Dr Vince Miller

Reader in Sociology and Cultural Studies
Director of Undergraduate Studies for Sociology and Cultural Studies
Deputy Head of School (Canterbury)

About

Dr Miller completed his PhD in Sociology at Lancaster University (under John Urry and Bulent Diken) and his BA and MA in Geography at the University of Alberta, Canada.

Research interests

Dr Miller's research interests focus on four broad themes:

  • The information society, media and new media
    Political economy of new media and the concept of 'digital capitalism', 'intimacy', 'friendship' and 'communication', the construction of relationships and presentation of self in the post-modern information age and how these are mediated through digital technologies such as the internet and mobile phones. One result of this work has been his discussion that new media technologies, and in particular social networking and microblogging sites, are a symptom of the development of a 'phatic' media culture. 
  • Social theory of space
    His work has been influenced by Henri Lefebvre, Foucault and Harvey, but he has been investigating ways to integrate the sociological phenomenology of Alfred Schutz (and other approaches influenced by pragmatism) into Lefevre's characterisation of 'spaces of representation', which he finds to be the most enigmatic part of his work. This has led him to build upon a notion of “vagueness” and the practices associated with it (such as wandering, rambling, borderless existence), as political activities that run counter to the hegemonic powers of modernity, opening up possibilities for other forms of space and practice. 
  • Belonging, community and forms of association
    This interest spans both broad interests in urbanism and ICT. In particular,he is looking at the ad hoc construction of “we”-ness which emphasises the phenomenology of “belonging” that takes place on a level between the “individual” and “community”, whether in the construction of urban place or in virtual spaces on the internet. He is writing and presenting papers on 'resonance' and 'presence'. 
  • Theories of urban social change and fragmentation
    The developing forms of 'gated' lifestyle, ethnic, religious and other enclave communities in contemporary urban space. The social impacts of networks, as well as intra-urban and inter-urban mobility (air travel, mobile classes, global cities) on individual identity, and community. 

Dr Miller's current focus is on the crisis of presence in contemporary society.   

Past research

Teaching

Dr Miller convenes the digital culture module. He also teaches on modules within other areas of the school, including Sociology (Research Methods), Cultural Studies , Criminology, and postgraduate (Secondary and Qualitative Research, Current Problems in Sociology and Contemporary Social Theory).  

Supervision

Dr Miller supervises PhD students on a variety of topics, largely within the areas of urban studies and digital culture.  Please contact him if you have a proposal in his areas of research.

Professional

Consultancy 

In 2010, Dr Miller was hired as a consultant speaker by London-based marketing company Skyrite to discuss the potential of social media to a large group of marketers and well-known brands. 

In 2006, he worked on a consultancy project, with French telecom company Orange, to investigate the phenomenon of blogging. 

Refereeing 

Dr Miller has been a frequent peer reviewer for ESRC funding applications, primarily on urban studies-related applications, and he has refereed articles for many journals including: The British Journal of Sociology; The European Journal of Social Theory; Ethnicities; Space & Culture; Convergence: The International Journal for Research into New Media Technologies; Continuum: The Journal of Media and Cultural Studies; and Social & Cultural Geography. 

Media 

Dr Miller has appeared on a number of radio programmes, including BBC’s The Today Programme and Nightwaves, Irish radio and local Kent radio (KMFM). 

In 2009, he appeared in two learning documentaries (“ICT’s and Business”, and “ICT’s and Society”) for the production company TV Choice and also here: 

