Abstract

Pierre Bourdieu is known for his research in the areas of education and cultural stratification that led to a number of theoretical contributions informing the social sciences. Bourdieu’s interrelated concepts of field, capital, and habitus have become central in many approaches to inequality and stratification across the social sciences. In addition, we argue that Bourdieu’s ideas also feature in what is increasingly known as ‘digital sociology.’ To underscore this claim, we explore the ways in which Bourdieu’s ideas continue to have a major impact on social science research both on and with digital and Internet-based technologies. To do so, we offer a review of both Bourdieusian theorizing of the digital vis-à-vis both research on the social impacts of digital communication technologies and the application of digital technologies to social science research methods. We contend that three interconnected features of Bourdieu’s sociology have allowed his approach to flourish in the digital age: (1) his theories’ inseparability from the practice of empirical research; (2) his ontological stance combining realism and social constructionism; and (3) his familiarity with concepts developed in other disciplines and participation in interdisciplinary collaborative projects. We not only reason that these three factors go some way in accounting for Bourdieu’s influence in many sociological subfields, but we also suggest that they have been especially successful in positioning Bourdieusian sociology to take advantage of opportunities associated with digital communication technologies.
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Pierre Bourdieu: theorizing the digital
Gabe Ignatow & Laura Robinson
To cite this article: Gabe Ignatow & Laura Robinson (2017) Pierre Bourdieu: theorizing the digital,
Information, Communication & Society, 20:7, 950-966, DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2017.1301519
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Pierre Bourdieu: theorizing the digital
Gabe Ignatow
a
and Laura Robinson
b
a
Department of Sociology, University of North Texas, Denton, TX, USA;
b
Department of Sociology, Santa Clara
University, Santa Clara, CA, USA
ABSTRACT
Pierre Bourdieu is known for his research in the areas of education and
cultural stratification that led to a number of theoretical contributions
informing thesocial sciences. Bourdieus interrelated concepts of field,
capital, and habitus have become central in many approaches to
inequality and stratification across the social sciences. In addition,
we argue that Bourdieus ideas also feature in what is increasingly
known as digital sociology.To underscore this claim, we explore
the ways in which Bourdieus ideas continue to have a major impact
on social science research both on and with digital and Internet-
based technologies. To do so, we offer a review of both
Bourdieusian theorizing of the digital vis-à-vis both research on the
social impacts of digital communication technologies and the
application of digital technologies to social science research
methods. We contend that three interconnected features of
Bourdieus sociology have allowed his approach to flourish in the
digital age: (1) his theoriesinseparability from the practice of
empirical research; (2) his ontological stance combining realism and
social constructionism; and (3) his familiarity with concepts
developed in other disciplines and participation in interdisciplinary
collaborative projects. We not only reason that these three factors
go some way in accounting for Bourdieus influence in many
sociological subfields, but we also suggest that they have been
especially successful in positioning Bourdieusian sociology to take
advantage of opportunities associated with digital communication
technologies.
ARTICLE HISTORY
Received 29 October 2016
Accepted 26 February 2017
KEYWORDS
Pierre Bourdieu; digital
divide; research
methodology; social theory;
cultural capital; habitus
Introduction
Pierre Bourdieu is widely considered to be among the most influential late-twentieth-century
social theorists, with theoretical and empirical contributions ranging over fields such as pol-
itical sociology, education, and cultural stratification. His influence onsocial science research
is evident not only in these areas, which he studied intensively and wrote about extensively,
but also in at least one area which he never touched upon at all, namely, digital communi-
cation technologies. Over the past 1520 years, even before his death in 2002, Bourdieus
development of the interrelated concepts of field, capital, and habitus has informed what
is increasingly termed digital sociology(Daniels, Gregory, & Cottom, 2016; Lupton,
2014; Marres, 2017; Orton-Johnson & Prior, 2013). The term digital sociologycan refer
© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
CONTACT Gabe Ignatow ignatow@unt.edu Department of Sociology, University of North Texas, 1155 Union Circle
#311157, Denton, TX 76203, USA
INFORMATION, COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY, 2017
VOL. 20, NO. 7, 950966
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2017.1301519
both to research on the social aspects and impacts of digital communication technologies and
to the application of digital technologies to research methodologies across the social sciences.
Bourdieu developed his approach to social fields and capital in publications such as Dis-
tinction (1984) and An invitation to reflexive sociology (Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992), and
to habitus in several publications beginning in the 1960s (Bourdieu, 1966,1971,1980).
Bourdieu sought to move social science away from variable-centered hypothesis-testing
research toward a relational approach to the study of social life. This approach conceptu-
alizes social action as occurring within a social space made up of intersecting fields con-
ditioning and constraining the behavior of individuals and shaping their international
motivational apparatus. For Bourdieu, the real is the relational(Bourdieu & Wacquant,
1992, p. 97) such that what might otherwise appear to be disparate categories of social
phenomena, such as social structures and mental structures, or studentsaesthetic prefer-
ences and academic performance, are interrelated and entangled. Bourdieus main con-
cepts are not only defined relative to this overarching ontology, but they are also
interrelated in such a way that they can only make sense in relation to each other.
In what follows, we assume some background knowledge of Bourdieusian social science
on the part of our readers (Swartz, 1997). We survey the substantive and methodological ter-
rain of digital sociology (and related social sciences) that draws on or has elective affinities
with Bourdieus oeuvre, and draw lessons from this survey for future sociological research.
Specifically, we suggest that there are substantive reasonswhy the Bourdieusian research pro-
gram has gained traction within the field of digital sociology, under social circumstances
which he could not possibly have anticipated when he was devising his theory. Drawing
on the secondary literature on Bourdieu, we contend that three interconnected features of
Bourdieus approach have enabled his approach to flourish even as other social and sociologi-
cal theories have struggled to demonstrate their relevance in the digital age: (1) his theories
inseparability from the practice of empirical research; (2) his ontological stance combining
realism and social constructionism; and (3) his familiarity with concepts developed in other
disciplines and participation in interdisciplinary collaborative projects. These three factors
go some way in accounting for Bourdieus influence in many sociological subfields, but we
suggest that they have been especially successful in positioning the Bourdieusian approach
to take advantage of opportunities associated with digital communication technologies.
