Accepted Paper:

Persistence and recombination: from loveletter to declaration of love - camera phone video  


Klaus Schönberger (Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt)

Paper short abstract:

Analysing the new cultural form of Camera Phone Videos, this paper contributes 1. to the theoretisation of socio-cultural change. 2., it raises the question of empirical conceptualization of analyses of socio-cultural practices in relation to digital and mobile communication both online and offline.

Paper long abstract:

This paper introduces a theoretical model to analyse the relationship between ‚real life' und ‚virtual life' through concrete socio-cultural practices. It aims to grasp the relationship between technical artifact and social praxes as well as cultural practices in a way that avoids techno-determinism. Socio-cultural change is understood as the relationship between persistence and recombination. Thus change and new developments can be analysed on the basis of what is already there.

Based on a research project on camera phone videos, I will discuss the relationship of persistence and recombination in the context of digital communication and its related socio-cultural practices.

An empirical example: A young woman declares her love to a young man through two camera phone videos. The declaration of love is an established socio-cultural practice, which is being enacted in various mediated environments (as a letter, email or text-message). I will use the two camera phone videos to show in which way such well-known (persistent) communication practices develop into changed (sometimes even new) recombinant practices under different technical (digital) conditions. Digital communication is understood as an enabling potential. On one hand, new forms of expression emerge, as language and image can be connected. On the other hand, problems of privacy arise due to the possibilities of digital circulation.

This example will show how digital studies need to take into account several forms of hybridity: First, the relationship online/offline, second, the possibilities to articulate a declaration of love and third, hybridities that emerge in the social process amongst actors.

Panel P18
Expressive culture and identities in a digital age