chapter  6
15 Pages

Family Life in Polymedia

ByMirca Madianou

This chapter examines the way in which digital affordances become the tools that facilitate the expression of emotions and the management of relationships. The starting point is that platforms and affordances are understood as a composite environment of polymedia. Navigating polymedia is constrained by power dynamics which are key for understanding personal and social relationships. The chapter explores how, in conditions of prolonged separation between family members, polymedia also become the environments in which relationships are enacted and experienced. Polymedia is a sociotechnical approach that places equal weight on both social relationships and the design architecture and technical capabilities of social and mobile media. Doing family enmeshes practices of care and control enacted through polymedia. The affordances of polymedia environments visualize both actual relationships and family imaginaries—the normative projections of relationships. The polymedia approach describes the contours and microworkings of media life as a process of mediation.