Pierre Bourdieu: theorizing the digital
Numerous studies apply established research approaches and methods to the study of
social phenomena mediated by social media platforms and other digital communication
technologies. Many of these studies draw heavily on the Bourdieusian approach. As this
body of research is so voluminous, we turn our attention to one of the subfields of digital
sociology that makes significant use of Bourdieus concepts: the study of digital inequality.
We review influential studies organized in terms of Bourdieus signature concepts of field,
capital, and habitus in order to explore the continuing impact of these concepts.
Field theory
Field(champ) is a key spatial metaphor for Bourdieu that differentiates his work. Field
theory represents an interest in forces, intensities, dynamics and processes, in place of
INFORMATION, COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY 951
a more static sociology of variables, categories and social groups(Savage & Silva, 2013,
p. 111). Bourdieu defines a field as a network or configuration of relations between social
positions in which positions and their interrelations are determined by the distribution of
economic, social, and cultural capital. Though the borders between fields are porous, each
field is characterized by its own logic (the rules of the game). Actors within fields struggle
to accumulate and monopolize capital based on the field-specific rules of the game, with
more successful actors being more adept at both accumulating and reinvesting capital
(Bourdieu, 1994; Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992).
Bourdieus treatment of the concept of a social field is far from the only contemporary
treatment (Fligstein, 2001; Fligstein & McAdam, 2012; Martin, 2003). Nevertheless, as the
field of digital inequality research has grown, researchers are increasingly using Bourdieu-
sian field theory as a foundation for their work (Hilgers & Mangez, 2015). For instance, the
field concept has been used in survey research on status differences in Internet usage.
Exemplary research in this area includes the work of Austrian sociologist Zillien and
her colleagues on the digital divide in Europe (Zillien & Marr, 2013), work by Hargittai
and her colleagues on Internet access and use patterns in the U.S.A. (Hargittai & Hinnant,
2008), and Arie and Meschs research on digital inequality in Israel (2015). Levina and
Arriaga (2014) introduce the notion of an online fieldas an analytical lens for studying
social status production processes on User-Generated Content platforms. Their goal is to
explain how diverse types of producers and consumers of content jointly generate unique
power relations online and what role platform design choices play in shaping which forms
of distinction count and how they are pursued.
Information capital
The concept of capital is inseparably linked to the concept of field. For Bourdieu, capital
refers to stocks of internalized ability and aptitude as well as externalized resources which
are scarce and socially valued. Like the more traditional form of capital, they can be trans-
formed and productively reinvested. For instance, one of the primary forms of capital,
economic capital, in the form of money can be exchanged for cultural capital in the
form of higher education, which in turn may facilitate the accumulation of more economic
capital over the life course as well as social capital in the form of relationships with high-
capital classmates and instructors. For Bourdieu, actorspositions within various social
fields correspond with the volumes of the different forms of capital they possess. Capital
has come to be a centrally important concept in studies of digital inequality, with sociol-
ogists developing and employing in empirical research concepts such as information capi-
taland digital capital.Although the earliest concept of information capital was developed
by Hamelink (2000), it is van Dijks(2005) comprehensive definition that has had the
greatest influence. Van Dijk defines information capital as the financial resources to
pay for computers and networks, technical skills, evaluation abilities, information-seeking
motivation, and the capacity for implementation (2005, pp. 7273). An alternative
approach more faithful to the Bourdieusian program is to define digital capital as a sec-
ondary form of capital distinct from primary forms of capital such as economic and cul-
tural capital. In this view, a persons stock of digital capital corresponds to the reach, scale,
and sophistication of his or her online behavior. It is important to note here that there are
particular forms of digital capital which are readily convertible into economic capital, such
952 G. IGNATOW AND L. ROBINSON
as programming ability, whereas other kinds of digital capital, such as social media
activity, can be converted into social capital, but do not typically make the holder more
attractive on the labor market.
The Bourdieusian framework and the study of digital inequality
The Bourdieusian framework has proved useful in empirical studies which explore the
nature of digital ability across different kinds of groups and life activities and the links
between digital capital and non-digital forms of capital. Such studies have shown how
the same kinds of informational engagements yield different payoffs for more and less dis-
advantaged groups. Witte and Mannon (2010) use representative survey data to show that
inequalities in IT access and Internet usage both augment and mirror inequalities in offline
resources such as economic and cultural capital. Kvasny (2005) examines how perceptions
of IT differ according to socio-demographic background. Drawing on the concept of infor-
mation capital, other studies have also indicated the importance of acquiring particular
digital skills(van Dijk, 2005, p. 73). Skills related to finding and assessing information
constitute one of the building blocks of information literacy. Mastery of digital skills is
a precondition for the acquisition of informational advantage. Not only do more-skilled
Internet users reap benefits by obtaining desired information with less effort, but they
also use the Internet in a more flexible and versatile manner than less-skilled users. Studies
have found that more-skilled users transition more easily from one website to another and
enlist the Internet for a more varied menu of human capital-enhancing activities (Witte &
Mannon, 2010, pp. 95113). Skills allow users to use the Internet effectively, which in turn
gives wiredindividuals advantage compared to their less-wired counterparts in personal
and professional life spheres (DiMaggio & Bonikowski, 2008).
Several recent studies underline the importance of capital-enhancing digital activities
and skills regardless of the national context. Three such studies reveal a similar pattern
in the U.S.A., Denmark, and Peru. Drawing on data from the U.S.A., McConnell and
Straubhaar examine the use of open WiFi networks in the City of Austin, Texas. Building
on Bourdieus concept of multiple forms of capital, they find that both educational capital
and technocapitalpredict greater usage of open WiFi systems. At the same time, they find
that individuals without home access, who could benefit the most from open WiFi, do not
make use of it to the same extent as those users also have greater forms of capital. Thus,
they argue that simply offering internet services via wifi is likely ineffective in expanding
internet use among disadvantaged populations.van Deursen and Helsper (2015) demon-
strate that more socioeconomically advantaged Internet users acquire greater digital capi-
tal and derive greater benefits from Internet usage, as contrasted with less advantaged
counterparts in highly wired societies such as Denmark. This pattern also holds true in
less wired nations such as Peru, according to Villanueva-Mansilla, Nakano, and Evaristo
(2015) who demonstrate linkages between digital divides and social and cultural capital.
Based on data from a private university in Peru, they find connections between self-per-
ception of access and skills, differentiated media use, and divergent forms of digital capital.
They distinguish between the capital that is spent and accrued in social relationshipsand
the digital productive capital that is spent and accrued on formal educational contexts.
