Mediatization Research and Causality: Toward a Critical Realist Ontology
Mediatization research has been identified as an influential new approach in media and communication studies. However, being a theory of change, a proper discussion about causality and its correlated ontology foundations must be fundamental. This theoretical work builds on the idea that much of the shortcomings of mediatization research might be attributed to a lack of an explicit ontological discussion. The article reflects on causality and on the influence of constructionism in mediatization research, which might imply explanations based on a flat reality. Considering that a proper theorization of social ontology should be fundamental and that others have argued for a complementary meta-theory to operationalize mediatization research, this article argues that specific features of critical realism could be helpful in developing better tools to deal with the questions that mediatization research tries to answer. Some of those features include an emphasis on ontological discussion, the theorization of causal powers and emergent properties, the advantages of analytical dualism in the relationship between agency and structure, and the mediatory importance of reflexivity and internal conversations.
mediatization, social ontology, causality, critical realism, constructionism