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Social Aspects of Media & ICT
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Social Aspects of Media & ICT Social Aspects of Media & ICT Presentation Transcript

  • Social Perspectives on Media & ICT Cédric Courtois, PhD - Ghent University
  • Lecture contents 1.  Media saturation: an introduction to today’s media environment 2.  Digital inequalities: global and regional divides 3.  Media effects: the complex nature of ‘media influence’ 4.  Shifting media production: the producer-consumer interface 5.  Engagement and democracy: chasm between theory and practice 6.  Social relations: as the internet evolves…
  • Media Saturation
  • Quick scan Penetration In Flanders 2012 - BE Internet Connection Laptop Desktop Game Console Handheld Game Concolse Tablet Mobile phone Smartphone Mobile Data Subscription Digital TV Flatscreen Tube TV In % 91 80 66 36 25 28 73 39 36 82 78 20 Adoption speed (Global) Radio Television Internet … Facebook 50M users in years 38y 13y 4y … 100M in 9 months
  • Convergence – Multiple layers (1) •  In terms of media technologies: •  Proliferation of media platforms and channels •  Digital 1/0 information: liquid asset •  Merger of functions, countless mixtures •  Before: silo structures, now blending into each other
  • Convergence – Multiple layers (2) •  In terms of market/economy: •  Media production and telecommunication/IT companies grow near and merge •  Trend of concentration: both horizontally and vertically •  Changing production processes: further integration, digitization, changing role of audiences
  • Convergence – Multiple layers (3) •  In terms of media policy: •  Since 1990 general trend towards deregulation and liberalization (e.g. EU Green papers on convergence) •  Quick progress and interdependencies require overarching media regulation (e.g. Ofcom – UK: convergent regulatory body) •  Complex exercise: safeguard pluralism and diversity (role of public service media, media and democracy, ownership and concentration, net neutrality, IPR, etc.)
  • Diffusionism versus mutual shaping •  User acceptance of technologies: competing schools •  Diffusionism: technology develops on its own •  Social construction of technology: social and cultural factors   Typical example: evolution of SMS
  • (Perceived) Affordances •  •  Not because technology has a capability that it is identified as such Norman 2002 (p. 9): perceived affordances – ’the perceived and actual properties of the thing, primarily those fundamental properties that determine just how the thing could possibly be used’ •  Compilation of a mental model of objects, sketching the flow of how and for what to use objects, including various physical, semantic, cultural and logical constraints.
  • Life with media, life in media •  Media life: the symbiotic intertwinement of media consumption and everyday life •  Pervasive media ’form our constant remix of the categories of everyday life (the public and the private, the local and the global, het individual and the collective), they become invisible’ (Deuze, 2011, p. 137).
  • Digital Inequalities
  • Multiple divides worth considering •  •  Original debate centered on access: ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ Regionally mostly redundant, but not globally •  Multiple access model: (Van Dijk) •  Motivational divide: emotional versus rational •  •  Material divide: investment, availability Skills divide: supporting literacies •  Usage divide: quality and diversity
  • North-South? 80 77,3 70 60,8 60 % Percentage of households with Internet access, by region, 2013* 50 45,7 40 41,3 33,6 32,7 30 20 10 0 6,7 Europe The Americas CIS** World Regions are based on the ITU BDT Regions, see: http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/definitions/regions/index.html Note: * Estimate ** Commonwealth of Independent States Source: ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators database Arab States Asia & Pacific Africa
  • North-South? Source: webfoundation.org
  • North-South?
  • Mobile connections as emancipatory tools •  Micro-level: •  Support of economic growth, better organization •  •  Enlarges buyer/supply networks Macro-level: •  Mobile communication infrastructures impact a country’s GNP and its productivity rates •  Still inequalities between developed and developing countries: e.g. Finland .23%/year, Nepal, .07%/year
  • Beyond access: second-level ‘digital divide’ •  Skills debate is most prominent: (van Deursen) 1.  Operational skills: handling 2.  Formal skills: structures 3.  Information skills: effective search 4.  Communication skills: social competence 5.  Strategic skills: goal-direct meta-skills •  Younger generation: better medium-related skills (1 & 2) •  Older generation: better content-related skills (3 & 5) •  Socio-economic factors even divide generations!
