Practicing Media—Mediating Practice | New Paradigm or Sensitizing Concept: Finding the Proper Place of Practice Theory in Media Studies

Maria Bakardjieva


Numerous studies of media and communication processes employ the notion of practice under various working definitions. Recently, there has been growing interest and recurrent reference to a formal philosophical system developed by Theodore Schatzki and labeled “practice theory.” Some scholars have stated an alignment with Schatzki’s practice theory and suggested that its application in media studies marks a new “practice turn.” This article argues that before we decide whether to accept practice theory as the foundation of a new paradigm, we need to take a critical look at its powers and limitations and the ways in which its conceptual instruments need to be adjusted to effectively address the key questions asked in media studies. The article offers a critical assessment of some of the main premises of practice theory. It focuses specifically on what role this theory assigns to material entities and human agency in the constitution of social life. On that basis, it proposes ways in which practice theory could be put in a productive dialogue with other approaches in media studies.


practice, agency, structure, media studies, materiality, practice theory

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