Week 2 Domestication


The core argument contained in Silverstone’s “Domesticating domestication. Reflections on the life of a concept” is the concept of the integration of public and private spaces, or the crossing of boundaries, and its impact on societies morals and household structures. As Silverstone questions, “how does such [technological] innovation enable a better world, and a more responsible and more sustainable relationship with the world which it now brings more and more radically into focus?” (Silverstone, p. 247).

I noted Silverstone’s comment that “domestication was something human beings did to enhance and secure their everyday lives” (Silverstone, p. 231). This idea of adding meaning to the lives of individuals highlights the importance of the relationship between technology and people. For example, while writing this blog I am currently listening to my family sitting around the television watching the Saturday night rugby league. There are loud yells and cheers and a clear connection, interest and care towards the game on the TV. This has clearly added meaning to their evening, highlighting one of the many concepts associated with domestication.

The influence of this media in the function of the household is reflective of Silverstone’s concept of conversion. While the public has created an innovative piece of technology influencing households, through choices such as channel selection and the ability to switch off the TV, individuals perceive that they have the “power to control their own private space, their own media ecology”. This process of domestication, and the introduction of the TV into households is representative of social change and the breakdown of borders that were once presumed to be defining feature of a household (Silverstone, p. 233). This is restructuring of the household is also linked the two core strategies of domestication – objectification and incorporation.

Domestication has fostered a shared culture and social space as highlighted by Silverstone. (p. 243). It has enabled the establishment of connections and relationships between household members. For example, I often have conversations with my family about what I read in the paper, or saw on the 6pm news. This is obviously a result of the introduction of media and technology into the household and the introduction of public events into the private spaces.

With the boundaries around households increasingly being broken down through domestication and the introduction of technologies such as TV, internet and telephone into private spaces, it begs the question regarding whether this change has resulted in a positive social change and the adoption of morals and care structures. I believe to a certain extent the availability of this technology and its introduction into households has enabled us to adopt positive practices leading to increased social awareness and participation; however these are limited by the public’s (politics/economy) control over what is introduced into the household and the individuals approach to the process of domestication and use of technology. Michael in his writing “Disciplined and disciplining co(a)gents: the remote control and the couch potato”, highlights the influence of the technology, particularly TV and the remote control in the development of a couch potato and the concept of “wastefulness – [a] lack of productivity” and its consequences such as negative health impacts. However, without technologies such as the remote control, our approach to TV viewing (i.e. the ease of viewing TV and changing channels), I believe, would differ considerably. As Michael notes, “the couch potato – can be undermined by the enablements generated by the coincidence or coalition of technological design features” (Michael, pg. 114). This again highlights the influence of domestication in influencing household function.


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