Mateusz Jakub Fafinski (ORCID: 0000-0003-1637-8174)

The terms mediatisation and mediation are intertwined but methodologically separate concepts. While sometimes they are used interchangeably (Altheide and Robert, 1988) they have developed into distinctive meanings. They are also very closely bound with the concept of media logic, a process in which “media, information technologies, and communication formats can affect events and social activities” (Altheide, 2016: 1). Mediation is a process in which the communication is influenced by various features of the medium or the genre itself, but it has limited impact on social reality (Hjarvard 2008: 6–7). As such it can also be seen as a way of putting various communication strategies in use. Mediatisation, on the other hand, is a process where crucial elements of a social reality become like media (Hjarvard, 2008: 6). Thus, the aesthetical context of the communication within that fragment of the social reality and its media development becomes crucial for its understanding.

The concept of mediatisation plays an important role in the study of religion (Hjarvard, 2008; Lövheim, 2014) and can help to explain how religions transform under the influence of media (Meyer 2020). But this concept also influences the creation and planning of urban spaces as well (Christmann et al., 2020). As the progressive mediatisation of religious communication occurred, it allowed for this communication to influence other fields of social reality, especially in the urban space.

While generally seen as concepts connected with modernity, mediatisation and mediation have applications in pre-modern religious and urban contexts as well. Early examples of mediatisation can be seen in visual communication of various religious practices in ancient and medieval periods. Medieval urban spaces exhibited examples of both mediation and mediatisation. In fact, understanding the historical context of these processes is necessary for the further development of this theoretical approach (Krotz, 2017).

Luthermarkt in Erfurt, 2022 (Image: Mateusz Fafinski)

UrbRel Application

In the context of the research group the concept has proven particularly useful to understand the impact of representing and producing the image of the city (Rau, 2020). In this sense it was used as a framework for understanding urban origins (Stercken, 2019) and city as a stage (Stercken, 2018). Moreover, inside the group, it is used to elucidate the connection between communication and the shaping of spatial phenomena. (Rüpke, 2022) In practice these concepts mean that religion in the urban space is communicated like media, with its own logic of material presence. The construction of the divine (just like the construction of the urban) involves medial signs: statues, illustrations, adverts. Urbanity becomes a stage on which the religious is communicated.

UrbRel Bibliography

Rau, Susanne. 2020. ‘Urbanity (urbanitas, Urbanität, urbanité, urbanità, urbanidad…) — An Essay’, Religion and Urbanity Online.

Rüpke, Jörg. 2022. Playing with the Gods: Materiality of Religious Communication and Ludic Materiality in Cicero’s Critique of Divination. Kernos 35: 45-59.

Stercken, Martina. 2018. ‘Spaces for urban drama at the threshold between the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period’, in Urban spaces and the complexity of cities: 47–62.

Stercken, Martina. 2019. ‘Bern 1484/85: Medialisierung städtischer Ursprünge’, in Medialität. Historische Konstellationen. Kompendium, pp. 209–222.

General Bibliography

Altheide, David L. 2016. ‘Media Logic’, in The International Encyclopedia of Political Communication. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, pp. 1–6.

Altheide, David L. and Robert P. Snow. (1988). ‘Toward a Theory of Mediation’, Annals of the International Communication Association, 11(1): 194–223.

Christmann, Gabriela et al.. 2020. ‘Visual Communication in Urban Design and Planning: The Impact of Mediatisation(s) on the Construction of Urban Futures’, Urban Planning, 5(2), pp. 1–9.

Hjarvard, Stig. 2008. ‘The mediatization of religion: A theory of the media as agents of religious change’, Northern Lights: Film & Media Studies Yearbook, 6(1): 9–26.

Krotz, Friedrich. 2017. ‘Explaining the Mediatisation Approach’, Javnost – The Public, 24(2), pp. 103–118.

Lövheim, Mia. 2014. ‘24. Mediatization and religion’, in 24. Mediatization and religion. De Gruyter Mouton, pp. 547–570.

Meyer, Birgit. 2020. ‘Religion as Mediation’, Entangled Religions, 11(3).

Cite this blog post
Mateusz Fafinski (2023, April 25). Mediation/Mediatisation. Religion and Urbanity: Reciprocal Formations. Retrieved May 29, 2024, from

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