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Palgrave Macmillan

Meaning in the Age of Social Media

ISBN 9781137356604
Publication Date June 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

The search for meaning is an essential human activity. It is not simply about agreeing on some definitions about the world, objects, and people, but is also an ethical process of opening up to others and to the world to find new possibilities. Social media corporations commodify our search for meaning by defining the parameters through which we can experience meaningfulness. This new context of meaning requires rethinking the relationships between language, software, and the psyche. Langlois uses case studies of popular social media platforms (including Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon, among others) to revisit traditional conceptions of meaning. She develops a new theoretical and methodological framework drawing from post-Fordist theories, software studies, critical theory, and relational psychoanalysis to examine the technical mediation and commodification of the psychic, cultural, and linguistic processes involved in the search for meaning.



Ganaele Langlois is Assistant Professor in the Communication Program at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Canada, and Associate Director of the Infoscape Centre for the Study of Social Media at Ryerson University, Canada. She is the co-author of The Permanent Campaign: New Media, New Politics (with Greg Elmer and Fenwick McKelvey, 2012).

Introduction: Meaning and Social Media
1. Governing Meaning
2. Meaning Machines
3. Meaningfulness and Subjectivation
4. Social Networking and the Production of the Self
5. Being in the World Afterword: Social Data and the Politics of Existence

Reviews

"Whatever you thought, meanings are not restricted to humans but are part of the business of technological platforms and corporations. Ganaele Langlois' excellent analysis tells the story of materiality of meaning in software culture. Its scholarly, rich analysis of the semiotechnological life has far reaching implications and will be a key text in social studies of software." - Jussi Parikka, Reader, Media and Design, University of Southampton, UK
"One could think of this book as social media criticism 2.0. Langlois . . . applies a broad array of semiotic, psychoanalytic, and political theory to social media and other modern communications technologies, which she calls 'semiotechnologies - machines that make meaning . . . By examining how platforms such as Google and Facebook rank search results and curate user posts, Langlois contests oversimplified accounts of social media, taken as a whole, as a tool that simply liberates and empowers users. She provides a nuanced account of how meaning is generated on social media as individual users interact with corporate forprofit technologies designed to 'financialize and commodify psychic life'. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper division undergraduates through faculty; general readers." - CHOICE
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