Nick Prior, 28 January 2016

Title of the Talk: From Iron Cage to Digital Bubble via the Zombie Apocalypse: Mobile Listening Devices and the City

When? Thursday 28 January 2016 (17:00-18:30)

Where? The Barn at St John’s College (Kendrew Quad)

Speaker: Nick Prior (Head of Subject, The University of Edinburgh)

Abstract: The image of a mass of plugged in, zoned out urban dwellers – iZombies – has come to signify what it is to live in fast-paced, information-saturated, societies. This paper takes its cue from long-standing debates about the atomizing nature of modern cities and some of my own empirical investigations into young peoples’ use of mobile audio devices to explore how users strategize, reflect on and interact with such devices. It will interrogate the metaphor of the “digital bubble” (Bull, 2005), searching for something more nuanced by way of an analysis of how these devices are lightly, multiply and provisionally deployed in practice.

Speaker Biography: Nick Prior is currently writing a book, Popular Music, Technology and Society (Sage) which aims to move social science-based scholarship on pop music into more contemporary territories shaped by globalised, digitalised, networked relations. He has also worked on topics in the sociology of museums and visual culture, the sociology of cities and media/popular culture. He has a particular interest in the cultural sociology of Pierre Bourdieu and critical conceptual accounts of the hypermodern. He has co-edited a collection with Kate Orton-Johnson called Digital Sociology (Palgrave Macmillan) which assesses the methodological and conceptual challenges faced by the discipline as it confronts digitalised social landscapes. He is on the Editorial Boards of the journals Cultural Sociology and New Formations, a Carnegie Trust Assessor and a member of the ESRC Peer Review College. He is also an academic consultant for the video games company The Story Mechanics. Nick Prior is an electronic musician with experience of composition, remixing, writing scores for films, documentaries and theatre.

Convenor: Jason Stanyek (Associate Professor; Fellow and Tutor, St. John’s College)

Free admission – Open to the public. A drinks reception will follow the talk.


Event hosted as part of the Seminar in Ethnomusicology and Sound Studies Series, based at St John’s College, University of Oxford.

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