Who’s in the Place of Power? A de Certeauan Account of User Practice on the Web

Empedocles: European Journal for the Philosophy of Communication 4 (1):29-45 (2012)
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Abstract

Is the World Wide Web (WWW) the true Citizens’ Medium? This issue has been ardently debated in recent years: some herald the WWW as an emancipating technological tool, others claim it to be just another ploy of capitalism. As empirical proof corroborating both sides proliferates, the correct answer must probably be situated somewhere at the intersection. Of this heterogenic ‘middle’ field the work of Michel de Certeau helps us to make sense. We take three de Certeauan concepts, sketched out as binary pairs, and elaborate on them in relation to ‘Web 2.0’: strategy/tactics, passive/active, and writing/speech. Exactly the tension between the terms of these distinctions is played out on the Web. Yet boundaries do blur, and right there the contours of some hybrid ‘strategic tactics,’ performed by everyday users, are becoming visible.

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Yoni Van Den Eede
Vrije Universiteit Brussel

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