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Accepted Paper:

Dominating Technologies: Children’s Affective Discourses during COVID-19  
Kayla Rush (Dublin City University)

Paper short abstract:

I examine children’s affective discourses about digital technologies, both online learning and the tools they use to access, experience, and learn music. I argue that children have a clear sense of themselves as people affected by technology and that digital technologies are ‘sticky’ objects.

Paper long abstract:

Much has rightly been made of the disruption to children’s lives and educations due to the online instruction necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Less has perhaps been said about their affective relationships with digital technologies, particularly as many re-enter face-to-face schooling after extended periods spent learning online. This paper suggests that we take seriously children’s affective discourses about their everyday technologies, and the sudden changes thereto that occurred (and continue to occur) during the pandemic.

This paper reports on ethnographic research conducted with Rock Jam, a private, fees-based music education organization in Dublin, Ireland. This research included fieldwork at Rock Jam’s face-to-face summer camps and their return to term-time, in-person instruction in September 2021. It examines students’ discourses and narratives about digital technologies, including the online learning tools with which they have become intimately familiar, but also the everyday, non-pandemic-related digital technologies that they use to access, experience, and learn music, such as Spotify and YouTube. It argues that these children have a very clear sense of themselves as people who are affected by technology, and that digital technologies are ‘sticky’ objects (to use Sara Ahmed’s term) to which a variety of affective orientations might accrue – affects which may or may not mirror those of the adults around them. It further suggests that the relationship between affect and domination in these child-technology encounters is complex and fluid, with children experiencing technologies as both a dominating force and as tools that they themselves can dominate.

Panel P145a
Affect and domination in flux [ENPA]
  Session 1 Thursday 28 July, 2022, -