Positivism and Knowledge Inquiry: From Scientific Method to Media and Communication Research


Dr. Kizito Alakwe

This paper seeks to analyze and justify the placement of the academic field of media and communication into the broad field of the social sciences as against the humanities or cultural studies. The Social Sciences strive to understand and interpret phenomena through an empirical, rational and objective methodology which facilitates the presentation of “facts”, facts that play a contributory role towards knowledge. First propounded by the 19th Century, French sociologist and philosopher, Auguste Comte, Positivism recognizes scientific knowledge as authentic because it emanates from the positive affirmation of existing theories through the scientific method. The traditional approach in positivism (as propounded by Comte, Spencer, and Durkheim) thus identifies a close relationship between the social sciences and the natural sciences. Consequently, this paper attempts to highlight the close relationship between philosophy, the scientific method (a popular approach in research in the natural and social sciences) and research methodologies in media and communication studies and thus endorses its place in the social sciences as against humanities. Leveraging on extant literature, this paper defends the placement of media and communication studies in the social sciences, even though it retains a strong relationship with the humanities. It further highlights the centrality of positivism as a school of philosophy in knowledge inquiry in the social sciences with particular reference to media and communications research.


Alakwe, K. O. (2017). Positivism and knowledge inquiry: From scientific method to media and communication research. Specialty Journal of Humanities and Cultural Science, 2(3), 38-46.


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Author Profile
Alakwe is a scholar and media/communication expert with an interest in academic research in development communication, behavioural change communication and the cultural and creative industry, with work experience spanning marketing communication, logistics, hospitality, and professional services. Currently working as an adjunct faculty at the School of Media and Communication, Pan-Atlantic University, and responsible for strategy formulation and leading the team at Gotcha Communications Limited to drive growth. Alakwe holds a bachelor’s degree in Botany from the University of Port Harcourt, an MBA from the University of Nigeria, and a master’s in Media and Communication from Pan-Atlantic University. He is the first ever doctorate degree graduate from the prestigious School of Media and Communication, Pan-Atlantic University and an alumnus of the Institute of Promotional Marketing, London. As an adjunct faculty, Alakwe teaches Media, Human Person and Society, Professional Ethics, and Advanced Communication Research Methods. Alakwe has published in both local and international peer-reviewed journals.

Media and Religion: The Mobile Phone as a Key Actor

Media and Religion: The Mobile Phone as a Key Actor
By Allwell O. Nwankwo, PhD

Dr. Allwell

The media and religion have always enjoyed some affinity. Various religions use the media to propagate their faith. On the other hand, the media promote religion. At the level of the individual, however, it seems the mobile phone has become an integral part not only of everyday life but also of “doing religion.” The article, Connectivity and communion: The mobile phone and the Christian religious experience in Nigeria, published recently in New Media & Society, explores the fusion of the mobile phone into the Christian religious experience, using mediatization theory as an analytical lens.

Specifically, the article (based on an online survey) addresses the following questions: What role does the mobile phone play in contemporary religious experience? What types of religious content are consumed on the phone? What are people’s attitudes towards the use of mobile phones during worship? How is the mobile phone perceived as a tool for religious practice?
No doubt, Nigerians are among the most religious people on earth. A study by WIN-Gallup International indicates they are second only to Thais. So, religion is a very important institution and, most times, a critical identity marker in the country. The article, therefore, touches on two salient strands that, with other elements, form the warp and woof of the society.

The findings of the study suggest that many people go to church with their phones. While there, they read the digital Bible or sing from the digital hymnal on the phone. The more adventurous ones make calls, send messages, and share content on social media during worship. But not everyone considers this acceptable. Critics believe the mobile phone should not come to church at all. Advocates think it should be welcome in church and used to reach out. Dualists say it is neither here nor there as actual usage determines what the phone can do.
Outside the worship environment, the mobile phone continues to serve as an always-available “techno-spiritual” gadget. And in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems safe to predict that the mobile phone and other digital technologies will be called upon to play an even more prominent role in religion and other spheres of life.

The article is published here

The accepted version can be downloaded here


Author Profile
Allwell Nwankwo holds a PhD in Media and Communication from the Pan-Atlantic University. He had earlier on obtained a BSc in Mass Communication and an MSc in Marketing from the University of Lagos. His research interests include mobile phone technocultures, digital religion, mediatization of everyday life, and phenomenology in communication research. A marketing professional for over 20 years, Allwell currently works at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group. His previous roles include: Managing Director, University of Lagos Press & Bookshop Ltd; Head of Marketing, Longman Nigeria Plc; AGM Marketing, Coscharis Technologies Ltd; Product Manager, SC Johnson; Product Group Manager, PERA-BEAM (UACN Plc); and Senior Correspondent, Corporate. Allwell has published in top journals such as New Media & Society, Africa Journal of Management, Observatorio, Romanian Journal of Communication and Public Relations, and International Journal of Cultural and Creative Industries. His books include How to Serve & Keep Your Customers, 20 Universal Laws of Service Excellence, How to Succeed at Job Interviews, and Customer Service at a Glance (on Amazon). Allwell is married and blessed with three children. Besides work and academics, he is a songwriter and choral music director.