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DIGITAL MEDIA AS CLASSIFIED AND CLASSIFYING: THE CASE OF YOUNG MEN IN SWEDEN

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Abstract:

Digital media [1] are widely talked about as a democratising force. As internet access proliferates, it is implied, structural constraints will dissolve and bring greater equality - if not instantly, but gradually as today's youth, the digital generation, come of age and agents of the old, non-digital order pass away. Thus, the alleged boundlessness of digital media is thought of as somehow having unbound young people from the larger social structure of power relations. Drawing on the ideas of Pierre Bourdieu, the present article examines the significance of social class for the ways in which young Swedish men perceive, interpret and make use of digital media in their everyday lives. The results suggest that class, through the workings of habitus, shapes the young men's approaches to education, leisure and the future, which, in turn, tend to generate divergent readings of digital media. Those who are privileged in terms of cultural and economic capital think and make use of digital media in compliance with the perceived moral order of digital goods and practices as instituted and imposed by the educational system, for example, whereas those disprivileged in this respect, although recognising the dominant scheme of classification and valuation of such goods and practices, tend to use them in ways that are at odds with it, thereby contributing to the workings of symbolic violence, i.e. to their own subordination.

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