Publications

Article

  • Miller, V. and Hayward, K. (2018). ‘I did my bit’: Terrorism, Tarde and the Vehicle-Ramming Attack as an Imitative Event. British Journal of Criminology [Online] azy017. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/bjc/azy017.
    This paper charts the rise in prevalence of ramming attacks and how this wave of attacks challenges many of the assumptions and approaches we have about terrorism, its causes, and policies to address it. Such approaches tend to concentrate on either the ‘psychology’ of individual terrorists, or wider structural issues, such as religious ideology and the role of terrorist organisations in converting and recruiting people to violence. This paper will take a different approach, one which focusses less on structure and individual psychology, and more on the act itself, as something that is not merely an expression of an individual or an ideology, but something that has a lure and force of its own, as something that travels through our contemporary mediascape, to be internalised and imitated by an increasingly varied set of subjects with varying motivations, psychologies, ideologies and circumstances.
  • Burgess, A., Miller, V. and Moore, S. (2017). Prestige, Performance and Social Pressure in Viral Challenge Memes: Neknomination, the Ice-Bucket Challenge and SmearForSmear as Imitative Encounters. Sociology [Online]. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0038038516680312.
    This article examines social media challenges that emerged in 2013, focusing on Neknomination, the Ice-Bucket Challenge and SmearForSmear. We understand them as ‘viral challenge memes’ that manifest a set of consistent features, making them a distinctive phenomenon within digital culture. Drawing upon Tarde’s concept of the imitative-encounter, we highlight three central features: their basis in social belonging and participation; the role of prestigious people and groups in determining the spread of challenges; and the distinctive techniques of self-presentation undertaken by participants. Based upon focus group interviews, surveys and visual analysis we suggest that viral challenge memes are social practices that diffuse in a wave-like fashion. Negotiating tensions between the social and individual, imitation and innovation, continuity and change, viral challenge memes are best thought of as creative practices, rather than sheep-like acts of conformity, and affirm the usefulness of analytical principles drawn from Tarde.
  • Miller, V. (2015). Phatic Culture and the Status Quo: Reconsidering the Purpose of Social Media Activism. Convergence: The International Journal of Research Into New Media Technologies [Online]:1-19. Available at: http://www.dx.doi.org/10.1177/1354856515592512.
    Apart from the exchanging of information, an important role of conversation and communication is to promote social harmony through the maintenance of relationships. This is referred to as the ‘phatic’ function of communication. Indeed, digital communications technologies, and social media in particular, have been lauded for their potential to promote activism and social change through ‘raising awareness’ of injustices, their ability to motivate people into political action, and the facility to organise and co-ordinate that action for maximum effect. In this paper, I build upon previous arguments which suggested that the rise of social networking demonstrated that online culture and communication had become increasingly ‘phatic’ and less dialogic. Here I use previous empirical work to challenge the above claims of digital politics enthusiasts. I then suggest an alternative theoretical account of the function of digital media activism which better suits these empirical findings. I suggest that digital politics demonstrates a rise of ‘phatic communion’ in social media. Incorporating Heidegger’s notion of ‘idle talk’, I further suggest that the rise of a phatic online culture in social media activism has atrophied the potential for digital communications technologies to help foster social change by creating a conversational environment based on limited forms of expressive solidarity as opposed to an engaged, content-driven, dialogic public sphere.
  • Miller, V. (2015). Resonance as a social phenomenon. Sociological Research Online [Online] 20:9-19. Available at: http://www.dx.doi.org/10.5153/sro.3557.
    This paper is a theoretical investigation into the question of affinity and belonging in everyday life contexts. I argue that Sociology has tended to focus attention on the conceptual binaries of ‘individual/community’ or ‘individual/social structure’ when discussing experiences of inclusion, solidarity or belonging in social life. This has meant that such experiences are generally conceived in terms of ‘a part of’ or ‘apart from’. Such a focus has meant that incidents of belonging or affinity which lie between these extremes and which may be intense, intimate and meaningful, but at the same time fluid, ephemeral or tenuous tend to escape sociological analysis. Largely inspired by sociological phenomenology, but multi-disciplinary in nature, this paper will try to address this issue by positing ‘resonance’ as a useful concept by which sociologists and social scientists more generally, can engage with the more fluid forms of belonging and affinity achieved in everyday life contexts.
  • Miller, V. (2012). A Crisis of Presence: On-line Culture and Being in the World. Space and Polity [Online] 16:265-285. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13562576.2012.733568.
