How does digital technology embed social relations? How does it reconfigure privacy and senses of belonging? Most studies of social life assume that people meet in space and time, or face-to-face. Today, social media and digitalization are increasingly important in most people's lives. What is private when entire biographies are available on the internet, and friends can check each others' locations in real time? How do people negotiate boundaries between insiders and outsiders when they meet both offline and online?
With Marianne Gullestad's classic ethnographic study Kitchen Table Society as a source of inspiration, and with digitalized everyday lives as an explicit focus, this project will renew ethnographic methods and anthropological research skills, and revitalize Nordic ethnography as a site of theoretical innovation.
The project involves four different case studies, highlighting, respectively, the effect of digitalisation on social life in a rural valley, the role of social media for friendships and morality among young adults, media platforms as sites of mobilisation against racism amongst artists, and the role of digital tools in reindeer herding. The project is based at the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo, and implemented in collaboration with the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research and the Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology, and seeks to share insight and spark public debate through initiatives such as public events and a museum exhibition.
Private Lives will bring new knowledge about contemporary Norwegian sociality as everyday lives are increasingly digitalized through social media and digital platforms for communication and community building. With Marianne Gullestad’s classic Kitchen Table Society as a reference for Nordic sociality, and with digitalized everyday lives as an explicit focus, it will enhance and renew ethnographic methods and anthropological research skills, and revitalize Nordic ethnography as a site of theoretical innovation. If the ‘kitchen table’ was Norwegian everyday life’s prime arena for mediating relationships and practices that maintained moral norms in the 1980s, where is that ‘kitchen table’ now? How does it unfold across time and space, and to what extent is it scalable? What can these engagements tell us about the moral evaluations of proximity, ‘privacy’ and distance in contemporary Norway? How do we understand the balance/paradox between the demands for privacy (bodily, spiritually, emotionally, socially) and voluntary digital display? The research design involves four case studies in different contexts, highlighting, respectively, digitalised spirituality and belief in the'Bible-belt', race, class and gender among inner city youth, morality, masculinity and digitalised social formations in a rural community, and finally nature management, reindeer herding and digitalised sociality beyond the human. Case studies apply ethnographic fieldwork with the aim of grasping digitally mediated social relations and everyday life. The project involves collaboration with the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research and the Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology, and seeks to share insight and spark public debate through initiatives such as public events and a museum exhibition.