Social Networking Sites as Contexts for Uses of Narrative: Toward a Story-Critical Approach to Digital Environments

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Narrative theorists have identified the role of social networking sites as elementary in the contemporary story economy. This article argues that they have, however, neglected to treat the sites as part of the digital infraculture which creates blind spots in current analyses of the digital as a context for narrative. The aim is to construct tools for a semiotics of the imperceptible, an approach to analyze the ways in which the digital shapes human agency in dimensions the users cannot directly perceive but which nevertheless affect users’ sense of what is possible for them. The article first reevaluates affordance and affect as concepts to demonstrate digital environments as a new type of context for uses of narrative. It then shows how these concepts can be applied to readings of experientiality and narrativity in digital environments which shape users’ narrative agency on multiple layers. Finally, the article examines how different agencies on these layers can be analyzed within the wider affective logic of the social networking sites. Finally, the article's findings are summarized as a story-critical approach to digital environments, one which accounts for the entanglement of individual agents in collectivities and points the way toward recognizing the ethics of shared responsibility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335–362
Number of pages28
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • digital environment
  • social media
  • affordance
  • agency
  • affect
  • assemblage

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 3


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