Periodic Reporting for period 1 - DISTRACT (The Political Economy of Distraction in Digitized Denmark)
Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2021-06-30
Subproject 1 - Distraction Politics explores dynamics of political attention among Danish politicians, political parties and other key agents and contexts of public debate. The focus is both on how politicians forge ideological positions around the question of digital distraction - and digitalization more generally– and on how they themselves actively seek to capture, retain and distract attention among their followers and the wider public on and through the use of social media. By combining qualitative data and methods and quantitative ditto, the ambition is to contribute to state of the art scholarship among sociologists and other social scientists on “issue attention” and other questions concerned with how politicians and the public interact and influence each other through digital platform
Subproject 2 - Coding Distraction. This subproject seeks to contribute to a detailed empirical understanding of the emerging software practices, infrastructures, and valuation regimes of the digital “attention economy”, from the point of view of its instantiation in and as code and coding practices. Towards this aim, the subproject team deploys a combination of (n)ethnographic and computational approaches, taking the Danish app development market as its shared object of research and point of departure.
Subproject 3 - Defying Distraction aims to investigate and map the emerging digital backlash in Denmark, which takes the form of practices such as digital disconnection and digital detoxes, the moral panics and ethical discussions about what a good life means in the digital age, as well as the attentional technologies and practices that are part of such limitations of digital device and platform usage. Methodologically, the project seeks to investigate and theorize digital detox and disconnection from a variety of social science and data science angles, in order to chart these tendencies as matters of concern for different actors in society.
Subproject 4 - Regulating Distraction. The overarching objective is to explore the mental, social and material techniques by which attention is captured, retained, and distracted in Danish work and school contexts. More specifically, through a combination of quantitative (e.g. controlled experiments) and qualitative (e.g. ethnographic fieldwork) data and methods, we seek to contribute to an empirically informed understanding of how the attention of some actors (employees, students) is regulated by other actors (e.g. employers, teachers) to reach certain goals.
Key achievements include:
(1) An international, method-focused workshop (held as a kick-off in late January 2020) with participants from several Danish and international research institutions and consultancy companies involved in social data science/digital methods research, the result of which is now in press with the journal Big Data and Society.
(2) Also based on a workshop held around the start of DISTRACT, a special issue on "Digital Trust" has been accepted for consideration by the Journal of Cultural Economy
(3) Following a sustained collaboration with Tufts University, an article entitled “The Political Economy of Attention” under print in the Annual Review of Anthropology.
(4) New research opportunities arising from Covid 19 especially for Subproject 1 (Political Attention) and Subproject 3 (Defying Distraction). Several projects and papers completed pertaining to so-called issue attention dynamics on Danish social media as well as lockdown working and social dynamics. Moreover, the launch of a Danish-language blogpost on DISTRACT and other SODAS Covid-19 research in the early summer of 2020 (see https://coronakrisen.github.io) have since given rise to significant attention from Danish media, which has resulted in several newspaper interviews, podcasts and radio and tv appearances for PI and other team members.
(5) An article on the relationship between smart phone usage and academic performance, based in data from previous SODAS-based research but involving analytical and theoretical work carried out by co-PI Dreyer-Lassen, has been published in the journal Psychological Scienc