Reaction Value: Affective reflex in the digital public sphere

Davies, Will. 2024. Reaction Value: Affective reflex in the digital public sphere. Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, ISSN 1600-910X [Article] (In Press)

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Abstract or Description

The concept of ‘reaction’ has been frequently viewed pejoratively in the history of social and moral theory, as unthinking and often resentful. But ‘reactions’ of various kinds play a central role in the contemporary digital public sphere, of a sort that deserve attention from sociologists of value and valuation. The article identifies three forms of reaction: as ‘feedback’, as ‘content’ and as ‘chains’. It then argues that reactions exert their force within the contemporary public sphere, because they encompass some central ambiguities of the present. Firstly, as reactive beings, people hover in a space between the ‘human’ and the ‘non-human’ (or ‘post-human’), responding to stimuli but in a culturally illuminating fashion. Secondly, reactions sit in a space between judgement and artefact, combining elements of both, and thereby revealing a key ambiguity of platform infrastructure, in which audiences, critics and performers are all constantly morphing into one another. The paper concludes by reflecting on what it might mean to take reaction seriously as an object of sociology.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Reaction, feedback, platforms, social media, value, critique

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Politics > Political Economy Research Centre


8 March 2024Accepted
20 March 2024Published Online

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

11 Mar 2024 10:22

Last Modified:

09 May 2024 14:33

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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