Communicating Family Memory: Remembering in a changing media environment

Special Issue of "Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research"

2017, Volume 42, No. 3

Guest-editors: Christine Lohmeier, Rieke Böhling

Memory and media are closely interlinked areas of research: In fact, memory has always materialized through cultural artefacts, various objects and the mediation of images, words and signs. Furthermore, memory as a social construct has a strong collective dimension. Even individuals’ memories  can be viewed and made sense of within the context of different collectivities and social formations such as the family, an ethnic community or a nation. Media are essential for these groups to communicate with each other and thereby constitute and negotiate identities, or make sense of the world – past, present and future included.

In times of “deep mediatization”, communication within families has undergone some tremendous changes: a higher number of communication devices are in use with an increasing number of functions and media and communication devices present in most areas of everyday life. At the same time the pace of innovation is increasing – both in terms of devices and gadgets available and in terms of services and platforms on offer. Through everyday practices like texting and emailing, more and more digital traces are produced creating a sense that these activities are stored somewhere and therefore not forgotten. Meanwhile, it is also apparent that the data produced through these activities are not in one’s own hands and the people who generate them do not have complete control over them. Simultaneously, heightened mobility (be it for work or leisure purposes), migratory experiences and flight, as well as divorces  and ruptures within families provide challenges as well as perhaps new opportunities for creating family memory.

This special issue focuses on how memory is constructed, communicated, accomplished, negotiated and hindered in the family context. As such, processes of memory construction in the family context are not new but the way in which families are seen and understood in public and scholarly discourses has changed significantly.


Communicating family memory: Remembering in a changing media environment
Lohmeier, Christine / Böhling, Rieke

The media construction of family history: An analysis of “Who do you think you are?”
Lunt, Peter

Bereavement photographs as family photographs: Findings from a phenomenological study on family experience with neonatal end-of-life photography
Martel, Sara

Sharing grief and mourning on Instagram: Digital patterns of family memories
Thimm, Caja / Nehls, Patrick

Mediated memory making: The virtual family photograph album
Holloway, Donell / Green, Lelia

Research in brief

Negotiating family history: Media use among descendants of Danish Nazis
Krogsgaard, Ole

Christine Lohmeier

Christine Lohmeier