06 SES 03, Environments and Cultures of Expression and Documentation
„[a]s soon as I purchase on the web, I erase the difference between the social, the economic and the psychological, just because of the range of traces I leave behind” (Latour, 2007). And one might add, that traces are left behind not only when purchasing on the web but for any interaction carried out online (as metadata shows), and even some interactions beyond that by simply having a mobile phone with a microphone close to the body (Curran, 2018). The focus, as Latour argues, shifts from a transition between the virtual and the real, onto a level of “increasing traceability” (Latour, 2007). These observations are often related to a discourse on surveillance that opens up to topics of control and autonomy (Foucault, 1995; Bauman & Lyon, 2013). The individual is aware that through online interaction their personal data are often curated and administrated by third parties such as economic and political organizations (Hogan, 2010) without having full control over the data that relates to them personally or how this data is presented and shared on (Lanzig, 2016).
It seems undebatable that despite this traceability, individual expression and articulation is an essential part of human life and as shown in anthropological theories media has demonstrated to be a space for manifestations and articulations for a long time (Jörissen & Marotzki, 2008; Jörissen, 2007; Faßler, 2015). The acknowledgement of the necessity for the freedom of expression can be seen in most national, but also more overarching in the European legislation as in article 11, which grants the freedom of opinion, the freedom of expression and the right to information (European Commission, 2019). In 2014 the European Union also added guidelines on the freedom of expression online and offline, thus relating this issue to the context of digital media (Council of the European Union, 2014). Aside from juridical arguments, the relation between forms of expression, media and digital technologies and the self, can also be seen in theoretical concepts, such as Foucault’s account on “technologies of the self” (Foucault, 1993), Aristoteles’ concept of catharsis or in the concept of the spiral of silence theory (Noelle-Neumann, 1974, 1993).
The two arguments made so far thus have highlighted 1) the growing tracing and collecting of data through transformations of digital structures and following implications of control and 2) the importance of the need for expression and the relation between forms of expression, self and digital technologies. Binding these two assumptions together thus results in consequences which to some extent might be said to jeopardize the freedom of expression or at least challenge it. Thus, expression is undergoing an ambivalent change which might render it either risky or irrelevant. The paper will follow up the question of how expression is made risky because of the perpetuating nature of the collection and storing of digital data. Thus what was once shared, will stay and leave a trace, in the sense of a digital footprint over which the individual might lose control (Fehér, 2017). An awareness of this, might hence influence on the level of freedom of expression an individual can feel. On the other hand, because of the plentitude of data, it could also be said that the riskiness is bypassed precisely because one might share so many (possibly even contradicting) opinions and thoughts, to the point that their impact becomes almost irrelevant, particularly when taken out of a specific moment. There are empirical examples of both of these tendencies especially in political discussions, which open interesting questions on the freedom of expression in the current age.
The paper discusses the proposed topic from an inter-disciplinary perspective focusing both on educational theoretical and media scientific considerations. On the basis of phenomenological observations and descriptions, the paper develops an understanding of current conditions caused by digital transformations. By providing a detailed consideration of the phenomena in relation with an analysis of the explicit media structures that lay at the basis of these phenomena, the paper will come up with the implications these observations highlight in relation to the question of how self-expression is related to the topic of risk in the current conditions of the digitalized world. These implications not only pinpoint at consequences for the individual in relation to questions of self-expression and articulation, but also are relatable to an educational perspective that will be unfolded. Using a number of theoretical references from the disciplines of educational theory and media studies, the paper will trace the described emerging phenomena on a theoretical level. This will be done by drawing on existing theoretical concepts as well as empirical studies and examples stemming from the fields mentioned.
The paper discusses the proposed topic from an educational theoretical perspective focusing on the structures inherent to media and the challenges resulting out of these conditions. The structures and challenges identified hereby are of central relevance from a theoretical perspective as well as bearing implications for educational practice at the same time. This perspective allows to draw up demands for challenges virulent in different educational sectors today, both formal and informal. Through this perspective, the paper not only allows for finding scientifically relevant results, but also identifies aspects that are valuable for a theoretical-practical transfer.
Bauman, Z. & Lyon, D. (2013). Liquid Surveillance. Cambridge: Polity Press. Council of the European Union (2014). Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline. Available online, Jan. 30th 2019: https://eeas.europa.eu/sites/eeas/files/eu_human_rights_guidelines_on_freedom_of_expression_online_and_offline_en.pdf Curran, D. (2018). Are your phone camera and microphone spying on you? In: The Guardian. Available online, 28th Jan, 2019: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/06/phone-camera-microphone-spying European Commission (2019). Freedom of Expression. Available online, Jan. 30th 2019: https://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/freedom-expression_en Faßler, M. (2015). Mediales Selbst. Bildung fürs Ungewisse. In B. Jörissen & T. Meyer (eds.) Subjekt Medium Bildung. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. (pp. 19-38). Fehér, K. (2017). Netframework and the Digitalized-mediatized Self. In: Corvinus Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 8(2017)(pp. 11-126). Available online, Jan, 28th 2019: 10.14267/CJSSP.2017.01.06 Foucault, M. (1993). Technologien des Selbst. In Martin, L. (eds.) Technologien des Selbst. Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer (pp. 24-62). Foucault, M. (1995). Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York, NY: Vintage. Hogan, B. (2010). The Presentation of Self in the Age of Social Media: Distinguishing Performances and Exhibitions Online‘. In: Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, XX(X) (pp. 1-10). Jörissen, B. & Marotzki, W. (2008). Wissen, Artikulation und Biographie: theoretische Aspekte einer Strukturalen Medienbildung. In J. Fromme & W. Sesink (eds.) Pädagogische Medientheorie. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag (pp. 51-70). Jörissen, B. (2007). Beobachtungen der Realität. Die Frage nach der Wirklichkeit im Zeitalter der Neuen Medien. Bielefeld: transcript. Lanzing, M. (2016). The transparent self. In: Ethics and Information Technology 18(1) (pp. 9-16). Latour, B. (2007) Beware your imagination leaves digital traces. Available online, Jan, 24th 2019: http://www.bruno-latour.fr/sites/default/files/P-129-THES-GB.pdf Noelle-Neumann, E. (1974). The spiral of silence: A theory of public opinion. Journal of Communication, 24 (pp. 43–51). Noelle-Neumann, E. (1993). The spiral of silence: Public opinion—our social skin (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
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