Book chapter
Open access

Materiality, Description and Comparison as Tools for Cultural Difference Analysis

ContributorsZimmermann, Basileorcid
Published inA Companion to New Media Dynamics, Editors Hartley, J. ; Burgess, J. & Bruns, A., p. 439-449
PublisherOxford : Wiley-Blackwell
Publication date2013

Working in a Chinese studies department based in Europe, I am often confronted with the challenges not only of working with cultural difference, but also of working with the concept of “culture” in itself – one of the most famously difficult concepts in the social sciences and humanities. Further, recent socioeconomic changes in China—and the new media dynamics of the “Chinese Internet”—have produced new situations requiring socio-cultural analysis, but lacking a clear theoretical or methodological framework. In this chapter I argue that an essential first step in dealing with these issues analytically is to provide an adequate description of them, which can only be achieved by focusing on the materiality of the things (websites, platforms, communities) one is considering or comparing. I build on this idea to propose a methodology and a theoretical framework to deal with cultural difference in the context of socio-technical change, drawing on a single case study based on this approach.

  • Media and Cultural Studies
  • Materiality
  • Contemporary China
  • Grounded Theory
  • Cultural Difference
  • Social networking sites
  • Digital materiality
  • Actor-network theory
Citation (ISO format)
ZIMMERMANN, Basile. Materiality, Description and Comparison as Tools for Cultural Difference Analysis. In: A Companion to New Media Dynamics. Oxford : Wiley-Blackwell, 2013. p. 439–449.
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Book chapter (Accepted version)
  • PID : unige:78809

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