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Natives and tourists of prosumer capitalism: On the varied pro-prosumer activities of producers exemplified in the Polish pop culture industry

Journal paper
Piotr Siuda, Marek Troszynski
International Journal of Cultural Studies Published online before print August 25: 1-19

This article pertains to the concept of prosumer capitalism, a term which refers to practices among companies of using consumers’ unpaid work (prosumption refers to the mixing of consumption and production). In the literature, this type of capitalism has been treated generally; how pro-prosumer activities differ among producers has been overlooked. This article illustrates these differences by showing the ways in which Polish pop culture producers approach prosumption. The research was conducted through in-depth interviews with representatives from different Polish popular culture companies and the results show that prosumption orientation is determined by what is being produced – films, games, comics, books, television programmes, or music. Producers of video games and comics are most prosumption-oriented – in other words, they may be called ‘natives’ of prosumption – in contrast to ‘tourists’, such as producers of films, television programmes, and books. This article shows that developing the concept of prosumer capitalism requires that consideration as to the prosumer orientations of producers should be specified on a case-by-case basis.

Information Competences as Fetishized Theoretical Categories. The Example of Youth Pro-Ana Blogs

Journal paper
Piotr Siuda
Education and Society 34(2): 87-105

Scientific reflections on information literacy have emphasized that young people must develop information competences related to using the Internet. Among various approaches, in the generic approach, catalogues of competences are constructed and treated as lists of desired behaviors and skills. The article aims to criticize this approach and its characteristic fetishization of theoretical categories; because of fetishization, these catalogues of competences fail to reflect social reality. The article presents the practices of female bloggers of the pro-ana movement: young girls who consider anorexia not a disease but a lifestyle. Using the method of content analysis, the author analyzed 561 blog entries on 15 blogs and compared the collected data with a model catalogue of competencies created based on the literature. Perceived from the perspective of the generic approach, female pro-ana bloggers may be considered information-literate. This implies that this approach is deficient as the pro-ana movement negatively impacts both healthy and ill girls.

In pursuit of pop culture. Reception of pop culture in the People's Republic of Poland as opposition to the political system – Example of the science fiction fandom

Journal paper
Piotr Siuda
European Journal of Cultural Studies 2014, 17(2): 187-208

Researching the fans of pop culture texts, it is worth considering a direction that has been neglected in fan studies: the treatment of fan practices as opposition to the polity of a country. Such considerations are particularly crucial in the context of fan communities functioning in non-democratic countries. The author describes the conditions of reception of pop culture texts in Poland under communism. It was in this era that access to such transmissions was restricted, and since fans sought to get access to those rationed cultural assets, their reception ought to be viewed as a symbolic opposition to the politics of the country. The article illustrates this using the example of science fiction fans functioning in the 1980s. The mechanism that governs their community is discussed as exemplified by issues of the literary magazine Fantastyka between 1982 and 1989. The fans’ opposition to the political system has been presented as an escape from the everyday difficulties connected with functioning in a communist polity. The fans facing the conditions of the time strived to get their favourite texts and overcame some institutional obstacles connected with organising their activities.

Negative Meanings of the Internet: the Net Regulation from the Perspective of Jeffrey C. Alexander’s Strong Program in Cultural Sociology

Journal paper
Piotr Siuda
Studia Socjologiczne [Sociological Studies] 3(218): 149-167

Jeffrey C. Alexander, the founder of the strong program of cultural sociology, has described cultural meanings connected with the computer. Using the concepts of this prominent theoretician, this article relates his theories to the Internet. Perceiving the Net through a lens of cultural meanings, one must consider code and narrations. At the code level, the Internet falls within the sacral (sacred) sphere because it is believed to completely change social life. There are two narrations related to the Net, the positive and the negative one. In the case of the negative narration, many various motives may be identified. They are linked with the necessity to control both the very technology and its users. Although regulation of technology is primarily concerned with watching over the operations of large Internet firms, users must also develop appropriate habits in using the Net. The article is aimed at characterizing this regulation through qualitative analysis of publications by selected writers. The author argues that today the negative narration is connected with highlighting the misfortunes which are supposed to result from the lack of Internet regulations.

Prosumption in the Pop Industry: An Analysis of Polish Entertainment Companies

Research report
Piotr Siuda, Radosław Bomba, Magdalena Kamińska, Grzegorz D. Stunża, Anna Szylar, Marek Troszyński, Tomasz Żaglewski
Prosumption in the Pop Industry: An Analysis of Polish Entertainment Companies, Collegium Civitas Press, Warsaw 2013, 27 pages

This article is a summary of the assumptions and findings of the research project on the Polish popular (pop) culture producers’ approach towards marketing. This project entitled “Prosumption in the Pop Industry: An Analysis of Polish Entertainment Companies” examines whether 1) the pop culture provides an opportunity to companies to involve the consumer in the creative process in Poland and (2) the acquirer is becoming a prosumer and is actively participating in promoting and producing a media brand. Prosumption is a portmanteau formed by contracting the word producer with the word consumer. The term was coined by Alvin Toffler (1980). Toffler’s prosumers were consumers who were predicted to become active to help improve or design various goods and services.

