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

Bastard Culture! How User    
Participation Transforms Cultural Production

"Profound and meticulously researched work, which has expanded my worldview."
Howard Rheingold, author of Smart Mobs. The Next Social Revolution

"Invited or not, the brilliant and not-so-brilliant members of our digital culture are actively participating. We're not just using but changing, repurposing, and re-inventing the technologies set before us. Bastard or not, the reality we are creating together is an odd and often unconscious collaboration between people, corporations, and technology itself. Schaefer has patiently, deliberately, and quite engagingly exposed this hidden landscape of cultural production, and shown us what we might do to direct it toward positive, even evolutionary ends."
Douglas Rushkoff, author of Program or Be Programmed. Ten Commands for a Digital Age

"Schäfer’s contribution offers its readers a detailed, well-written and convincing set of arguments in favour of the existence of such a participatory media (sub)culture." Nico Carpentier in European Journal of Communication

"Bastard Culture! offers a timely assessment of emerging digital mediascapes through a richly detailed analysis and contains a useful model of how to study them further." Hillegonda C. Rietveld in Times Higher Education

"A very interesting—and at times provocative—narrative about the role of users in today’s cultural production." Linda Garcia in Contemporary Sociology Review

"The strengths of [Schäfer's] book lie in his factually grounded case studies and descriptions of online activity. These sections alone render Bastard Culture! a useful early mapping and reconnaissance of the myriad participatory cultures emerging online in the twenty-first century." Joseph J. Corn in Technology and Culture

"Schäfer provides here the groundwork for many interesting questions about media participation in a detailed and well-researched study." Elena Stylianou in Visual Studies

"This fascinating book helps to critically reflect on the effective emancipatory potential of new media as well as on the role of design, technical affordances and appropriation in shaping collective action and in technological change." CLaudio Coletta in TECNOSCIENZA: Italian Journal of Science & Technology Studies

From the back-cover:

New online technologies have brought with them a great promise of freedom. The computer and particularly the Internet have been represented as enabling technologies, turning consumers into users and users into producers. Furthermore, lay people and amateurs have been enthusiastically greeted as heroes of the digital era. This thoughtful study casts a fresh light on the shaping of user participation in the context of, among others, popular discourse in and around new media.
Schäfer’s research into hacking, fan communities and Web 2.0 applications demonstrates how the dynamic of innovation, control and interaction have shifted the boundaries of the traditional culture industry into the user domain. 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 co‐creation of media content and software‐based products, but also in the development and defense of distinctive media practices.

Date February 2011 Category Publications

Bastard Culture! How User Participation Transforms Cultural Production, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
Updates and expanded version of my dissertation, including a chapter on 'social media'.

Reviews
European Journal of Communication (Paywall)
Contemporary Sociology Review (Paywall)
Technology and Culture (Paywall)
Visual Studies (Paywall)
TECNOSCIENZA: Italian Journal of Science & Technology Studies
Times Higher Education
Zeitschrift für Medienwissenschaft (German)

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2000 - 2014 Mirko Tobias Schäfer

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