They argue that, among these students, digital capital assumes disparate forms, depending
on the usersactivity patterns; while some users build up digital capital specific to social
INFORMATION, COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY 953
media activities, others accrue digital capital particular to human capital enhancement,
typically associated with educational achievement. Thus, they distinguish the form of digi-
tal capital implicated in the user-defined seeking of social gratifications from the form of
digital capital implicated in institutionally structured human capital enhancement. This
form of capital reflects objectives defined and mediated through institutions such as
schools.
The habitus is the internalization of the field, a set of historical relations incorporated
within individual bodies in the form of mental and corporeal schemata. These schemata
are acquired in daily life through social interactions, and include schemata related to com-
portment (posture and gait), aesthetic likes and dislikes (taste), habitual linguistic practices
(accent, vocabulary, the speed, and volume of spoken language), and ways of evaluating
oneself and others via categories such as refined/vulgar and masculine/feminine. The habi-
tus is the centerpiece of the third phaseof Bourdieus reception (Lizardo 2012), a phase
that has seen significant sociological interest (Ignatow, 2007). Using the concept of the
habitus illuminates the importance of Bourdieus work to the field of digital inequality.
Importing a Bourdieusian framework into the digital realm allows us to grasp how indi-
viduals relate to IT resources, specifically how differently situated individualsinforma-
tional habitus emerges from long-term experiences of scarcity and abundance with
respect to other primary goods.
For example, Robinson draws on a Bourdieusian framework to argue that disparities in
the level of Internet skills originate in inequalities of access, but are mediated by orien-
tations that can only be understood in relation to total life contexts. She refines the infor-
mation habitus concept to capture how ways of interacting with digital technologies
become habitualized by individuals operating within local social contexts and field pos-
itions. Robinson finds two types of information habitus in her ethnographic work on
information communication technology (ICT) use among low- and middle-income
families in an agricultural belt of California. The playful habitus, common within
upper-middle-income families, is skholè,orserious play,in which ICT use is encouraged;
the latter habitus promotes a deep level of technological engagement that engenders skill
development over the long term (Robinson, 2009). By contrast, disadvantaged youths
develop a task-oriented information habitus in which they enact a Bourdieusian taste
for the necessary.They ration their Internet use in response to experiences of constraint
and temporal urgency, which Bourdieu (1994) reminds us emerges from access to accu-
mulated economic resources. At the mercy of spatial-temporal urgencies that do not
encumber their more advantaged peers, these youth develop a task-oriented information
habitus antithetical to skholè in which waste avoidance is their primary goal. By enacting a
taste for the necessary, they do not acquire the same skills and benefits as their more
advantaged peers who are playing seriously. Youths who do not receive emotional rewards
for Internet use are less likely to use the Internet for education and career information
searches later in life.
The enactment of a taste for the necessaryis ultimately counterproductive and
reinforces disadvantage. An example is provided in another study by Robinson that builds
on the notion of information habitus to understand how advantaged and disadvantaged
youths acquire digital information central to their educational and career planning
(2011). Here, Bourdieus concept of the habitus is indispensable to revealing actions,
decisions, and orientations that help to define life chances and futures. Deepening the
954 G. IGNATOW AND L. ROBINSON
concept of the information habitus in this context reveals how advantaged and disadvan-
taged youth internalize different stances toward using digital technologies for their post-
secondary education and career planning. Robinson finds that just as adolescents
internalize stances toward the appropriate use of the Internet, they also internalize stances
toward appropriate information gathering for vocational and educational planning based
on what they believe to be the perceived costs and payoffs of each information channel.
For youths enacting a task-oriented habitus, the Internet reinforces pre-existing social dis-
parities because these students are less willing to use the Internet in their education and
career information searches. Given the task-oriented information habitus that they have
internalized, these students are far less likely to employ digital media in ways that could
improve their life chances in one of the most influential life realms: career and college
planning.
A number of studies of the digital habitus distinguish between a habitus focused on
capital-enhancing activities versus one focused on recreational activities. Several studies
reveal systematic differences in the weight given to these two kinds of uses by users
from distinct class backgrounds. This is particularly true for education researchers who
have examined digital literacy and familiesuse of ICTs either as recreational or as tools
for concerted cultivation(Lareau, 2011). In such work, upper-middle-class youths
often participate in institution-conforming digital practices revolving around work or
school and self-directed digital practices typically revolving around recreation, socializing,
and leisure pursuits. For example, Micheli (2015) examines the mediation of Italian
youthsdigital activities by their social environments and backgrounds. She finds that
whereas information-seeking positively correlates with studentscultural capital and par-
ental occupational status, social media use does not. She finds that, contrary to expec-
tations, teenagers from less advantageous social backgrounds enrolled in vocational
schools have better chances to actively participate in social media than do teens from
the upper-middle class in academically oriented high schools. Her interpretative analysis
of the qualitative data indicates that upper-middle-class students attending licei replicate
their parentsstance toward the Internet as a tool for personal enrichment. By contrast,
teens attending vocational school engage with digital media as a form of peer-oriented
leisure. Her findings are an exemplar of research in this vein, revealing that students
from more elevated class backgrounds spend most of their time online seeking out infor-
mation, a capital-enhancing activity directed by schools and educators. Users from lower
and working-class backgrounds spend more of their online time engaging with social
media sites and games, activities which have little to do with schooling or human capital
enhancement. Like many studies using the information habitus concept, Michelis work
indicates the importance of the family. In families, the information habitus can create
an environment priming academic achievement (Huang & Russell, 2006) or entertain-
ment. Families that domesticate ICTs in favor of capital-enhancing activities will allow
individuals more time to pursue them. By contrast, families that prefer to use ICTs for
entertainment will assign greater weight to more pleasurable pursuits (Robinson & Schulz,
2013).
As this section has shown, Bourdieusian concepts of the field, capital, and habitus are at
the heart of one the key subfields in digital sociology: digital inequality. This is confirmed
by a recent study by a number of digital inequality scholars (Robinson et al., 2015) who
examine the significance of digital inequalities across a broad range of individual- and
INFORMATION, COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY 955
macro-level domains, including life course (Cotten & Gupta, 2004), gender (Ono &
Zavodny, 2007), race (Mesch, 2006), and class (Hale, Goldner, Stern, Drentea, & Cotten,
2014; Stern, Adams, & Elsasser, 2009). Robinson and her colleagues argue that digital
inequality has implications in all major life spheres including healthcare, politics, econ-
omic activity, and social capital. Further, they call for new methods for digital sociology.