  • Media Effects
  • Evolving thought on media effects (1) First phase: all-powerful media •  Change attitudes and behaviour •  Propaganda, advertising (new-sprung social psychology) Second phase: challenging powerful media •  More empirical study on effects of media content •  Harmful effects on children, democracy? •  ‘Mass communication does not ordinarily serve as a necessary or sufficient cause of audience effects, but rather functions through a nexus of mediating factors’ (Klapper,1960)
  • Evolving thought on media effects (2) Third phase: rediscovering powerful media •  Neglect over second phase’s outcome •  Methodological issues, shift short-term to long-term •  Rise of television in the 1960s as a medium with mass appeal •  More attention for organizational processes and shaping of content Fourth phase: negotiating media influence •  Media texts as constructed meanings, systematically transferred but prone to negotiation, turning into personal structures of meaning
  • A milestone: encoding/decoding •  Stuart Hall: raised awareness for content of media messages, role of receiver in the sense-making process (i.e. in-built genre guidelines, as well as own ideas and experiences) •  Four archetypical reading positions: dominant codes, professional codes, negotiated codes, oppositional codes; gives rise to audience agency •  Corroborated by David Morley (BBC Nationwide): oppositional readings provoked not only by individual background, but also cultural and class attributes
  • Recurring moral panics •  •  Concern – awareness about possible negative effect Hostility – towards a group in question •  •  Consensus – on the threat to society Disproportionality – measures taken do not match the problem •  Volatility – highly volatile, disappear quickly
  • Recurring moral panics • •  • •  Concern – awareness about possible negative effect Hostility – towards a group in question • •  • •  Consensus – on the threat to society Disproportionality – measures taken do not match the problem • •  Volatility – highly volatile, disappear quickly
  • The public debate
  • Review of academic research status •  Fearsome, polluted debate: politics, ideology, personal beliefs •  Relation video games and real life violence: refuted by US Supreme Courts, Swedish Media Council, Australian Attorney-General Dept.,… •  Disagreement in findings and interpretations (i.e. aggressionassociations as aggressive thoughts), methodological trench wars (i.e. hot sauce-paradigm)
  • Shifting Media Production
  • Producer – consumer reversals ‘Press Pause Play’
  • Directionality of media and communication •  Traditionally: broadcastmedia transmit to mass audience(s) •  Interactive media: bi-directional relation •  Forms of communication (Jensen & Helles): one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many
  • Properties of social media •  According to Bechmann and Lomborg; Social media… 1.  … afford de-institutionalized and widely mediated communication, handing its users the locus of control to address self-chosen audiences, 2.  … consider users as active producers and distributors of content, and 3.  … supply interactive and networked communication, inherently based upon interaction between users that constantly shift between production and reception modes.
  • Types of user-generated content •  User-to-user, user-to-document, user-to-system •  Ideas of Remediation; remix, mashup, DIY, found footage, repurposing, bricolage, produsage •  Problematic as it challenges the concept of the author, and reinforces the struggle between production and consumption
  • Cult of the amateur? •  Web platforms: little-c creativity is all around… ‘… the interaction among aptitude, process and environment by which an individual or group produces a perceptible product that is both novel and useful as defined within a social context’ (Plucker, Beghetto & Dow, 2004) Making is connecting: •  Creativity as combining elements: materials and ideas •  Social connection through creativity •  Means to communicate creativity
  • Example of YouTube Structures of creative combinations: latent class modeling of disclosed video characteristics and variables from content analysis •  Personal Creativity (46%): •  Mostly self-edited, self-made sounds and images •  Highest chances of demonstrating creativity •  Remix Creativity (32%): •  A lot of self-made video (not sound), incorporates extracts from pop culture (more sound than video) •  Borrowed Creativity (22%): •  Very high chances to contain sound and images of third-party creativity (e.g. artistic performance)
  • Example of YouTube •  Discourse on Web 2.0: mostly positive nature, despite critical sounds… (e.g. Keen’s Cult of the Amateur, 2007) •  Flood of poorly made videos, available for the mass! However… •  ‘Uninteresting content’: aimed at small, yet closely connected audience •  Content for the broader public: contains extracts of pop culture •  Too easy to make and distribute content… everyone’s doing it. We can’t see the wood for the trees! However… •  Independent raters could rightfully determine a proportion of creative personality traits of YouTube uploaders through their videos
  • Engagement & Democracy
  • Democracy in crisis? •  Combination of globalisation, changing role of nation state, neoliberalization,… •  Crisis of democracy: •  Declining voting rates •  Fragmentation of political parties •  Single issues •  Mediatisation of politics
  • New Media & Democracy •  High expectations because of open/direct character of the internet •  Facilitating a ‘networked democracy’ (Hague & Loader, 1999): •  Information democracy •  Democratisation of decision-making power •  Creation of deliberative democracy/expressive politics
