This paper presents a methodological effort to connect the specifics of technologies to the details of social practices, in an attempt to deepen our understanding of evolving sociotechnical cultures. More specifically, this paper describes a methodological framework that makes use of online discussions as a vital source of data. The reason the paper focuses on online discussion is that the Internet has become a natural habitat for discussions of high-end technologies, be they physical products or online services. The framework combines interpretative research and attribute-consequence-value (ACV) chain theory – a theory commonly applied to market and consumer research – to conceptualize and explore evolving prosumer cultures through online discussions. The benefit of using ACV chain theory is that it explicitly connects products and services to practices and values. The proposed methodological framework identifies three central techniques to elicit and analyse ACV chains from online prosumer discussions: (1) attribute analysis (2) Internet forum data collection and (3) thematic analysis. The paper goes on to exemplify the application of this framework by examining the sociotechnical co-evolution of the friend list – a backbone feature of many social networking services. In summary, this paper shows how ACV chains can be fruitfully applied to explore evolving prosumer cultures and make the vital connection between technical features and emerging cultures.


Means-End Chain Theory, ACVChains, Online Discussion, User Experience, Prosumption, QualitativeResearch

Author Bio(s)

Jörgen Skågeby is an assistant professor at the Dept. of Media Studies, Stockholm University, Sweden. His research interests include material interactions theory, post-social media and feminist design. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to Jörgen Skågeby, Email: jorgen.skageby@ims.su.se

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