political or religious movement.

  • Third, the results of this comparison are structured along the variety of the differently occurring cultural thickenings, for instance, either on a territorial level (region, nation) or on a deterritorial level (different kinds of deterritorialized translocal communities)—or at the level of patterns that are stable across them. [30]

Such comparison makes it possible to analyze very different kinds of cultural thickenings beyond an essentialistic national frame. A certain cultural thickening then becomes accessible as an articulation of different patterns of thinking, discourse and practice. [31]

5.3 Criticizing multi-perspectively

The described proceeding for researching media cultures in a transcultural perspective is explicitly understood as a critical approach: not just analyzing and explaining certain cultural thickenings but additionally doing this in a critical manner. However, the researcher him- or herself is not neutral, but part of the cultural practice of doing transcultural media research (WINTER, 2005, pp.279). So how can one take a critical perspective without just reproducing one's own normative cultural frame in a self-centric way? There is no easy answer to this question. However, at least three basic principles for reviewing comparative analysis may help to realize a multi-perspective critique.

  • As a first principle there is the necessity of focusing on the construction processes of cultural articulation. As emphasized above, within media cultures "the media" themselves are constructed by certain cultural patterns as part of the "center." In additional, further patterns of "centering" media cultures exist: for example, of centering the "national-territorial" in national media cultures, the "deterritorial-religious" in transnational religious movements, the "global popular" in popular cultural communities and so on. The outlined non-essentialistic approach of analyzing media cultures makes it possible to focus such implicit processes of "centering" as it does not set certain main variables at the beginning.

  • The second principle is focusing on the relation of cultural patterns and questions of power. Emphasizing "centering" aspects within construction processes of cultural articulation already provides a link to questions of power, as the building of a "cultural center" is always a power force. But also beyond these "centering" aspects patterns within media cultures can be related to power: certain cultural patterns open chances of hegemony or domination, others not. Consequently, the second principle means to reflect how far analyzed cultural patterns are related to power relations within media cultures, but also how far they open or close certain spaces of agency in everyday life.

  • A third principle is the integration of all this in a multi-perspectival description. Thus, when comparing transculturally different perspectives on thickenings of media cultures, one can analyze their processes of cultural articulation and power relations. Because of that, the aim of a multi-perspectival critique cannot be mono-semizing this complexity. Moreover an analytical description should make the different cultures in their power-related inconsistency accessible, especially when comparing them with each other. [32]

As such, it is a highly risky undertaking—as Douglas KELLNER (1995, p.3) points out—to formulate more general approaches for analyzing media cultures in qualitative media and communication research because of their complexity. In this sense it would be a misunderstanding to consider the developed approach of researching media cultures in a transcultural perspective as the only possible procedure in this field. Other approaches emphasize other relevant aspects of investigating media cultures comparatively. Nevertheless, I want to argue that a transcultural perspective opens up a very productive methodological access, as it makes very different power-related processes of cultural articulation accessible in a critical manner. My hope is that this article will stimulate others to carry out research in the same trajectory. [33]


Many parts of this article go back to methodological discussions with Nick COULDRY (whom I want to thank additionally for making it possible to draw in section three and four on thoughts being published with him), Friedrich KROTZ, Shaun MOORES, John TOMLINSON and Hartmut WESSLER. I have to thank all of them for their continuing critique and feedback on media culture research in a transcultural perspective.


1) For an overview of the different projects funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and European Union (EU) see http://www.imki.uni-bremen.de/. <back>

2) Also if more than two media cultures, markets and systems are compared this way that basic argumentative structure remains binary in the sense of comparing closed dualities. <back>

3) By this I don't want to say that a comparative approach is the only way to get an insight into "cultural difference." As Andreas RECKWITZ (2005, p.93) has argued, this is, for example, also possible through a "simulated foreign observation" ("simulierte Fremdbeobachtung"). <back>

4) From my perspective, to also focus on this seems to be essential in order to include a critical view of ideologies in our cultural research. <back>


Anderson, Benedict (1983). Imagined communities: Reflections on the origins and spread of nationalism. New York: Verso.

