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Platform DIY: Examining the impact of social media on cultural resistance in contemporary DIY music

Jones, Ellis Nathaniel (2018) Platform DIY: Examining the impact of social media on cultural resistance in contemporary DIY music. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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DIY (“do-it-yourself”) music is a cultural form which, following in the footsteps of punk, has historically emphasised the autonomous production and distribution of music as a meaningful, “resistant” alternative to the consumption of “mainstream” popular culture. However, the new forms of value-creation within the digital economy capitalise on autonomous production in new ways: platforms like YouTube and SoundCloud thrive on “user-generated content” and “sharing”, and the literature suggests that digital labour involves a blurring of the traditional divisions between production and consumption, and between work and leisure. “DIY” activity is increasingly the norm for aspiring cultural workers and others engaged in utilising new technologies and platforms to create and share their own work. Drawing upon fieldwork with DIY music practitioners in Leeds undertaken August 2015 – December 2016, as well as upon my own long-term engagement in this field, this thesis addresses the question: what happens to DIY’s capacity to offer cultural resistance when it is increasingly normalised by, and captured within, “platform capitalism”? I adapt Nancy Fraser’s approach to social justice (which focusses on maldistribution and misrecognition) to consider cultural resistance in terms of both inequality and issues of identity, including self-recognition. I argue that social media usage in this context has a number of pernicious effects: encouraging individualist measures of success, fostering unproductively antagonistic relationships with other scenes, promoting an unhealthily aspirational logic of optimisation, and increasing maldistribution by “deskilling” DIY practitioners. However, practitioners also resist social media norms in important ways, through imbuing platform metrics with ambiguous social meanings, maintaining a reluctance to engage fully with marketing, and through their offline activities. I argue that affordances are an important (but often mis-applied) means of understanding how the conflicting aims of platforms and users result in social media acting as a contested space of political and cultural tension. Whilst this is an examination of a musical culture, my original contributions to knowledge also relate to critical social media studies, and demonstrate that key debates and concerns (self-branding, the quantified self, hope labour) might be advanced through close attention to the ways in which platforms’ affordances and ideologies are interpreted and engaged with by specific user- groups.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Social media, DIY music, cultural resistance
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Media and Communication (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr Ellis Jones
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2018 11:05
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2018 11:05
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/21036

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