    This paper is a discussion about presence and its relationship to ethical and moral behaviour. In particular, it problematises the notion of presence within a contemporary culture in which social life is increasingly lived and experienced through networked digital communication technologies alongside the physical presence of co-present bodies. Using the work of Heidegger, Levinas, Bauman and Turkle (among others), it is suggested that the increasing use of these technologies and our increasing presence in on-line environments challenges our tendencies to ground moral and ethical behaviours in face-to-face or materially co-present contexts. Instead, the mediated presences we can achieve amplify our cultural tendency to objectify the social world and weaken our sense of moral and ethical responsibility to others. In that sense, an important disjuncture exists between the largely liminal space of on-line interactions and the ethical sensibilities of material presence which, as these two spheres become more intensely integrated, has potential consequences for the future of an ethical social world and a civil society. The examples are used of on-line suicides, trolling and cyberbullying to illustrate these ethical disjunctures.
  • Miller, V. (2010). Mapping and the colonization of the lifeworld. Lo Squaderno [Online]. Available at: http://www.losquaderno.professionaldreamers.net/?cat=144.
    Many critical theorists from the Frankfurt School onward have echoed Weber’s argument that the development of modern capitalism has been tied to the development of an instrumental rationality in human relations and communication. This view asserts that thinking, planning and action have become more focussed on the most efficient means to achieve a specific end, with little critical reflection on the end itself, or the context in which that end is embedded. In this regard, maps are perhaps the most powerful and pervasive tool of instrumental rationality.
  • Miller, V. (2008). New Media, Networking and Phatic Culture. Convergence: The International Journal of Research Into New Media Technologies [Online] 14:387-400. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1354856508094659.
    This article will demonstrate how the notion of ‘phatic communion’ has become an increasingly significant part of digital media culture alongside the rise of online networking practices. Through a consideration of the new media objects of blogs, social networking profiles and microblogs, along with their associated practices, I will argue, that the social contexts of ‘individualization’ and ‘network sociality’, alongside the technological developments associated with pervasive communication and ‘connected presence’ has led to an online media culture increasingly dominated by phatic communications. That is, communications which have purely social (networking) and not informational or dialogic intents. I conclude with a discussion of the potential nihilistic consequences of such a culture.
  • Miller, V. (2006). The unmappable: vagueness and spatial experience. Space and Culture [Online] 9:453-467. Available at: http://sac.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/9/4/453.
    This article contributes to current discussions of the spatial inspired by complexity theories that emphasize the multiple and relational qualities of space. It introduces the concept of vagueness and “vague objects” and relates these to spatial theory through the intersubjective theory of Alfred Schutz. The author argues that a consideration of vagueness, especially as constructed in Schutz’s version of intersubjectivity, can provide insights (outside complexity theorizations) into the continuous and multivalent nature of social space and the relationships between spatial experience, practice, representation, and power.
  • Miller, V. (2005). Intertextuality, the referential illusion and the production of a gay ghetto. Social & Cultural Geography [Online] 6:61-79. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1464936052000335973.
    This paper challenges Lefebvre’s distinction between Representations of Space and Spaces of Representation. Most current work in this area has assumed modernist conceptions of power, thereby interpreting representations of space (conceived space) as the property of the powerful who alone possess the ability to abstract space for their particular ends. Contrary to Lefebvre, I suggest that representation and abstraction are not the agents of state capitalism alone but are also manifested in ‘counter’ discourses. As an example of a ‘counter discourse’ I draw upon a series of editorial articles written in a local gay-oriented newspaper about a gay enclave in Vancouver, Canada. I argue that these depictions cloud the distinctions as practised between conception, abstraction and the imaginary in urban space. They also serve to promote one interpretation of space above others, and in that sense they colonize the experience of everyday life in their own way. The act of ‘speaking for’ presupposes a certain power, and in these cases, highlights the fact that the power of representation and abstraction does not only occur at the state or ‘system’ level. I suggest that by overcoming the assumption of a zero-sum ontology of power, one can see how a variety of agents in the urban context engage in the attempt to carve out their ‘own’ spaces of stability in the urban social imaginary.
  • Miller, V. (2004). Mobile Chinatowns: the future of community in a space of flows. Electronic Journal of Social Issues [Online] 2. Available at: http://www.whb.co.uk/socialissues/indexvol2.htm.
    In recent urban studies literature, it has been recognised that ethnic settlements in cities have undergone significant transformations, largely as a result of the 'globalisation' process. The term ethnoburb, for example, has begun to be used recently in reference to new suburban Chinese settlements in North American cities (particularly Los Angeles). These settlements have proved to be quantitatively different from traditional 'Chinatowns' in a number of ways. While accepting this new model of the Chinese ethnoburb (Li 1998), this paper goes on to ask how these changes, resulting largely from globalisation, and the rise of transnationalism and cosmopolitanism, impact on the experience of this new space of immigration. That is, how is living and being in an ethnoburb different from living in a Chinatown?

