About the project – University of Copenhagen

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About the project

The vast spread of the Internet and mobile media over the last two decades has generated great hopes and deep worries – in public debate as well as in research. To one side, Henry Jenkins (2006a) represents a utopian view of a participatory culture in which everybody will be not just famous for fifteen minutes, but exposed and active 24/7. To the other side, Andrew Keen (2007) has expounded a dystopian perspective on a cult of the amateur in which standards of scientific and aesthetic quality come to be disregarded. Digital media and especially so-called ‘social media’ (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube being among the most prominent so far) have, on the one hand, been ascribed the power to change societies and empower democratic movements, following the thinking of, e.g., Howard Rheingold (2004). This position has recently been fueled by movements like Occupy Wall Street (Sandvik 2012) as well as the democratic uprisings in Arab countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Iran and Libya that created headlines like ‘the Facebook revolution.’ On the other hand, scholars have argued that it is naive to believe that social media in themselves create change: they may at best facilitate existing social and political movements (Downing 2008, Christakis & Fowler 2010). Internet sociologists such as Morozov (2011) point out that the same media that were used to mobilize the ‘Twitter revolution’ in Iran in 2009 (Mortensen 2011) also were used by the regime to infiltrate and strike down this democratic movement.

Following such position statements, international media and communication research is currently engaged in a longer and deeper process of examining and assessing the cultural consequences of networked communication. The proposed project joins this process, departing from the ongoing transformation of the Danish media environment, and relating local findings and perspectives to changes in communication flows and practices worldwide (see list of partners and networks). The project, for one thing, seeks a reflexive middle ground from which to address hotly debated issues as questions for empirical research, rather than as ideological or policy premises. For another thing, the project examines the most recent round of ‘new’ media in historical perspective. It is well documented that new forms of media and culture have given rise to ‘moral panics’ since the 1700s (Drotner 2011). One present challenge is to understand digital media and networked communication at the intersection of established and countercultural, utopian and dystopian trends in contemporary culture (Turner 2006).

 

Read more about the project by following the links below:

Theoretical framework

Research design and methodology

Project timeline

Activities

Network and partners

References