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The value of materiality in the digital era

Maraj, Varala (2020). The value of materiality in the digital era. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


The overall purpose of this dissertation is to understand how technology objects become revaluated due to changes in materiality. Specifically, this research investigates the rise in analogue and retro product (ARP) consumption, i.e., the growing resurgence in demand for older, outdated analogue technology in our contemporary digital world. The rise of ARP consumption marks an unprecedented phenomenon that I identify as relating to three important areas of consumer research literature: (1) materiality, (2) technology consumption and (3) consumer enchantment. Using the rise of ARP consumption as a research context, this dissertation examines three research questions: (1) What is the relationship between analogue technology consumption and digital technology consumption?; (2) Why do digital natives value ARPs in the digital era?; (3) How do digital natives value ARPs in the digital era? In doing so, this research aims to understand how different types of technology objects afford different types of consumption practices, provide different forms of value during consumption and ultimately (re-)shape different types of subject-object (i.e., consumer product) relationships. To investigate these research questions, this dissertation adopted an interpretive approach and utilised qualitative methods in line with an ethnographic research design. Specifically, three main data collection methods were used: (1) 40 ethnographic interviews, (2) netnographic observations from Instagram and Facebook and (3) active and passive forms of participant observation. This research finds that digital and analogue technology consumption are engaged in a dialogic relationship in the digital era, i.e., they both counter and complement each other, and also occur in response to each other. More specifically, this research finds that digital consumption has become disenchanting, due to its rationalised, routinised and dematerialized nature. In response, consumers seek more embodied forms of engagement via ARP consumption, which enables three forms of value that counter and complement digital consumption: humanisation, imagination and solidification. Furthermore, this research shows how the broader cultural context of the digital era enrols consumers in a revaluation of technology consumption, altering the ways in which value is assigned to and derived from objects during consumption practices.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: T Technology > T Technology (General)
Departments: Bayes Business School
Bayes Business School > Management
Bayes Business School > Bayes Business School Doctoral Theses
[img] Text - Accepted Version
This document is not freely accessible until 31 July 2023 due to copyright restrictions.



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