4 June 2014

'Rethinking Relations and Regimes of Power in Online Social Networking Sites: Tales of Control, Strife, and Negotiations in Facebook and Youtube.'

For those of you who are interested in my doctoral thesis, I have included the abstract below: 

This doctoral thesis investigates the potentially complex power effects generated in Online Social Networking Sites (‘OSNS’), such as YouTube and Facebook, when legal values, such as copyright and personal data, are protected and/or violated. In order to develop this analysis, in Chapter Two, I critically analyse key academic writings on internet regulation and argue that I need to move away from the dominant ‘regulatory’ lens to my Actor-Network Theory-Foucauldian Power Lens (‘ANT-Foucauldian Power Lens’) in order to be able to capture the potentially complex web of power effects generated in YouTube and Facebook when copyright and personal data are protected and/or violated. In Chapter Three, I develop my ANT-Foucauldian Power Lens and explore how key ANT ideas such as translation can be used in conjunction with Foucauldian ideas such as governmentality. I utilise my ANT-Foucauldian Power Lens in Chapters Four to Seven to analyse how YouTube and Facebook are constructed as heterogeneous, contingent and precarious ‘actor-networks’ and I map in detail the complex power effects generated from specific local connections. I argue five key points. Firstly, I suggest that complex, multiple, and contingent power effects are generated when key social, legal, and technological actants are locally, contingently, and precariously ‘fitted together’ in YouTube and Facebook when copyright and personal data are protected and/or violated. Secondly, I argue that ‘materialities’ play key roles in maintaining the power effects generated by specific local connections. Thirdly, I argue that there are close links between power and ‘spatialities’ through my analysis of the Privacy Settings and Tagging in Facebook. Fourthly, I argue that my relational understandings of YouTube and Facebook generate a more comprehensive view of the power effects of specific legal elements such as how specific territorial laws in YouTube gain their authority by virtue of their durable and heterogeneous connections. Finally, I argue that we can extrapolate from my empirical findings to build a small-scale theory about the power effects generated in OSNS when legal values are protected and/or violated. Here I also consider the contributions made by my research to three distinct fields, namely, internet regulation, socio-legal studies, and actor-network theory.

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