Is a theory of media and communication history possible (and necessary)?

While there has been a broad debate on the use of theory in history in general, there are few contributions by historians of communication and the media discussing the role of theory in their particular field. We therefore review and discuss some of the main arguments pertaining to the use of theory in historiography and apply them to the field of media and communication history. Such arguments include the assumption that theories are already implicit in all types of narratives, or the idea that theory amounts to a speculative philosophy of history. We also discuss the controversial question whether deductive explanations and general laws should be applied to history. The article concludes that the use of theories is advisable, perhaps even necessary, given their multifunctionality and their different forms.