Tutorial Two (Domesticating domestication)

‘Domesticating domestication. Reflections on the life of a concept’ argues that media and technology are intrinsically embedded within our modern culture. But to what degree we domesticate (which Silverstone defines  as ‘Domestication is practice. It involves human agency. It requires effort and culture, and leaves nothing as it is.'(Silverstone 2006 231)) these new technologies into our lives are controlled by us. He explains that despite this, the process of domestication remains the same occurring in four main phases:

  1. Appropriation (purchasing a product and introducing it into the household) 
  2. Objectification (the display of the product)
  3. Incorporation (the product becoming integrated into the daily routines of its users)
  4. Conversion (the product partaking in social life)

The concepts of the household and the ‘moral economy’ reveal the four phases of domestication as the process which all consumers unconsciously follow in order to control the media and technology in their lives.  Acknowledging that once the technology becomes integrated into their lives it will consequently changes them. 

Silverstone describes the household not as a physical place but, an intangible aspect of our identity. Noting the nuclear family is now less common he insists that the household and the idea of a home is prevalent in today’s society. Arguing that the household is where the ‘moral economy’ is formulated.

The ‘moral economy’ is a term used to describe the values and behaviours which are upheld by each household in particular regards to technology. It is this set of values which determine what products will be bought, how they are objectified, to what degree they are integrated into our lives and how they are incorporated into our social lives.

Silverstone’s article is clearly illustrated in the daily life of most families including my own where there are rules and limitations in regards to what types of technologies can be used at particular times and the amount of time that may be spent using them. In turn the use of these technologies has become an integral part of our daily lives forming a part of our identity. Technology is now constantly used for social purposes and the creation of our public identity as well as means for gaining information regarding both our local and global communities. Technology is no longer just domesticated into a physical location (our homes) and our daily routines but has been incorporated into our identity and understanding of who we are.

Silverstone, Roger ‘Domesticating domestication. Reflections on the life of a concept’ From Berker, T et al eds  ‘Domestication of Media and Technology’ Open Uni Press, 2006, 229 – 248


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