Supervisor: Dr Antonios Kaniadakis
Research group(s): Cognitive Science
This project is looking to explore social media participation and value creation. Social media (social networking sites, blogs, content communities etc) constitute the current “face” of the Internet. Studies on social media participation and value creation appear quite fragmented. On the one hand, user-centric studies which emphasise agency, participation and sense-making understand value creation in the context of an exploration of the self and management of social relations of the users; on the other hand, industry-centric studies focus on engagement and profiling understand value in economic terms (Bechmann & Lomborg, 2012). In the former, social media users appear as empowered agents in pursuit of their identities, while in the latter, they are treated as a resource by companies (i.e. for market research, for viral marketing campaigns etc). This project is set out to provide a bridge between the two approaches. In doing so, the perspectives of social media users shall be explored and also the points of view of industrial organisations. We ask, is there evidence of co-creation of value between social media users and corporate organisations? Is it always conscious and ethical? What is the role of technology in mediating and performing value relations? Methodologically, the candidate should consider a mixed method approach which combines traditional qualitative and quantitative techniques, with emerging digital methods (i.e. digital ethnography/netnography). Contributions should be multidisciplinary and combine insights from new media studies, sociology, information systems, science and technology studies.