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The politics of things: digital media, urban space, and the materiality of publics

Willems, Wendy ORCID: 0000-0002-9185-4268 (2019) The politics of things: digital media, urban space, and the materiality of publics. Media, Culture & Society, 41 (8). 1192 - 1209. ISSN 0163-4437

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0163443719831594


Recent characterizations of publics ― as expressed through concepts like ‘networked publics’, ‘hashtag publics’, ‘adhoc publics’, ‘calculated publics’, ‘engineered publics’ ― or notions describing processes of circulation ― such as ‘virality’, ‘shareability’ and ‘spreadability’ ― fail to appreciate that publics are not just digitally constituted but also manifest themselves in, and are intimately connected to, physical spaces. ‘The politics of things’ refers to the way in which things, objects, infrastructures and physical space remain crucial to political communication in a digital age as well as to the manner in which bodies, objects and urban space become politicized and digitally remediated. Drawing on fieldwork carried out during the 2011 and 2016 Zambian elections, this article proposes a material, mobile and spatial approach to political communication. It hereby extends the relevance of the recent material and infrastructural turn in media and communications in a political context. It examines the physical recirculation of digital content, the digital remediation of physical space, and the communicative role of bodies, objects, and the built environment. Problematizing common dualisms between ‘online’ and ‘offline’ as well as ‘public sphere’ and ‘public space’, it argues for an exploration of publicness and processes of circulation across digital and physical spaces.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2019 The Author
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2019 15:17
Last Modified: 15 May 2024 21:30

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