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Rethinking the relations of power in parental sharing on social media

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Brief Abstract
As sharing information about ourselves and others online becomes more embedded in social life, surveillance studies has analysed this practice both in relation to structure powers that profit from data, as well as sharing norms. Understandings of power remain largely oriented towards the macro level and do not account for the ways micro-level habits both inform and are formed by power relations. Drawing on findings from in-depth interviews with 17 Danish families in 2017, we argue that habits and desires create conditions of sharing, whilst also being informed by and influencing broader processes such as big data economic logics.

Extended Abstract
As social life increasingly unfolds in online spaces, the importance of understanding and interrogating the way power relations shape the disclosure of information in these spaces cannot be ignored. Sharing information about ourselves and others online is deeply embedded in social rituals and the surveillant dynamics of this practice have been debated both in relation to structure powers that creates the obligation to share (Birchall, 2017; Fuchs, 2012), as well as micro-level analyses of sharing norms in various contexts such as parenting (Blum-Ross and Livingstone, 2017; Damkjaer, 2018), intimate images (Miguel, 2016), and the construction of online identity (Baym and boyd, 2012; Marwick and boyd, 2014). More recently, surveillance scholars have attempted to theorise the interactions between these processes to understand the operation of power relations beyond the limitations of structure and agency (Christensen and Jansson, 2015; Van Dijck, 2013). However, understandings of power remain largely oriented towards the macro level. This paper seeks to outline a theoretical approach that attends everyday experiences whilst interrogating how sharing practices are constituted through relations of power. Our analysis will draw on findings from in-depth interviews with 17 Danish families during six months in 2017, which focused on how they implement and negotiate the use of digital technologies in their lives. We focus on the data-sharing practices described by parents in our study, which occurred on social media and through the use of smartphone apps.
Using a Deleuzian understanding of repetition as generative of creative difference (Deleuze, 1994), we argue that everyday practices of sharing on social media can be understood as habits which, over time, respond to and contribute broader relations of power that constrain and enable capacities. We argue that social media platforms are constituted through these relations of power, which modulate capacities through creating capacities. This analysis is informed by Deleuze’s (1992) theorisation of ‘societies of control’, in which he argues that power increasingly operates dispersed through relations of access and modulation, rather than production and discipline. While Deleuze’s analysis of power has been widely used in surveillance studies to examine changes associated with digitisation (see for example: Ericson and Haggerty, 2006; Graham and Wood, 2003; Jones, 2000), these approaches have largely focused on the operation of power at a macro level and positioned this perspective along a timeline of thinking about power in relation to change at a societal level (Galič et al., 2017). We seek to consider the potential for thinking beyond this scale, or indeed the positions of actors and structures themselves, instead focusing on the relations in which these are constituted. We pursue a nuanced analysis of social media sharing that avoids reductive and simplistic framing of those who disclose personal information as foolish. Taking up Deleuze’s call to attend to the relations that pre-exist the individual, we examine the way that desires and habits create conditions where sharing is demanded, whilst also being informed by and influencing broader processes by which such data has come to be profitable and exchangeable.

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StatusAccepteret/In press - 2019
BegivenhedSPT 2019: The Society for Philosophy and Technology 2019 Conference - Texas A&M University, Byran/College Station, USA
Varighed: 20 maj 201922 maj 2019


KonferenceSPT 2019: The Society for Philosophy and Technology 2019 Conference
LokationTexas A&M University
ByByran/College Station

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