Communication and Information Technologies Annual: Volume 11

Cover of Communication and Information Technologies Annual

[New] Media Cultures

Subject:

Table of contents

(20 chapters)
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Editorial Board

Pages vii-ix
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Acknowledgments

Pages xiii-xiv
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Section I: Communicative Cultures

Purpose

To understand the phenomena of people revealing regrettable information on the Internet, we examine who people think they’re addressing, and what they say, in the process of interacting with those not physically or temporally co-present.

Methodology/approach

We conduct qualitative analyses of interviews with student bloggers and observations of five years’ worth of their blog posts, drawing on linguists’ concepts of indexical ground and deictics. Based on analyses of how bloggers reference their shared indexical ground and how they use deictics, we expose bloggers’ evolving awareness of their audiences, and the relationship between this awareness and their disclosures.

Findings

Over time, writers and their regular audience, or “chorus,” reciprocally reveal personal information. However, since not all audience members reveal themselves in this venue, writers’ disclosures are available to those observers they are not aware of. Thus, their overdisclosure is tied to what we call the “n-adic” organization of online interaction. Specifically, and as can be seen in their linguistic cues, n-adic utterances are directed toward a non-unified audience whose invisibility makes the discloser unable to find out the exact number of participants or the time they enter or exit the interaction.

Research implications

Attention to linguistic cues, such as deictics, is a compelling way to identify the shifting reference groups of ethnographic subjects interacting with physically or temporally distant others.

Originality/value

We describe the social organization of interaction with undetectable others. n-adic interactions likely also happen in other on- and offline venues in which participants are obscured but can contribute anonymously.

Purpose

This study aims to understand the role of technology in relationship maintenance among romantic partners.

Methodology/approach

It takes a qualitative, inductive approach and collected data from in-depth interviews with 20 individuals who are married or in cohabiting relationships.

Findings

This study supports the extension of relationship maintenance typology derived from face-to-face relationship studies to technology-mediated communication, but highlights how technology use transforms the implementation of maintenance behaviors. Technology helps couples coordinate tasks and keep in touch with friends and families. Although technology-mediated communication cannot replace face-to-face interactions in relationship talk and sharing in-depth feelings, it plays an important role in redefining the ways in which couples interact positively, maintain mutual understanding, and secure the future of the relationship. Moreover, this study identifies a new maintenance behavior, communication coordination. These maintenance behaviors reflect a tension between maintaining connectivity and managing the boundary between work and home and between the public and private spheres.

Originality/value

This study builds on previous work on technology use and relationship maintenance, but takes a different qualitative, inductive approach to address the limitations in the survey research dominant in the literature. It helps us understand the advantages and challenges in maintaining relationships in the digital age and also explores the factors that influence the patterns of technology use in relationship maintenance.

Section II: Media, Culture, and Identity

Purpose

This paper examines the social and ideological significance of selfies as a manifestation of networked culture and individualism. The aim is to illustrate the meaning and affordances of selfies by investigating their potential for (post)feminist empowerment.

Methodology/approach

The analysis entails an exploration of the form, content, and context of (post)feminist selfies. This includes a review of popular expressions of selfie-empowerment as well as an in-depth ideological analysis of several revealing case studies.

Findings

As a result, this paper identifies a (dis)empowerment paradox marked by a divide between material and affective conceptions of empowerment. According to this paradox, self(ie)-expressions may feel empowering to the individual(s) controlling the camera while concurrently conforming to hegemonic norms – a trend which is particularly pertinent to many networked selfies shared via social media. Accordingly, the paper concludes by critiquing the discourse of selfie-empowerment and considering the significance of cultural context in shaping meaning and ideology.

Originality/value

By addressing these implications in light of broader shifts toward networked individualism and post-feminism, this paper critically examines the ideological significance of selfies and demonstrates a need to reconsider what sociological perspectives can contribute to the study of selfies within the context of networked cultures.