    Through the use of in-depth interview data of Chinese-Canadian residents and users of the Richmond, British Columbia Chinese ethnoburb, I argue in this paper that the fundamental experiential characteristic of the Chinese ethnoburb is one of mobility (Urry 2000), which results in a fundamentally different ethnic social space, characterised by the experience of movement and the ability to be 'elsewhere'. In this sense, Richmond can be seen as a 'space of flows' rather that an 'ethnic enclave'. This is illustrated through and an examination of the mobilities of bodies, objects, and imaginations within the 'space' of the Richmond ethnoburb.

Book

  • Miller, V. (2016). The Crisis of Presence in Contemporary Culture: Ethics, Privacy and Speech in Mediated Social Life. [Online]. London: Sage. Available at: https://uk.sagepub.com/en-gb/eur/the-crisis-of-presence-in-contemporary-culture/book244328.
    This book investigates three issues in particular which have captured the public imagination as ‘problems’ emerging directly from the contemporary use of communications technology: online anti-social behaviour; the problem of privacy; and the problem of free speech online. Through a critical and philosophical examination of each of these cases in turn, I will argue that these problems have at their root the issue of presence, and are evoking what I call a ‘crisis of presence’. I argue that the use of ubiquitous communication technologies has created a disjuncture between how we think we exist in the world, (how we understand our presence in time, place and in proximity to one another, and the typical social actions and ethical stances which stem from such assumptions) and how we actually do exist in the world through our use of such devices. The main problem here, I suggest, is a lack of awareness of our own and others’ presence in the world through these technologies, and thus the inability to make proper judgements about the consequences of our social actions and ethical stances in online contexts. By focussing on the concept of presence, and the challenges that our changing presence poses to our ethics, privacy and public discourse, I argue that the real task for networked humanity is the recognition that these problems are at least in part the result of a certain ‘stance’ taken to the world and enabled by technology. The solution therefore, is not to focus exclusively on content and its regulation as much as it is to examine the alienating aspects of the media itself by understanding and resisting the more destructive tendencies in technological ordering, metaphysical abstraction, disembodiment and mediation which increasingly appear in our social encounters and presences. I suggest that such resistance involves several ambitious revisions in our ethical, legal and technological regimes.
  • Miller, V. (2011). Understanding Digital Culture. [Online]. Sage, London. Available at: http://www.uk.sagepub.com/books/Book232956?siteId=sage-uk&prodTypes=any&q=978-1-84787-497-9&pageTitle=productsSearch.
    This is more than just another book on internet studies. Tracing the pervasive influence of 'digital culture' throughout contemporary life, this text integrates socio-economic understandings of the 'information society' with the cultural studies approach to production, use, and consumption of digital media and multimedia. Refreshingly readable and packed with examples from profiling databases and mashups to cybersex and the truth about social networking, "Understanding Digital Culture": crosses disciplines to give a balanced account of the social, economic and cultural dimensions of the information society; illuminates the increasing importance of mobile, wireless and converged media technologies in everyday life; unpacks how the information society is transforming and challenging traditional notions of crime, resistance, war and protest, community, intimacy and belonging; charts the changing cultural forms associated with new media and its consumption, including music, gaming, microblogging and online identity; and, illustrates the above through a series of contemporary, in-depth case studies of digital culture. This is the perfect text for students looking for a full account of the information society, virtual cultures, sociology of the internet and new media.
  • Clough, R., Leamy, M., Miller, V. and Bright, L. (2004). Housing Decisions in Later Life. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Book section

  • Miller, V. (2011). New media, networking and phatic culture (reprint). In: Dicks, B. ed. Digital Qualitative Research Methods. Sage. Available at: https://uk.sagepub.com/en-gb/eur/digital-qualitative-research-methods/book233220.
    This article will demonstrate how the notion of 'phatic communion' has become an increasingly significant part of digital media culture alongside the rise of online networking practices. Through a consideration of the new media objects of blogs, social networking profiles and microblogs, along with their associated practices, I will argue, that the social contexts of 'individualization' and 'network sociality', alongside the technological developments associated with pervasive communication and 'connected presence' has led to an online media culture increasingly dominated by phatic communications. That is, communications which have purely social (networking) and not informational or dialogic intents. I conclude with a discussion of the potential nihilistic consequences of such a culture.
  • Miller, V. (2010). New media, networking, and phatic culture (reprint). In: Nayar, P. ed. The New Media and Cybercultures Anthology. Blackwell, pp. 534-543. Available at: http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1405183071.html.
    This article will demonstrate how the notion of 'phatic communion' has become an increasingly significant part of digital media culture alongside the rise of online networking practices. Through a consideration of the new media objects of blogs, social networking profiles and microblogs, along with their associated practices, I will argue, that the social contexts of 'individualization' and 'network sociality', alongside the technological developments associated with pervasive communication and 'connected presence' has led to an online media culture increasingly dominated by phatic communications. That is, communications which have purely social (networking) and not informational or dialogic intents. I conclude with a discussion of the potential nihilistic consequences of such a culture.
  • Miller, V. (2009). The Internet and everyday life. In: Jewkes, Y. and Yar, M. eds. Handbook of Internet Crime. Taylor & Francis Ltd.
  • Carney, P. and Miller, V. (2009). Vague Spaces. In: Jansson, A. and Lagerkvist, A. eds. Strange Spaces: Explorations into Mediated Obscurity. Ashgate, Farnham, pp. 33-56. Available at: http://www.ashgate.com/default.aspx?page=637&calcTitle=1&title_id=8213&edition_id=8454.
    Strange Spaces
    Explorations into Mediated Obscurity;

