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Thomas Poell

Prof. T. (Thomas) Poell

Faculty of Humanities

Capaciteitsgroep Media & Cultuur

Social Media and the Transformation of Public Space 

Keywords: social media, public space, media logic, news, public 
television, activism

This project explores the potentially contradictory cultural and techno-commercial mechanisms introduced by the rise of social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. These platforms are fundamentally affecting the balance between personal (private) space, community (public) space, and corporate (commercial) space. They allow, on the one hand, for mass participation in public discourse, providing users with new means of expressions and connection. In this light, it has been argued that social media bring about a democratisation of public—facilitating novel forms of political contestation, more participatory types of journalism, and direct interaction between citizens and political and cultural elites. On the other hand, social media, through their technological architectures, steer how users interact with each other. They penetrate the dynamics of everyday life, reshaping people’s informal personal interactions, but also affecting institutional structures and professional routines. In this process, both public and private communication becomes entangled with social media’s commercial mechanisms, transforming the political economy of the media landscape. In combination, these developments force all societal actors—including the mass media, civil society organisations, and state institutions—to reconsider and recalibrate their position in public space. The main question driving the project is how social media, looked at from different angles, are transforming concepts of public space or 'publicness.' More particularly, we ask how social media are involved in the transformation of particular domains, including news production, public broadcasting, activism, and law and order.

Partners: WRR (Wetenschappelijke Raad voor het Regeringsbeleid)

Funding: Over Grenzen programma KNAW 

Running Time:  August 2013-August 2015


Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies
© Jeroen de Kloet