The term ‘user’ is spreading from technological fields, such as computing, to various fields involving different types of interaction. The objective of our survey is to study whether this diffusion represents a simple linguistic substitution of other terms, or a deeper social and cultural transformation. In other words, we are interested in understanding whether the use of the word ‘user’ in common language is a manifestation of a particular social phenomenon that is currently developing, and is thus worthy of investigation. The context within which we are analysing the diffusion of this word is one that relates to the concepts of ‘citizenship’, on the one hand, and ‘the market’, on the other. It seems, in fact, that in the public field, at least, there is a progressive change of reference towards a market perspective, in which the citizen is being transformed into a consumer of certain services. The results obtained in this survey show that the figure of the user turns out to be connected to the emergence of the ‘market’ as a ‘global’ point of reference, but a market in which all goods are not material, but impalpable and indefinable within exact spatio-temporal boundaries, and in which it is often difficult to establish a boundary between he who supplies certain goods and he who makes use of them. We can note that the word ‘user’ is used above all in those social context characterised by ambiguous and plastic interactions. In a technological context, for example, the user of the Internet interacts with a machine, but he is not able to identify those who stand behind it, so to speak, because they flow quickly every time he carries out a new operation. Outside the technological context, the word ‘user’ seems to maintain this connotation that expresses the evanescence of those who participate in the interaction. In particular, in the opposition between public and private, the user seems to be he who uses a service supplied by an organization that is neither completely public nor completely private, but flows from one dimension to the other in an ambiguous manner. The sense of confusion and therefore of uneasiness implicit in the figure of the user seems to be confirmed by the fact that the majority of the interviewees did not attribute a positive connotation to this figure.

Citizens, users, society: a sociological survey

MORETTI, SABRINA
2005

Abstract

The term ‘user’ is spreading from technological fields, such as computing, to various fields involving different types of interaction. The objective of our survey is to study whether this diffusion represents a simple linguistic substitution of other terms, or a deeper social and cultural transformation. In other words, we are interested in understanding whether the use of the word ‘user’ in common language is a manifestation of a particular social phenomenon that is currently developing, and is thus worthy of investigation. The context within which we are analysing the diffusion of this word is one that relates to the concepts of ‘citizenship’, on the one hand, and ‘the market’, on the other. It seems, in fact, that in the public field, at least, there is a progressive change of reference towards a market perspective, in which the citizen is being transformed into a consumer of certain services. The results obtained in this survey show that the figure of the user turns out to be connected to the emergence of the ‘market’ as a ‘global’ point of reference, but a market in which all goods are not material, but impalpable and indefinable within exact spatio-temporal boundaries, and in which it is often difficult to establish a boundary between he who supplies certain goods and he who makes use of them. We can note that the word ‘user’ is used above all in those social context characterised by ambiguous and plastic interactions. In a technological context, for example, the user of the Internet interacts with a machine, but he is not able to identify those who stand behind it, so to speak, because they flow quickly every time he carries out a new operation. Outside the technological context, the word ‘user’ seems to maintain this connotation that expresses the evanescence of those who participate in the interaction. In particular, in the opposition between public and private, the user seems to be he who uses a service supplied by an organization that is neither completely public nor completely private, but flows from one dimension to the other in an ambiguous manner. The sense of confusion and therefore of uneasiness implicit in the figure of the user seems to be confirmed by the fact that the majority of the interviewees did not attribute a positive connotation to this figure.
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11576/1889451
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact