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Live, here and now: experiences of immediate connection through habitual social media

Lupinacci, Ludmila (2022) Live, here and now: experiences of immediate connection through habitual social media. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004421


This project examines the new dimensions and attributes of the historical construct of liveness in the current social media environment. In this scope, liveness comprises both the orchestration of the experiential and the continuous pursuit of immediacy, presence, shared experience, and authenticity in contexts marked precisely by mediation. Liveness emerges as the productively contradictory experience of immediate connection through media. This thesis deploys liveness both as its central object of enquiry and as a conceptual device to examine mediation as an experiential process in and of itself. Through a diary-interviewing study conducted with London-based social media users, it explores how ordinary experiences of and with habitual social media challenge, reaffirm, or expand our available conceptions of liveness, and assesses the extent to which liveness can be useful to illuminate our understanding of lived experiences with and of social media more broadly. In so doing, the thesis advances a critical phenomenology of mediation, focusing on perceptual processes to examine and interrogate the structures of lived experience without disregarding the social, technical, economic, and political forces that underpin the social media manifold. In examining liveness through some of the organising principles of phenomenology – temporality, spatiality, intersubjectivity, and embodiment – this thesis explores four existential quests as enacted through technical mediation. They are: the ‘real-time’ experience, the experience of ‘being there’, ‘getting involved in a shared experience’, and the ‘authentic’ experience. I conclude that the conceptual value of liveness and its relevance and endurance as a key topic of interest for media studies rest in its intrinsically contested, disputed nature of as-if-ness – of a mediation that claims also to be immediate – and in how those tensions are renewed, refashioned, and updated with the development and habituation of new technologies of communication.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2022 Ludmila Lupinacci
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Sets: Departments > Media and Communications
Supervisor: Couldry, Nick and Helsper, Ellen

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