This symposium might interest some of you. I am re-posting the CFP here but please check out the symposium website for more information: http://affectivecapitalism.wordpress.com/
CFP: AFFECTIVE CAPITALISM SYMPOSIUM
5–6 JUNE 2014
UNIVERSITY OF TURKU, FINLAND
KEYNOTE SPEAKERS: MELISSA GREGG (INTEL LABS/ISTC FOR SOCIAL COMPUTING), TONY D. SAMPSON (UNIVERSITY OF EAST LONDON)
This symposium aims at describing and understanding a regime we call affective capitalism. In cultural theory, affect is considered to be a fruitful concept in analysing how something evokes our body and mind. Affect makes us act. Affect exceeds or precedes rationality. In our daily lives we are constantly affected by a plethora of things; our work, our friends, our surroundings, our technologies (Gregg & Seigworth 2010).
Unsurprisingly perhaps, we are seeing attempts to capture affect in different fields of contemporary culture from labour to social networks and politics. In these contexts, affect and affection are in an extensive manner organised, produced, and maintained for the needs of capitalism. Affective capitalism is lucrative, tempting and even sneaky. It merges with established therapeutic discourses and blurs the limits of intimacy at work (Ross 2003; Illouz 2007; Gregg 2011). It is both cognitive and non-cognitive (Sampson 2012); we are being evoked to act in order for companies to make profits in a market economy. Affective capitalism transforms us into assets, goods and services by appealing to our desires, needs and social relationships, or by making us act on a mere gut-feeling.
The idea of this two-day symposium is to bring together researchers and thinkers to discuss different areas of affective capitalism. We want to challenge affective capitalism on its own ground. To do this we will analyse specific examples of affective capitalism at work and map its defining factors. We are seeking new ways to understand affective capitalism through its ambivalences and complexities. At the same time, we ask how we could resist it and develop alternatives for it.
Thus, we invite papers that discuss the theme of ‘affective capitalism’ from various perspectives. The potential topics for discussion include (but are not limited to):
Art & Media
Finance & Economy
Gender & Sexuality
We invite proposals for individual papers including abstracts (250 words) and a short bio (100 words). Proposals should be sent to affcap[a]utu.fi by 17 March 2014.
Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by 1 April 2014. We are planning to publish a peer-reviewed journal issue based on the presented papers. The symposium is free of charge.
The symposium is organised by two interconnected research groups (Capitalism and Affective labour) at the School of History, Culture and Arts Studies at theUniversity of Turku.
The much needed and much awaited Fibreculture Journal special issue on trolls and online trolling is out. Trolling is a phenomenon that has been around since the beginning of our current digital network culture. It is a particular mode of using and being a user of social media; it brings us to the limits of rules and regulations of these platforms but also opens up the logic of how these platforms operate. The special issue has a wide range of interesting articles that open up different angles of approach to trolls and trolling and try to map their distinguishing features.
I am happy that this special issue also includes my article ‘Change name to No One. Like people’s status’ Facebook trolling and managing online personas, which tries to map the epistemology of Facebook trolling through the ideas and conceptual frameworks of affect, affectivity and algorithmic control.
The doppelgänger troll operates with his or her real name and real account but the image is a replication of an image of another person. A screenshot of an image at http://imgur.com/gallery/y5S2S
Here as a teaser is the abstract of my forthcoming dissertation:
In the beginning of its 10th year of existence Facebook has engaged and connected 1.2 billion monthly active users. This article-based dissertation Disconnect.Me – User Engagement and Facebook approaches this engagement from the opposite direction: disconnection. The research articles focus on social media specific phenomena including leaving Facebook, tactical media works such as Web 2.0 SuicideMachine, memorializing dead Facebook users and Facebook trolling. The media theoretical framework for this study is built around affect theory, software studies, biopolitics as well as different critical studies of new media. The argument is that disconnection is a necessary condition of social media connectivity and exploring social media through disconnection – as an empirical phenomenon, future potential and theoretical notion – helps us to understand how users are engaged with social media, its uses and subsequent business models. The results of the study indicate that engagement is a relation that precedes user participation, a notion often used to conceptualize social media. Furthermore, this engagement turns the focus from users’ actions towards the platform and how the platform actively controls users and their behavior. Facebook aims to engage new users and maintain the old ones by renewing its platform and user interface. User engagement with the platform is thus social but also technical and affective. When engaged, the user is positioned to algorithmic connectivity where machinc processes mine user data. This data is sold but also used to affect and engage other users. In the heart of this study is the notion that our networked engagements matter and disconnection can bring us to the current limits of network culture.
