exchanging, doing together: relational networks and cultural practices»
Armelle Bergé, Delphine Saizonou
CARISM – TECH/SUSI, France
Fabienne Gire, Fabien Granjon
A number of recent works that deals with cultural practices and
their evolution invite to (re)introduce in the analysis the question
and the role of the sociability in which such activities are imbedded.
Indeed, people’s cultural practices, in the way they are accomplished,
grow on and are fed by interactions with others: talking about art
works, borrowing or lending contents, sharing activities (watching
television with family members, listening to radio with fellow workers,
playing music in a band etc.) are all practices that are part of
ordinary cultural sociability.
Beyond the representation of a space of practices – that often
are simple acts of consumption – more or less fixed
in an homology to a space of social positions, to take cultural sociabilities
into account enables a better understanding of the dynamic of cultural
practices and of their organization beyond the simple moment of consumption.
The role of social networks can then be invoked to support the analysis
of such phenomena as the rise of cultural eclectism (Di Maggio, 1987 ;
Peterson, 1992 ; Bergé & Granjon, 2005), which as
been identified as a deep trend in the evolution of people’s
cultural tastes’range (Donnat, 1994) or conversely, certain
forms of pressure to conformism, especially in the case of the young
In this article, we propose to account for the way in which different
relational circles (household members, family members, friends, but
also fellow workers or class mates, neighbours or other acquaintances,
or then people encountered via internet) get mobilized to take part
in the activities around cultural contents in the various processes
of talking, exchanging and doing together.
Data from a questionnaire study will be first drawn upon to account
quantitatively for the place of the various cultural sociabilities
evoked above in a range of cultural domains (music, video, reading).
In this respect, we will show that, despite the growing use of ICTs
in cultural consumption practices, the more traditional mediations
and groupings show to remain central in the structuring of people’s
cultural activities. Nonetheless, the most recent transformations
undergone by the cultural industries, especially the broadening of
content digitalisation, that facilitates, on the side of the consumers
also, their duplication and sustains new forms of (putting into)
circulation (P2P, mobile storage devices, etc.) and the attested
growing computer-mediatedness of cultural practices invite to a more
qualitative study of the part played by technological transformations
and relational aspects in current cultural practices and their potential
evolutions. In the second part of the paper, data from about thirty
interviews will be used for a finer-grained study of how ICTs’use
and social relations may play a role in the shaping of cultural practices.
So as to help sorting out how things matter in different configurations,
people for this part of the study have been chosen for their differential
stage of ICTs’ equipment (non computer users, computer users
with no internet access, and internet users at different stages)
and interviews were conducted in the perspective of a diachronic
uses and practices narrative which may better underline the eventual
points of rupture.
«The uses of MP3 players»
Didier Bieuvelet, Vincent Bullich, Patrick Guillaud >>> Download the communication (French)
GRESEC - Université Stendhal-Grenoble 3, France
In the advertising imagery and, more widely, media imagery, MP3 players are
considered as prototyping the recent changes in recorded music that
are not only digitalized but dematerialized. According to various
media discourses, MP3 players symbolise the restructuring of the
music industry in which new patterns and new actors are appearing
as well as the emergence of a new listener, increasingly mobile and
It is precisely this second aspect that we analysed in our study
by observing the ways in which these tools are used. Our approach
was initially genealogical, related with the former studies on the
uses of walkman. Then we focused on the new properties of the uses
of the MP3 player. For this purpose, we carried out an ergonomic
study in order to define the potentialities and constraints in the
devices and in the handbooks. Secondly, we conducted a survey of
three groups that constitute the main target of the marketing campaigns:
secondary school pupils, students and young workers. Through fifteen
semi-directed interviews (individual and group) we identified the
effective uses of MP3 player.
The study revealed that the dematerialization of the musical formats
resulted in a multiplication of tools needed to obtain and listen
to music with MP3 player (a minima: the player, a personal
computer and an Internet connexion). This device can thus be conceived
as a whole of several distributed functions. These functions are
split up into several tools that are interdependent and sine
qua non with the activity. This multiplication implies increased
competences (technical and cognitive) and material resources required
for the activity. We consequently observed two ideal-typical attitudes.
These attitudes were not always clearly distinguished but function
as the two ends of a continuum on which the uses take place. The
first one consists in buying all the elements of the device and in
acquiring the technical and cognitive competences required by its
various functions. The second one consists in distributing the resources
and competences in close social circles, especially family and friends.
