A Critical Cultural Reading of "YouTube"

A Critical Cultural Reading of "YouTube"

Luc Pauwels (University of Antwerp, Belgium) and Patricia Hellriegel (Lessius University College, Belgium)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-100-3.ch701


This chapter looks into YouTube as one of the most popular Social Software platforms, challenging the dominant discourse with its focus on community formation and user empowerment. On the basis of an analysis of the steering mechanisms embodied in the infrastructure as well as empirical observations of YouTube’s content fluctuations during a period of time, insight is provided into the embedded cultural values and practices and into the nature of the ongoing negotiation of power and control between the YouTube controllers (owners, designers, editors) and the “prosumers”. This exploratory study is theoretically inspired by Michel de Certeau’s ideas of utilization as a productive activity involving strategic and tactical behaviour. Methodologically the model for ‘hybrid media analysis’ (Pauwels 2005) is taken as a point of departure for analysing various aspects of the Website’s platform (including structure, design, hyperlinks, imagery, topics and issues). This model is geared towards decoding the multimodal structure of Websites and their social and cultural significance.

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