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Date: Wed, 3 Dec 2014 16:57:37 +0000
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The Crisis of Presence in Contemporary Culture
Vince Miller (Univ of Kent)
Wed, Dec 10
UNiv of Westminster
Harrow Campus
Room A7.01


Registration: e-mail to [log in to unmask]

In this presentation, Vince Miller problematises the notion of presence 
within a contemporary culture in which social life is increasingly lived 
and experienced through networked digital communication technologies 
alongside the physical presence of co-present bodies. Using the work of 
Heidegger, Levinas, Bauman, Rotman (and others), he suggests that the 
increasing use of these technologies and our increasing presence in 
online environments challenges our tendencies to ground moral and 
ethical behaviours in face-to-face or materially co-present contexts. 
Instead, the mediated presences we can achieve amplify our cultural 
tendency to objectify the social world and weaken our sense of moral and 
ethical responsibility to others.

Such a disjuncture manifests itself in a number of popular contemporary 
concerns over privacy, ‘anti-social’ behaviour, and the problems of free 
speech and inappropriate disclosure. Vince Miller will suggest that the 
solution of overcoming such problems lies not in increasing regulation, 
but in more scrutiny paid to the software architecture of social media 
as the medium by which humans are ‘made present’ online, as well as an 
expansion of the notion of being/presence to include virtual 
data/presences, so that these may gain ‘ethical weight’.

Vincent Miller is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Cultural Studies at 
the University of Kent, where he has research interests in digital 
culture and urban sociology. He is author of ‘Understanding Digital 
Culture’ (Sage) and is currently writing ‘The Crisis of Presence in 
Contemporary Culture: Ethics, Privacy and Disclosure in Mediated Social 
Life’, also for Sage.