Media Ethics, Moral Controversies, and the Sociology of Critique

Thomas Hove (2020)

Communication Theory, Online first

Abstract. Communication scholars have begun to investigate various links between empirical research and normative theory. In that vein, this article explores how Boltanski and Thévenot’s sociology of critique can enhance our empirical and normative understanding of controversies in media ethics. The sociology of critique and its justification model provide a comprehensive descriptive framework for studying practices of moral evaluation and the social goods at stake in them. First, I discuss some prevailing approaches in media ethics. Second, I explicate how the sociology of critique defines situations of normative justification and supplies a model of their basic requirements. Third, I show how this model can be used to analyze the social background of a media ethics controversy. Last, I suggest how the descriptive approach of the sociology of critique can identify conditions in morally pluralistic social settings that pose challenges to normative theories.

Link to the review