Sunday, 25 August 2013

Power of the Prosumer

Each and every time I am at the supermarket, I cannot help it.

No, I am not talking about purchasing those Pringles I did not really need. Instead, I am referring to the usage of self-serve checkouts, where customers are able to scan and bag their own items before paying through a machine.

Web 2.0 has been at the centre of the prosumer arena
This act of the consumer simultaneously performing the function(s) of the producer has been categorised by theorists under the term 'prosumption'. 

However, it is not just the supermarket checkouts where the 'prosumer' is active - there is also online.

Web 2.0, particularly, has acted as a prominent arena for prosumer activity, as it has provided internet users with the ability to produce content for media platforms. Such examples of Web 2.0 include YouTube, Facebook and Wikipedia, each of which rely on user-generated content.

Indeed, as Ritzer and Jurgenson (2010, p. 20) point out, Web 2.0 'is currently both the most prevalent location of prosumption and its most important facilitator as a 'means of prosumption''. 

Furthermore, the role of capitalism has been raised within prosumption, especially with regard to the idea users of these mediums are being exploited, given the fact they are producing content for the producers free-of-charge (Ritzer & Jurgenson 2010, p. 21).

With capitalism and Web 2.0 at the top of my mind, I have contemplated the role of the blogosphere and, moreover, my own experiences with the medium. 

In June 2012, whilst located in Bosnia and Herzegovina for an indefinite period, I decided to put my time to good use and start up a page on 'Blogger'. The site aimed to provide an Australian perspective of life in Bosnia. 

My blog gained me exposure not only on the internet, but also in Bosnia,
where I even featured in a double-page spread in Bosnia's daily national
newspaper, 'Dnevni Avaz' (Source: Dnevni Avaz / A. Dzonlic).

By the time I hung up the keyboard six months - and 200 posts - later, my blog had accumulated more than 35,000 views. (At the time of writing it has in excess of 53,000 views.)

Given my journalistic ambitions, the blog provided me an opportunity to enhance my writing skills, gain me some publicity, and showcased me to a worldwide audience where I could interact with fellow prosumers. 

Despite the fact I did not earn a single cent for the time spent writing, I feel as though there were many personal gains to make from utilising the medium, and would not hesitate to do so again in the future. 


Ritzer, G & Jurgenson, N 2010 ‘Production, Consumption, Prosumption: The nature of capitalism in the age of the digital ‘prosumer’, Journal of Consumer Culture, vol. 10 no. 1, pp 13-36. 

Monday, 12 August 2013

Harrods vs Hollands (Intimidation vs Resistance)

To some, it was the case of 'Harrods' versus 'Hollands'.

But, to many, it was really a case of David versus Goliath.

In May 2010, UK retail giant Harrods delivered a letter to the owners of Hollands Cafe Lounge - a family-run roadside cafe in Essex - requesting them to change their restaurant's logo due to its apparent resemblance to the decades-old Harrods logo.

The 'Hollands' cafe logo was too similar to the 'Harrods' copyright, according
to the retail giant. (Source: Sky News)

Harrods - worth an estimated £1.5 billion at the time - threatened the owners of the four-month-old cafe with legal action if they did not oblige (Levy 2010).

In what started out as a private letter soon became public, with the cafe's owners, Leyla and Nigel Holland, taking their story to the media.

'Hollands' cafe in Essex, UK. (Source: Peter Lawson/Eastnews
Press Agency Ltd)
By May 28 the saga had been published on major UK news sites including the BBC, Daily Mail and Sky News, leading to a groundswell of public support for the Hollands'.

In order to understand the power-relations of this situation, it is worth analysing the opposing methods of intimidation and resistance.

During their analysis of the music industry's response to file sharing, Martin, Moore and Salter (2010) argued 'powerful perpetrators often act in ways that intimidate their targets', but sometimes such intimidation backfires and has the effect of 'stimulating resistance' and 'lead[s] to greater support for the targets'.

This certainly appears to have been the case in the scenario involving Harrods and Hollands.