Purpose

Postemotionalism, nostalgia for authentic emotional experiences, can be observed in every aspect of popular culture, particularly social media and reality television. Viewers are driven by the need to find the balance between individuality, expressed through “legitimate” emotions, insights and acceptance by their peer group on social media.

Methodology/approach

I use the program, “Catfish: The TV Show” to explore how postemotionalism operates in reality television.

Findings

This paper examines the new experience of dramatized emotions as they are portrayed in reality television and reflected on social media. I offer a theorization of social media users’ response to the search for authenticity on television through an analysis of a series of Twitter interactions surrounding “Catfish: The TV Show.”

Originality/value

The interactions on Twitter reveal that postemotionalism makes it difficult for viewers to distinguish between genuine, emotional interactions and projected, managed identities.

Purpose

This study uses the ‘Dragon Age’ series by BioWare as a case study to examine the impact of video game player diversity on the inclusion of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) content in mainstream games. It explores the degree to which the perception of video games as ‘hegemonically masculine and heteronormative’ accurately reflects gamers’ own experiences.

Methodology/approach

The study is based on an online survey in the Dragon Age community forum, including open-ended qualitative questions.

Findings

The main findings show that male and female respondents widely believed in the presence of heterosexual (male) privilege within gaming culture at large. However, respondents’ own personal views and experiences demonstrated that they largely accept the inclusion of LGBT content in games. Finally, respondents showed considerable ‘disinhibition’ when it came to experimenting with sexuality and sexual identity in video games as compared to in real life.

Research limitations/implications

This was a small exploratory study and was limited by its size and a possible self-selection bias.

Originality/value

The findings indicate that gender diversity, diversity of sexualities and acceptance of LGBT content are all greater than previously thought. Moreover, role-playing games are fertile ground for experimentation with sexual identities among gamers. These results call for more research in this area.

Section III: Digital Public Cultures

Purpose

Do public opinion and political sentiments expressed on Twitter during election campaign have a meaning and message? Are they inferential, that is, can they be used to estimate the political mood prevailing among the masses? Can they also be used to reliably predict the election outcome? To answer these in the Indian context, the 2014 general election was chosen.

Methodology/approach

Tweets posted on the leading parties during the voting and crucial campaign periods were mined and manual sentiment analysis was performed on them.

Findings

A strong and positive correlation was observed between the political sentiments expressed on Twitter and election results. Further, the Time Periods during which the tweets were mined were found to have a moderating effect on this relationship.

Practical implications

This study showed that the month preceding the voting period was the best to predict the vote share with Twitter data – with 83.9% accuracy.

Social implications

Twitter has become an important public communication tool in India, and as the study results reinstate, it is an ideal research tool to gauge public opinion.

Purpose

Given the increasing use of social media and other digital technologies, critical theorists argue that social life has become increasingly structured by neoliberal market logics. Little research has empirically tested these claims.

Methodology/approach

This study is the first to examine whether the use of digital technologies in the avant-garde literary field is accompanied by neoliberal logics. Developing a cultural logics approach to neoliberalism, which allows for the identification of the independent logics of entrepreneurship, market-faith, profit-maximization, efficiency, and individualism, I draw on archival data and interviews with editors and writers to explore the relationship between digital technologies and neoliberalism.

Findings

Editors and writers legitimate some neoliberal logics and reject others. Entrepreneurship and efficiency are strongly legitimated. Profit-maximization is generally rejected. Market-faith and individualism are legitimated differently by editors and writers who occupy different positions within the field, drawing attention to the importance of field position, organizational affiliation, and career exhaustion in the use of digital technologies in the avant-garde literary world. Many of these findings are surprising given the historically non-economic orientation of the field.

Research implications

Future research should explore neoliberal logics in other aspects of literary production and in other social domains.

