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European Journal of

Communication
http://ejc.sagepub.com/

Debra Ferreday : Online Belongings: Fantasy, Affect and Web Communities,


Peter Lang: New York, 2009; 244 pp.: 31.00
Susanna Paasonen
European Journal of Communication 2011 26: 274
DOI: 10.1177/0267323111411467

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274 European Journal of Communication 26(3)

The reasons of the rejection were political and economic. However, Moroccos EU bid
was instantly rejected on the grounds that it was not a European country which has never
officially been a reason for the Turkish case (Karlsson, 2007: 66). Seeing North Africa
much more Europeanized than Anatolia should be a result of merging French and
Europeans selves. Regarding this, the book reveals that there are many examples of
the first person plural pronoun in French politicians discourse while they emphasize the
French Self and the European Self. The French politicians usually use these selves at the
same time and this makes the European Self as a component of the French Self , e.g.
Notre Europe (Our Europe), Nous les Europens (We the Europeans) and Nous les
franais (We the French).
In the discursive construction of in- and out-groups, Tekin emphasizes the merging of
the EU (a political entity) and Europe (a geographical and cultural concept) in French
political discourse. Yet, the author might have criticized this monolithic perspective
much more profoundly by not ignoring the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Although
Bordeaux-Groult (cited in Tekin, 2010 on p. 166) wants to prove the non-Europeanness
of Turkey by emphasizing the absence of Turkey in contribution to the development of
European arts and sciences, it is historically obvious that there are many European coun-
tries like Turkey (most of them are now EU members) which did not take part in the
Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Thus, defining Europe by a Western-Eurocentric
approach could be seen as the Westernization of the concept of Europe (Delanty, 1995).
All in all, the book presents a strong and detailed discourse analysis of French politics
in Turkeys EU membership discussions. The sociohistorical context of the study helps
the reader to understand the construction of Turkey in the EU context and how its
Otherness constitutes the French politicians approach to the Turkish case. The conclud-
ing section of the book argues that the Other is a person-made concept and is changeable.
The last 50 years in TurkeyEurope relations may prove that the place of Turkey as the
Other could change as part of longer-term political and cultural changes. World history,
and especially European history, contains many examples of the disappearance of
tensions between Self and Other.

References
Delanty G (1995) Inventing Europe. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Karlsson I (2007) Avrupa ve Trkler [Europe and Turks], trans. Kayaoglu T. Istanbul: Homer
Publishing. (Original title: Europa och Turken, Betraktelser kring en kompolicerad relation.)

Debra Ferreday
Online Belongings: Fantasy, Affect and Web Communities, Peter Lang: New York, 2009; 244 pp.: 31.00

Reviewed by: Susanna Paasonen, University of Jyvskyl, Finland


DOI: 10.1177/0267323111411467

In Online Belongings, Debra Ferreday sets up to compensate for perceived lacunae in


existing accounts of cyberculture (p. 39) that have focused on virtual realities and

