Just Sociology

Unraveling the Intertwined Relationship between Digital Devices and Human Action

In today’s society, the use of technology has become an integral part of daily life. People use different digital devices such as mobile phones, tablets, and laptops to communicate, access information, and construct their sense of self.

The sociomaterial perspective highlights the importance of understanding the interconnections between technology and self-construction. Similarly, the actor-network theory recognizes the role that non-human material objects play in influencing human action.

This article explores the intricate relationship between digital devices, identity, selfhood, and sociocultural factors while considering people’s experiences with technology, the incorporation of technology into self-concept, and the configuration of social relations through digital networks.

Sociomaterial perspectives on datafication and selfhood

Datafication refers to the process of converting information into digital data. This process of information uploading is prevalent in our daily lives, from sharing personal experiences on social media platforms to using location-based apps.

Thus, digital devices have become essential tools for constructing identity and selfhood. The use of mobile phones and other technologies influences people’s self-perception and identity (Jenkins, 2014; Miller, 2011).

Digital devices enable people to communicate with others, access a vast range of information, and express their feelings and opinions. Therefore, the process of datafication reflects both the individual and the collective aspects of identity construction.

Additionally, actor-network theory sees non-human material objects like computers as part of heterogeneous networks that shape human actions (Latour, 2005). Therefore, when individuals engage with digital devices, they become part of networks that include devices, software, and social relations.

This perspective highlights the significance of considering the materiality of digital devices and how they interact with other non-human objects to form people’s experiences with technology. Furthermore, sociocultural factors, such as gender, class, and ethnicity, also influence the use of technology.

Studies have shown that gender differences affect the use of technology, with women using technology more for social networking and men for gaming and entertainment (Gill, 2015). Similarly, people from different socioeconomic backgrounds have different experiences with technology.

For example, affluent individuals have access to more sophisticated technology, while low-income individuals may lack access to digital devices, which can impact their sense of self and identity.

Understanding selfhood in a digital age

People’s experiences with technology are integral to how they construct and maintain their self-concept. Digital devices become an extension of themselves as they incorporate them into their daily lives (Thompson, 2014).

For instance, mobile phones play a significant role in people’s lives, with many feeling lost or anxious without them. Therefore, digital devices become part of their sense of self, which can impact how they interact with others and their environment.

Furthermore, the configuration of social relations through digital networks has transformed how people form and maintain relationships. Social networking platforms enable individuals to connect with others regardless of distance or time.

Studies have shown that people use social media platforms to strengthen existing relationships, maintain relationships that would otherwise fade, and form new social relationships (Hampton et al., 2011). However, these platforms also bring new forms of social pressures and expectations that can impact people’s sense of self and identity.

Conclusion

The intricate relationship between digital devices, identity, and selfhood highlights the significance of understanding the sociomaterial perspectives and actor-network theory. The materiality of digital devices and their interaction with non-human objects shape people’s experiences with technology.

Furthermore, sociocultural factors like gender, class, and ethnicity influence how people use technology and construct their sense of self. Understanding how digital devices intertwine with selfhood can provide insights into the current dynamics of human interaction in contemporary society.Assemblage theory provides a framework for understanding the complex and interconnected nature of digital devices and their influence on human action and perception.

Digital assemblages exist as complex configurations of hardware, software, developers, manufacturers, algorithms, archives, computing cloud, and platforms. This article explores the concept of assemblages, the various components of a digital assemblage, the entanglement of humans and objects in assemblages, and the impact of objects on human action and perception, particularly in relation to evocative objects, code/space, space and identity, access, tracking, and discipline.

Assemblages and the complexity of understanding entanglements

Sociomaterial perspectives posit that digital devices and their materiality are integral to the construction of identity and selfhood. Assemblage theory goes further to suggest that digital devices are part of complex configurations that include non-human objects and human actors (Hetherington, 2011; McFarlane, 2011).

The concept of assemblages describes the dynamic interconnections between different elements in a digital environment. A digital assemblage comprises various components, including computer software, hardware, developers, manufacturers, algorithms, archives, computing cloud, and platforms.

These components coalesce to create complex networks that shape how people interact with digital devices. For instance, the software used on a mobile phone influences how people use the device, while the algorithms and computing cloud used on social media platforms impact the information users see.

The entanglement of humans and objects in assemblages introduces a new complexity in understanding digital devices. In an assemblage, humans and objects are linked in specific ways, with one affecting the behavior of the other.

For example, people’s physical movements, such as scrolling or clicking, signal to the device to perform specific actions. Therefore, the assemblage makes it difficult to separate the influence of objects on humans from the impact of humans on the objects.

The objects in digital assemblages also have significant impacts on human action and perception. Evocative objects, for example, elicit emotions and memories and are integral to identity and self-construction (Turkle, 2007; Van Dijck, 2013).

In the digital realm, objects such as photographs or music evoke feelings and memories that shape how people interact with technology. Code/space, another aspect of assemblages, refers to the various algorithms that map the physical world and enable access to digital space (Kitchin and Dodge, 2011).

These algorithms can shape how people perceive and act in physical spaces. Furthermore, space and identity are closely tied in assemblages, with digital platforms like social media shaping how people interact with the world around them.

People’s access to digital space can also affect their sense of identity and their ability to perform certain behaviors. For example, limited access to digital devices can make it challenging to navigate specific aspects of life, such as education or job hunting.

Assemblages can also enable tracking and monitoring of human action, which can have disciplinary effects. Digital devices can track people’s movements, behavior, and communication, which can impact how they express themselves or act in specific situations.

This tracking can come from various sources, such as location-based services on mobile phones or the algorithms used on social media platforms to show users targeted content.

Conclusion

Assemblage theory provides a critical framework for understanding the dynamic relationships between digital devices, human actors, and non-human objects. Digital assemblages consist of complex configurations that shape people’s interactions with technology and require consideration of the entanglement of humans and objects in these networks.

Evocative objects, code/space, space and identity, access, tracking, and discipline are some of the key elements that shape these configurations. Understanding the influence of assemblages on human action and perception is vital to understanding contemporary technological development and its social implications.

Conclusion

In today’s society, digital devices play an integral role in people’s daily lives. The sociomaterial perspective and assemblage theory provide frameworks for understanding the complex interconnections between digital devices, identity, and selfhood.

These theories demonstrate that digital devices are not just inert objects, but complex configurations that shape human action and perception. Thus, understanding this relationship is essential to understanding contemporary technological development and its social implications.

FAQs:

Q: What is the sociomaterial perspective? A: The sociomaterial perspective highlights the importance of understanding the interconnections between technology and self-construction.

Q: How do digital devices influence self-perception and identity? A: The use of digital devices influences people’s self-perception and identity, enabling people to communicate with others, access a vast range of information, and express their feelings and opinions.

Q: What is the actor-network theory? A: The actor-network theory recognizes the role that non-human material objects play in influencing human action and highlights the importance of considering the materiality of digital devices.

Q: How do sociocultural factors impact technology use? A: Sociocultural factors such as gender, class, and ethnicity influence how people use technology and construct their sense of self.

Q: What is the concept of assemblages? A: The concept of assemblages describes the dynamic interconnections between different elements in a digital environment and can include software, hardware, developers, manufacturers, algorithms, archives, computing cloud, and platforms.

Q: What is the impact of objects on human action and perception? A: Objects in digital assemblages such as evocative objects, code/space, space and identity, access, tracking, and discipline impact human action and perception in different ways.

Q: Why is understanding the relationship between digital devices and human action essential? A: Understanding the influence of digital devices on human action and perception is vital to understanding contemporary technological development and its social implications.

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