Indeed, the dependence of people is stressed when listening to music
with the MP3 player: the loss of autonomy was observed for most of
the interviewee during our study.
This phenomenon may indicate a trend in the uses of digital technics
of information and communication. The evolution of these uses reveals
a growing individualisation of practices and at the same time a collectivisation
of the conditions of their functioning. Indeed, the tool is personal
and its use is idiosyncratic but it also becomes a part of a more
complex device, the competences and resources required are likely
to be distributed between several persons.
for the mobile devices designed for reading several types of
audio files. As MP3 files appear to be the most widespread format,
the term is used for describing all of audio file types.
«Editing and publishing online
:new meeting spaces between the authors, the publishers and the
Université de Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines
Paris 10, France
The presentation is based upon the results of a comparative study
of two websites dedicated to the creation and promotion of literary
E-critures et Ecrits-vains are two online editing and publishing
tools used by authors to discuss and promote works, to make themselves known
to the online literary circle and to receive reader feedback. The way authors
adapt technical communication tools (writing workshops, forums, diffusion lists,
literary journals, websites) to meet their needs is representative of the new
forms of exchange and self-promotion used by authors to gain recognition in the
We confirm that editorial filtering is at the heart of E-critures and Ecrits-vains,
because of the significant differences we found in the editorial and publishing
processes. These processes in turn determine production processes (layout and
circulation of the works and documents), as well as social processes related
to community membership, commentaries and author placement.
These sites renew the concept of “review” by allowing
individuals to personalize the communication and publication tools.
These sites are also instrumental in establishing the creation-production-diffusion
phases of the texts.
The renegotiation of the editor and publisher functions is characteristic
of the new editorial models found in redistributed publishing. The
arrival of socio-technical actors contributes to the diversification
of this publishing field.
«Consumers in the virtual
world: what do they share, download and stream?»
Anders Edström Frejman >>> Download
Institut Royal de Technologie, Suède
Concentration of ownership and declining cultural diversity in broadcasted
media has been observed in many countries. Comprehensive empirical
studies of Swedish national broadcasters covering eleven years have
proved both static and declining length of play-lists (68 and 84%
respectively) and increasing similarity of play-lists between broadcasters
(47%). In 2003 three major commercial networks controlled 70% of
the available commercial radio licences in Sweden (1993 30%). One
consequence is fewer gatekeepers (those who decide which songs to
be played) making it increasingly difficult to be played. This is
probable one factor contributing to the growing number of artist
owned record companies and music publishing houses.
Diversity has been mentioned as one of the main success factors
of Peer-to-peer networks (P2P). At virtually no cost users have been
able to customize the use of their downloaded material on PCs, cell-phones
or other portable players. In other words diversity, control and
price. The early response from the music industry, apart from trying
to kill these networks, was to launch their own services with limited
diversity, limited level of control and a limiting price model. Even
splitting albums and letting consumers freely choose among digitally
downloadable titles was a major mental hurdle for the record companies
but eventually it turned into a success – with the help of
Apple. Since the introduction of iTunes Music Store in April 2003
over 1 billion tunes have been purchased, the first successful legal
downloading service on a large scale. Distinguishing features: reasonable
diversity, an acceptable level of control and a price considered
reasonable by consumers.
Even though legal digital downloads are booming, the artists’ share
of this new revenue stream does not seem to go the same way. In France
legal downloads costs 99 eurocents, the artists get three on average,
composers/publishers get seven and producers (read: record companies)
get 65. The rest is royalties to DRM-companies, ISPs and credit card
operators such as VISA.
Parallel with this the war against file-sharers continues as before.
Nevertheless the interest for file-sharing is increasing. Figures
from the P2P news site slyck.com indicates a regularly increasing
total number of file-sharers (2003-2006). Most surprisingly, these
figures don’t include Direct Connect and the massively popular
BitTorrent network. The ever-growing popularity of P2P-networks and
the parallel success of legal downloads rises questions about the
content in both worlds. Some studies have namely concluded that file-sharers
are also frequent CD-buyers, on-line shoppers and concert lovers.
But little has been written about what exactly is requested and downloaded
from the networks, what is sold in legal digital services and what
3G-subscribers and web radio listeners prefer to listen to – the
similarities and the differences.
The main objective of this paper is to analyse the types of musical
works that are shared and downloaded among file-sharers. Newly
released acts, old, odd or perhaps unknown music? Is the focus
on a limited number of titles or rather an even spread over a large
numbers of titles? A second objective is to compare file-sharing
firstly to legal downloads, and secondly to 3G and web-radio in
order to discover coinciding patterns. The comparisons can give
valuable information about probable future success strategies.