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Book reviews 275

cyberspatial experiences while laying less emphasis on issues of embodiment and the
role of commercially produced content online. This was evident throughout the 1990s as
a general disregard towards the World Wide Web as an object of study. The critical pro-
ject here involves examining existing debates on cyberculture and investigating the
dynamics of fantasy, gender and affect in online settings. In methodological terms,
Ferreday engages in textual analysis where websites are analysed as texts and cybercul-
ture is conceptualized as an act of reading. Through this framework, the book sets out to
unravel the interconnections of fantasy and community on the web.
In the individual chapters Ferreday explores among other things British media
debates on cyberculture from the year 2000, the Westborough Baptist Churchs website
known for its extremist and aggressive argumentation, personal homepages (some of
which are run by self-identifying vampires), online tests, online shopping for fashion,
exotic foods and chocolates and the body politics of pro-anorexia websites. The case
studies are rich and varied and they facilitate multiple perspectives into the forms of
functions of belonging and attachment online. The affective dynamics involved in the
case studies do not revolve solely in the positive register but are equally about the circu-
lation of hate, acts of mourning and sensations of disgust. Throughout the book, Ferreday
illustrates how social hierarchies and logics of difference are circulated and developed in
online spaces and community formations. Communities, as discussed in the book, are
about acts of interpellation as users are called, or hailed, as members, but also about acts
of exclusion and detachment after all, there can be no us without them and no insid-
ers of a community without outsiders.
Theoretically, the book draws on feminist theories of reading (Lynne Pearce) and
theories of affect (Silvan Tomkins, Sara Ahmed) in order to critically engage with the
often markedly utopian strands of cybercultural studies that have explored the Internet as
a site of fluid, multiple and playful identities detached from social arrangements and
hierarchies. Counter to articulations of Internet as an alternative cyberspatial reality,
Ferreday argues for the mutually constitutive nature of the online and the offline (p. 219).
It is easy to agree with the argument, yet that is largely the case since this argument is a
familiar one, having been voiced recurrently since the late 1990s.
It is noteworthy that the cybercultural debates that the book engages with are largely
representative of the optimistic rhetoric predating the dot.com collapse of the year 2000.
The perceived lacunae in cyberculture studies that it sets out to chart and compensate for
are, in fact, a matter of perception. Studies addressing issues of materiality and embodi-
ment, the role of commerce and monetary transactions, affective investments and labour
online are framed out from the study, and hence effaced from view. This, however, does not
mean that such research would not exist. The perceived lacunae in question seem to involve
a temporal fold in which the discourses of the 1990s are taken as representative of contem-
porary research and its assumed shortcomings. While this temporal fold does not under-
mine the value of the insights and arguments that Ferreday poses, it sets serious limits to the
scholarly dialogue that the book can engage with. (This includes dialogue with studies that
have been published in the same Digital Formations book series as Online Belongings.) The
work of scholars such as Jenny Sundn, Ken Hillis, Kylie Jarrett, Michele White or Theresa
Senft would seem to speak directly to the concerns raised in the individual chapters, and
bypassing them seems to work against the key aims and arguments of the book as a whole.

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276 European Journal of Communication 26(3)

Ferreday extends studies of online communities as developed in studies of MUDs


and MOOs in the mid-1990s to websites and forms of e-commerce where the discourse
of community has been broadly adopted as a means of creating value. This interest con-
nects to recent work on immaterial and affective labour in Internet research. The book
also seems to connect to the interests voiced in the framework of new materialist theory
(via Deleuze and Guattari). Rather than drawing connections to these lines of investiga-
tion, Online Belongings charts the role of affect on websites analysed as sites of narration
and representation. New materialist scholars have voiced some concerns over the cen-
trality of representation, textual metaphors and methods in studies of culture, media and
society. I believe that engagements with this critique, as well as with theories of immate-
rial labour, would have opened up interesting possibilities for dialogue on affect, a topic
that is of crucial importance to Internet research, yet somewhat under-explored to date.
Studies of so-called new media involve explorations of the ever-shifting horizons of
the contemporary, and these are often layered with a futuristic rhetoric. At the same time,
research is retrospective by default: it is about writing history, no matter how very recent
this history may be. The value of Online Belongings has to do with the analytical insights
that it sheds on the Internet research of the 1990s by contrasting it with web-based phe-
nomena that conflict with its premises, concepts and conclusions. Were the book to
engage with more recent bodies of work exploring the Web, commercial sites and affec-
tive investments, its contribution to the interdisciplinary field of Internet research would
be even greater.

Nick Couldry
Why Voice Matters: Culture and Politics after Neoliberalism, Sage: Los Angeles,
London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington, 2010; 184 pp.: 19.99

Reviewed by: John Street, University of East Anglia, UK


DOI: 10.1177/0267323111420488

This is an important book for two reasons. First, it provides a powerful argument for
taking seriously the politics of voice. And second, it locates this argument within a vast
literature and range of disciplines. In this latter respect, Why Voice Matters is a close
cousin of Nicholas Garnhams Emancipation, the Media and Modernity, and makes
similar demands on its readers. It is a challenging read, with all the positive and some of
the negative connotations that this might suggest.
While voice is formally Couldrys central concern, it cannot be separated from his
other abiding interest: the impact of the neoliberal political project. This book is as much
a sustained critique of neoliberalism as it is an analysis of the cultural politics of voice.
And sometimes voice seems to serve only as a cypher for this larger issue, but it is with
voice that the book begins.
Couldry argues that voice is to be understood in two ways. The first, which he sees
as familiar, is as a means by which we register our existence and give expression to our
view and experience of the world. It is a second, less familiar, use of voice that Couldry
is keen to highlight and use in his critique of neoliberalism. Here voice is a value, and

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