Gangneux, J. (2020). Tactical agency? Young people’s (dis)engagement with WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Convergence. The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies. DOI:10.1177/1354856520918987
Drawing on empirical data, this article examines the ways in which young people negotiated messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp in their everyday lives, focusing in particular on the read-receipt feature embedded in the applications. While it is important to continue exposing and critically examining the power structures and socio-technological relations in which young people’s everyday engagement with social media platforms and messaging applications are entangled, the article argues that it is also crucial not to overlook the possibilities and forms of agency that can exist in this complex environment. Combining insights from Foucault and de Certeau, the article seeks to shed new light on the ways in which tactical agency can be enacted and cultivated by young people. This article contributes to current debates about agency, resistance and power in contemporary digital society as well as makes recommendations to foster more responsive digital literacies.
Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/1354856520918987
(2019) ‘It is an attitude’: the normalisation of social screening via profile checking on social media, Information, Communication & Society, , J.
Daily life has been pervaded by surveillance, not only in the ways in which information is gathered about us but also in how we perceive and experience monitoring in our everyday lives. Contemporary surveillance and its normalisation hinge on us actively engaging with, negotiating and sometimes initiating an array of monitoring practices [Lyon (2018 Lyon, D. (2018). The culture of surveillance: Watching as a way of life. Cambridge: Polity Press.). The culture of surveillance: Watching as a way of life. Cambridge: Polity Press.]. In this context, this article examines young people’s understandings and deployment of social media profile checking – that is the practices of covertly looking at someone’s profiles on social media platforms to gather and/or corroborate information about this person. Drawing upon in-depth interviews with young people, the article explores how social media profile checking has become taken for granted, not only encouraging surveillance practices as part of social media interactivity but also producing specific understandings of social screening. Combining insights from Foucault and Bourdieu’s works, the article argues that the normalisation of profile checking needs to be understood as a specific type of practical knowledge of the social world which is embedded in broader neoliberal governmentalities and legitimises a greater social sorting of interpersonal sociality.
Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2019.1668460
Gangneux, J. (2019). Rethinking social media for qualitative research: The use of Facebook Activity Logs and Search History in interview settings. The Sociological Review. 67(6): 1249–1264.
Following calls to rethink the repertoires of social research and take advantage of the new possibilities opened by digital data and devices, this article discusses the opportunities and challenges of using Facebook Activity Logs (FAL) and Search History (FSH) as digital probes during interviews. Drawing on empirical data, the article outlines the value of using social media features in qualitative research with regard to generating thick data and encouraging people to reflect upon the range of everyday practices captured by the platforms. This article argues, however, that to use social media features and data in interview settings researchers need to carefully identify and examine the different forms of liveliness generated by their use and the ways in which liveliness mediates and affects the research data and the situation of the interview itself. The article contends that critically engaging with the liveliness generated by these types of probes in interview settings will allow researchers to better discern how digital platforms and data can inform social enquiry while simultaneously forming a part of how we know social lives and practices.
Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/0038026119859742
Gangneux, J. (2019) Logged in or Locked in? Young Adults’ Negotiations of Social Media Platforms, Journal of Youth Studies. 22(8): 1053–1067.
Drawing on empirical data from qualitative interviews, this article explores young adults’ everyday experiences of ‘logging in’ and their accounts of their engagement with social media platforms, in particular Facebook. By doing so, it shows how ‘logging in’ can turn into feelings of being ‘locked in’ – both in relation to personal data-mining and expectations of participation. The paper highlights the complex ways in which young adults responded to these feelings and negotiated connection and disconnection on social media platforms by deploying tactics of limitation and suspension. For example, in order to regain control of their time and negotiate their relationships, young adults tactically used Facebook Messenger’s previews to bypass read receipts and temporarily suspend connection. Using de Certeau’s distinction between ‘strategy’ and ‘tactics’, the article argues that although young adults managed social media platforms on an individual level (by deploying ‘tactics’), their understandings and negotiations of the platforms were significantly shaped by the platforms’ designs and features, by the strategies of the corporations owning and operating them as well as embedded within the asymmetrical relations of power of platform capitalism.
Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/13676261.2018.1562539
Gangneux, J and Docherty, S. (2018) At close quarters: combatting Facebook design, features and temporalities in social research, Big Data & Society. July–December: 1–10.
As researchers we often find ourselves grappling with social media platforms and data ‘at close quarters’. Although social media platforms were created for purposes other than academic research – which are apparent in their architecture and temporalities – they offer opportunities for researchers to repurpose them for the collection, generation and analysis of rich datasets. At the same time, this repurposing raises an evolving range of practical and methodological challenges at the small and large scale. We draw on our experiences and empirical data from two research projects, one using Facebook Community Pages and the other repurposing Facebook Activity Logs. This article reflects critically on the specific challenges we faced using these platform features, on their common roots, and the tactics we adopted in response. De Certeau’s distinction between strategy and tactics provides a useful framework for exploring these struggles as located in the practice of doing social research – which often ends up being tactical. This article argues that we have to collectively discuss, demystify and devise tactics to mitigate the strategies and temporalities deeply embedded in platforms, corresponding as far as possible to the temporalities and the aims of our research. Although combat at close quarters is inevitable in social media research, dialogue between researchers is more than ever needed to tip the scales in our favour.
Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/2053951718802316
Gangneux, J. (2014). Diverted and Diverting Glances at Cameras: Playful and Tactical Approaches to Surveillance. Surveillance & Society 12(3): 443–447.
In the lines of Albrechtlund and Dubbled (2005) and their call for a new direction in Surveillance Studies, this paper discusses the overlapping of surveillance, art and entertainment. Indeed surveillance ought to be considered not only regarding its negative implications (e.g. the infringement of privacy or social sorting) but also regarding ‘the fun features and entertainment value of surveillance’ (Albrechtlund and Dubbled 2005: 216). Drawing on this new direction in the recent years in Surveillance Studies, this paper focuses on the interplay between watcher and watched and the possibility of challenging surveillance through artistic, entertaining or/and playful motives. Play and games within this framework participate both to the active appropriation of the surveillant hegemonic values (and therefore their acceptance) and to the creation of a space of negotiations (and therefore the possibility of resistance). Thus this paper discusses, using several examples, the line between art, entertainment and resistance that has become blurry and has left a wider margin to respond to surveillance processes.
Available at: https://doi.org/10.24908/ss.v12i3.4959
Gangneux, J. (2019): Digital citizenship in a datafied society, Information, Communication & Society. 22(14): 2211–2213.
Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2019.1635186
Gangneux, J. (2019) Book Review: Pangrazio, L. 2018. Young People’s Literacies in the Digital Age: Continuities, Conflicts and Contradictions, Young, DOI: 10.1177/1103308819833505.
Available at https://doi.org/10.1177/1103308819833505