Ang, Ien (1996). Living room wars. Rethinking media audiences for a postmodern world. London, New York: Routledge.

Beck, Ulrich (2000). What is globalization? London: Blackwell.

Bignell, Jonathan (2000). Postmodern media cultures. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP.

Billig, Michael (1995). Banal nationalism. London: Sage.

Couldry, Nick (2003). Media rituals. A critical approach. London: Routledge.

Couldry, Nick (2008). "The media": A crisis of appearances. Inaugural lecture as professor of media and communications, Goldsmiths, University of London, http://www.goldsmiths.ac.uk/media-communications/staff/couldry-inaugural-lecture.pdf [Date of access: June 4, 2006].

Faulstich, Werner (1998). Medienkultur. In Werner Faulstich (Ed.), Grundwissen Medien (3rd edition, pp.99-105). München: Wilhelm Fink (UTB).

Foucault, Michel (1994). The order of things. New York: Random House.

Giddens, Anthony (1989). The constitution of society. Outline of the theory of structuration. Cambridge, Oxford: Polity Press.

Georgiou, Myria (2006). Diaspora, identity and the media: Diasporic transnationalism and mediated spatialities. Cresskill: Hampton Press.

Glaser, Barney G. & Strauss, Anselm L. (1967). Discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. New Brunswick: AldineTransaction.

Hall, Stuart (1997). The centrality of culture: Notes on the cultural revolutions of our time. In Kenneth Thompson (Ed.), Media and cultural regulation (pp.207-238). London: Sage.

Hepp, Andreas (2004). Netzwerke der Medien. Medienkulturen und Globalisierung. Wiesbaden: VS.

Hepp, Andreas (2006). Transkulturelle Kommunikation. Konstanz: UVK (UTB).

Hepp, Andreas (2008a). Kulturtheorie in der Kommunikations- und Medienwissenschaft. In Carsten Winter, Andreas Hepp & Friedrich Krotz (Eds.), Theorien der Kommunikations- und Medienwissenschaft. Grundlegende Diskussionen und aktuelle Diskussionsfelder (pp.113-138). Wiesbaden: VS.

Hepp, Andreas (2008b). Translocal media cultures: Networks of the media and globalisation. In Andreas Hepp, Friedrich Krotz, Shaun Moores & Carsten Winter (Eds.), Connectivity, networks and flows. Conceptualizing contemporary communications (pp.33-58). Cresskill: Hampton Press.

Hepp, Andreas (2009/in print). Differentiation: Mediatization and cultural change. In Knut Lundby (Ed.), Mediatization: Concept, changes, consequences). New York: Peter Lang.

Hepp, Andreas & Couldry, Nick (2009/in print). What should comparative media research be comparing? Towards a transcultural approach to "media cultures". In Dayan K. Thussu (Ed.), Transnationalising media studies. London: Routledge.

Hepp, Andreas & Wessler, Hartmut (2008). Interkultureller Dialog und Medien heute: Transnationale und transkulturelle Kommunikation als Herausforderung. Medienimpulse, 63, 15-18.

Herman, Edward S. & McChesney, Robert W. (1997). The global media. The new missionaries of corporate capitalism. London: Cassell.

Hesmondhalgh, David (2002). The cultural industries. London: Sage.

Hickethier, Knut (2003). Medienkultur. In Günther Bentele, Hans-Bernd Brosius & Otfried Jarren (Eds.), Öffentliche Kommunikation. Handbuch Kommunikations- und Medienwissenschaft (pp.435-457). Wiesbaden: Westdeutscher Verlag

Kellner, Douglas (1995). Media culture. Cultural studies, identity and politics between the modern and the postmodern. London: Routledge.

Krotz, Friedrich (2005). Neue Theorien entwickeln. Eine Einführung in die Grounded Theory, die Heuristische Sozialforschung und die Ethnographie anhand von Beispielen aus der Kommunikationsforschung. Köln: Halem.

Krotz, Friedrich (2008). Media connectivity. Concepts, conditions, and consequences. In Andreas Hepp, Friedrich Krotz, Shaun Moores & Carsten Winter (Eds.), Network, connectivity and flow. Conceptualising contemporary communications (pp.13-31). New York: Hampton Press.

