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Univ.-Ass. Dr. Tilo Grenz

Address:A-1090 Vienna, Rooseveltplatz 2
Zimmer:R 202
Telefon:+43 (1) 4277- 49261
Fax:+43 (1) 4277- 849261
Sprechstunde:Di, 15:30-17:00h
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Areas of work and research focus

  • Media change and societal change
  • Mediatisation and commercialisation
  • Appropriation of media and technology
  • Interpretative social research
  • Lifeworld analytical ethnography

Current projects

Alfred Schütz and the Viennese Circles: Towards the communicative arrangement of incompatible knowledge

At the turn of the 20th century Vienna was one of the most vibrant intellectual centers, although intellectuals and scholars had to deal with unique structural problems, the most important of which are the dense concentration of scientists caused by the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy, the growing political tension between conservative and liberal wings, and the systematic academic marginalization of Jewish intellectuals as well as women at the University of Vienna. Discussion circles that flourished outside or at the margins of the University, e.g. the world-famous “Vienna circle”, grew significantly in importance. A historically unique thought style was what distinguished these circles: Contradictory terms, methods and theories that were unusual or even displaced within academia could get into contact and were related in different or even unorthodox ways.

Making him a prototypic figure of that time, Alfred Schütz participated actively in Ludwig von Mises’ “private seminar” and also attended the “Geistkreis” founded by Herbert Furth and Friedrich August von Hayek as well as the “private seminar” of Hans Kelsen. Written in 1932, his book “Der sinnhafte Aufbau der sozialen Welt” testifies the specific thought style within the above-mentioned circles. It provided a theoretical argumentation that combined philosophical and social sciences positions that were deemed to be incompatible by then.

Using the example of Schütz, the research project focuses on the specific cultures of knowledge production to be found within the circles, especially the way contradictory scientific positions were handled against the background of a significant professional and theoretical heterogeneity. In order to conceptualize these complicated networks of persons and ideas, the circles will be analyzed and further developed as Communicative Knowledge Cultures. Such a systematic cultural approach is undertaken for the first time. Personal testimonials of the circle-members and -observers as well as archive material which provides evidence to the circles serve as main data sources in order to shed light on the focus under question.

Project lead: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Michaela Pfadenhauer, Univ.-Ass. Dr. Tilo Grenz
Project team members: Dr. Christopher Schlembach, Niklaus Reichle, M.A., Raphaela Casata, B.A.
Duration: 2017-2019
Funding: Fritz Thyssen Stiftung für Wissenschaftsförderung

Mediatization as a Business Model II: The Entanglement of Product and Adoption in a Digital Media Environment and its Consequences

Following the insights from the first research period ‘Mediatization as a Business Model’, the upcoming project aims at deepening the understanding of the relation between the intertwined processes of mediatization and commercialization. Typically, commercial actors are using media-technological innovations. Given this, contemporary business models rely on internet services the operation and continued development of which are increasingly based on consumer action. Consumers are integrated into value-adding processes. This is mainly done by using modes of content generation and the utilization of registered frequencies of media use. At the same time, the differentiation of the consumer’s roles has led to an emergence of sophisticated methods of observation of (individual and networked) user’s activities. These three aspects leveraged the development of new feedback loops, which are economically relevant. The loops are between the application of the latest media technologies, their productive use and adaptation of digital services. Users of information and communication-based media services get an important position in the process of the manifest shaping of mediatized worlds. In management research and marketing, integrated consumers have been described as ‘co-creators’ or ‘collaborators’. However, our empirical findings show that the interlocked activities of digitally embedded users, as well as the adapting providers, can hardly be described as anticipated action. This argument is mainly based on evidence of the alternative use and modifying modes of appropriation (by users and other groups) to which providers will have to respond because of their economic risk. Media development and emerging transformation in the core activities of today's social worlds are neither based solely on the intended consequences of commercially motivated application of media technology, nor solely on the user integration, nor solely as intended consequences of appropriation. In fact, this process has to be understood as a result of a complex interplay of everyday appropriation and organizational adaptation. Regarding this, the focus of the research lies on the reconstruction of formation and development of the substantial basis of mediatized worlds. This is essential in order to analyse and finally understand the change of knowledge and action in different cultural fields. With respect to this, the empirical study of provider’s knowledge and activities will be extended as regards the knowledge and appropriating activities by consumers and other groups. To analyse these interdependencies, we are going to empirically reconstruct, validate, deepen and expand several structural variants on the subjects of a fitness platform (in continuation of the first project period), a poker platform (in cooperation with the Dortmund research project) and the field of Application Stores (new). Based on the assumption that unintended side-effects of technological-economic (and cultural and political) activities are the major drivers of the recent modernization process, this research will be our preliminary work for theoretically relating mediatization with the Theory of Reflexive Modernization. Until now, unintended (side) effects of application, convergence and distribution of new media were a neglected aspect in this societal change.

Duration: 2012 - 2015
Funding: German Research Foundation (as part of the priority programme 1505 ’Mediatized Worlds‘)

For more information please visit www.mediatisiertewelten.de

Department of Sociology
University of Vienna
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A-1090 Vienna

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