    Certain bizarre spaces, where disruption or disarray rule, leave us estranged and 'out of place'. This book examines such spaces, highlighting the emotional and mediated geographies of uncertainty and in-betweeness; of cognitive displacement, loss, fear, or exhilaration. It expands on why space is sometimes estranging and for whom it is strange. Overlapping with affections evoked by otherness, such as the 'exile', the 'obscene', the 'deviant', or the 'queer', strange spaces also call for a separate discussion ranging from decadence or disorder to spaces glowing with celebrification and wonder. Strange spaces in this book are conceived of in terms of change; involving processes when the consciousness registers a form of loss or difference as the habitual suddenly, or by degrees, is transformed into the site of exile, discomfort and sometimes novelty, astonishment and awe. While literature exists which covers both strangeness and spatial production, as well as empirical explorations of strange spaces, these have previously been dispersed and most often non-explicit. This book is the first to link such work within a profound theoretical discussion of 'what is strange about strange spaces' and how they evolve in a modern media age.
  • Miller, V. (2009). Gay Geographies. In: Kitchen, R. and Thrift, N. eds. International Encyclopedia of Human Geography. Elsevier, pp. 302-308. Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=RefWorkIndexURL&_idxType=AR&_cid=278622&_alpha=G&md5=fd5a85d1f22e20e0975a191ac677eb91.
    Gay geographies refer to the distinctive sociospatial distributions of gay populations (particularly gay men), as well as the social and commercial spaces and institutions which provide focus for a gay community. In Western society, the visibility, form, and function of gay-oriented spaces has changed significantly through different historical periods, largely determined by the amount of tolerance shown toward homosexuality at a particular time.
  • Miller, V. (2009). Social and cultural geography: gay geographies. In: Thrift, N. and Kitchin, R. eds. The International Encyclopedia of Human Geography. Oxford: Elsevier Science Ltd.
    In past centuries, extreme prejudice and repression
    meant that gay life was restricted to only the largest
    cities, and to clandestine networks of private and public
    spaces which were largely unknown to ‘straight’ society.
    However, the urbanization process of the nineteenth and
    twentieth centuries, and the social and legal reforms of
    the late 1960s onward, have allowed spaces which are
    much more visibly oriented to the gay community to
    develop. These spaces have now become an increasingly
    common feature within the inner areas of medium-sized
    and larger cities of North America, Europe and Australasia,
    as well as the largest cities of South America and
    Asia.
  • Miller, V. (2004). Stitching the Web into Global Capitalism: two stories. In: Gauntlett, D. ed. Web.Studies: Rewiring Media Studies for the Digital Age. London and New York: Arnold/Oxford University Press, pp. 171-184.
  • Miller, V. (2000). Search engines, portals and global capitalism. In: Gauntlett, D. ed. Web.Studies: Rewiring Media Studies for the Digital Age. London: Arnold/Oxford University Press, pp. 113-121. Available at: http://bookshop.blackwell.co.uk/jsp/id/Web_Studies/9780340760499.
    This chapter examines the claim made by Michael Dawson and John Bellamy-Foster that the Internet will fail to produce a perfect marketplace. Their claim lies in the political and economic history of communications, an indistry increasingly dominated by oligopoly. They believe that the information highway will be no exception to this trend, especially considering its increasing attractiveness to global capital.