In the next section, we address how researchers are answering this call.
Bourdieusian digital sociology
Bourdieusian concepts have proven effective when applied to substantive areas in digital
sociology such as the study of digital inequality. These concepts have also been used by
researchers developing social research methods based on data derived from the digital
footprints left by individualsactivities in the online realm. For the sake of convenience,
we review research that uses each of Bourdieus major concepts separately.
Field theory
A number of social science studies have approached online social phenomena in terms of
fields. While field analysis has been trumpeted as a fundamental means of renewing social
scientific analysis(Savage & Silva, 2013, p. 111), its appeal is not exclusively theoretical
but fundamentally includes methodological repertoires. Such innovations are potentially
more important and exciting(Savage & Silva, 2013, p. 114). While social science methods
are conventionally divided into variable-centeredquantitative methods and more quali-
tative case-centeredmethods, field analysis requires different sorts of strategies to assess
the relationships between different elements of fields.
Field theory forms the basis of several new digital research methods as well as novel
applications of established methods. Bourdieu himself, in collaboration with numerous
statisticians (Lebaron, 2009), used multiple correspondence analysis (MCA), most notably
in Distinction (1984). Rather than seeking to explain causal relationships between inde-
pendent and dependent variables one set at a time, correspondence analysis seeks to elab-
orate complex relationships between different phenomena. Correspondence analysis
represents a set of cultural items in a dimensional space, allowing their underlying struc-
tural locations to be visually represented. In Distinction (1984), Bourdieu used data on the
cultural tastes of different class fractions to identify the class-based logic of cultural con-
sumption in France. Bourdieu and his collaborators used correspondence analysis to sim-
ultaneously plot various social locations according to their relative location within the
space of cultural distinctions.
Anglophone cultural sociologists have used correspondence analysis to represent mul-
tiple relationships in data sets with complex structures. For instance, Mische (1998) used
correspondence analysis to analyze the political discourses of youth movements in Brazil.
Friedland, Mohr, Roose, and Gardinali (2014) used correspondence analysis for visualiz-
ing the relations between topics (Mohr & Bogdanov, 2013) from a survey of ideas about
love given to American university students. And British sociologists Savage and Gayo-Cal
(2011) used correspondence analysis in a comprehensive field analysis of the structure of
British musical taste based on survey questions and qualitative interviews. Beyond MCA,
there are many other recently developed digital visualization tools that are relational and
956 G. IGNATOW AND L. ROBINSON
multidimensional in orientation rather than variable-centered. These include concept
maps, mind maps, path and network diagrams, word clouds (Viégas & Wattenberg,
2008), word trees, phrase nets, and matrices that can be used for visually representing
the multidimensional interrelations of social and linguistic phenomena in quantitative,
qualitative, and mixed methods research (Wheeldon & Åhlberg, 2012).
Capital
Sociologists have developed several new survey tools to measure digital capital.For
example, Seale, Ziebland, and Charteris-Black (2006) have developed a digital capitalfra-
mework to explore the relationship between disabled students in higher education and
their use of learning support technologies. Collecting data from disabled students in a
teaching-intensive university in the U.K. using an online questionnaire survey and a fol-
low-up semi-structured interview, the researchers found that while disabled students do
have access to social and cultural resources, sometimes these resources are not appropriate
or effective or they are not drawing on all the possible resources available to them.
Other studies have focused on digital dimensions of social capital by using data avail-
able from social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter (e.g., Hofer & Aubert,
2013). For instance, based on their analysis of Facebook user data, Lewis, Kaufman, Gon-
zalez, Wimmer, and Christakis (2008) found that subgroups defined by gender, race/eth-
nicity, and socioeconomic status were characterized by distinct network behaviors, and
that users sharing social relationships and demographic traits tended to share cultural pre-
ferences as well. Brooks, Hogan, Ellison, Lampe, and Vitak (2014) analyzed social network
structures using Facebook. Administering a survey including measures of self-reported
Facebook activity to 235 employees at a Midwestern American university, Brooks et al.
analyzed differences in bonding social capital between social networks with different struc-
tural patterns.
Digital sociological studies of cultural capital are even more explicitly Bourdieusian
than are studies of social capital. Paino and Renzulli (2013), for example, argue for broad-
ening the definition of culturally important forms of capital to include the digital dimen-
sion of cultural capital. They suggest that students who possess knowledge of computers
and other digital devices may gain actual skills, but more importantly, they are constituting
and representing themselves as culturally competent members of our information-age
society. Bourdieus conception of cultural capital would predict that those students who
possess and exhibit it as measured by cultural activities, such as attendance at a museum
or participation in dance, will be more likely to succeed educationally. Paino and Renzulli
suggest that the same should hold true for the digital dimension of cultural capital. Based
on survey data from primary school students, their main finding is that teachers play a
prominent mediating role in the effects of computer proficiency on academic achieve-
ment. In another digital capital study, Hatlevik, Guðmundsdóttir, and Loi (2015) devel-
oped a digital competence quizto measure differences in secondary studentsdigital
competence.
Nissenbaum and Shifman (2015) have taken digital cultural capital research in a new
direction. They explore the association between cultural capital and Internet memes (digi-
tal items that are imitated and reiterated around the Internet), arguing that the contradic-
tion between following conventions and supplying innovative content leads to memes
INFORMATION, COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY 957
configuration as unstable equilibria. This triggers constant conflict about their correct
use. This contradiction and its resulting conflicts highlight collective identity by keeping
shared culture at the center of discussion. Nissenbaum and Shifman analyze the website
4chans irreverent /b/ board by tracing keywords to investigate cases of social violations
and condemnation. They find that seemingly trivial humor has social functions on
4chan and, more generally, that 4chan memes are unstable cultural forms whose instability
contributes to community cohesion.
