Mirko Tobias Schäfer / Assistant Professor
University of Utrecht Department for Media and Culture Studies

Bastard Culture!

The computer and particularly the Internet have been represented as enabling technologies, turning consumers into users and users into producers. The unfolding online cultural production by users has been framed enthusiastically as participatory culture. But while many studies of user activities and the use of the Internet tend to romanticize emerging media practices, my dissertation steps beyond the usual framework and analyzes user participation in the context of accompanying popular and scholarly discourse, as well as the material aspects of design, and their relation to the practices of design and appropriation. I argue that participatory culture is rather a dynamic interaction of users and companies, discourses and technologies. The availability of computers and Internet expand the traditional culture industry into the domain of users, who actively participate in cultural production, either by appropriating products from the commercial domain or by creating their owns. But while user activities constitute a significant loss of control for certain sectors of traditional media industries, especially in the area of distribution, the larger culture industry benefits from user driven innovation through the appropriation of corporate design. Furthermore, the media industry undergoes a shift from creating content to providing platforms for user driven social interactions and user-generated content. In this extended culture industry participation unfolds not only in the cocreation of media content and software-based products, but also in the development and defense of distinctive media practices that represent a sociopolitical understanding of new technologies.

Date November 2008 Category Publications

Bastard Culture! User Participation and the extension of cultural industries. Dissertation. Utrecht: Utrecht University. Download as pdf.

2000 - 2017 Mirko Tobias Schäfer

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