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Producing Prod-Users: Conditional Participation in a Web 2.0 Consumer Community
Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Media and communication science.
Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Media and communication science.
2010 (English)Conference paper, (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Can contemporary media ecology be understood as an ecology that offers unprecedented freedom for producing participators – the so-called “prod-users”? Or should it rather be understood as an ecology in which various forms of user participation in fact are conditioned, or even manufactured, by organized, professional Producers (with a capital “P”)? Considering the increasing research attention that has recently been paid to various notions of participation, most often with reference to the so-called Web 2.0, these questions – as well as a number of similar ones – become important to ask. They call attention to the need to both critically discuss and investigate the supposedly transformative potential of the emerging, participatory media ecology. This paper aims to critically reflect on the theorizing of the ecology of participation. It does so by illustrating and analyzing some ways in which users’ participatory practices in fact can be both conditioned and formatted by organized producers making strategic use of the participatory facilities offered by the internet. The empirical case presented is the Swedish web company moderskeppet.se, today the nationally leading site for people interested in increasing their knowledge and skills in photography and “photoshoping”. Among other things, our analysis reveals that the actual participation of the 120 000 monthly visitors is thoroughly conditioned by the producers of moderskeppet.se. For instance, in order to avoid instances of “low standard” on the web site, no discussion forum is available. Hence, there are no open possibilities for users to participate, despite the website’s inclusive and “participatory” rhetoric. The only possibilities to participate is to either write non-public mails to the staff and/or comment on the producer’s blog posts. As a consequence, the actual participation on the website is – by all standards – quite low. Nevertheless, the producers of moderskeppet.se posit power to communicate the impression of both frequent and widespread user participation. The paper will critically analyze and discuss the strategies and techniques applied by moderskeppet.se in creating a sense of belonging, inclusion and participation among its users. How do they make people consider themselves participators within a consumer community, deeply involved in the activities of the website, whereas their actual participation is very limited? Or put somewhat differently, how do they Produce the sense of being a “prod-user” among their users?

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010.
Keyword [en]
Web 2.0, media-ecology, conditional participation, producers, prod-users
National Category
Social Sciences Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-13273OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-13273DiVA: diva2:353530
Conference
Communication and Citizenship, IAMCR Conference, Braga, Portugal, 18-22 July 2010
Available from: 2010-09-27 Created: 2010-09-27 Last updated: 2012-10-26Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
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More styles
Language
  • de-DE
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Output format
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