The first goal of last Tuesday’s session was to specify our research scope. Even if we kept a general question “What is the cost of living online in the 21st century?”, we decided to orientate our research towards the notions of society of control and surveillance state.
Then, we discussed about our presentation structure. The current plan is to divide the presentation into 3 parts. The first one would be more theoretical, the second one analytical and the third one would contain a focus group. We also tried to find ideas to make our presentation more interactive: we thought of using tools like live time polls.
As we did not get the ethical approval yet, it is not sure that we will be able to do a focus group. While waiting for a final response, we plan to work independently on the two first parts to not waste time.
This introduces the second main discussion we had during the supervised meeting: how do we distribute the parts and themes among each group member? How do English, Geography or Politics interfere here? George gave us this as a homework for the next session and asked us to have a presentation plan ready.
The rest of the supervised meeting consisted in a brainstorming where George asked precisions about our ideas. Several interesting questions came out:
- On which geographical area should our research focus? We are thinking to focus on the West and China, China applying possibly Western’s ideas of surveillance more explicitly.
- How brutal is the functioning of the online life, can the individual notice that he potentially lives in a society of control?
- What is the importance of language in the application of a society of control? Do the language used in the ‘terms and conditions” provide an insight of manipulations from the power structures?
- How do gender, race or sexuality interfere with this notion of surveillance state? Do humans interact differently with it?
- Can some political theories be applied to this presentation? Possible theories are realism, authoritarianism and liberalism.
Most importantly, George reminded us to permanently think about linking our findings to the notion of conflict, to avoid being out of topic.
Session 3, second supervised session 29/01/19
Last Tuesday, we met with George for a second supervised reflective session. We shared our project to do a research about Virtual Reality and conflict. As our theme was quite large, George encouraged us to specify our research and to find some specific aspects of VR to analyze.
He asked us to define what was the Virtual Reality. Can it include computer screens and social medias as well? We decided to exclude social medias and normal computers from the study to focus on the VR that has a large degree immersion.
We then thought about several problematics:
- The potential representation issues in VR: how are people represented? Is every group/minority represented?
- Can it be an educative tool? To what extent can VR be conditioning how we understand the real world?
- Can VR lead to a digitalization of labor, and does it clash with the traditional employment?
- Can it challenge the morality of our society by making violence and/or pornography more accessible?
- Is VR incompatible with our mental health?
We then debated on our research methods. We agreed on using surveys and interviews to gather data. George provided us some departments at KCL to explore to find relevant specialists to talk to. He mentioned the Digital Studies, the War Studies and the Medical departments.
It allowed us to draw a strategy for the next session:
- Finding the relevant people to interview in each departement
- Going to the photographer gallery at Oxford Street “All I know is what’s on the Internet”
- Working on the ethic form for interviews
- Thinking more in depth about how our discipline interconnect with VR and conflict.
During this 30 minutes introductory session, we first shared our major and discovered that we were all from a different one: Literature, Geography, Classics and Politics. George suggested us to share to each other what we did for our essay in this module. Our essay topics covered very different topics as well going from animals in ancient Rome spectacles to LGBT rights.
We then tried to find a common ground for our project: we all agreed that it was preferable to cover a modern problematic rather than something too ancient. I believe that the theme of conflict offers us a quite broad choice as it is not too abstract and as conflict can be found everywhere. It also permits to link our majors considering that the notion of conflict is found in Geography, Literature, Classics and Politics.
Please find below a briefing note of my TAD essay:
My TAD essay focused on the overlooked conflict between the people living in large city centers and the people living in the “periphery” (small towns+countryside) in Western Europe. This conflict has an economic dimension: the people of the large city centers tend to “monopolize” the wealth since the tertiarisation and the deindustrialisation of the Western economies. This creates tensions and tends to make the peripheric people feel “abandoned” as most of the investments are now concentrated in big cities. The tensions are also ideological: the people of the periphery tend to be much more conservative than the urban elites who tend to misunderstand those conservative values. This create a huge split on questions such as immigration and gay marriage. This essay also found that the conflict is becoming more and more visible since the rise of “populism” can be analyzed as an uprising from the periphery against the liberal city centers.
This essay can lead to reflection on several questions such as:
- The peripheric working class vs the urbanized elites
- Conservatism vs liberalism on society questions
- The economic redistribution: does the redistribution disadvantages the periphery?
- How can a conflict intensify?