Challenges and Opportunities for the Future of Media and Mass Communication Theory and Research: Positionality, Integrative Research, and Public Scholarship
University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
ABSTRACT: In this essay I intend to tell a story of media studies and mass communication research as a field, based on the work of the late Denis McQuail – and that of editing the new edition of his seminal handbook McQuail’s Media and Mass Communication Theory (McQuail & Deuze, 2020). Using McQuail’s historical storytelling method, I specifically look at the challenge for the field in the context of a global pandemic alongside an infodemic, at a time when the whole world faces the consequences of recurrent lockdowns, social distancing measures, and institutional pressures to stay at home. Media studies and (mass) communication research, while having a distinct narrative, as a field has only just begun to articulate its relevance to society – we have only just started to tell our story. Using developments in understanding the self as a research tool, the implementation of integrative research designs, and calls for engaged and public scholarship, the paper outlines challenges and opportunities for what we can do with our field.