Accepted paper:

Between technologies of the self and gamified sociality: an ethnographic research among adolescents in Vienna


Suzana Jovicic (University of Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

The "digital natives" concept has branded an entire generation as a new universal type of individualistic, narcissist "humans". In my ethnographic research among adolescents in Vienna, I focus on their creative engagement with digital "technologies of the self" and gamified sociality.

Paper long abstract:

The emergence of the "digital natives" concept(Barlow 1996, Prensky 2001)has branded an entire generation of young people as a new universal type of "humans" devoid of empathy, exhibiting risky online behavior while simultaneously demonstrating a natural mastery of "intuitive" digital technology (boyd 2014). However this generalization glosses over political issues of socioeconomic inequality, intransparent data mining, but also cultural appropriation in the local context. In my doctoral research I look beyond generational critique based on moralistic arguments and philosophical ideas about the "individualistic" person in the "West" (Ouroussoff 1993). In an ethnographic research among adolescents in Vienna, I focus on the practices of the young "consumers" in relation to the digital "technologies of the self" (Foucault 1988). However, the performativity and construction of the supposedly individualistic and narcissist self is seen in the context of relationality (Miller 2011, Strathern 1988) and gamified exchange with peers. Furthermore, the practices are integrated into the wider social and cultural perspective, adding ethnographic depth to the concept of neoliberal "enterprising self" (Gershon 2011, Rose 1998) in Austria. On one hand, this research explores the politics of psychological models behind gamified design of social media and games, as well as ideological assumptions and marketing agendas of tech producers. On the other, it emphasizes the agency of creative "consumers". With this in mind, this dissertation is part of an interdisciplinary project developing a "Serious Game" for adolescents. Herein, co-creation is used in order to develop a learning game, which deals with gamification, marketing and privacy practices.

panel Digi02
Changing features? Performing the self in digital culture [SIEF WG Digital Ethnology and Folklore] [P+R]