Call for Special Issue on “Mediatization and Human-Machine Communication”

Special Issue: “Mediatization and Human-Machine Communication”


  • Göran Bolin (Södertörn University)
  • Andreas Hepp (ZeMKI, University of Bremen)
  • Wiebke Loosen (Leibniz Institute for Media Research)


Mediatization research has long been concerned with the interrelationship between the transformation of media and communication on the one hand, and culture and society on the other (Bolin & Hepp 2017; Couldry & Hepp 2013; Ekström et al. 2016; Hjarvard 2013; Krotz 2009). With the spread of “communicative AI” (Guzman & Lewis 2020) – understood as AI-based systems whose function is to communicate with humans (Esposito 2022) – we are currently experiencing the beginning of yet one more change to our media environment. The foundations of this change can be seen in the emergence of “social bots” (Gehl & Bakardjieva 2016) on various platforms, the spread of “artificial companions” such as Apple Siri or Amazon’s Alexa (Thorne 2020), the algorithmic response suggestions (Hancock et al. 2020), or the “work bots” (Hepp 2020) that produce automated journalism (Diakopoulos 2019; Loosen 2018). A further technical boost to all this is the recent development of ChatGPT and GPT-3.5. The increasing success of machine learning and other AI technologies suggests that this is merely the first step toward the automation of communication (Gunkel 2020; Taipale & Fortunati 2018).

Against this background, it seems obvious that research into mediatization and human-machine communication enters into a dialogue that, in the best case, mutually enriches empirical research and the theoretical discussion, helping us to better understand the current changes to media and communication and their consequences. This Special Issue aims to create a starting point for just such a dialogue. The objective is to discuss the following questions based on empirical studies and theoretical considerations:

  • To what extent do current phenomena of automated communication represent mediatization re-asserting itself? 
  • How can approaches to and theories of HMC and mediatization research mutually relate to and enrich one other?
  • What will be the consequences to theorizing media and empirical research?

For more information or questions, please contact Andreas Hepp (

Keywords: Human-Machine Communication, Mediatization, communicative AI, 

Deadline: Submissions are due March 15th, 2023, and the publication will be in September, 2023. All manuscripts should be submitted via the journal’s online submission system ( with the remark, “Special Issue” in the cover letter. In the online submission system, there will be a drop-down menu under Document Type. Please choose “Special Issue Submission.” For formatting and length specifications, please see the journal’s Instructions for Authors


Bolin, G., & Hepp, A. (2017). The complexities of mediatization: Charting the road ahead. In O. Driessens, G. Bolin, A. Hepp, & S. Hjarvard (Eds.), Dynamics of mediatization (pp. 315-331). London: Palgrave. 

Couldry, N., & Hepp, A. (2013). Conceptualising mediatization: Contexts, traditions, arguments. Communication Theory23(3), 191-202. 

Diakopoulos, N. (2019). Automating the news. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 

Ekström, M., Fornäs, J., Jansson, A., & Jerslev, A. (2016). Three tasks for mediatization research: contributions to an open agenda. Media, Culture & Society38(7), 1090-1108.

Esposito, E. (2022). Artificial communication. Cambridge: MIT. 

Gehl, R. W., & Bakardjieva, M. (Eds.). (2016). Socialbots and their friends: Digital media and the automation of sociality. London: Routledge.

Gunkel, D. J. (2020). An introduction to communication and artificial intelligence. Cambridge: Polity. 

Guzman, A. L., & Lewis, S. C. (2020). Artificial intelligence and communication: A Human-Machine Communication research agenda. New Media & Society22(1), 70-86. 

Hancock, J. T., Naaman, M., & Levy, K. (2020). AI-Mediated communication: Definition, research agenda, and ethical considerations. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication25(1), 89-100. 

Hepp, A. (2020). Deep mediatization. London: Routledge. 

Hjarvard, S. (2013). The mediatization of culture and society. London: Routledge. 

Krotz, F. (2009). Mediatization: A concept with which to grasp media and societal change. In K. Lundby (Ed.), Mediatization: Concept, changes, consequences (pp. 19-38). New York: Peter Lang. 

Loosen, W. (2018). Four forms of datafied journalism. Journalism’s response to the datafication of society. Communicative figurations working paper18, 1-10. 

Taipale, S., & Fortunati, L. (2018). Communicating with machines: Robots as the next new media. In A. L. Guzman (Ed.), Human-machine communication (pp. 201-220). New York: Peter Lang. 

Thorne, S. (2020). Hey Siri, tell me a story: Digital storytelling and AI authorship. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, doi:10.1177/1354856520913866

New website for the research network now online

After more than four years, the research network “Communicative Figurations” presents itself on a new website. In a total of five sections, the participating institutions and researchers introduce themselves and provide insights into the network’s current activities:

  • “Approach” provides a brief introduction to the theoretical basis of communicative figurations.
  • “News” contains the latest news from the research network.
  • Under “Publications”, selected publications from the network are listed, including in particular fundamental works on the approach, publications on individual topics as well as methodological publications.
  • Under “Projects” there are links to the growing number of research projects that work with the approach of the research network.
  • “Members” introduces researchers currently involved in the research network.

The new website can be reached via the addresses (in English) and (in German).

Open Access publication: From human-machine-communication to communicative AI

A research article on the automation of communication as a subject of communication and media research has been published in the journal Publizistik. The authors are Andreas Hepp, Wiebke Loosen, Stephan Dreyer, Juliane Jarke, Sigrid Kannengießer, Christian Katzenbach, Rainer Malaka, Michaela Pfadenhauer, Cornelius Puschmann and Wolfgang Schulz. The article is freely accessible.

The objective of this article is to define more precisely the field of research into the automation of communication, which is currently only vaguely discernible. The central thesis is that, in order to be able to grasp the transformation of the media environment associated with the automation of communication, the view must be broadened from the “direct interaction of humans and machines” to “societal communication”. Broadening our perspective as such allows us to ask how the dynamics of societal communication as a whole change when “communicative AI” becomes part of societal communication. To support this thesis, the article first takes a closer look at the automation of communication as a phenomenon. Against this background, the concept of communicative AI is then developed in more detail as a “sensitizing concept” that sensitizes to both the breadth and depth of the phenomenon. On this basis, the bridging concept of the “hybrid figuration” is developed in order to grasp the agency of communicative AI and to be able to connect to “definitive concepts” of social science and media and communication research. It becomes apparent that with communicative AI as a field of research, the basic concepts of communication and media research—“communication” and “media”—are themselves challenged. The article is concluded by a conclusion that shows the research perspectives resulting from such an approach.

Full text (in German language)

Lecture by KoFi member Andreas Hepp about “Agile social experiments and pioneer journalism” at workshop “Fairdienste: Science-Practice-Dialogue”


The talk, fully titled “Agile social experiments and pioneer journalism: experiences from a project on social cohesion and local public sphere”, is part of the workshop “Fairdienste: Science-Practice Dialogue.” The workshop takes a look at digital journalism as an exemplary field in which the plurality of social values is negotiated and which is simultaneously shaped by data-economic business models. Andreas Hepp will present from the project “Tinder the city“. Workshop and talk we be in German language.

New article (in German): “Zwischen Utopie und Dystopie: Wie der öffentliche Diskurs über die Maker und QuantifiedSelf Bewegung die Pioniergemeinschaften zu Treibern tiefgreifender Mediatisierung macht”

Kofi members Andreas hepp and Susan Benz together with Piet Simon published an article (in German) “Zwischen Utopie und Dystopie” in the current issue of the journal M&K Medien & Kommunikationswissenschaft.

The article’s full title is “Zwischen Utopie und Dystopie: Wie der öffentliche Diskurs über die Maker und Quantified-Self-Bewegung die Pioniergemeinschaften zu Treibern tiefgreifender Mediatisierung macht” and can be downloaded here.

From the abstract (in German)

“Gegenstand dieses Beitrags ist eine vergleichende Diskursanalyse der Berichterstattungüber die Maker- und Quantified-Self-Bewegung in der deutschen und britischen (Online-)Presse für die Jahre 2007 bis 2019. Der Analyse liegt eine dreifache Fragestellungzugrunde: In welchem Umfang sind diese beiden Pioniergemeinschaften Gegenstand eines öffentlichen Diskurses? Welche Diskursmuster werden in der Berichterstattung über die Pioniergemeinschaften greifbar? Und was lässt sich hieraus für den Stellenwert einer solchen Berichterstattung für Prozesse der tiefgreifenden Mediatisierung folgern? Im Kern zeigt der Beitrag, dass – über beide Untersuchungsländer hinweg – der Diskurs um die Maker-Bewegung in der Tendenz utopisch orientiert ist, während der Diskurs um die Quantified-Self-Bewegung eher dystopisch orientiert ist. Gemeinsam ist beiden aber, dass Technologie ein hohes Potenzial für eine einseitige gesellschaftliche Veränderung unterstellt wird, was der „Kalifornischen Ideologie“ der San Francisco Bay Area entspricht. Allgemeingesellschaftlich wird so ein Imaginationshorizont konstruiert, in dem sich dann die Menschen im Alltag mit ihrer eigentlichen Aneignung von digitalen Medien- und Kommunikationstechnologien positionieren.”

New Working Paper (in German): “Die Figuration des Pionierjournalismus in Deutschland: Akteure, Experimentierbereiche, Dynamiken”


The article is entitled “Die Figuration des Pionierjournalismus in Deutschland: Akteure, Experimentierbereiche, Dynamiken” and can be downloaded here.

Further Communicative Figurations | ZeMKI Working Papers can be accessed here.