The main data for this paper has been derived from two empirical
case studies of P2P-downloads. The first focused on files requested
on numerous significant Direct Connect hubs during May 2005. The
study was performed on a computer in Sweden with tailored “sniffing” software.
The second involved similar sniffing data from a major Gnutella node
in March 2003, involving considerable P2P-traffic from American university
campuses. In both cases thousands of file-requests were randomly
selected for classification and was manually entered into the search
engine of iTunes music store. Matches to existing songs were filed – with
title, artist/group, genre and earliest year of release – until
at least 1,000 songs had been identified for each case. A third study
focused on empirical data on legally downloaded material via the
Swedish branch of iTunes and its Nordic competitors. As a complement
empirical data of recent music video downloads from the Swedish branch
of the 3G-operator “3” have been used to widen the perspective
to mobile downloads. Songs requested on a web-radio channel in Sweden,
founded as early as 1999, are also been used to broaden the picture
even more. This data contains requests (title, artist, number of
requests) from January to September 2005.
Conclusions and Summary Recommendation
Many results confirmed previous assumptions regarding activities
on P2P-networks. Some of the most important conclusions are that
searches in these networks truly reflect a broad diversity in terms
of searches rather than massive searches for certain works. Many
involve obscure songs that are searched for and shared, songs that
cannot be found on legal download services. A surprising observation
was the high average age of songs requested on the investigated
P2P-networks and the diversity of songs downloaded from legal Swedish
services. The study concludes above all that despite early hesitations
from the content industry, the long term profit making strategy
seem to be diversity of offerings, combined with reasonable demands
regarding control and price. However the present incompatibility
of legal download services, i.e. iTunes vs. all others, is limiting
true competition and is therefore hindering a real boost in on-line
sales. A second major obstacle is problems regarding moving songs
with DRM-protection to and from devices such as PCs, mp3-players
and mobile phones.
« The construction of online purchase practices through cultural goods »
Viviane Le Fournier
Université Paris 8, LERASS Toulouse 3, France
The continuous growth of the e-commerce figures seems to persuade
the market makers that the online purchase is getting “banalised” (ACSEL,
FEVAD) and the researchers that the brakes on the online dealings have
disappeared (Madrid, Monnoyer, 2005).
This certainty could lead to think that the purchase practices have
quickly changed under the effect of both the increased spreading
of ICT in the population and the improvement of the technical performances,
especially the high-speed Internet. We however have to remember that
only 40% of the Internet users did purchase online in 2005
Internet seems admittedly to go with social changes (Proulx, 2005)
and to enable other ways to consume, as it is the case for cultural
goods (Licoppe et al. 2003). These seem indeed to enjoy a special
place as one e-customer on two said to have bought some in 2005.
Does this however allow us to conclude that the purchase practices
are restructured under the mechanical effect of a substantial online
commercial offer and an increased access to ICT.
Our paper pays particular attention to the way Internet users include
cultural goods commercial websites in their practices of online and
offline book purchases.
The data collected on a sample of about sixty Internet users contribute
to enlighten two sides: the first one deals with the part the book
is playing in the learning of the online purchase, which contributes
to eliminate the brakes, whereas the second one focuses on the importance
of the local relations maintaned between the book, its marketing
place and the seller.
Several lessons can be drawn related at first to the materiality
of the object, its size and price which strongly relativize the risks
linked to the distance and contribute to make the book an opportunity
to test this method of purchase in a rationalization logic. This
leads us to outline the various perceptions linked to the kind of
book, professional or leisure literature, which draw a divide among
the purchase behaviours.
Beyond these specificities, the speeches of Internet users with
regards to the particular status of the book in the purchase practices
as well as in the ways of life show the combinations made between
the habits of cultural consumption in the traditional distribution
networks and the attention paid to the online cultural offer.
Although it is difficult to make arise in a sure way a well characteristic
online book buyer profile, the online offer is appealing because
of its advantages linked to the specificities of the Internet. In
other respects, the affectivity characterizing the purchase in traditional
bookshops or in specialized stores remains vivid, ending up in hybrid
purchase behaviours the permanence of which is now difficult to anticipate.
«Unlikely uses of spectacle:
from the screen to the stage»
Université Michel de Montaigne - Bordeaux 3
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