Nonhuman consumers: A study on the role of hashtags in digital value production
Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
This thesis focuses on the role of nonhumans in the process of value production on social media platforms. In particular, we investigate the relation between algorithm based sorting mechanisms and human work, here exemplified by the role of a hashtag in social media users’ production of identity. Previous research has shown that social media users produce identity by organising web material into coherent narratives. As suggested by Marxist media scholars (Fuchs, 2014; Bolin, 2011), such organising of material can be perceived as a value generating work process. However, little research has explored how hashtags, and other digital nonhuman actors, are involved in this process. The ambition of this study is therefore to enable a closer understanding of hastags’ relation to value producing organisational work. To do this we have selected a specific case to analyse; the hashtag rockasockorna – a Swedish version of the American hashtag rockthesocks.
Our empirical material consists of a quantitative data set, collected with aid of a statistical analysis software (hashtracking.com), as well as two qualitative ethnographic case studies on the two statistically most influential users. To analyse the material we use a methodological approach based on Bruno Latour’s (2005) Actor Network Theory. Primarily, the approach is inspired by Latour’s concept of the circulating reference (1999), meaning that relations described in the qualitative material are gradually reduced into a generalised model. The model suggests that the hashtag takes a position of what we refer to as a “quasi consumer”, an imitator of human organisational work. In the paper’s final section the results are brought into dialogue with contemporary Marxist value theory. We argue that existing literature tends to neglect the aspect of nonhumans as consumers, and thus further research should investigate the implications of nonhuman consumption.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 48 p.
#rockasockorna, ANT, Consumption, Digital media, Hashtag, Nonhuman, Organisational work, Prosumption, SNS, Social media, Twitter, Value
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-254618OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-254618DiVA: diva2:819021