Subject Formations and Digital Culture (SKUDI)

  • Conduct: Dr. Tanja Carstensen
  • Contributors: Prof. Dr. Gabriele Winker, Jana Ballenthien
  • in co-operation with PD Dr. Raphael Beer (University of Münster), Prof. DDr. Christina Schachtner (University of Klagenfurt) and Prof. Dr. Heidi Schelhowe (University of Bremen)
  • Funding: Volkswagen Foundation
  • Duration: 2009-2012
  • Website: SKUDI

Along with information and communication technologies new techno-medial arenas are emerging for performing socio-cultural practices like working, communicating, learning, playing, creating, and thinking. The esodic question of the hereby proposed research project is the following:

In how far are the afore mentioned socio-cultural practices the bases for new subject formations which designate yet unknown dimensions of human existence as intrinsic elements of a digital culture?

This question is to be explored in the techno-medial performative arenas of web-based occupation, communicative publics in cyberspace, and learning by interacting with technical artifacts. In order to be able to precisely determine the status of the empirically analyzed subject formations, they are to be compared with theoretical discourses on the subject in the past and present. These discourses will be explored and discussed in one of the four part projects of which the study consists of. The aforementioned socio-cultural practices represent the range of research perspectives to identify the subject formations of youths and young adults from the age of 15 to 30. They will at first be identified in separate performative arenas. Subsequently, the research teams will be working with Fab Labs as an overall performative arena that is both a material as a virtual place.

It is being assumed that subjects constitute themselves in and by socio-cultural practices in the sense of Hannah Ahrendt, who wrote that we integrate ourselves into the world by talking and acting and that, by doing so, we do not only create something, but that we always create ourselves as well. The reason why socio-cultural practices of adolescents and young adults are at the center of this study is that they belong to the first generation whose members are highly likely to have grown up with digital media, who use the internet surpassingly, and who therefore are the crucial meaning bearers of present and future society.

The approach of this study is insofar innovative as the socio-cultural practices in the various techno-medial performative arenas as well as their inherent subject formations are being thought of, analyzed, and characterized in relation to each other. So far the aforementioned socio-cultural practices have only been partially explored in various scattered studies. As for the consequences of these practices for subject formation and the quality of potentially new subject formations hardly any findings are available at all.

The objective of this study is the development of a panorama of digitally endorsed subject formations, which especially provides society with infor¬mation on the areas of work, communication, and education and as to which subject formations it has to expect and be prepared for in the future.