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Fabricating the People

CRC "Transformations of the Popular" 2020-2023

We are currently Being popular means getting noticed by many. Popularity is measured as well as staged. Rankings and charts provide information on what is popular while vying for popularity themselves. They do not speak to the quality or originality of the popular, only to its evident success across different scales of evaluation. Even the ‘unpopular’ can be popular. The popular modifies whatever it affords with attention. Its quantitatively and hierarchically comparative terms generate valences that do not inhere in the objects themselves. Conversely, the non-popular, which does not find any measurable resonance in these terms, risks being dismissed as irrelevant or worthless simply because it does not appear in any rankings or ratings.

More information can soon be found here: https://popkultur.uni-siegen.de/sfb1472/

We are hiring! 4 year 1,0 fte PostDoc position on Digital Ethnography / Turkish speaking Twitter

We are currently looking for a postdoc to join the media studies part of the team. The position is 1,0fte for up tp 4 years starting asap. The postdoc would develop and realise a digital ethnography on automation and automation software use in relation to Turkish speaking Twitter. Turkish language skills are desirable but not essential.

More information on the job opening can be found here: job offer postdoc

If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact Carolin Gerlitz carolin.gerlitz@uni-siegen.de or Mine Gencel Bek Mine.GBek@uni-siegen.de



Project: Fabricating “the people” – Negotiating Claims of Representation in

Social Media in Post-Gezi Turkey

Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Carolin Gerlitz, Prof. Dr. Mine Gencel Bek

This research project examines the reciprocal production of media and political change in Turkey
after the Gezi protests of 2013, starting from the thesis that Turkey's recent history cannot be understood
without the transformations of social media platforms and the increased popularity of
social media cannot be understood without their changed political significance. Central to these
reciprocal transformations are the claims to representation of social media and the possibility of
using platforms not only to refer to supposed majority opinions, but also to measure and actively
create attention to expressions of opinion. The popularisation techniques of platforms contribute
in various ways to representing popularity or - as actors in the field describe it - "the people", but
not without at the same time producing it: (1) Opinions are classified by popularity in 'trending
topics', algorithmic filter bubbles and rankings. (2) Social media data are extrapolated with increasingly
complex analytics software to voices of "the people", to which mass and news media in turn
refer. (3) As infrastructures and markets grow, so do the incentives to instrumentalise these extrapolations
politically and to produce social interaction and political opinions in a targeted manner
through automation, cross-postings, bots or artificial intelligence. The popularisation practices
co-constituted by such techniques are never limited to social media alone but are to be understood
as part of a comprehensive media ecology.
Using the example of political debates of post-Gezi Turkey on Twitter, the research project investigates
how popularisation and representation are intertwined in social media platforms. It asks how
positions in social media have been made visible, measured, problematised, attacked, changed or
even deliberately produced and which actors are and were involved. The project investigates these
processes as a cross-media phenomenon. Work Area I (AB I) asks how, following the Gezi protests,
political debates in the social media platform Twitter are shaped by practices and techniques of
fabricating and influencing opinions, for example through bots, automation or trolling. AB II examines
whether and how Turkish news and entertainment media assign claims of representation to
social media. AB III analyses the interaction of the actors, organisations and software involved from
a platform policy perspective. To this end, the project combines digital methods, ethnographic and
technographic approaches, qualitative media analysis, methods of software and platform research
and further develops digital methods of bot and automation research. With this work program, it
offers an empirical perspective on the distributed and often conflicting popularisation practices of
social media, further develops automation research in social media along a platform perspective
and contributes to the understanding of desired and undesired attention: the conflict arena of the