Capability in the digital: institutional media management and its dis/contents

Maltby, Sarah, Thornham, Helen and Bennett, Daniel (2015) Capability in the digital: institutional media management and its dis/contents. Information, Communication & Society, 18 (11). pp. 1275-1296. ISSN 1369-118X

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Abstract

This paper explores how social media spaces are occupied, utilized and negotiated by the British Military in relation to the Ministry of Defence’s concerns and conceptualizations of risk. It draws on data from the DUN Project to investigate the content and form of social media about defence through the lens of ‘capability’, a term that captures and describes the meaning behind multiple representations of the military institution. But ‘capability’ is also a term that we hijack and extend here, not only in relation to the dominant presence of ‘capability’ as a representational trope and the extent to which it is revealing of a particular management of social media spaces, but also in relation to what our research reveals for the wider digital media landscape and ‘capable’ digital methods. What emerges from our analysis is the existence of powerful, successful and critically long-standing media and reputation management strategies occurring within the techno-economic online structures where the exercising of ‘control’ over the individual – as opposed to the technology – is highly effective. These findings raise critical questions regarding the extent to which ‘control’ and management of social media – both within and beyond the defence sector – may be determined as much by cultural, social, institutional and political influence and infrastructure as the technological economies. At a key moment in social media analysis, then, when attention is turning to the affordances, criticisms and possibilities of data, our research is a pertinent reminder that we should not forget the active management of content that is being similarly, if not equally, effective.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: social media; identity; politics; research methodology; communication studies; military
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Media and Film
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Depositing User: Sarah Maltby
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2016 08:05
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2017 05:32
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/59829

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Defence, Uncertainty, Now Media (DUN): Mappin Social Media in Strategic CommunicationsG1223ESRC-ECONOMIC & SOCIAL RESEARCH COUNCILES/K011170/1