Originality/value

This study provides a novel approach to the study of neoliberal logics as well as their relationship to digital technologies. Such an approach complements recent agendas in economic sociology and contributes to debates about the relationship between new technologies and capitalism.

Purpose

The study seeks to introduce a new media model that (1) clearly illustrates the role of mass media in the transmission of cultural messages, and (2) helps to explain variations in the reception and employment of cultural messages by members of the same culture.

Methodology/approach

Drawing on decades of theorizing in cultural sociology and communication studies, as well as data from two qualitative content analyses, a new model was developed, explained, and then applied to a specific cultural phenomenon.

Findings

Mass media are significant transmitters of cultural messages and play an influential role in shaping culture, yet the process is complex. There is great variety in what messages are accepted by different consumers, how they are interpreted, and how they ultimately are employed (or not). Further, cultures that include contradictory messages are more likely to inadvertently promote deviant paths to culturally valued goals.

Research limitations/implications

First, the model only addresses one dimension of the relationship between mass media and culture; it does not explain cultural influences on mass media. Second, the model does not specifically address recent changes in the media landscape, though an accommodation is suggested. Finally, the model needs additional testing before its utility can be reasonably determined.

Originality/value

First, a new model is introduced that clearly illustrates the complex process by which cultural messages are transmitted to receivers via mass media. Second, the model introduces the concept of “cultural capacity” to complement existing concepts and advance understanding of the operation of culture.

Section IV: Methods for Studying Media and Culture

Purpose

This paper introduces two methodological innovations for qualitative research. We apply these innovations to holistically understand youth peer cultures and improve participant-driven qualitative methodology.

Methodology/approach

It moves the methodological frontier forward by blending technology with the “go-along” approach used by ethnographers to prioritize participants’ perspectives and experiences within their socio-cultural contexts.

Findings

We introduce the youth-centered and participant-driven virtual tours, including a neighborhood tour using Google Maps designed to explore how youth navigate their socio-spatial environments (n = 64; 10–17 year-olds; 2013) and a social media tour designed to explore how youth navigate their networked publics (n = 50; 10–17 year-olds; 2013), both in relation to their local peer cultures.

Originality/value

Applicable to a wide range of research populations, the Google Maps tour and the social media tour give the qualitative researcher additional tools to conduct participant-driven research into youths’ socio-cultural worlds. These two innovations help to address challenges in youth research as well as qualitative research more broadly. We find, for example, that the “go-along” aspect of the virtual tour minimizes the perceived threat of the researcher’s adult status and brings youth participants’ perspectives and experiences to the center of inquiry in the study of local peer cultures.

Purpose

The authors apply topic sentiment analysis (several relatively new text analysis methods) to the study of public opinion as expressed in social media by comparing reactions to the Trayvon Martin controversy in spring 2012 by commenters on the partisan news websites the Huffington Post and Daily Caller.

Methodology/approach

Topic sentiment analysis is a text analysis method that estimates the polarity of sentiments across units of text within large text corpora (Lin & He, 2009; Mei, Ling, Wondra, Su, & Zhai, 2007).

Findings

We apply topic sentiment analysis to public opinion as expressed in social media by comparing reactions to the Trayvon Martin controversy in spring 2012 by commenters on the partisan news websites the Huffington Post and Daily Caller. Based on studies that depict contemporary news media as an “outrage industry” that incentivizes media personalities to be controversial and polarizing (Berry & Sobieraj, 2014), we predict that high-profile commentators will be more polarizing than other news personalities and topics.

Originality/value

Results of the topic sentiment analysis support this prediction and in so doing provide partial validation of the application of topic sentiment analysis to online opinion.

About the Editors

Pages 285-286
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About the Authors

Pages 287-290
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Cover of Communication and Information Technologies Annual
DOI
10.1108/S2050-2060201611
Publication date
2016-02-23
Book series
Studies in Media and Communications
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78560-785-1
eISBN
978-1-78560-784-4
Book series ISSN
2050-2060