Habitus
Several digital sociological research methods have been developed that quantify aspects of
habitus. In order to analyze digital content, these methods approach language as a product
of mindbody interactions. For example, researchers have developed methods for coding
sentiment as expressed in texts, including methods of human coding that rely on repeated
readings of texts and the development of codes for sentiment words. Human coding of
sentiment in large text collections has the advantage of capturing nuances in emotional
expression that are often missed by highly automated methods. Human coding can be par-
tially automated through the application of supervised learning techniques (Grimmer &
Stewart, 2013, pp. 910). Another approach to sentiment analysis involves using diction-
ary-based sentiment analysis tools. Dictionary-based methods do not rely on ad hoc
human coding of texts, but instead use off-the-shelf, validated sentiment lexicons. Diction-
ary methods involve using the rate at which keywords appear in a text to classify docu-
ments into categories or to measure the extent to which documents belong to particular
categories. They measure a documents tone by using a list of words with attached tone
scores and the relative rate at which these words occur. A dictionary to measure tone is
simply a list of words that are classified as positive or negative, either dichotomously or
continuously. For example, dictionaries have been used by political scientists to measure
the tone of newspaper articles (Eshbaugh-Soha, 2010) and political texts such as speeches
and advertisements (Young & Soroka, 2011).
A second digital sociological method for analyzing the habitus is the computational
analysis of metaphorical language. Metaphorical language provides striking evidence of
how language is embodied (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980). Metaphors are highly parsimonious
formmeaning pairings because they express meaning by enacting bodily and emotional
operations. Ignatow (2003,2004,2007) and several other sociologists (Schmidt, 2012;
Schuster, Beune, & Stronks, 2011) have developed sociologically oriented methods of
metaphor analysis, but have thus far stopped short of developing highly automated
methods that take advantage of currently available digital technologies and data. Today
several research teams in computational linguistics and related fields are developing
methods for automatically detecting metaphors in texts. For example, Neuman et al.
(2013) have developed a number of interrelated algorithms that have proven highly accu-
rate in identifying figurative versus non-figurative language.
Explaining Bourdieus impact on digital social science
Bourdieus concepts have become central to digital sociology both substantively and meth-
odologically. What did Bourdieu get right that allowed his approach to thrive in foreign
958 G. IGNATOW AND L. ROBINSON
terrain and in socio-technical circumstances he could not have anticipated? Why are digi-
tal sociological methods evolving in ways that reflect Bourdieus understanding of the
interactions of social inequalities and cultural and physiological phenomena? We suggest
that these are questions worthy of extended reflection and discussion by sociologists inter-
ested in sociologys future development in the digital age. We further suggest that the suc-
cess of Bourdieus conceptual contributions in such unanticipated circumstances is no
mere accident of historical timing or the popularity of his approach among social scien-
tists. Drawing on the large secondary literature on Bourdieu as well as on contemporary
philosophy of social science, we contend that three interrelated features of Bourdieus soci-
ology have allowed his approach to flourish even as other social and sociological theories
have struggled for relevance in the digital age. These are the following: (1) his theories
inseparability from empirical research; (2) his ontological stance combining elements of
realism and constructionism; and (3) his familiarity with concepts developed in other dis-
ciplines and participation in interdisciplinary collaborative research projects. These fea-
tures go some way toward accounting for Bourdieus influence in sociology. They have
been especially successful in putting Bourdieusian sociology in a position to capitalize
on research opportunities afforded by digital communication technologies. In arguing
for the importance of these three interdependent factors, we do not promote any particular
strand of contemporary Bourdieusian sociology, but rather attempt to recast how we
understand Bourdieus legacy and its relevance to the continuing development of soci-
ology as it attempts to contribute to our understanding of contemporary information
societies.
Grounding in empirical research
Though Bourdieu wrote as a theorist, he nevertheless sharply criticizes theoretical the-
oryfor emphasizing abstract conceptualization independent of objects of empirical inves-
tigation(Swartz, 1997, p. 5). In his empirical research Bourdieu studied, among other
topics, colonial Algeria, higher education, and class-based lifestyles and consumption
habits. The global influence of his approach stems in large measure from the ease with
which his theoretical apparatus accommodates the practical needs of empirical social
science. Surveying Bourdieus influence on American sociology, for example, Sallaz and
Zavisca (2007) find that Bourdieu has been actively put to use to generate new empirical
researchand has inspired a progressive research programin the four core sociological
subfields of political, economic, cultural, and urban sociology. Sallaz and Zaviscas quan-
titative analysis of citation patterns and case studies of books reveals that 49% of the pub-
lications in their sample used Bourdieus ideas.
Bourdieus writings have informed empirical research across many subfields, including
the sociology of ethnicity and nationalism (Brubaker, 2004), media studies (Benson &
Neveu, 2005), education (Carter, 2005), and the family (Lareau 2011). In political soci-
ology, Sallaz and Zavisca discuss both Rons(2000) work on Israeli soldiers who were
interviewed regarding the use of repression during actions against Palestinians, and
Eyal, Szelenyi, and Townsleys(1998) study of the emergence of capitalism in postcommu-
nist Central Europe. In economic sociology, Sallaz and Zavisca give the example of Flig-
steinsThe architecture of markets (2002) which used the field concept to illuminate why
countries differ in their dominant employment systems, the evolution of corporate
INFORMATION, COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY 959
management styles in the U.S.A., and the dynamics of globalization. While Bourdieu-
influenced cultural sociology consists mostly of survey research on the association between
cultural capital and highbrow taste (Holt, 1997), Sallaz and Zavisca note that Lamonts
Money, morals and manners (1994) took Bourdieus ideas in new directions in analyzing
how French and American upper-middle-class White men draw symbolic boundariesto
define themselves and classify others. A follow-up book, The dignity of working men
(2000), extended Lamonts study to working-class and nonwhite men in both countries.
In urban sociology, Sallaz and Zavisca give the example of Wacquants (2004) ethno-
graphic exploration of habitus in Body and soul. Wacquant used participant observation
data collected while he was a graduate student at the University of Chicago to describe the
genesis and functioning of the pugilistic habitus in a boxing gym situated in the citys
impoverished south side. In digital sociology, as we have shown, Bourdieus ideas have
been influential in both the empirical analysis of digital inequality and the development
of new empirical research methodologies.
Philosophical foundations
Beginning in the 1970s, Bourdieu developed ontological and epistemological positions as
the basis for his empirical sociological research. The positions he established prefigured a
number of contemporary philosophy of social science approaches such as neo-material-
ism, post-positivist realism, critical realism, and critical sociomaterialism,which have in
common a sense of scientific practice as value-laden and productive of the objects it
studies, combined with an interest in and acceptance of the capacities of matter beyond
or before human interpretation(Pitts-Taylor, 2014).
