Negotiations on the architectural power of social media: How users and non-users view Facebook as a technologically mediated space

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Digitally enabled networked environments such as Facebook have become integrated in people's everyday lives. This raises the question of how these spaces shape people's activities and, more particularly, of how people think that the platforms condition their possibilities of action. I approach this question by applying the classic encoding/decoding model by Stuart Hall in the analysis of Facebook user and non-user focus groups. I argue, in line with Hall's model, that in the research of social media one should simultaneously consider how the sites are constructed, how they prefer meanings and how people understand these sites and their role in affording and moulding one's activities. In my empirical analysis, I construct five negotiation positions in relation to Facebook: the positions of approval, belittlement, normativity, compliance and disapproval. Focus group participants preferred in their negotiations the possibilities of social connectedness that Facebook offers. Facebook's role in shaping connections and the platform’s architectural power were not considered relevant for one's action. An exception was the position of disapproval, which was adopted by non-users, quitters as well as users who considered quitting. Thus, the re-search suggests that the everyday engagement with social media and the positive user experiences dispel any concern over the potentially negative influence of the material-economic conditions of the platforms. Instead, the operational logic, based on algorithmic collecting and selling of data, is taken as given and alternatives that would challenge the profit- driven model are not called for.
Translated title of the contributionNegotiations on the architectural power of social media: How users and non-users view Facebook as a technologically mediated space
Original languageFinnish
Pages (from-to)128–146
JournalMedia & viestintä
Volume38
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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