Seminar: Audiences, Media Use and Public Connection
This seminar addresses the overarching question of how people’s media use, across platforms and repertoires, may or may not facilitate public (dis)connection. The seminar brings together international scholars that from various perspectives have studied audiences’ media use to present and discuss their research.
Anne Kaun: Associate professor, Södertörn University
Uwe Hasebrink: Professor, Hans-Bredow-Institut, University of Hamburg
Dominique Pasquier: research director at the French national Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), and Professor II at the Department of Information Science and Media Studies, University of Bergen.
09:15 – 09:30 Coffee & Welcome
09:30 – 10:15 Anne Kaun - The Value of Disconnection
10:15 – 11:00 Uwe Hasebrink - Public Connection: Individuals’ Contributions to the Construction of Publics.
11:15 – 12:00 Dominique Pasquier - Popular logics for digital culture
Abstract: Anne Kaun
The Value of Disconnection.
Current scholarship of media life (Deuze 2012), mediatized worlds (Hepp 2010, Hepp and Hartmann 2010, Krotz and Hepp 2012) and culture of connectivity (van Dijck 2013) investigates media ubiquity in all spheres of society and everyday life (Bakardjieva 2005). In the context of this scholarship the usage of (digital) media technologies is assumed as a presupposition for working and living in the media society. Implicit to such assumptions is often a subtle idea of steady progression of possibilities and chances for connectivity and participation, considered as inherent to the advent of new communication technologies. Furthermore this research is characterized by a tendency to regard media participation as ‘necessarily beneficial’ (Carpentier 2009, 411). However, in this context practices and technologies of disconnection emerge as well. The presentation explores how disconnection, i.e. the non-usage of digital media technologies is constructed as being of economic, cultural, social and political value in contemporary, information affluent societies. As the abundance of media technologies contributes to the necessity to make choices for connection or disconnection, use or non-use, participation or abstention, these choices are becoming of interest to the digital economy.
Tapping into a flourishing international field of research on digital culture, presentation extends the understanding of current media culture both theoretically and empirically by looking at disconnection rather than connection. It considers both the materiality and politics of disconnection drawing on current examples of non-usage and a growing industry selling disconnection to digital media users.
Abstract: Uwe Hasebrink
Public Connection: Individuals’ Contributions to the Construction of Publics.
Changes of the media environment are expected to have substantial consequences for the construction of publics. Some of them are regarded as positive (e.g. increased participation and diversity), some of them as negative (e.g. fragmentation and blurring of borders between public and private). Against this background the objective of my ongoing research is to reconstruct individuals’ practices of public connection and how they contribute to the communicative figurations of publics.
According to a repertoire-oriented approach to research on media usage I consider the ‘individual’ whose cross-media use can be characterised as a particular ‘media repertoire’. Beyond that I also consider ‘social domains’ (collectivities and organisations) that can be analysed as communicative figurations characterised by a particular ‘media ensemble’. From the perspective of the individual, media repertoires are composed of media-related communicative practices that individuals use to relate themselves to the figurations that they are involved in. From the perspective of these figurations, media ensembles are characterised by the media-related communicative practices of the actors involved in them.
Against this conceptual background I will present a research approach that sets out to investigate how peo-ple living in today’s changing media environment connect to different publics and, in doing so, contribute to the communicative construction of these publics. The design follows three main objectives: First, we will analyse individual repertoires of public connection and how they are related to biography and social con-texts. Second, we will investigate how these repertoires of public connection contribute to the communicative figurations of particular publics. Third, we will examine how current trends of the media environment shape individuals’ repertoires of public connection and, through these repertoires, the communicative figurations of publics. The empirical approach combines complementing modules that examine the three research objectives from different perspectives. Through qualitative panel analysis of media diaries and semi-structured interviews we will reconstruct in detail, to what publics individuals connect themselves, for what reasons, and by what kind of communicative practices. Via secondary analyses of representative surveys on media use, we will draw the bigger picture of today’s practices and how they have developed over the past years. Building on these two modules, we will design a standardised survey that will provide a detailed description and analysis of today’s repertoires of public connection. As I will argue this kind of approach will help to better understand how individuals connect to publics and, in doing so, how they contribute to the communicative figurations of publics and to their structural transformation within the process of mediatization.
Abstract: Dominque Pasquier
Popular logics for digital culture.
Social inequalities to internet access, without having totally disappeared, have radically decreased in France during the last decade. A new research question needs our attention: social inequalities to participation in the digital public sphere. How do people with a low level of education grasp internet’s promises for democratization of culture and knowledge? Did internet access in geographically isolated areas, such as villages, change lifestyles, sociability patterns, or relation to urban elites ? The research is based on two fieldworks : 50 interviews and the analysis of 46 Facebook accounts of lower class individuals living in rural areas in France.