Like critical realist philosophy of social science (Bhaskar, 2013), Bourdieus ontology
integrated elements of social constructionism and realism. But in critical respects Bour-
dieus approach more closely resembles (and is more frequently cited by) second-gener-
ation critical realist philosophers of social science such as Elder-Vass (2012) and
Kaidesoja (2013). Where Elder-Vasssrealist constructionistontology combines moder-
ate constructionism and moderate realism, Kaidesojasnaturalizedrealist social ontology
assumes that social phenomena are a part of nature, and thus theories within a naturalist
social ontology are expected to be compatible with the well-established assumptions and
presuppositions of epistemically successful natural and physical sciences. Against trans-
cendental and a priori epistemological and ontological reflection, Kaidesoja argues that
just as for theories in the natural sciences, naturalist social ontology should be built by
means of a posteriori arguments that take the epistemically successful scientific practices
and well-confirmed results of different sciences as their premises. The relationship
between theories developed in empirical sciences and in naturalist ontology should be
seen as continuous(2013, p. 203). Kaidesoja, much like Bourdieu (Lizardo, 2004), finds
in cognitive science and related empirical fields resources that can be productively inte-
grated into existing theoretical and methodological frameworks in the social sciences on
the basis of his ontology.
Decoteau (2015) provides an illuminating overview of how Bourdieus conception of
social action and critical realism are, despite a number of important disagreements, com-
patible and complementary. Decoteau reworks Bourdieus theory of habitus by suggesting
that social selves are always situated at the intersection of multiple and competing social
960 G. IGNATOW AND L. ROBINSON
locations (or field positions) and that the habitus itself is always layered. For Decoteau,
reflexivity arises from disjunctures between field positions and across temporal
sedimentation.
The compatibility of Bourdieusian theory with movements in the philosophy of social
science suggests that he was, at a minimum, asking the right questions about the ontologi-
cal and epistemological positions that are needed to undertake empirical sociological and,
of special importance to Bourdieu and to contemporary sociology, interdisciplinary
research.
Interdisciplinarity
The nature of digital technologies necessitates that digital social science continue to evolve
as an interdisciplinary field. In parallel, Bourdieus approach was inherently interdisciplin-
ary, thus allowing his theoretical framework to engage with fields across the social sciences
and serve as the foundation for digital social science. Just as scholars from across the social
sciences study digital technologies, Bourdieu was well versed in theoretical approaches and
concepts developed in disciplines other than sociology and organized a number of influ-
ential interdisciplinary projects. He developed the habitus concept from a study of the
German art historian Erwin Panofsky, and the concept is daringly interdisciplinary in
refusing to accept the institutionalized division of intellectual labor between contempor-
ary psychology and sociology(Swartz, 1997, p. 116; Lizardo, 2004). So while Bourdieu was
influenced by art history, psychology, and cognitive science, he also worked closely with
statisticians (Lebaron, 2009), and in 1975 launched the interdisciplinary journal Actes
de la Recherche en Sciences Sociales. His interdisciplinarity not only allowed Bourdieu to
draw from multiple schools of thought, but also ensured that his work would be used
far beyond sociology. As we have previously discussed, his key strength is particularly
apparent in the use of Bourdieusian concepts in interdisciplinary fields such as digital
inequality that bring together scholars of sociology, communication, media studies,
anthropology, etc.
Conclusions
The Bourdieusian framework has had a major impact on digital sociology and has pro-
vided valuable conceptual resources for what promises to be an increasingly important
sociological subfield. A close analysis of studies of digital inequality sheds light on the
degree to which Bourdieus concepts have been applied for over 15 years to enrich the
analysis of the social impacts of new digital technologies, while our review of the use of
digital technologies to advance methodological innovation in the social sciences indicates
the increasing importance of the concepts Bourdieu developed and of his overall relational
approach to empirical research.
The rise of digitally mediated communication technology has created an entirely new
realm for the application of the Bourdieusian framework, a realm which in many ways
is tailor-made for concepts such as capital, field, and habitus. The affinity between the
Bourdieusian framework and the digital realm compels us to ask why such concepts
have risen to prominence within digital social science research. While we can offer
no definitive answers to this question, we can propose a number of conjectures. First,
INFORMATION, COMMUNICATION & SOCIETY 961
individualsengagements with the digital realm throw into sharp relief new inter-
relations between economic resources, internalized aptitudes, and social positioning.
The diffusion of digital technology has created new pathways for the development of
both primary and secondary forms of capital and habitus, as well as new fields of
organized striving (Martin, 2003). One striking example, taken from a recent article
on the automation of the oil drilling industry (Krauss, 2017), features a previously
unemployed oil rig worker who has returned to steady employment, thanks to digital
skill building, namely learning to operate joystick controls through his experience
with video gaming.
But Bourdieus framework has acquitted itself well in the digital age for more theoretical
reasons as well. Bourdieus ontological stance combining moderate realism and moderate
social constructionism has proven to be a solid foundation for empirical sociology as well
as for interdisciplinary learning and collaboration, and current developments in the phil-
osophy of social science suggest that it was ahead of its time. Because his concepts emerged
from and were intended to support empirical research practice, they have proved their
value to the many researchers carrying out digital social science. Finally, the attention
paid by Bourdieu to conceptual developments occurring in other disciplines, and his fruit-
ful collaborations with statisticians and other researchers are in tune with the evolution of
sociology into a relatively small but vibrantly interdisciplinary social science field (Moody
& Light 2006).
Beyond recognizing the scope of Bourdieus influence on digital sociology, our article
suggests that digital sociologists who appropriate Bourdieus ideas à la carte should recog-
nize that field, capital, and habitus were developed together as part of an integrated rela-
tional approach to social research. Appropriating one of these concepts independent of the
others allows for the needed flexibility in empirical research, but digital researchers who
have found practical value in one or two parts of Bourdieus sociology would do well to
explore the rest of his oeuvre.
Disclosure statement
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.
Notes on contributors
Gabe Ignatow is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of North Texas where he has
taught since 2007. His research interests are in the areas of sociological theory, text mining and
analysis methods, new media, and information policy. Gabes current research involves working
with computer scientists and statisticians to adapt text mining and topic modeling techniques
for social science applications. He has served as the UNT Department of Sociologys graduate pro-
gram co-director and undergraduate program director and has been selected as a faculty fellow at
the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University. He is also a co-founder and the CEO of Grad-
Trek, a graduate degree search engine company. Gabe has been working with mixed methods of text
analysis since the 1990s, is the author of over 30 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and
serves on the editorial boards of the journals Sociological Forum,the Journal for the Theory of Social
Behaviour, and Studies in Media and Communications. His published books include: An introduc-
tion to text mining (with Rada Mihalcea, 2018) with Sage, Text mining: A guidebook for the social
sciences (with Rada Mihalcea, 2017) with Sage, and Transnational identity politics and the environ-
ment (2007), with Lexington Books [email: ignatow@unt.edu].
