Urban Communication Research| Decentering Media Studies, Verbing the Audience: Methodological Considerations Concerning People’s Uses of Media in Urban Space
Media studies scholars are invited today to address the pervasive mediation of contemporary cities, together with researchers from human geography, urban studies, science and technology studies, and mobility studies. Current studies of people’s uses of media in urban space, in particular, could play a central role in shedding light on the mediatedness of urban daily life. Drawing on a review of this specific strand of research within the broader field of “urban media studies,” the article argues that participation in the interdisciplinary endeavor runs the risk of being hindered by overly media-centric methodological procedures. Their restrictive implications are most problematic in the taken-for-granted employment of “urban audience” and “urban media user” as key concepts in the study of how people use media in urban space. What we propose instead is to demarcate the research object by proceeding from the primary importance of urban practices. This methodological decentering of media necessitates the “verbing” of the notion of audience, thereby shifting the research focus to the activity of “audiencing” (media-related or not) and its interrelations with other urban activities.