mediacult carries out research in the areas of media and culture using top level theories and methodologies. The staff members have sound scientific training and extensive research experience. They contribute to numerous publications, participating in national and international debates, thus spreading the institute’s scientific reputation beyond Austria’s borders.


Projects & References:

Zugangsbarrieren für ältere Menschen in der kulturellen Bildung – “Mainstreaming Ageing“ im Kultursektor

Funding: Jubiläumsfonds at the Austrian National Bank

Project leader of the Consortium: Tasos Zembylas

Cooperation with the Department of Sociology, Vienna University

Project management and Research: Gerhard Geiger

Co-workers: Sabine Schwenk

Duration: 2016-2018

Facing the challenges of ageing societies in Europe, the potentials of arts and cultural education for active and successful ageing become apparent. Cultural organisations react to these developments by implementing diversity strategies to support sustainable progress in mainstreaming ageing. Acknowledging the human right to education and cultural participation, this study examines mechanisms of the elderlies’ inclusion and exclusion in arts and cultural education in Austria with a multi-level approach. Firstly, diversity concepts of cultural organisations are examined with the methodological approaches of governance and governmentality. To which extend are the elderly included in discourses about mainstreaming and diversity? And which forms of intersectional inequalities between age, class and gender can be observed? Secondly, the effects of mainstreaming ageing are observed in a micro-level approach with qualitative and quantitative research methods. Which ageing stereotypes and identities of later life can be found in participants and trainers in cultural education and how do they intensify inequalities in the access to arts and cultural education for seniors in Austria? And which potentials for reflexive and positive images of ageing does cultural education offer? Combining these results with scientific literature, a toolkit for the successful implementation of mainstreaming ageing in cultural organisations and age-sensitive approaches in cultural education is developed.






Musikuniversität als trans- und interkultureller Raum

Sorry, this entry is only available in Deutsch.

Filmfestivals und kinokulturelle Veranstaltungen in Wien

Filmfestivals und kinokulturelle Veranstaltungen in Wien

Fördergeber: Magistratsabteilung MA7 der Stadt Wien (Kultur) und Filmfonds Wien

Projektleitung und Forschung: Günter Stummvoll

Projektmitarbeit: Thomas Mann

Laufzeit: Juni – Okt. 2015

Die Kulturabteilung der Stadt Wien registriert seit der Jahrtausendwende ein zunehmendes Engagement von Kunst- und Kulturschaffenden für filmkulturelle Veranstaltungen. Es steigen die Anfragen um finanzielle Förderung zur Organisation von Filmfestivals und anderen Filmprojekten, die in Wiener Kinos zusätzlich zum Regelbetrieb durchgeführt werden könnten. Diese aus kulturpolitischer Sicht grundsätzlich erfreuliche Entwicklung hat jedoch zur Folge, dass die vorhandenen Förderinstrumente der Stadt zur finanziellen Unterstützung solcher Veranstaltungen an ihre Kapazitätsgrenzen stoßen.

In dieser Studie wurde eine Bestandserhebung zu filmkulturellen Events der vergangenen Jahre durchgeführt, um eine Neustrukturierung der Förderlandschaft in die Wege zu leiten. Ziel der Untersuchung war die Erarbeitung einer Grundlage für Vorschläge für eine Neustrukturierung der Fördermaßnahmen für Wiener Filmfestivals und Kinokultur sowie die Erstellung von konkreten Handlungsoptionen für die künftige Förderpraxis.

Das Untersuchungsdesign umfasste eine Sekundärdatenanalyse aus einschlägigen Jahresberichten und die Durchführung von Interviews mit ExpertInnen aus der Filmfestivalszene. Das daraus gewonnene umfangreiche Material wurde inhaltsanalytisch ausgewertet.

Die Studie ist über die Auftraggeber zu beziehen.

Social Capital in Allotment Garden Estates

(Pilot study)

Funding: Club of Vienna

Project Leader: Sozialwissenschaftliche Studiengesellschaft SWS

Research: Prof.DI. Ernst Gehmacher und Dr. Günter Stummvoll

Duration: July 2014 – June 2015

An increasing rededication of allotment properties for all-season living causes a substantial change in the social structure of allotment garden estates. This will not only affect landscaping and the particular architectural design of garden-houses, but more importantly transform the social dynamic of communities in allotment garden estates. This new form of living in cities will challenge both, organisations of allotment estates in their responsibility for public order management, and planners in city administrations, who are confronted with challenges of multi-ethnic population growth and the need for further densification of living in the city of Vienna.

This project aims at a sociological inventory of the quality of communities in allotment estates in Vienna in order to search for tailored concepts to support solidarity in close cooperation with allotment administrators and to finally consult the management-board to lead allotment estates into the future.

Embedded Industries. Cultural Entrepreneurs in Different Immigrant Communities of Vienna

Client: WWTF (Vienna Science and Technology Fund)
Project director: Andreas Gebesmair
Implementation: Michael Parzer
Cooperation partner: Institute for Folk Music Research and Ethnomusicology (University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna), Institute for European Ethnology (University of Vienna)
Project duration: January 2007 – March 2009


The culture of immigrants enjoys increasing popularity not only within but also beyond the immigrant communities. “Bollynight”-Clubbings, the festival “Salam Orient”, and the Chinese New Year concerts in the Golden Hall of the Wiener Musikverein are just a few examples of immigrant culture, which became an integral part of cultural life in Vienna. However, these activities only represent a small fraction of cultural entrepreneurship, which came to urban centres of Europe by global migration.

The main task of the project „Embedded Industries. Cultural Entrepreneurs in Different Immigrant Communities of Vienna“, which was finished in May 2009, was to make the diversity of immigrant creative industries in Vienna visible. Within the project, which was carried out by mediacult in co-operation with the Institute for Folk Music Research and Ethnomusicology (University for Music and Performing Arts Vienna) and the Institute for European Ethnology (University of Vienna), selected cultural activities (music, performing arts, film and media) of immigrants from Turkey, China and South Asia were studied. These activities range from cultural associations and religious organisations dedicated to the transmission of cultural traditions, from the rich choice of festivities and live performances, to the culture industries in a narrower sense, i.e. CD- and DVD-distribution, radio- and TV-programmes and print media. Due to its interdisciplinary outline, the project comprised many different perspectives, theoretical approaches and methods (field research, qualitative interviews, quantitative survey, network analysis, and artefact analysis).

Two issues were at the centre of our research: On the one hand, the project aimed at a thorough examination of the structural embeddedness of immigrant cultural work. Cultural entrepreneurship is shaped by demand conditions within and beyond ethnic niches, legal regulations (primarily migration policy and trade law), public support for the arts, and business programs, but also by individual resources, like education, capital and personal networks. Contrary to the widespread assumption that family support would compensate for structural disadvantages, our analysis shows that the mobilization of informal network resources is typical for those who already possess strong ties to members of the host society and who have, through their social origins, high relevant competencies. On the other hand, the project’s aim was to find out how cultural traditions are picked up, accentuated, and modified by immigrant cultural workers and brokers in the creative industries. As a means of marketing, some cultural entrepreneurs tend to emphasize ethnic clichés and stereotypes, although they risk stigmatization and the restriction of their entrepreneurial opportunities. From an ethnomusicological perspective the adaptation of cultural traditions to new contexts was observed. As a result, new hybrid forms of cultural practice are emerging, which offer new opportunities for immigrants cultural entrepreneurs.

The main results will be made available to the public in a book and on DVD which includes four introductory films at the end of 2009.

Panoptical Asymmetries and the Right to Access

An ethnomethodological Study on CCTV and Data Protection in Everyday Life

Funding: MA 7, Cultural Department of the City of Vienna, Science and Research-Funding: 363800/13.
Project management: Robert Rothmann
Duration: May 2013 – December 2013



Nowadays video surveillance is an integral part and background feature of everyday urban scenes. Our daily routines are dominated by the permanent presence of visual recording devices. The digital age confronts society with a widespread visual virtualisation. From this fact a range of situations arise in which visual privacy is being negotiated anew. The study in hand is about video technology-assisted power relations and examines their normative constitution. In the tradition of Harold Garfinkel’s breaching experiments (1967) and Steve Mann’s sousveillance concept (2003) we carry out a series of so-called ‘performative inquiries’ in different surveillance settings in Vienna, and analyse the practical handling of the right to access and the reactions of operators in everyday life.


Die Presse: Kontrollrechte für Bürger zahnlos

derStandard: Wer Fragen stellt macht sich verdächtig

Vice UK: Your Corner Shop Sucks at Spying On You

Vice Alps: Vergiss die NSA – achte auf den Trafikanten ums Eck

futurezone: Videoüberwachung: Nachfragen nicht erwünscht

MALMOE: Visual Privacy

Frankfurter Allgemeine (FAZ): Die Herrschaft fremder Blicke

Digital Culture in Europe

An Inventory of Good-practice Models of Centres of Innovation in Arts and Technology

Funding: A study on behalf of the Council of Europe, the Austrian Federal Chancellery and the Federal Ministry of Science and Transport.
Project supervision: Alfred Smudits, Robert Harauer
Realisation: Paul Murschetz
Time frame: February 1998 – November 1998


Within the framework of this study a typological description of 50 prominent centres of innovation in the field of digital culture in the Council of Europe’s member countries was carried out. The study also includes an identification of environmental conditions which have proved to be helpful for a continuous performance of these centres and initiatives. This study contributes to the mapping out of good-practice models of centres of innovation in the arts and culture and is strongly connected with the work of the project group “Culture, Communication and New Technologies” of the Council of Europe.

In 1999 the study has been published by the Council of Europe in English and French:

* Digital Culture in Europe. A selective inventory of centres of innovation in the arts and new technologies; Council of Europe Publishing, Council of Europe, Strasbourg 1999
* La Culture Numérique en Europe. Un inventaire sélectif des centres d’innovation dans les arts et les nouvelles technologies, Editions du Conseil de l’Europe, Conseil de l’Europe, Strasbourg 1999

Copies can be ordered online at: Council of Europe Publishing.
A German version of this “Who’s who” of art and media labs in Europe has been published in 1999 in our institute’s publication series mediacult.doc (issue 02/1999).

Further Publications:
Harauer, R.; Murschetz, P.: Centers of Innovation in the Arts and New Technologies: A who´s who of Digital Culture in Europe, in: New Media Culture in Europe, published by Uitgeverjij de Balie and the Virtual Platform, Amsterdam 1999

Ambivalent Autonomy in the Digital Mediamorphosis

A Qualitative Study on Changed Production Conditions and Methods of Filmmakers, Press-Photographers and Architects in Austria

Client: FWF (Austrian Science Fund)
Project director: Alfred Smudits
Implementation: Regina Sperlich
Project duration: August 2005 – March 2008


The influence of digital mediamorphose has radically changed the entire field of cultural production. This project analyzes the transformations in three fields shaped intensely by technology: film, photography, and architecture.

In the style of previous mediacult studies on mediamorphoses in the field of music, three technology-driven segments of cultural creation will be subjected to an investigation into the changes caused by the digital mediamorphosis. Beyond this, the theory and methodology of mediamorphoses in the field of cultural creation are to be further developed. Consequently, the main point of reference in this research project is the theory of the mediamorphoses of cultural creation, which addresses primarily socio-cultural, technological, economic, legal and labour market-related aspects of production, distribution and consumption.

The key argument is that the digital metamorphosis has triggered a radical transformation process in the entire field of cultural production – whose extent is comparable to the changes that took place in the early 20th century. This transformation has entailed changes in the professional status, the role and self-perception of cultural workers as well as in the modes of distribution of cultural goods and services.

On the basis of this theory and of the current status of research – a basis which, in the field of music, has mainly been established by mediacult – the concept of mediamorphosis will be evaluated through research in three fields (film & video, photography, architecture). Upon completion of the field research, the analytical dimensions defined at the beginning of the project will be evaluated and modified together with the general theory and methodology for the purposes of further research.

The main research questions addressed by this research project are:

– To what extent are cultural creation and production as well as their socio-economic conditions affected in a small country, like Austria, by the transformation engendered by the digital mediamorphosis?

– What has been the impact on the three fields of film&video, photography and architecture?

– What are the conclusions that can be drawn from the study of these three fields with regard to cultural creation at large?

– To what extent have the self-perception and professional status of cultural workers in the stated fields changed?

– Which conclusions can be drawFor the by the Austrian Research Fund financed project “Digital Mediamorphosis in Film, Photography and Architecture” (duration summer 2005 – summer 2008) problem-centered interviews with altogether 58 persons were conducted in 2006. All sub-fields of film, press-photography and architecture were considered, though the focus was on technologically centered fields, thus: (1) camera people, editors of film, video, soundtrack and special effects, owners of post-production studios, film producers and directors, as well as film funding staff; (2) press photographers and owners of press photograph agencies, and (3) architects and specialists who produce architectural renderings. The results of the analysis of the qualitative interviews show effects of digitalization on the cost structure, occupational image and occupational status, and production methods.

(1) Regarding cost structure and its impact on creative work, on the one hand, the cheapening and the increased usability of the means of digital production result in their improved availability, and, as a consequence, more autonomy for creative workers, as it has cleared the way for a rational universalism. This invented notion implies that a single person or enterprise completes several or all production stages alone instead of division of labor being necessary. As a result, newcomers and start-up businesses get easier access to the market, and, thus, the foundation of young companies is facilitated. On the other hand, in spite of the cheapening of digital equipment, additional costs have arisen, for example, because in state-of-the-art production the interval between the purchase of equipment and its obsolescence has been shortened. Besides, new costs for post-production arise because the cheapening of the shooting process (video and digital photography are usually cheaper than old style film material) leads to the production and the editing of much larger amounts of material.

(2) The changes in the occupational image and professional status engendered by digitalization provide a similarly ambivalent picture. On the one hand, assistant positions, such as assistant editor, are becoming obsolete or are devalued, since they can nowadays be performed by film editors themselves. On the other hand, new roles, such as sound designer and technical consultant, which support camera work, have come into being.

(3) The digital mediamorphosis has left its unmistakable mark on production methods, whose character has been changed primarily due to multiple options and openness, the unlimited processability and convertibility of products, the speeding up of production, and the miniaturization of the means of production. The increased flexibility, mobility, acceleration and globalization of work processes are not attributable to production technology alone, but in part also to the communication technologies, above all the Internet and the mobile phone. Both facilitate and push rational universalism, too.

Although opportunities for action and creativity increase, they may face physical, mental and economic limits at the individual level. The acceleration also encounters slowdown processes. As a consequence, the use of digital means of production demands even more self-discipline as well as flexibility at the level of the individual rather than the level of the company. This highlights the increasing individualization and autonomy of creative work, especially in terms of the rational universalism. Autonomous and flexible action becomes a more far-reaching social norm, representing a strategy to survive in insecure and accelerated markets, though it also goes partly hand in hand with the risk of precarious working conditions.


German Publication

Regina Sperlich: Ambivalente Autonomie in der digitalen Mediamorphose. Eine qualitative Untersuchung über veränderte Produktionsbedingungen und -weisen von Filmschaffenden, PressefotografInnen und ArchitektInnen

in Österreich. Wien, September 2008. PDF

You can find an English summary in the last Newsletter 103 (June 2008), S. 1-2.

The institute is organised as a nonprofit organisation.
The overall management of the institute is incumbent upon
Secretary General Univ. Prof. Dr. Alfred Smudits.
(ZVR Nr. 041783512)


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