962 G. IGNATOW AND L. ROBINSON
Laura Robinson is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Santa Clara University.
She earned her PhD from UCLA, where she held a Mellon Fellowship in Latin American Studies
and received a Bourse dAccueil at the École Normale Supérieure. In addition to holding a postdoc-
toral fellowship on a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation funded project at the USC
Annenberg Center, Robinson has served as Affiliated Faculty at the ISSI at UC Berkeley, Visiting
Assistant Professor at Cornell University, and Visiting Scholar at Trinity College Dublin. She is
Series Co-Editor for Emerald Studies in Media and Communications and a past chair for the
ASA Communication, Information Technologies, and Media Sociology section (CITAMS). Her
publications include peer-reviewed articles in journals including Sociological Methodology,Infor-
mation, Communication & Society,New Media & Society, and Sociology. Several of her publications
have earned awards from CITASA, AOIR, and NCA IICD [email: laura@laurarobinson.org].
ORCID
Gabe Ignatow http://orcid.org/0000-0002-8091-6726
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... However, what has been relatively understudied is the extent to which Chinese Gen-Zs' social media habitus are associated with their characteristics as being digital natives, as well as how their social media engagements are associated with digital social inequalities (Gentina, 2020;Hu and Cheong, 2021). In this study, therefore, the main objective is to fill these gaps by examining the characteristics of and differences in social media habitus among Chinese Gen-Z users, as well as exploring how their social media uses and gratifications are associated with economic capital using the Bourdieusian approach (Ignatow and Robinson, 2017;Calderon Gomez, 2021). ...
... Previous studies indicated that individuals' technological engagements are associated with inequalities in their social, economic, and cultural status and life opportunities (Norris, 2001;DiMaggio et al., 2004;Van Dijk, 2006;Zillien and Hargittai, 2009;Mossberger et al., 2012). In light of the limitations of a functionalist perspective to studying digital social inequalities, scholars introduced the Bourdieusian approach that views technological engagements as occurring in social spaces made up of interrelated fields constraining and shaping each other, with distinctive user habitus and capital (Halford and Savage, 2010;Ignatow and Robinson, 2017;Hu and Cheong, 2021). According to Bourdieu (1984Bourdieu ( , 1986, habitus is a set of dispositions that structures individuals' practices, and capital refers to socially valued assets (e.g., economic wealth, social relations, and cultural resources) that can influence individuals' status in the system through accumulating and exchanging. ...
... Social media habitus serves as an embodiment of the interactions between Gen-Zs and their situated socioeconomic context, and it shapes and repeatedly magnifies user disparities in social media practices through machine learning and algorithms (Hu and Cheong, 2021;Hopkins, 2022;Kliestik et al., 2022a,b;Nica et al., 2022). Capital is another key to understanding the predictors and consequences of Gen-Zs' social media practices (Ignatow and Robinson, 2017;Calderon Gomez, 2021). Previous research showed significant correlations between economic capital and technology-related habitus, which further connect with digital social inequalities (e.g., Robinson, 2009). ...
Article
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This study aims at contributing to literature by investigating characteristics of Generation Z's social media uses and gratifications and the moderation effect of economic capital. Specifically, we employed online survey as the main research method to examine the connections between the young generation cohort's online motivations, social media practices, and economic capital. A total of 221 Chinese Generation Z social media users were recruited in the survey. Results indicated that (1) Generation Zs have different social media engagements depending on whether they were connected for daily routine alternatives or socialization; (2) the young cohorts from upper-mid-income families demonstrated a more instrumental-rational habitus to use social media more frequently as a communicative tool than those from low-income families; and (3) motivations and family income interacted to influence Generation Z's social media practices (e.g., social capital accumulating and exchanging and self-expression). Findings here provide empirical reference to deepened understandings of the interactions between social media and digital generations, and their connections with digital social inequalities.
... Bourdieusian capitalmaterial, cultural, social, or symboliccan be accumulated by an individual and, most importantly, converted from one form to another. For example, economic capital can be converted into cultural capital, by investing money in education (Ignatow & Robinson, 2017). The accumulation of one form of capital thus depends on the possession of another (Bourdieu, 1986), which shows that the unequal distribution of this capital drives the reproduction of existing inequalities. ...
... These five forms of capital, or 5Cs, thus "place users at unequal departure points" (Ragnedda, 2018(Ragnedda, , p. 2373, as those with higher traditional capital are more likely to benefit from interaction with technology. This is particularly relevant considering the bidirectional nature of this conversion process (Ignatow & Robinson, 2017). The 5Cs (or lack thereof) interact with an individual's digital capital, shaping not only the degree of access to technology (1 st level of digital divide) and the quality of use (2 nd level). ...
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The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) place great emphasis on inequalities and pledge to leave no-one behind. For the field of digital development, this objective presents a particular challenge. While digital technologies can be utilized to reduce certain inequalities, they are also linked to reproductive mechanisms, reinforcing existing inequalities. In the context of an increasing digitalization of development, particular attention must therefore be paid to the link between digital inequalities and the quest to leave no-one behind. This article analyses the integration of intersectional inequalities in the SDG framework and the resulting need for coherent policies, and demonstrates the parallels between this challenge and the reproductive nature of digital inequalities. On this basis, we argue that the issue of digital inequalities should be mainstreamed in development programming in order to avoid worsening existing inequalities through digital development. Moreover, we discuss recommendations for a potential post-2030 agenda succeeding the SDGs.
... The above inconsistency is concurrent with the implications of online education indicated elsewhere and highlights many access/means barriers encountered by parents in less-privileged social settings (e.g., Lai and Widmar, 2021). Studies also indicate that immigrant children tend to have lower "techno-capital" (Ignatow and Robinson, 2017) shaped by their "group's disposition [or habitus], based in part on income disparities, but also education, cultural patterns, family trajectories, and the structure of opportunities" (Rojas et al., 2012, p. 225). In this first level of the digital divide, lacking access to high-speed Internet needed for completing school tasks is likely the cause of the "homework gap" (Alexander et al., 2007), which has become a significant mark of digital inequalities in the USA (Lai and Widmar, 2021). ...