    My argument is that within the development of portals and search engines, we can see Foster and Dawson's thesis played out. These companies show how the development of the Internet has been one of commercial interests, how they have the potential to be powerful marketing tools and how thier continuing financial saga is evidence of a trend towards oligopoly on the information highway.
  • Miller, V. and Valentine, J. (1998). What happens if nothing happens? Staging Euro ’96. In: Merkel, U., Lines, G. and McDonald, I. eds. The Production and Consumption of Sport Cultures. Brighton: Leisure Studies Association, pp. 89-109. Available at: http://bookshop.blackwell.co.uk/jsp/id/The_Production_and_Consumption_of_Sport_Cultures/9780906337721.
    This paper critically engages with perspectives on globalisation, and the globalisation of sport in particular, in the light of research conducted on the European football championships held in England in the summer of 1996 (Euro '96). Our research focusses on two aspects of Euro '96. Firstly, we indicate the problems and sucesses entailed in the attempt to intervene on the English football 'imaginaire' in order to structure subjectivity around the event. Secondly, we investigate the relationships between the organisers and one of the localities, Manchester, in which the event was staged, and where antagonistic relationships between local organisers and international governing bodies led to a series of tactical semiotic moves on the part of Manchester local authorities to carve out a share of sponsorship revenues from the event, while international football governing bodies followed a strategy of having the burden of the costs distributed down to localities like Manchester, while securing for thermselves large profits through exclusive sponsorship deals.

Conference or workshop item

  • Miller, V. and Garcia, G. (2017). Digital Ruins. In: Association of American Geographers Annual Conference April 5-9, 2017.
    In recent years, Geography has seen a rebirth of interest and appreciation of the ruins, abandoned and neglected spaces of modernity (for examples, Edensor 2005 on industrial ruins and Pinder 2005 on urban exploration). This work has emphasised the sensuousness of the material contextualisation of space largely in terms of the phenomenological experience of decay, disorder and blight. In addition, such work has also attempted to capture the affective elements of these spaces through concepts such as ‘ghostliness’, ‘haunting’ as well as drawing on elements of romanticism and nostalgia, and, in general, the experience or memory of a past recent enough to still have a presence.
    This paper is an investigation into ruins or abandoned spaces which do not have materiality or temporality: digital ruins. Existing without age in a kind of eternal present, such spaces do not decay, yet still demonstrate many of the affective and phenomenological experiences of what we understand to be ruin, abandonment or blight. Using ethnographic research of a variety of abandoned or nearly-abandoned virtual worlds, this paper will reconsider the notions of ‘ruin’ and ‘blight’ within the increasingly important context of digital spaces. At the same time, it will also situate the digital ruin within the wider critique of the relationship between capitalism and space.
  • Miller, V. (2017). ‘I did my bit’: terrorism, Tarde, and the vehicle ramming attack. In: Terrorism, Crime, Culture.
    This paper looks at the phenomenon of 'vehicle ramming attacks' and their rise in recent years though the lens of Gabriel Tarde's concept of 'imitation' or 'mimetic encounter'. Using historical data, it tracks the rise of such attacks in recent years, particularly in terms of their geographical spread and temporal clustering, and suggests that, unlike many 'waves' of terrorism, this one has spread across ideological and ethic divides to include Islamic terrorists, the mentally ill, and far-right activists. It suggests that the idiosyncrasies of this phenomenon fit well with Tarde's notion of 'imitation' and the 'monadic subject', and that ultimately, one needs to consider the power of the act itself as a causal factor in such actions, as opposed to merely focussing on structural, ideological or psychological causes.
  • Miller, V. (2015). The Rights of Distributed Selves. In: Association of American Geographers Annual Conference.
  • Miller, V. (2015). The Rights of Distributed Selves. In: Digital Existence: Memory, Meaning, Vulnerability Conference.
  • Miller, V. (2014). ’Politics without Presence? Reconsidering the Purpose of Social Media Activism’. In: Association of American Geographers Annual Conference.
  • Miller, V. (2011). ’The Crisis of Presence in Contemporary Culture’. In: Spaces and Flows Conference.
  • Miller, V. (2011). The Crisis of Presence in Contemporary Culture. In: Association of American Geographers Annual Conference.
  • Miller, V. (2010). ‘The Vague Realm of the Possible: Interstices, Nomadism and the Re-Enchantment of Urban Space’. In: Association of American Geographers Annual Conference.
  • Miller, V. (2006). ’"Dear World” - New Media Technology and the Compression of the Social’. In: Crossroads: International Association for Cultural Studies Conference.
  • Miller, V. (2006). The Unmappable: Vagueness and Urban Experience. In: Crossroads: International Association for Cultural Studies Conference.
  • Miller, V. (2006). The Unmappable: Vagueness and Urban Experience. In: Translocalities: Borders, Boundaries, and the Making of Sites.
  • Miller, V. (2002). ‘The rise of the Chinese ethnoburb in Canada: qualitative aspects of a new urban form’. In: Canadian Association of Geographers Annual Conference.
  • Miller, V. (2001). ‘Reconsidering the power of representation in space’. In: Space, Culture, Power: An Interdisciplinary Conference.
  • Miller, V. and Boden, D. (1999). ‘Object spaces: The reflexive constitution of global brands’. In: Sociality/Materiality: The Status of the Object in Social Science.
  • Miller, V. (1997). ‘Euro 96: Staging the event and distributing the risk’. In: Leisure, Culture and Commerce: Leisure Studies Association Annual Conference.

