Hearing ordinary voices: Cultural studies, vernacular creativity and digital storytelling
Burgess, Jean E. (2006) Hearing ordinary voices: Cultural studies, vernacular creativity and digital storytelling. Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, 20(2), pp. 201-214.
Everyday or amateur cultural and media production has long been a site of both optimism and contestation for cultural studies, but there is now more justification than ever to focus on it. On the one hand, the figure of the 'creative consumer' is seen as both a key to the new economy and a major potential disruption to the dominance of commercial media. On the other, the notion of a 'digital divide' based on hard access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) has shifted to concerns around social inclusion and the unevenness of access to 'voice' in the global mediascape. Indeed, Sonia Livingstone has recently argued that attention to content creation as a key area of literacy is 'crucial to the democratic agenda', positioning new media users 'not merely as consumers but also as citizens'. In this article, I argue that recent developments in the uses of new media have ethical and methodological implications for cultural studies, highlighting some of the discipline's persistent and unresolved tensions around popular culture, cultural agency and cultural value. I then use the example of digital storytelling to speculate about the democratic potential of a participatory cultural studies approach to what I call 'vernacular creativity'.
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