(accepted for publication)
Research software platform for collecting facebook data releesed in open Beta
While media studies have been locked into a classic producer-text-audience model, most theories of social media suggest some degree of collapse between the producer and audience. In this article, we address social media in terms of processes of value creation. The aim of the article is to demonstrate that social media are either addressed in terms of economic and socio-political value creation, that is, power, exploitation and business revenues, or in terms of value creation as sense-making, that is, creative explorations of the self and management of social relationships in everyday life. These different interests in value creation, we argue, have consequences for the conceptualization of the media user as a participatory agent. With specific focus on the notion of value creation in social media, we uncover implicit conceptions of the social media user guiding industry and user-centric perspectives, respectively. We demonstrate that while studying the same phenomenon, the two perspectives operate with very different conceptions of the producer/user nexus. We then discuss whether the literature is inconsequential in the analytic treatment of its own suggested collapse by questioning if, and if so how, this collapse is in fact taking place. Finally, we offer a mapping of the multifarious actor roles identified in the literature review to nuance the understanding of the producer/user nexus in social media and use it to identify and discuss possible opportunities for collapse and cross-fertilization of user-centric and industry perspectives in future studies of social media.