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Pics or it didn't happen: Instagram in Prosumer Capitalism and Reflexive Modernity

Frey, Aaron LU (2012) TKAM02 20121
Division of Ethnology
Abstract
Drawing on practice centered approaches to consumption, this study situates a cultural analysis of Instagram, a smartphone-­‐based image sharing application used by over 80 million people worldwide, within wider discourses on reflexive modernity, critical media studies, prosumption, and late-­‐modern consumer culture. A seven-­‐day diary study with 25 international participants, supplemented by participant observation, helps tie these theoretical engagements to specific lived experiences illustrating what it means to live with a networked camera almost permanently on-­‐hand to record and share images of daily life. I focus on the reflexive framing and composition of moments of consumption within practice, arguing that the material culture... (More)
Drawing on practice centered approaches to consumption, this study situates a cultural analysis of Instagram, a smartphone-­‐based image sharing application used by over 80 million people worldwide, within wider discourses on reflexive modernity, critical media studies, prosumption, and late-­‐modern consumer culture. A seven-­‐day diary study with 25 international participants, supplemented by participant observation, helps tie these theoretical engagements to specific lived experiences illustrating what it means to live with a networked camera almost permanently on-­‐hand to record and share images of daily life. I focus on the reflexive framing and composition of moments of consumption within practice, arguing that the material culture and affordances of networked mobile imaging, as represented by Instagram, reflect a divergence in photographic practice that expands the realm of the photographable. As the ‘mobile web’ extends networked communication into new spatial contexts, the already overstated dichotomy between the real and the virtual breaks down. This expansion of imaging and communication into new spaces and routines occurs in conjunction with the twin shifts toward an “experience” and “informational” economy, within a social media ecology that enables, and demands, ever more sharing of experiences. While imaging is experienced by many simply as an enjoyable way to fill time or be creative, I explore the multiple agencies that structure enjoyment and explicate the workings of imaginative pleasure using an adapted reading of Colin Campbell’s account of modern hedonism, coupled with Jodi Dean’s account of drive, or the pleasure that emerges from the failure to achieve satisfaction, and its role in prosumer capitalism. I conclude by arguing that social media platforms like Instagram, and its new parent, Facebook, challenge reflexive modernity theorists’ views of empowered, individuated modern subjectivity. Social media slide readily into the institutional gap, as hidden quasi-­‐ institutions, constituting powerful limits to reflexivity through new disciplining mechanisms, even as they afford the potential for radically transformative reflexivity. (Less)
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author
Frey, Aaron LU
supervisor
organization
course
TKAM02 20121
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Instagram, Facebook, social media, social network sites, mobile computing, prosumption, prosumer capitalism, web 2.0, photography, material culture, reflexive modernity, communities of practice, practice theory
language
English
id
3358585
date added to LUP
2013-01-23 11:34:05
date last changed
2013-01-23 11:34:05
@misc{3358585,
  abstract     = {Drawing on practice centered approaches to consumption, this study situates a cultural analysis of Instagram, a smartphone-­‐based image sharing application used by over 80 million people worldwide, within wider discourses on reflexive modernity, critical media studies, prosumption, and late-­‐modern consumer culture. A seven-­‐day diary study with 25 international participants, supplemented by participant observation, helps tie these theoretical engagements to specific lived experiences illustrating what it means to live with a networked camera almost permanently on-­‐hand to record and share images of daily life. I focus on the reflexive framing and composition of moments of consumption within practice, arguing that the material culture and affordances of networked mobile imaging, as represented by Instagram, reflect a divergence in photographic practice that expands the realm of the photographable. As the ‘mobile web’ extends networked communication into new spatial contexts, the already overstated dichotomy between the real and the virtual breaks down. This expansion of imaging and communication into new spaces and routines occurs in conjunction with the twin shifts toward an “experience” and “informational” economy, within a social media ecology that enables, and demands, ever more sharing of experiences. While imaging is experienced by many simply as an enjoyable way to fill time or be creative, I explore the multiple agencies that structure enjoyment and explicate the workings of imaginative pleasure using an adapted reading of Colin Campbell’s account of modern hedonism, coupled with Jodi Dean’s account of drive, or the pleasure that emerges from the failure to achieve satisfaction, and its role in prosumer capitalism. I conclude by arguing that social media platforms like Instagram, and its new parent, Facebook, challenge reflexive modernity theorists’ views of empowered, individuated modern subjectivity. Social media slide readily into the institutional gap, as hidden quasi-­‐ institutions, constituting powerful limits to reflexivity through new disciplining mechanisms, even as they afford the potential for radically transformative reflexivity.},
  author       = {Frey, Aaron},
  keyword      = {Instagram,Facebook,social media,social network sites,mobile computing,prosumption,prosumer capitalism,web 2.0,photography,material culture,reflexive modernity,communities of practice,practice theory},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Pics or it didn't happen: Instagram in Prosumer Capitalism and Reflexive Modernity},
  year         = {2012},
}