Doing words with things of the Internet

Ruppert, Evelyn. 2020. Doing words with things of the Internet. Soziale Welt, 23, pp. 458-470. ISSN 0038-6073 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Much of social and political life is now conducted through the Internet and social and power relations are ever more entwined with digital life. How might digital sociology then attend to fundamental sociological questions of power and subjectivity as people variously act through the Internet? There are of course many studies of how the Internet is remaking sociality, social networks, publics, politics, identities, subjectivities, or human-technology interactions. In various ways, they attend to how the Internet is altering relations not only between people but also between people and vast arrangements of sociotechnical conventions that have become part of everyday language, such as tweeting, messaging, friending, emailing, blogging, sharing, and so on. Interpreting the digital data that these ‘registers of action’ generate and their different forms of subjectivity represent an interpretive challenge for digital sociology and its emerging digital methods. In response to this challenge, I offer a conceptual framing that starts from Bruno Latour’s account of ‘how to do words with things’ to interpret the various ways that subjects ‘do words with things of the Internet’. The framing builds on the formulation that when subjects act they perform different subject positions that are composites of obedience, submission, and subversion. I then focus on subjects who perform digital acts by subverting conventions of the Internet to make rights claims and in doing so bring a political subjectivity called the digital citizen into being.

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16 August 2018Accepted
January 2020Published

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Date Deposited:

18 Sep 2018 12:43

Last Modified:

14 Sep 2020 15:25

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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