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Disputation: Gudrun Rudningen

Master in Visual Anthropology Gudrun Rudningen at the Department of Social Anthropology will be defending her thesis: Never-ending Now: Practices of News Work in Digital Transition

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Digital Public Defence

In order to attend this public defence you can download zoom or use your browser. Please also familiarise yourself with information for anyone who wishes to attend a digital defence

Ex auditorio-questions: The chair of defence will invite anyone who wishes to serve as an ex auditorio to do so by writing in the chat or give signal by clicking on  "Raise hand".

Join the public defence the 31st of January at 12.15

 

Trial lecture

Title: ”The anthropology of technology seen through the strategy of digital first at Nationen.”

The recording of the trial lecture will be published here. 

Adjudication Committee

Chair of Defence

Professor Keir James Cecil Martin, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo

Supervisors

Abstract

The impact of digitalisation on contemporary work life in Norway is substantial. The newspaper industry has undergone a massive, comprehensive transition towards ‘the new digital era’, marked in the last decades by grand narratives of ‘journalism-in-crisis’, acceleration and uncertainty. Rudningen’s research examines a Norwegian newsroom and shows how different temporalities embedded in ways of working in the digital sphere affect how journalism is carried out, experienced, narrated, organised and managed where change and continuity intersect and interact. This thesis concerns how digital aspects are handled in practice by looking into their material, social and temporal implications, at a time when digitalisation is no longer a novelty, but still seems to remain embedded in mystery.

This thesis is based on 10 months of full-time fieldwork, as well as on interviews and frequent visits to the news organisation, Nationen, over six years. It represents, in other words, a multi-temporal ethnographic approach. Nationen is located in central Oslo. There are 27 employees who produce a daily nationwide newspaper devoted to rural and agricultural topics. Nationen is what is known as a ‘niche’ newspaper receiving a great share of governmental funding. Rudningen’s empirical chapters display how digitally mediated practices entail multiple experiences of temporality, first of all connected to how news stories come into being, transmitted through a time-limited and template-based production. Secondly, it shows how digital tools foster new processes of embodiment in the journalistic craft, including new premises for ‘good journalism’ and a new epistemology in which uncertainty, in itself, becomes embodied. Thirdly, there is an examination of how negotiations of social boundaries and the reestablishment of collective belonging are carried out when digital solutions potentially foster greater individualism and contribute to new forms of sociality and ways of promoting trust and harmony. Fourthly, the thesis shows how intensified obliviousness and uncertainty arise as re-organisation constantly establishes new ways of working and reliance on memory is supplanted by digital devices. And finally, the focus is on how different narratives and metaphors provide orientations to navigate the digitalised landscape jointly enhancing digitalisation.

In order to study the temporality of digital work, this thesis mainly builds on theories concerning time and temporality, first and foremost from anthropology, but it also draws on work from historians, philosophers and literature and media scholars. In addition, anthropological theories on knowledge, materiality, digitalisation and social practice are included. The term temporality is used as the lived experience of time passing, studied as both socially and materially embedded. The analysis takes into account the materialisation of time, often as the form of chronotopes, in combination with the work that is put into upholding temporalities (the social aspects and practices): unifying what is said and what is done. According to an anthropological holistic approach, this thesis describes how the digital domain influences what it means to be human through digitally mediated practices that also constitute time. There are few empirical studies of temporality, and especially of digital work in contemporary organisational life, that this thesis contributes to.

A key finding in this thesis is that digital work draws awareness to and enhances a present temporality, referred to as presentism. This is a temporality in which the past is no longer found to be relevant, and the future is acted upon as already in the present. Through detailed ethnographic descriptions, this thesis brings to light dilemmas and tensions within the digitalisation of work practices when actions seem to be limited to what is ever-present: what is continuously now. Rudningen shows, however, how different temporalities have an implication for the execution, expression, organisation, planning and managing of digital work. This thesis also contributes to the anthropological debate with analytical concepts like ‘the digital hand’, ‘work compression’, ‘chronotopic metaphor’, ‘matters of remembering’ and ‘organisational oblivion’.

You may request a pdf of the thesis by sending an email to f.r.de.flon@stv.uio.no by the 31st of January.

Published Jan. 14, 2022 9:47 AM - Last modified Jan. 14, 2022 11:46 AM