Keywords: Facebook, user, social media, user interface, culture, digital economy, affect, control, media theory
Since the beginning of January I have been working with a notoriously named short-term project Capitalism, funded by the School of History, Culture and Arts Studies in University of Turku. This project is founded on an on-going Capitalism book club (organized by Mari Pajala, Mona Mannevuo, Lotta Kähkönen and me among others) that has been reading texts from authors such as Marx, Lazzarato, Terranova, Gregg, Thrift, Lash and Eagleton for the past few years. The aim of the project is to understand current tendencies in contemporary capitalism and trace some of its novel movements.
In this context I am writing two papers. The first discusses the relation between algorithmic trading and social media. In a paper which I am co-authoring with Kate Crawford (MSR) we argue that different big data based predictions are currently producing financial realities. The second paper is co-authored with Kate Crawford and Jessa Lingel (MSR) and it looks at wearable technologies and how they quantify and capitalize users. Both of these projects are mapping a field of capitalism that is just emerging or recently emerged and gaining significant cultural importance.
The project Capitalism will also organize an international symposium at the University of Turku this summer titled Affective Capitalism. More details about the symposium as well as forthcoming papers will follow in the near future.
Next week I will be attending the IR 14: resistance + appropriation conference Denver, CO. I am in a interesting preconference workshop Resisting the (Facebook) Interface organized by Nancy Baym and Andrew Herman. The topic of my paper is “‘Change name to No One. Like people’s status.’ On Trolling the Facebook Interface.” It is based on an article forthcoming in the Fibreculture Journal’s special issue on online trolling. It discusses identity trolling through cases such as ‘facebook trolling at its best.’ The abstract for the talk is attached below:
Whitney Phillips (2012: 3) has recently argued that in order to understand trolls and trolling we should focus on ‘what trolls do’ and how the behaviour of trolls ‘fit in and emerge alongside dominant ideologies.’ For Phillips dominant ideologies are connected to the ‘corporate media logic.‘ The premise, which I will build on in this paper, is that the logic of a social media platform can be explored through the troll. I will discuss how trolls and trolling operate alongside with Facebook’s politics and practices of user participation and user agency. A specific emphasis is given to the Tardean (Tarde 1903) inspired idea of affective construction of the social, and examining different powers that are mobilized when trolls and trolling occurs.
Phillips, Whitney. ‘The House That Fox Built: Anonymous, Spectacle, and Cycles of Amplification’, Television & New Media published online before print, 30 August (2012): 1-16.
Tarde, Gabriel. Laws of Imitation, trans. Elsie Clews Parsons (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1903; 1890).
The new issue of Culture Machine (2013 Vol 14) is out! It focuses on platform politics and has a wide range of interesting articles. It also includes my piece “Death Proof: On the Biopolitics and Noopolitics of Memorializing Dead Facebook Users.”
I will be giving a paper in ICA London next week. I am in a fantastic Facebook-themed panel titled “The Social, Economic, and Affective Materialities of Facebook” together with Mark Coté, Carolin Gerlitz and Jennifer Pybus. Come check it out Wed 19 June, 1530-1645, Room 13, 14 & 15! Here is the abstract for our panel:
Facebook has both expanded and intensified social relations in an unprecedented manner while developing a new market paradigm for extracting value from the voluminous social data generated therein. Existing conceptual frames offer partial understanding. Convergence and/or Web 2.0 clarify the quotidian conflation of work and play, and new mediated cultural practices where consumption elides with production. Also, the Foucauldian concept of biopower offers a robust analysis of how the everyday life of the social body has become a focus of power and value. Yet key elements, such as social data, affective relations, and the specific materialities of the platform in which it transpires, demand a sustained theoretical focus and critique. Our panel will draw on its strong body of international research to offer four highly resonant but unique lines of critical inquiry into the conflation of social and economic relations in social networks.