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Mirko Tobias Schäfer

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Name  Mirko Schafer

Mirko Tobias Schäfer mtschaefer mirko tobias schfer

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Mirko Tobias Schäfer is a media scholar at Utrecht University. He is an Assistant Professor for New Media and Digital Culture at Utrecht University and directs the Utrecht Data School.



Mirko Tobias Schäfer Mirko Tobias Schfer mirkoschaefer Twitter

Schäfer studied theater, media and communication studies at the University of Vienna and digital culture at Utrecht University. He obtained a Ph.D. in 2008 at Utrecht University. Schäfer's research revolves around technology and how they transform society. He publishes on digital culture, cultural theory and new media. In 2011 he was awarded a fellowship at the University of Applied Arts Vienna where he investigates artistic technology research. Schäfer is a curator at Impakt Festival and a board member of the Utrecht's media lab SetUp Utrecht. He has been a research fellow at the University of Applied Arts Vienna and a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Humanities at Utrecht University.

Research activity

Schäfer conducted research on hacker communities, user participation and their impact on cultural industries.

In stark contrast to the general field of new media studies his research on participatory culture provides a critical deconstruction of user participation. Coining the term of an extended culture industry he builds upon the cultural critique of the Frankfurt School, most notably Adorno and Horkheimer. Developing the concept of an extended culture industry, Schäfer could show to what extent appropriation of design by users is embedded into corporate production. Through distinguishing user participation into explicit participation and implicit participation, Schäfer delivers a terminology to separate conscious and active user engagement from user activities that are channeled by user interface design.

Schäfer's contribution to the field of participatory culture was his distinction of implicit and explicit participation. Explicit participation refers to the conscious activities of cultural production and social interaction as it has been covered by Henry Jenkins in his work on fan culture. Implicit participation refers to the subtle ways of channeling user activities through interface design. Schäfer considers strategies of implicit participation as key aspect in popular social media application He argues that media practices that had been developed in using the world wide web, now are implemented in easy to use interfaces and new business models. Schäfer's analysis of participatory culture depicts an accurate "shift within the commercial media industries to embrace certain conceptions of the fan as an idealized consumer of transmedia entertainment."

In his recent research Schäfer investigates how social media platforms affect practices of political organization. In his analysis, Schäfer focuses on the role of user interface design, platform governance and methods of controlling and channeling user activities.


Schäfer, M.T. (2011) Bastard Culture! How User Participation Transforms Cultural Production. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Schäfer, M.T.; Van den Boomen, M; Lehmann, AS; Lammes, S.; Raessens, J. (2009) Digital Material. Tracing New Media in Everyday Life and Technology. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Schäfer, M.T.; Van Es, K. (2017) The Datafied Society. Studying Culture through Data. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press


Mirko Tobias Schäfer Wikipedia

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