  • Civic engagement •  Engagement does not equal participation or concern •  Disagrement on definition; nevertheless: action to improve one’s community/society, both locally and globally •  Different dimensions of engaging •  Actively versus passively •  Individually versus collectively •  Instigatively versus following •  Offline versus Online
  • The role of media Traditional media: •  Television: (+) knowledge, more engaged; (-) displacement/mean world •  Newspapers: source of information, less for younger generations New media: •  Interactivity, easy and quick access, networked character •  (-) Time discplacement, lack of social trust, homogenous virtual communities, techno-optimism •  (+) Higher degree of social contact and trust, mobilization and activation Online participation: (a) politically driven, (b) non-politically driven, (c) friendship driven
  • The Arab Spring •  Iran: Green Revolution, 2009; Twitter and Facebook as a tool to get attention; impact on local politics quite limited •  Unrest spread to Tunesia, Egypt, Syria; catalyzation to organize and mobilize •  Jasmin revolution in Tunesia: mobile networks to agitate, keep contact with refugees, spread of information •  Bottom-up information: user-generated matrials, alternative channels (need for nuance) •  At the same time vulnerable: Vodaphone incident
  • Social Relations
  • Triple revolution – Rainie & Wellman •  Social Network Revolution: from groups to visible networks •  Internet revolution – individual empowerment •  Mobile revolution – always on principle The intersection: networked individualism, we have a new networked operating system, various social repercussions •  Impact on relations, families, work, creativity, information •  More friends than ever; Online friends are offline friends
  • Alone Together - Turkle •  Move away from social relational structures: individualism, isolation •  People rely more on technology, and less on other people; detrimental to in-depth social interaction •  Emphasis on convenience and control as a priority, lowering our expectations of one another •  Online life promotes superficial, emotional incompetence and laziness
  • Specifics of computer-mediated communication •  Anonymity: control richness of cues (positive/negative) •  Asynchronicity: delay in communication •  Accessibility: low boundaries
  • Consequences for identity development •  Self-concept •  Self-concept fragmentation hypothesis •  •  Self-esteem: environmental control and peer approval •  •  •  Self-concept unity hypothesis Blogs/SNS: enhancement Beware of compulsive nature Sexual development •  Self-exploration: safe exploration •  Online sexual solicitation
  • Consequences for identity development   Development of intimacy   Cyberbullying: features of CMC amplify occurrence   Friendships formation; two hypotheses: (a) the rich-get-richer, (b) social compensation hypothesis   Existing friendship quality; two hypotheses: (a) displacement/ reduction hypothesis, (b) stimulation hypothesis
  • Social consequences: historical perspective •  •  •  An early article on online friendship (Parks & Floyd, 1996) Debate between: (a) Illusion of creating friendship and community and (b) Internet and CMC as liberating Empirical support for both, but different in nature (laboratory versus field research) •  Reduced cue experiments (verbal aggression, less shared views, less connections due to lack of cues) •  Field research reports on increasing quality of online relations, albeit if supplemented with other means of (face-to-face) communication “Even within the Internet itself, the information available to relational participants continues to expand as more people use the World Wide Web to exchange pictures, sound, and video. The reduced-cues perspective may simply become a theoretic antique, given the continuing advances in network technology.”
  • Ten years later •  Making new friends: •  Social compensation: beneficial lonely/socially anxious •  The-rich-get-richer: socially advantaged turn more to the internet; although the anxious prefer the internet more for communication; suggests absence of new friendships •  Displacement: online activities hinder well-being, could be time spent with existing friends – stranger assumption, poor quality Stimulation: CMC enhances quality, it stimulates •  •  Early evidence for both (correlated with loneliness and depression scores, life satisfaction, pos/neg affect; others found relations with time spent with friends, closeness, well-being: mixed empirical grounds)
  • Ten years later •  So far making new friends and existing friendship relations •  Major growth in overlap online and offline social networks (e.g. Reich et all, 2012); almost 60% of top offline contacts also named as important online contact •  Social media adoption became commonplace (across generation); Staying in touch with good friends, and people you don’t see often as primary uses •  Renders displacement hypothesis fairly obsolete? After all, it was hard to supplement
  • Concluding on social consequences   In conclusion: online communication poses both potential threats and opportunities for adolescents, but not automatically   Nature of consequences depends: 1.  Use of communication; is it anonymous? 2.  Is the communication partner friend/stranger? 3.  Type of use: compulsive? 4.  Timeline of data collection (the Internet and our use of it has changed!) 5.  Primary motivation to use (communication/entertainment)
  • Social Aspects of Media ICT •  Diverse, interesting, yet complex field •  Be sensitive for methodological issues •  The public debate is not always rightfully informed
  • Thank you, any questions? Contact: cedric.courtois@ugent.be - +32 9 264 91 54 - Korte Meer 7, BE-9000 Gent