Choosing Disconnection: What Happens When Organizations Refuse Media?

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Recent years of media studies have described a turn towards ”disconnection” or the willfull refusal of digital media in everyday life (Syvertsen & Enli 2020). This is a development which has occured in tandem with scholarly criticism of large communications platforms such as Facebook and Google (Karppi 2018; Zuboff 2019). Thus far, the research on disconnection has mainly examined individual actors or loosely knit movements (Portwood-Stacer 2013; Hesselberth 2018). Little has been examined about the role of organizations and corporations in this process. Given that formal organizations are a foundational part of everyday life (Bromley and Meyer 2015; Perrow 1991), they merit particular attention in this matter. This paper will seek to fill this gap by examining organizational media refusal through the lenses of the motivations behind individual media refusal. In order to do this, the paper will present a synthesis of existing individual-focused ”disconnection” research and the motivations offered for media refusal. This will then inform an empirical, qualitative inquiry of organizational media refusal. Specifically, the paper will analyse a large Scandinavian organization refusing the use of Workplace from Facebook, an enterprise social media platform (Leonardi et al 2013). Workplace is developed by the Facebook company. As such, the case offers the advantage of working with a ”professional” platform which mimics the Facebook platform which is highly familiar to users (Lomborg 2014), highly studied (Stoycheff et al 2017), often rejected (Portwood-Stacer 2013) and highly criticized from both scholarly and popular fronts (Karppi 2018; Zuboff 2019). Furthermore, whereas previous studies have only speculated about the demise of Big Tech platforms (e.g. Ohman & Aggarwal 2019), this study will represent a small-scale empirical example. All of these factors will play into the analysis. In conclusion, the paper argues that any analysis of organizational media refusal is incomplete without paying attention to organizational dynamics, such as perceived legal liability and lack of control. This paper then goes on to discuss the extent to which we may find it reasonable to expect our workplaces to be bulwarks against any adverse effects of digital media, or even to resist them entirely. Keywords: Enterprise Social Media, Media Refusal, Workplace from Facebook, Organizational Communication, Digital Disconnection References Bromley, P., & Meyer, J. W. (2015). Hyper-organization: Global organizational expansion. Oxford University Press. Hesselberth, P. (2018). Discourses on disconnectivity and the right to disconnect. New Media & Society, 20(5), 1994–2010. Karppi, T. (2018). Disconnect: Facebook’s affective bonds. U of Minnesota Press. Leonardi, P. M., Huysman, M., & Steinfield, C. (2013). Enterprise social media: Definition, history, and prospects for the study of social technologies in organizations. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 19(1), 1–19. Lomborg, S. (2014). Social media, social genres: Making sense of the ordinary. Routledge. Ohman, C., & Aggarwal, N. (2019). What if Facebook Goes Down? Ethical and Legal Considerations for the Demise of Big Tech Platforms. Ethical and Legal Considerations for the Demise of Big Tech Platforms (November 27, 2019). Perrow, C. (1991). A society of Organizations. Theory & Society, 20(6), 725–762. Portwood-Stacer, L. (2013). Media refusal and conspicuous non-consumption: The performative and political dimensions of Facebook abstention. New Media & Society, 15(7), 1041–1057. Stoycheff, E., Liu, J., Wibowo, K. A., & Nanni, D. P. (2017). What have we learned about social media by studying Facebook? A decade in review. New Media & Society, 19(6), 968–980. Syvertsen, T., & Enli, G. (2020). Digital detox: Media resistance and the promise of authenticity. Convergence, 26(5–6), 1269–1283. Zuboff, S. (2019). The age of surveillance capitalism: The fight for the future at the new frontier of power. Profile Books.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date18 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2021
EventNordmedia Conference 2021 - University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland
Duration: 18 Aug 202120 Aug 2021


ConferenceNordmedia Conference 2021
LocationUniversity of Iceland
Internet address

ID: 258000111