Lee Humphreys

Dr. Lee Humphreys studies the social uses and perceived effects of communication technology. Her research has explored mobile phone use in public spaces, emerging norms on mobile social networks, and the privacy and surveillance implications of location-based services. Her recent scholarship tries to historicize social media into a broader context of communication practices. Often using qualitative field methods, she focuses on how people integrate communication technology in their everyday lives in order to facilitate identity management and social interaction. She received her BS in Communication from Cornell University and received her MA and PhD from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.



What one insight from your field, approach, method, findings etc. do you think is most important for scholars working in this topical area?

Raymond Williams reminds us that culture can be divided into the ideal, the documentary, and the social. The ideal culture is that which we aspire to. The documentary culture is the textual, artistic, intellectual, and artifactual products of a culture. The social culture is the particular way of life and the everyday practices which represent a culture. All three need to be analyzed in order to truly understand cultural production in a digital age. We cannot examine one and think it represents all of culture.

What are two issues that are not adequately treated within current work on cultural production in the digital age in your field or in others?

Empirical research about how digital media are produced and consumed is critical to our understandings of contemporary cultural production, however, such research must be grounded in theoretical and historical frameworks. On one hand, there seems to be a fair bit of conjecture and opinion about digital culture which is not empirically grounded and on the other hand there seems to be a lot of digital data available but little that is historically or theoretically interpreted.

Are humanistic values such as justice, equality, democracy or (insert preferred humanistic value here) currently served by cultural production in a digital networked environment?

While I might say humanistic values are at work within contemporary cultural production, I probably wouldn’t say that they are being served by cultural production. A minor, but I think important distinction.