Latour, Bruno (1992). Laboratory life: The construction of scientific facts. Princeton UP.

Löfgren, Orvar (2001). The nation as home or motel? Metaphors of media and belonging. Sosiologisk Årbok, 1, 1-34.

Lundby, Knut (1993). Medienkultur. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.

Mancini, Paolo (2007). Journalism culture: A two-level proposal. Paper presented at the ICA Annual Conference 2007, San Francisco.

Moores, Shaun (2000). Media and everyday life in modern society. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP.

Morley, David (2000). Home territories. Media, mobility and identity. London: Routledge.

Nederveen Pieterse, Jan (1995). Globalization as hybridization. In Mike Featherstone, Scott Lash & Roland Robertson (Eds.), Global modernities (pp.45-68). London: Sage.

Reckwitz, Andreas (2005). Kulturelle Differenzen aus praxeologischer Perspektive. Kulturelle Globalisierung jenseits von Modernisierungstheorie und Kulturessentialismus. In Ilja Srubar, Joachim Renn & Ulrich Wenzel (Eds.), Kulturen vergleichen. Sozial- und kulturwissenschaftliche Grundlagen und Kontroverse (pp.92-111). Wiesbaden: VS.

Reichertz, Jo (2008). Die Macht der Worte und der Medien (2nd edition). Wiesbaden: VS.

Robins, Kevin (2006). The challenge of transcultural diversities: Final report of the transversal study on the theme of cultural policy and cultural diversity. In Kevin Robins (Ed.), The challenge of transcultural diversities (pp.7-48). Strassbourg: Council of Europe.

Schmidt, Siegfried J. (1992). Medien, Kultur: Medienkultur. Ein konstruktivistisches Gesprächsangebot. In Siegfried J. Schmidt (Ed.), Kognition und Gesellschaft. Der Diskurs des Radikalen Konstruktivismus 2 (pp.425-450). Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp.

Schütz, Alfred (1967). Phenomenology of the social world. New York: Northwestern UP.

Thomas, Tanja & Krotz, Friedrich (2008). Medienkultur und soziales Handeln: Begriffsarbeiten zur Theorieentwicklung. In Tanja Thomas (Ed.), Medienkultur und soziales Handeln (pp.17-42). Wiesbaden: VS.

Tomlinson, John (1999). Globalization and culture. Cambridge, Oxford: Polity.

Welsch, Wolfgang (1999). Transculturality—The changing forms of cultures today. In Bundesminister für Wissenschaft und Verkehr, Internationales Forschungszentrum für Kulturwissenschaften (Eds.), The contemporary study of culture (pp.217-244). Wien: Turia & Kant.

Winter, Rainer (2005). Der zu bestimmende Charakter von Kultur: Das Konzept der Artikulation in der Tradition der Cultural Studies. In Ilja Srubar, Joachim Renn & Ulrich Wenzel (Eds.), Kulturen vergleichen. Sozial- und kulturwissenschaftliche Grundlagen und Kontroversen (pp.271-289). Wiesbaden: VS.


Dr. habil. Andreas HEPP is professor of communications at the IMKI, University of Bremen. His research is focused on the relationship between media and cultural change. Within this frame his main topics are media globalization, transcultural communication, migration and diaspora, media and religious change, transnationalization of public spheres, media appropriation and mediatization research. He is author of four and co-author of two books, co-editor of nine books and has written more than 90 articles and contributions to different academic journals and books.


Prof. Dr. Andreas Hepp

University of Bremen, Faculty for Cultural Studies
IMKI, Institute of Media, Communication & Information
Enrique-Schmidt-Strasse, SFG 4320
D-28359 Bremen, Germany

Phone: +49 (0)421 218-67620

E-Mail: Andreas.Hepp@uni-bremen.de
URL: http://www.imki.uni-bremen.de/, http://www.andreas-hepp.name/


Hepp, Andreas (2009). Transculturality as a Perspective: Researching Media Cultures Comparatively [33 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 10(1), Art. 26, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0901267.

Copyright (c) 2009 Andreas Hepp

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.