Conference Agenda

RN18_04a: Roundtable: Discourse, Comunities & Users: Critical perspectives
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Romina Surugiu, University of Bucharest
Location: UP.4.209
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Fourth Floor Oxford Road


A Swipe And A Half. A Mixed Methods Research On How Dating Apps Changed The Way We Think About Love

Marco Antonutti, Elvira Celardi, Fabio Ciammella, Mohamed Amine Khaddar

Sapienza University of Rome, Italy

Social Medias enable new forms of relationships and create new interaction contexts (boyd and Ellison 2007, Boccia Altieri 2012, boyd 2014); given this premise we propose to investigate how the technology used for courtship, in particular Tinder, influences the creation of social representations (Moscovici, 2001) and the construction of identity.

Our work explores the interdependence between two aspects: Tinder as a technological platform and dating apps as catalysts for social representations. The main objective is to explore the hypothesis of a circularity in the construction of the meanings that users share as social representations around Tinder. The research design is based on an integrated mixed methods approach (Maxwell and Lumis, 2003) aimed at understanding how the usage of dating apps influences the behaviors and beliefs of users.

After an analysis of emerging literature (Ranzini and Lutz, 2016; David and Cambre, 2016; Bryant and Sheldon, 2017), we conducted two focus groups meant as a preliminary study about the habits, meanings and perceptions tinder users share about dating. This explorative research, presented at IASSR Conference (2019) highlighted meaningful research paths related to the usage of Tinder, and the self-presentation, self-perception and interaction of its users. As we keep analyzing the two-way influences between tinder as a technological object and its social implications, we built a survey which was conceptualized on the synthesis of the first results. The empirical findings suggests that further discussion and research on the topic of online dating is needed as we are approaching new ways of thinking about relationships and love.

Internet And The Women’s Question: A Digital Feminist Critique From The Global South

Aparna Nampoothiri

Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar, India

Digital technologies have today grown to such an extent that their presence and impact are keenly felt even in the lesser developed areas of Global South. This paper is hinged on two terms: women and technology. It utilises the dynamic, fluid and contested meanings and connotations of these two terms and applies them to a situated and contextual field: the state of Kerala, India. This paper studies the relationship between digital technologies and Kerala women, through their use, appropriation and understanding of social media, smart phone applications and digital gadgets. By combining the interdisciplinary scholarship on cyber/digital feminisms and the methodologies of feminist/virtual ethnographies on both offline and online fields of Kerala, I propose new ways of understanding contemporary Indian digital feminism – one that evolves everyday through its reflection of and reaction to the socio-political and cultural fabric of the present times. The lived experiences of women regarding their online and online-influenced activities inform this paper regarding the impact of internet and communication technologies on the respondents; in terms of access, use, knowledge acquisition, leisure and destabilisation of gender stereotypes and patriarchy. Such an approach also helps to understand the power structures that influence women’s use of online spaces, evaluate the digital-divide among women based on economic and educational factors and evaluate the potential of the Internet in creating liberatory spaces for women to form networks and kinship ties. The paper hopes to conclude by answering whether it is necessary to reconceptualise the use of the Internet and digital media as tools for women’s empowerment.

Critical Perspectives on Romanian Advertising

Madalina Moraru

University of Bucharest, Romania, Faculty of Journalism and Communication Studies

The paper investigates the dynamics of the Romanian advertising from a critical perspective, by using a comparative analysis of data collected by Romanian National Institute of Statistics and Media Fact Book 2012-2018 (industry’s yearly publication dedicated to market evolution) regarding consumption and advertising investments. The adoption of global brands started gradually after the anti-communist revolution. Around 2000, the global advertising agencies have started to buy local agencies, implement the global campaigns, and dictate the prices for advertising. Local brands cannot compete with the global ones, in terms of media budgets for advertising campaigns. The global brands conquered the market, not adapted to it.

Nowadays, we discuss about global brands, but not about global people. To control consumers’ loyalty, global brands have chosen to communicate using TV (topping consumers’ preferences with 66%), which cannot be afforded by local brands. Only several important market players have accepted the challenge of localization or glocalization. The others follow a global strategy. For example, the leader of mobile phone services in Romania decided to manage the brand globally. Another important FMCG global producer has recently decided to close its Romanian factory, because the corporate culture cannot be implemented here. However, it still relies on local communication services, to reach the consumers in Romania (7th country in UE, in terms of population). These facts highlight that Romania is perceived by global brands as a standardized market with no identity when it comes to consumers’ culture.

Promoting global brands in Romania can be seen as a form of marketing colonization that encourages consumerism by investing huge budget in communication. Local producers represent a second market fighting for its autonomy.

Users of the World Unite: User Power and Competition/Antitrust Law

Arnon Zangvil

Physical Web Ltd., Israel

The unprecedented dominance of Internet platform vendors such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon, arose and is flourishing within a specific political, economic, and cultural configuration. Two primary factors have been the supportive regulatory and antitrust environment, and a strong consumer base largely unaware of how data about them is used.

All of the software services that these vendors provide, rely on an underlying layer of “Identity and Privacy Management". It is at this layer, that a user should be able to determine what data they are willing to share, with whom, under what conditions, and to also be able to monitor and enforce data use. Today, this layer of functionality is vertically integrated into the platforms, and is purposely limited and difficult to understand since it directly contradicts the vendor’s interests to maximize data collection, usage, and monetization. This was evident, for example, in Zuckerberg’s testimony to the U.S. congress about Facebook’s cryptic privacy settings.

This paper builds on top of Lina M. Khan proposals for ‘essential facility’ or ‘common carrier’ antitrust and regulatory reform as described in “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox” (Khan, Yale Law Journal Jan 2017), by identifying that the “Identity and Privacy Management” layer is an important candidate for such regulation (e.g. requiring identity portability) and/or antitrust (divestiture) which will effective de-integrate identity and privacy management from the existing vendors’ control. An important step in this direction has already been taken by GDPR in Art. 20 Right to data portability.

Importantly, this de-integration may facilitate the formation of new class of companies/non-profits/user-unions dedicated exclusively and unbiasedly to allowing users to collectively control their identity and data.

Political celebrity, secrets, and morals: Polish Pudelek, British Mail Online, and US Gizmodo Media online tabloids in 2015-16 elections (and onwards)

Helena Chmielewska-Szlajfer

Kozminski University, Poland

United States, United Kingdom, and Poland, three very different democratic states have been recently witnessing a significant right-wing shift. In all these three countries, predictions made in official polls proved wrong in face of elections: presidential and parliamentary elections in Poland in 2015, presidential elections in the US in 2016, and the British Brexit referendum in 2016. However, major online tabloids I have been studying, Gawker/Gizmodo Media in the US, Mail Online in the UK, and Pudelek in Poland, which mix celebrity and entertainment news with political coverage, showed a much more sensitive ear towards the voters, publishing articles that proved noteworthy indicators of the elections’ outcomes.

In my opinion, in-depth analyses of political emotions presented in these widely-read yet generally ignored media are essential to better understand people’s political attitudes. I offer a study of opinions voiced by journalists and editors from these online tabloids, juxtaposed with the most popular opinions made by anonymous commenters under articles covering political topics during the final months of the election campaigns. This approach allows to reveal how tabloids “celebrify” political issues, how they refocus on uncovering secrets rather than keeping the public informed, and how both journalists and anonymous commenters make complex and foreign topics more emotional, familiar and homely.

Empowering Female By Employing Female Gaze In Cultural Production: A Case Study Of Female Pornography

Ying Tung Tsui

Hong Kong Shue Yan University, Hong Kong S.A.R. (China)

Male gaze is one of the long discussed theoretical lenses used by scholars to analyze the male protagonism and by feminists to critique the objectification of female in films and other cultural productions. However, it has been criticized (such as Kaplan, 1983) that such concept renders a “gendered binary” in which male is regarded as active spectator and female as passive object. Therefore, scholars (such as Gamman & Marchment, 1989) have articulated the concept of “female gaze”, which is generally conceptualized as the adoption of female perspective in cultural productions to challenge the patriarchal status quo. In other words, such concept advocates to put female as the focus of the spectatorship and empowerment of female can be recognized through engaging in cultural consumption. This paper employs “female gaze” to analyze pornography for female, a newly emerged genre in pornography industry in recent years targeting to female audiences in which the contents emphasize on development of love, emotion and experience (LaPlace, 1987) rather than merely the satisfaction of sexual desires for male audiences in mainstream pornography, and addresses two research questions: (1) what are the dimensionalities of female gaze in the context of pornography? And (2) to what extent do the pornography for female recognize the empowerment of female as the subject of spectatorship? The content analysis of approximately 150 purposively selected female-targeted pornographic videos produced by Japanese corporations indicates that female audiences are hardly empowered through consuming female pornography which is produced within the patriarchal social setting as female still shaped as a subordinate to male in a sexual relationship. Implications on the theoretical dichotomy of male vs. female gaze and femininity will be discussed.

