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Popular culture, digital archives and the new social life of data

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JournalTheory, Culture and Society
DatePublished - Jul 2013
Issue number4
Volume30
Number of pages25
Pages (from-to)47-71
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Digital data inundation has far-reaching implications for: disciplinary jurisdiction; the relationship between the academy, commerce and the state; and the very nature of the sociological imagination. Hitherto much of the discussion about these matters has tended to focus on ‘transactional’ data held within large and complex commercial and government databases. This emphasis has been quite understandable – such transactional data does indeed form a crucial part of the informational infrastructures that are now emerging. However, in recent years new sources of data have become available that possess a rather different character. This is data generated in the cultural sphere, not only as a result of routine transactions with various digital media but also as a result of what some would want to view as a shift towards popular cultural forms dominated by processes of what has been termed prosumption. Our analytic focus here is on contemporary prosumption practices, digital technologies, the public life of data and the playful vitality of many of the ‘glossy topics’ that constitute contemporary popular culture.

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