Monograph

  • Clough, R., Leamy, M., Miller, V. and Bright, L. (2003). Homing in on Housing: A Study of Housing Decisions of People Aged over 60. Eskrigge Social Research.
    A 3 year study to explore what influenced older people's housing decisions and how they perceived both their situations and their choices.

Thesis

  • Yates, D. (2015). Continuity Through Change: Urban Ecology in a South London Market.
    This research works to demonstrate how different descriptions of place and identity can be understood as being co-constructed. Specifically, how this process facilitates market to be adaptable, more resilient, type of place. It is an exploration of the notion that ‘People make places and places make people’. In order to illustrate the process of research and knowledge development, the first two chapters of this thesis demonstrate a progression of the research subject. Chapter 1 sets out the key characteristics and similarities of both place and identity presented across a range of disciplines and theories. It concludes that these similarities indicate a need for a theoretical development capable of encompassing the process of construction of both concepts.
    Chapter 2 begins to develop the theoretical approach by looking at a short background on the previous work on markets. Further, this chapter develops the approach taken that focuses on the material culture found in and around markets. This focus is structured by a focus on Actor Network Theory and specifically focuses on how this helps us understand distributed agency and what this might look like for an understanding of place and identity.
    In light of the subject and theory explored in the previous chapters, Chapter 3 provides the philosophical and methodological underpinning of this thesis. The chapter lays out how and why markets were chosen and provides the framework of the methodology including coding analysis, participant observation and ethical considerations. Following the phenomenological
    12
    tradition, such an account works to describe the complexity of interconnected events, highlighting the process of construction through interpretive account.
    The results chapters are highly descriptive and cover the key themes of resilience, connectivity and selection. The final results chapter focuses on the process of ‘stalling out’ as a performative one – the practice of which holds the construction of both individual and place identity. The four results chapters combine descriptive text and photographic images taken by the researcher and informants. Finally, the last chapter provides a very short summary and suggests that markets and people can be understood as very similar systems.
  • Ward, J. (2015). Cultural Labour in the Context of Urban Regeneration: Artists’ Work in Margate and Folkestone.
    This thesis engages with debates around cultural work and culture-led regeneration by exploring the working conditions encountered and experienced by visual artists who have located in Margate and Folkestone, two towns in Kent (South East England) which have pursued culture-led regeneration. It draws on, and contributes, to critical debates on cultural labour and the conditions of cultural work as well as long-standing debates around culture and creativity as drivers of urban regeneration. It establishes the ways in which artists’ labour is integral to culture-led urban policies, and further critically explores the quality of such work, looking at the conditions under which it proceeds, and the values and meanings individual workers ascribe to it. The thesis demonstrates that culture-led urban strategies represent a locus of economic exploitation for the artists implicated in them. This accords with other studies that provide evidence of artistic, and other forms of cultural, labour as wholly beset by economic and social structures that instrumentalise cultural value, and undermine any intrinsic value or meaning to cultural labour. However, this thesis also provides a ‘defence’ of artists’ work. While noting the continuing inequalities, marginalisation and exclusionary effects of neoliberal working conditions and practices, this thesis demonstrates that creative cultural work is not fully colonised by the market, and that within the cultural industries there remains the possibility of ‘good work’. This thesis concludes that although economic exploitation and insecurity are common, workers are able to draw upon pre-existing cultural discourses that sometimes allow them to produce value and meaning in their work in ways that evade capitalist logics.
  • Flaxman, K. (2014). Impression Management and the Problematic Self Online: Facebook, Friendship and Recognition.
    This thesis broadly addresses the issue of identity management and performance online. The social networking site Facebook has been used as the primary research site due to its dominance on the World Wide Web and in individuals’ lives. Specifically this thesis seeks to understand how people negotiate their identity in a social space where a multitude of different friendship groups and associations are simultaneously present. The thesis makes extensive use of the premise originally made by Erving Goffman, that we give particular performances of self to particular groups of people and social situations, and extends this to our more intimate and interpersonal relationships. Further, an exploration is undertaken of the relevancy of early Internet theories concerning the fragmented self, and hypothesises that although these arguments are not redundant the opposite of this is equally plausible. This is to say that instead of identities becoming
    segregated, the design and conditions of Facebook allows its users to present what is termed here as a recentred self: a self or identity that is an amalgamation of all relevant identities in order to satisfy a level of recognition in as many social groups and associations as possible.

