Common Banality: The Affective Character of Photo Sharing, Everyday Life and Produsage Cultures

Søren Mørk Petersen

    Research output: Book / Anthology / Report / Ph.D. thesisPh.D. thesis


    This dissertation investigates the emergent new media practice of mobile
    blogging (moblogging) and photo sharing online, specifically focusing on
    how this practice has evolved within a specific community in Copenhagen.
    Through a 3.5 year long ethnographic fieldwork among everyday
    photographers in Copenhagen and 14 individual interviews with
    users, the dissertation both examines how individuals and collectives
    integrate technology into their everyday lives, especially what
    constitutes the process of becoming a moblogger. Compared to related
    research this dissertation deals explicitly with everyday photographers
    who document all the mundane and banal situations and contexts of their
    daily life. It is primarily analytic rather than theoretical in its
    approach. The analysis is centered on two main questions approached
    differently throughout the chapters: 1. How user generated media
    reconfigure the spectacle through changes in the production-consumption
    circuit. 2. How everyday photography enables a creative practice relating
    it to the affective character of everyday life and the urban environment.
    These two aspects are approached with a combination of fieldwork data and
    theory (primarily Henri Lefebvre, Guy Debord, Brian Massumi, Gilles
    Deleuze, Roland Barthes, Stuart Hall, Gregory Seigworth and the
    Situationist International).
    The dissertation commences with a review of existing literature on camera
    phone usage, moblogging and photo sharing. Chapter two deals with
    different methodological issues related to my fieldwork, my interviews and
    the development of a new research method. This method – dubbed the GRID –
    was employed in group interviews with Flickr users in which they talked on
    the basis of their own pictures about how everyday photography, moblogging
    and photo sharing have been integrated into their everyday life. The
    thesis does not have a specific theoretical chapter; different theories
    are introduced throughout the analysis when considered relevant.
    In chapter three the analysis begins with a mapping of how my informants
    became mobloggers. This chapter will also describe what characterizes
    photo sharing, everyday photography and moblogging as a photographic
    practice. Along with this we will see why they have chosen Flickr as the
    site to share their photos on, and we will also see how their style
    developed. At this point it will already be evident that their community
    is important for many of the practices that they participate in so in
    chapter four we will look into community aspects.
    In chapters five and six everyday life will be related to their practice.
    Chapter five primarily deals with different theories of everyday life, in
    that it tries to explain what it is about everyday life and its mundane
    character that makes them want to document it. In explaining this we will
    witness how capitalism and everyday life, with its mundane habits and
    routines, foster a creative form of play when documenting our everyday
    life. We will also identify how the practice of everyday photography and
    photo sharing mediates between Lefebvre’s triadic structure of everyday
    life. Especially the affective character of everydayness provides an
    argument for developing an explanation of why they document the most
    mundane and banal aspects of everyday life. This chapter also identifies a
    new form of aesthetic living through a reconfiguration of Mike
    Featherstone’s theory. In chapter six we focus on how everyday
    photography, moblogging and photo sharing are integrated into the
    structures and different practices of everyday life. We will view their
    practice as a form of rhythmanalysis in which a new rhythm is created by
    specific relations between time, space and agency, resulting in a
    reconfiguration of the concepts of presence and present. This will lead us
    into chapter seven in which we will focus on various collaborative
    practices related to the way in which value is generated for the users of
    Flickr, and also look into how the creation of meaning and signification
    becomes collective and thus restructures the spectacle.
    Chapter eight deals with the relations between the city, moblogging and
    photo sharing, illustrating how these practices enable an electronic form
    of psycho-geography and dérive, techniques important for the revolution of
    everyday life as it was put into practice by the Situationist and Debord.
    Chapter nine will identify how user generated content can become enclosed
    within capitalistic structures, thus transforming their practice into
    relations that resemble work. In mapping how this happens, new places for
    a Marxist critique in contemporary society characterized by new means of
    production will be identified. In chapter ten the conclusion will
    summarize some parts of the dissertation by mapping the different
    reconfigurations that have been identified throughout the thesis.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherIT-Universitetet i København
    ISBN (Print)978-87-7949-195-3
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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