Together with the ECREA Gender and Communication section, the Digital Culture and Communication section co-organized a two-days symposium “Sexualities and Digital Culture in Europe”. Hosted by the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, seven panels with a total of 25 presentations made sure there were lots of inspiring discussions. Despite the topic of the symposium being rather specific, there was an incredible diversity of themes being discussed; from online pornography, the popularity of Tinder, using Twitter to study conservative movements in France, to discussing young people’s sexualities in the context of social media. However, despite this diversity, all contributions shared an interest in exploring the digitization of sexuality; exploring changing representations, attitudes, experiences, and practices to sexualities because of digital media. The contributions often looked beyond the well-established frameworks to study sexuality and media, expanding their methodological and theoretical perspectives to more fully comprehend sexual life-worlds and the digital.
Susana Paasonen’s keynote resonated long after for many participants. Discussing porn tastes in the context of the global pull of tube sites, she argued there is now a never seen diversity in the world of porn. At the same time, because of the internet, the commercial porn economy is dying, only a few tube sites are now controlling porn distribution. Porn, Paasonen argued, is a primary example of platform capitalism. The porn economy has become centralized into a few dominant players such as YouPorn, using complex algorithms and smart data analysis to maintain their dominant positions.
This symposium has been a good example of how collaborations between ECREA sections can lead to highly satisfying outcomes, both for organizers as well as participants. A huge thank you to the wonderful team of the Gender and Communication Section, as well as the local organizers.
Meanwhile, we can look forward to the upcoming Digital Culture and Communication Conference 2017 “Digital Culture meets data: Critical approaches”, hosted by the University of Brighton.