Call for papers: Bourdieu and The Media – New and old Media practices from a field perspective


Submission deadline: September 1, 2014
Publication deadline: Spring 2015

Editors: Ida Willig (guest), Karen Waltorp (guest), Jannie Møller Hartley

Bourdieu’s field theory has proven useful in a variety of research areas, and constitutes a promising theoretical frame for analysis of the media. However there is a lack of empirical research exploring the usefulness of field theory specifically in relation to new media, but also relative to media practices in general, where it might constitute a relevant alternative to other sociological perspectives.

In his comprehensive work, Pierre Bourdieu only briefly touched on the importance of media for social practice, namely in his book Photography as a Middle Brow Art (1900), and the polemic and much criticized book On Television (1995), which is the closest attempt to analyzing the influence of a specific media platform. Although its sweeping conclusions, On Television build on Bourdieu’s many other studies, it has been necessary for scholars exploring media practices to develop field theory into a more comprehensive and nuanced media theory that allows for the analysis of media reception, media content and media production, as is the case, for example, in the development of the concept of a media meta-capital (Couldry, 2003), or in studies analyzing the journalistic field (see Benson & Neveu, 2005; Schultz, 2006; Wiik, 2010). However, few studies have explored the usefulness of field theory within a new media context, as done, for example, by Baym (2000) when she examines the social organization of, and struggles over, meaning within an online cultural system via ethnographic studies of online communities. Thus there is a need to develop the field theory framework further to enhance our empirical understanding of new media and new media practices. It is likely though that Bourdieu would not consider new media as a decisive break with the hitherto known forms of communication, as he sees the institutionalization of fields in line with what new-institutionalism denotes as "path-dependency", which is the fact that previous historical battles, to some extent, have a limiting effect on the future. Despite this, field theory, according to Benson and Neveu, provides a good starting point to investigate what they call "the complex relationship between new and old media" (2005, p. 8). In this issue we ask how field theory can provide analytic tools for understanding media and media practices and in which ways field theory has been - or could potentially be - developed in accordance with the new media realities.

Topics of interest include (but are not limited to):

a. Applied/empirical studies using Bourdieu and Field Theory in regard to the production of, the content on, or the usage of: different media platforms (old media vs. new), mass media (e.g., newspapers, TV, radio, internet etc.), interaction media (e.g., mobile phones, Messenger, e-mail, Web 2.0 etc.) or social media (e.g., YouTube, Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter etc.).

b. Methodological contributions discussing field theory in relation to both new and old media practices.

c. Discussions of field theory and Bourdieu’s concepts/theory of media in comparison with other media theories.

d. Studies of the use of media or media reception analysis in for example journalism, education, organizations, art, political activism etc.

e. Studies of the media and media practices or the development of specific media “fields” from a historical perspective.


Regarding the publication process and author guidelines, please see: