Media landscape changes and current reading practices

Nazarov M.M.

Dr. sci. (Pol.Sci.), The Institute of Socio-Political Research, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

Kovalev P.A.

Cand.Sci.(Soc.), Analytical center Vi, Moscow, Russia PKovalev@

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Nazarov M.M., Kovalev P.A. Media landscape changes and current reading practices. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2017. No 2. P. 84-95


The phenomenon of reading is a key element of sociocultural activities. Importantly, reading is “built in” media consumption in general. No less important is that the media environment of modern society has been going through a profound transformation last 5 to 7 years. Within these circumstances, the project focusses on the following research questions. What is the place of reading (newspapers, magazines, books – both printed and electronic) in today’s media consumption? How television and various online activities affect reading? What determines electronic book consumption nowadays? What are the social consequences of ever more popular digital reading? Empirical data came from representative surveys of communication behavior of urban population in Russia (15+ years old; year 2010: N=3000, and 2014: N=2100). Formalized personal interviews at home have been used. Several statistical procedures used for testing our hypotheses, including logistic regression. The research proves that using electronic devices for reading books, newspapers and magazines is gaining popularity among Russian audiences. We found that preference for digital reading is primarily predicted by sociodemographic variables, incumbent practice of other media usage, and ownership of new communication devices. Social implications of digital reading are analyzed using concepts of media displacement and mediatization. We assume that digital reading is changing earlier practices of text perception as well as cognition in general. The results are discussed within the context of today’s discourse about the place of reading in connection with: information overload of contemporary people; diminishing traditional consumption of books; traits of new digital generations; and the dilemma of “book” versus “screen” culture which is an essential part of modern and postmodern personality. Discussing Russian prospects, we use cross-country comparisons that allow us to show the varying pace of innovation in book consumption and the role of social and cultural context.

digital reading; media displacement; mediatization; internet; e-books; communicative behavior; cultural changes

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