From deviation to mainstream – evolution of fan studies

Journal paper
Piotr Siuda
Studia Medioznawcze [Media Studies] 2010, 3(42)

Academic opinions on fans are changing rapidly. Not only is it difficult to define fans or to pinpoint their characteristics, but researchers also have many considerably different views regarding them. For example, there is a multitude of approaches to describing a fan and determining whether his/her activities are communal. If they are found to be so, then what is the strength of this communal engagement, and what enables fans to create communities? Despite the chaos that exists regarding methods of defining fans, one can distinguish certain descriptive similarities. Officially, there are no schools of fans, and therefore, this article does not wish to categorize them. Rather, the author’s goal is to order fan studies and to pinpoint certain trends and changes. The author refers to these trends as research waves, waves that have been continually occurring since the inception of fan studies. This article details the chronological periods of these waves, their main assumptions, and identifies the prominent researchers in each stage.

Between Production Capitalism and Consumerism: The Culture of Prosumption and Discovering the Mechanisms of its Functioning

Conference paper
Piotr Siuda
Theoretical and Empirical Reflections in Marketing, (ed.) Nicolas Grigoriou, Cleopatra Veloutsou, Athens 2014, p. 1-13

In sociological studies of culture, increasing attention is being paid to so-called prosumption. The article describes prosumption in the sphere of popular culture. The author proposes the term “culture of prosumption.” The term refers to the culture industry and its contemporary mode of operation, which is characteristic of the prosumption capitalism that has currently become prevalent. The aforementioned mode of operation is a specific corporation culture; with increasing frequency, enterprises within the entertainment industry seek their success through the grass-root emergence of groups of recipients who work for a culture text. The author proposes a convenient way of diagnosing the mechanisms of the culture of prosumption: specifically, it can be described through an analysis of its most engaged recipients—that is, its fans—who constitute an avant-garde of culture of prosumption. As regards fans, all of the essential features of prosumption are clearly identifiable, which allows one to argue that studies on the culture of prosumption should take into account considerations pertaining to fans.

Information and Media Literacy of Polish Children According to the Results of “Children of the Net” and “Children of the Net 2.0” Studies

Conference paper
Ewa Aleksandra Rozkosz, Piotr Siuda, Grzegorz Dominik Stunża, Anna Justyna Dąbrowska, Marta Klimowicz, Emanuel Kulczycki, Damian Muszyński, Renata Piotrowska, Marcin Sieńko, Krzysztof Stachura
Information Literacy: Lifelong Learning and Digital Citizenship in the 21st Century, (ed.) Serap Kurbanoğlu, Sonja Špiranec, Esther Grassian, Diane Mizrachi, Ralph Catts, Cham 2014, p. 263-273

No empirical multidimensional research investigated media and information literacy (MIL) of Polish children and youth until 2012. To fill that gap, we executed two projects: “Children of the Net: Communication Competencies of Children” (2012) and “Children of the Net 2.0: Communication Competencies of Youth” (2013). This paper presents our research findings. The studies aimed to identify the MIL level in students aged 9-13 and 13-16, respectively, and to explore competencies development contexts. We adopted a qualitative approach called a methodological bricolage which was described by Denzin and Lincoln. Central to the studies was competence assessment based on a structured qualitative interview (group 9-13) and a survey (group 13-16). Other research tasks based on different methods referred to the common framework, i.e. our MIL model. The findings provided knowledge about actual MIL competencies in the studied groups and helped establish where particular MIL competencies develop and children’s attitudes to new technology-mediated communication are shaped.

Fan Cultures: On the Impossible Formation of Global and Transnational Fandoms

Conference paper
Piotr Siuda
Is It ‘Cause It’s Cool?: Affective Encounters with American Culture, (ed.) Astrid M. Fellner, Susanne Hamscha, Klaus Heissenberger, Jennifer J. Moos, Wien-Berlin 2014, p. 295-318

The article aims at a critical analysis of claims, dominant within fan studies, which suggest that global fandoms, which group individuals worldwide, as well as transnational communities, which gather persons from several countries, are emerging phenomena. Fanism in different parts of the globe is a diversified phenomenon, and I observe two main determinants of its nature based on the research findings presented in this article. The first one is the level of income of (the inhabitants of) a country that influences the scope of access to the new media. The second factor – context – is strongly connected with culture and determines the reactions to global pop-cultural narratives. The emergence of global and transnational fandoms is hardly probable.