Discourse Of Fear And Child Protection In Russian Mainstream And Opposition Media.

Elena Gryzunova, Elena Pronkina

National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russian Federation

Adolescent suicides and school shooting in Russia has provoked in-depth discussion in recent years. These issues are often linked to possible destructive effect of particular online content. Since 29th December 2018 media regulator Roskomnadzor is legally empowered to block so-called “groups of death” and “Columbine communities” in social media immediately and with no court decision required. However, these tragedies are also put by the media in a broader context of social problems and injustice. For example, a girl who committed suicide in November 2018 is framed by the media as the one who had written to President Putin about her family’s poverty.

The aim of this study is to analyze the discourse of fear and child protection in Russian mainstream and opposition media throughout the year 2018. Discourse of fear is a mass-mediated symbolic construction which often incorporates children as icons of fear who can be both victims and victimizers (Altheide, 2002). According to Altheide, discourse of fear influences public opinion and serves the interests of agents of social control, usually the government which provides a solution, e.g. means of child protection. However, discourse of fear in the rhetoric of opposition media has not previously been in the focus of academic research. In this study we apply qualitative content analysis and frame analysis to publications in Russian mass media with different political orientation to compare the problem frames which promote discourse of fear concerning children.

Online News Media Construction of Societal Concerns. Media Representations of Risks and Moral Panic in Romania and Hungary

Andreea Alina Mogoș, Orsolya Hanna Vincze, Radu Mihai Meza

Babeș-Bolyai University, Romania

The study proposes an analysis of the media representations of societal concerns and risks from 2016 to 2018. The study focuses on how the moral panic was constructed through the news shared by Facebook pages of the most popular Romanian and Hungarian news websites, considering the cultural and media idiosyncrasies and the wider European and international context.

Our research was inspired by the Eurobarometer data on the public perception of thirteen social, political, economic, environmental concerns (immigration, terrorism, economic situation, the state of member states' public finances, unemployment, EU's influence in the world, crime, climate change, rising prices/ inflation/ cost of living, the environment, pensions, taxation, energy supply) at European, national and personal levels. These perceived societal and personal concerns and risks are partially determined by individual experience and partially shaped by public and media discourses.

Therefore, the research aims to identify the most prominent societal concerns, as they appear in the Romanian and Hungarian news corpus, to identify a lexicon related to the concepts of fear, moral panic and risks, and to analyze the narrative structures of the most prominent societal concerns.

A semi-automated content analysis will be performed on the data set extracted from Facebook via API interrogation of the most popular public Facebook pages of the Romanian and Hungarian news media outlets. The qualitative analysis of posts with the highest engagement rates will offer insights on how the Romanian and Hungarian media employed the social media in order to construct the representations of the public concerns.

Mapping Spaces of Order and Transgression: Media scandals on Disability in Russia

Volha Verbilovich

Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russian Federation

The paper contributes to the scientific inquiry on disability discourse research (Corker, Shakespeare, 2002; Grue, 2014) and reveals how disability can be explored through the lens of scandal theories (Thompson, 2000; Ekström M., Johansson, 2008; Adut, 2008). The term “scandal” refers to particular media events, which make hidden sensitive topics highly discussible in public sphere. The qualitative critical discourse analysis was applied to analyze media reporting on six selected cases of intensive public debates on disability in Russia between 2006 and 2017. The analysis is complemented by the in-depth interviews with journalists, NGO leaders and public figures.

The most frequently met scandal cases on disability occur because of particular discursive transgressions - an offensive speech, a slip of the tongue, the tricky figures of speech. The analysis of the selected cases has revealed the complicated structure of contexts and outcomes built on the binary relations of order and transgression, moral and non-moral, empathy and disregard. These tensions serve as the tool of disability subversion into ideological and commercial product of media and political industries. However, the fundamental function of scandal here is to define the emersion of legal spaces for multifaceted public debate. It means, firstly, that the mere idea of the polyphonic talk is open and accepted by the society, free of strict regulations, disregard or silence. Secondly, that there are publics and spaces, new media platforms which are highly competitive and oriented to agenda setting by the powerful means of scandal. It could conceivably be hypothesized that such spaces substitute the traditional procedures of organized institutional dialogue between citizens and the state, audiences and media professionals (for example, ethic committees or public court hearings).