... Thus, children had to complete most learning tasks alone, acquiring new technical and digital skills along the way. Consequently, children from families with higher digital capital were more likely to perform better at school than those who had low "techno-capital" (Ignatow and Robinson, 2017). For example, Ebru, who performed remote work on a computer before the pandemic, positively assessed distance learning as an occasion for her son to enrich his digital capital: ...
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... To apply this theoretical framework to the digital realm, sociologists have extended the Bourdieusian conceptual apparatus with concepts like 'digital capital', which Ignatow and Robinson (2017) aptly define as 'the reach, scale, and sophistication of [one's] online behaviour.' They see digital capital as a secondary form of capital that depends on the primary stock of cultural, economic and social capital. ...
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... Bourdieusian theory suggests that individuals' positions in different social fields is connected to these different forms of capital (Ignatow and Robinson, 2017). Examining social positions of the users of different digital spaces and services is, thus, critical in understanding for whom these new modes of capital accumulate in the internet era. ...
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to create a research framework to scrutinize how individuals' digital technology use produces tangible and intangible outcomes in online (digital) and offline realms. Design/methodology/approach The paper applies the Bourdieusian e-capital perspective to create a theory-based framework. The framework was used to guide a survey design to explore women's “social media-assisted reuse” at the micro-scale in Helsinki, Finland. Findings The paper argues that a new form of capital emerges when individuals utilize digital technologies in correspondence to their goals to gain added value that would be impossible or significantly more arduous to gain without the digital realm. The survey indicates that the respondents utilize the digital space – set objectives and gain capital-related outcomes – in correspondence to their differing social, economic and cultural positions and related resources in- and outside of the digital realm. Practical implications If digital spaces – due to social inequality and underlying power structures – become increasingly stratified, there will be significant impacts on how individuals from differing backgrounds gain accumulated forms of capital through the digital realm. The question is of great importance for battling inequality. Originality/value The paper enhances and synthesizes recent discussions on different forms of capital and outcomes of the use of digital technologies and presents a combined “e-capital–digital divide” framework that offers a more complete agenda for investigating the finely nuanced links between the inputs, outputs and outcomes of digital technology use.
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Contextualized in the debate on the (mis)use of habitus in educational research, the present study addresses two research questions: (a) What are the different functions that habitus (i.e., the dispositions underpinning cultural capital that are accumulated through socialization and that guide individuals' daily practices) serves in students' educational experiences? and (b) What characterizes the pattern of continuity or discontinuity for habitus across different contexts? Results of the meta-ethnographic review synthesizing findings from 37 qualitative studies show that there was a typology of different functions associated with habitus (academic socialization, motivating learning, facilitating content learning, developing learners' self-identity and aspirations). These functions transcended cognitive, affective, and social dimensions in students' present and future learning. However, habitus could also serve as a coping or risk-mitigation mechanism. Furthermore, results show that habitus could be continuous or discontinuous across fields (student, familial, institutional) and sub-fields (educational levels, types of learning, subjects, programs, learners). These results suggest that the prolific use of habitus in research should not be simply dismissed as conceptual infidelity; rather, it enables researchers to clarify how habitus serves different functions in educational experiences of students varying in their learning needs at different stages of their learning and in different contexts. The study contribute to the development of a conceptual framework for habitus that can inform future research. Practical implications for improving disadvantaged students' learning are discussed.
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Digital exclusion and poverty are understood to be closely linked, and existing literature on the topic makes clear that the contexts of people's lives shape their experiences of digital exclusion in important ways. Indeed, the online and offline aspects of life are in many regards inextricable. As such, this paper focuses on the complex relationship between digital exclusion and poverty, and examines how a range of spatial, material, and temporal factors related to experiences of poverty shape opportunities to use the internet. Drawing upon qualitative data from interviews with coaches and participants in a programme which seeks to help low-income people find work, manage their money, and get online, the paper traces several key ways in which different aspects of poverty – including housing inequality – coalesce to shape experiences of digital exclusion. In doing so, the paper argues that examining the ways in which these seemingly offline aspects of poverty affect opportunities to use the internet provides an opportunity to enhance understandings of exactly how digital exclusion is manifested for those experiencing poverty.
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Purpose Emphasis is placed on knowledge-sharing practices and their influence on the power structure influenced by the technological background of the organization. This paper aims to focus on technological skills institutionalized to build organizational technological capital favoring the knowledge-sharing practices. It aims to extend the sociology literature by providing a conceptual background to explain the restructuring initiatives through the stabilizing role of technological capital. Design/methodology/approach Two comparative case studies have been conducted: the first study took place in a public company and the second study was carried out in a private company of telecommunication involving a documentary study, an observation and semi-structured interviews. Findings The findings in this paper show that the knowledge-sharing practices in the organizational field are stabilized by the technological capital. The technological capital promotes a knowledge management system and plays an important role in restructuring the established power within knowledge intensive organizations. Practical implications Chief executive officers are encouraged to promote sharing practices through developing an innovation culture and valuing technological skills. Relevance should be granted to the technological capital, which aligns the restructuring of a learning organization and promotes the knowledge management systems and stabilizes the organizational structure. Organizations should capitalize a set of technological skills as part of their organizational relevant capital. Originality/value Based on the practice theory of Bourdieu, this paper lights on the triad relation between knowledge sharing/organizational structure/technological capital through comparing between public/private management modes. A theoretical framework is proposed to overlap the ambiguity of the relation between knowledge and power.
Book
Digital technologies, digital media, and mobile technologies now shape the experience of everyday life in the Western world, yet the way our quotidian lives are enmeshed with these technologies is far from clearly understood. Through studies of the digital everyday, sociologists are beginning to reinvigorate the sociological imagination in light of digitization. Chapters in this Byte cover topics such as designing a research framework and how to work ethically as a digital researcher, continually interrogating one’s position as a researcher and reflecting on the process of knowledge creation. Cumulatively, they highlight the value of sociological theory for understanding our digital world.
Book
Sociology and our sociological imaginations are having to confront new digital landscapes spanning mediated social relationships, practices and social structures. This volume assesses the substantive challenges faced by the discipline as it critically reassesses its position in the digital age. © Kate Orton-Johnson and Nick Prior 2013 and their respective authors 2013.