Whereby the retail corporation may have expected the small cafe to unequivocally accept the prestigious store's demands, it was instead subject to negative media coverage when the cafe's owners decided to publicise the story.

The exclusive 'Harrods' department store in the Knightsbridge
district of central London. (Source: Pawel Libera/CORBIS)

Months later - following complaints by Nigel Holland that he could not afford the apparent £14,000 necessary to alter the cafe's logos, menus and website - Harrods reportedly offered the cafe an undisclosed amount of financial assistance to make the changes (Daily Gazette 2010).

Although a lack of information on the internet makes it difficult to ascertain what occurred following the Harrods offer, the absence of media coverage thereafter rules it highly unlikely the Hollands' further resisted the corporation.

In retrospect, if one were to view this optimistically through the eyes of the targets, they would see the cash offer as a victory resulting from public resistance in the media.

While this may be true, others, such as myself, continue to lament the influence possessed by large corporations through scare-tactics akin to those mentioned.


Daily Gazette 2010, 'Hollands cafe offered cash by Harrods to change logo', retrieved 12 August 2013, <>.

Hoskins, P 2010, ''World' Backs Essex Cafe In Harrods Tussle', Sky News, 12 August, retrieved 12 August 2013, <>.

Levy, A 2010, 'David and Goliath battle as Harrods orders roadside cafe to change its sign for 'copyright infringement', Daily Mail, 28 May, retrieved 12 August 2013, <>.

Martin, B, Moore, C & Salter, C 2010, 'Sharing music files: Tactics of a challenge to the industry', First Monday, vol. 15, no. 12, retrieved 12 August 2013, <>.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Breaking down hegemony with Hip-Hop

'Hegemony is achieved when the power of the dominant groups in a society appears natural. It is … one where those who have power maintain their position through the creation of a particular worldview. Newspapers, TV and radio can be used to communicate the viewpoint of the ruling elites’ (Steven 2003, p. 43).

When I read Steven’s definition of hegemony, I am inclined to reflect back to a time when I believed everything I was fed by the dominant social groups in Australia.

Muslims have been labelled various terms pertaining 
negative connotations in recent times.
Shaped by what I viewed on mainstream news programs, I recall a time when I feared Muslims and viewed their religion as deviant and oppressive against women.

However, as I entered my teenage years, these perceptions drastically changed.

With my affection for music taking off at a rapid pace, and after a few years of tinkering with different genres (rock, pop, techno, to name a few), hip-hop entered my life and, undoubtedly, changed it forever.

Particularly, my discovery of what is termed by some as conscious hip-hop has been remarkably influential in determining my perceptions of the world.

Dyson defines conscious hip-hop as 'rap that is socially aware and consciously connected to historic patterns of political protest and aligned with progressive forces of social critique' (Dyson 2007, p. 64).

One influential artist of this subgenre is UK rapper Lowkey.

Lowkey is a Muslim, and his lyrics have persuaded me to alter my view on what Islam is, and what it actually stands for.

Many of his topics attempt to combat Western hegemony by questioning dominant Western depictions of Muslims.

He also lyricises of the importance of women and how they should be valued and respected by everyone, which contradicted my previous theory of Muslim women suffering under domineering males.

Indeed, as fate would have it, I ultimately resided in a predominantly-Muslim nation for twelve months during 2012, while I am now married to a Muslim woman.

If it were not for the conscious hip-hop lyrics of Lowkey and similar artists (such as Akala), I struggle to comprehend how I would have opened my eyes to Islam beyond what I digested in the mainstream media.


Dyson, M 2007, 'Know What I Mean? Reflections on Hip-Hop'. Basic Civitas, New York.

Lowkey - Something Wonderful (Official Video)+ Lyrics 2010, YouTube, Globalfaction, 11 October, retrieved 4 August 2013, <>

Steven, P 2003, 'Political economy: the howling, brawling, global market place', The no-nonsense guide to global media 2003, New Internationalist/Verso, Oxford.