    Through an extensive observational online ethnography and a number of online interviews, the data revealed a complex relationship between the individual, their presentation of self, their relations with others and offline community integration. Using three case studies (Goth, eating disorders and fetishism) it emerged that
    depending on the perceived taboo or deviant nature of the specific identity, the expected reactions of others and the integration of the identity in the offline individuals engage with highly variant forms of identity management. Using these different forms of management, that include the fragmented self, the re-centred
    self and combinations of multiple strategies, individuals negotiate their way through a myriad of identities and audiences. Through successful identity management individuals aim to be able to protect themselves against potential repercussions from revelation of a problematic identity, and in turn maintain a comfortable level of
    recognition.

Forthcoming

  • Miller, V. and Garcia, G. (2019). Digital Ruins. Cultural Geographies.
    In recent years, Geography has seen a rebirth of interest and appreciation of ruins, abandoned and neglected spaces of industrial modernity. This work has often emphasised the sensuousness of the material contextualisation of industrial ruins largely in terms of the phenomenological experience of decay, disorder and blight, or the affective elements of these spaces through concepts such as ‘ghostliness’ and ‘haunting’. This paper is an investigation into ruins or abandoned spaces which do not have materiality or temporality: digital ruins. Existing in a kind of eternal present, such spaces do not decay, yet still demonstrate many of the affective, phenomenological, and existential experiences of what we understand to be ruin, abandonment or blight. Using autoethnographic research of a variety of abandoned and nearly-abandoned virtual worlds, this paper will reconsider the notions of ‘ruin’ within the increasingly important context of digital spaces, the utopian rhetoric which framed the development of these worlds, and situate the digital ruin within a wider critique of digital prosumerism.
  • Miller, V. (2018). The ethics of digital being: vulnerability, invulnerability, and ‘dangerous surprises’. In: Lagerqvist, A. ed. Digital Existence: Ontology, Ethics and Transcendence in Digital Culture. London: Routledge, pp. 171-186. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Digital-Existence-Ontology-Ethics-and-Transcendence-in-Digital-Culture/Lagerkvist-Peters/p/book/9781138092433.
    This chapter will engage with the notion that one of the key defining features of digital being, at least in terms of ethical engagement with others via technological interfaces and networks, is a heightened state of both invulnerability and vulnerability. Merleau-Ponty suggested that embodied existence in the world is defined by a stance of vulnerability and the anticipation of ‘dangerous surprises’. In digital existence, I suggest that our continuous, archived, digital presence, distributed in a multitude of networks, archives, databases and servers, opens us up to increased vulnerabilities of which we are only partially aware. These vulnerabilities become more present to us when we hear of, or are the victims of trolling, a data breach, hacking scandal or other form of ‘dangerous surprise’.
    This chapter looks in detail at two incidents: the five-year long trolling campaign against Nicola Brookes, and the ‘Ashley Madison hack’ of 2015. Using these examples, this paper will investigate the notion of vulnerability as one way to investigate being in the digital age. I argue that digital being consists of a contradictory stance to the world: of heightened invulnerability in our social encounters with others, alongside a heightened vulnerability to a host of unknown ‘dangerous surprises’. I suggest further that the negotiation of this stance is fundamental to any development of an ethics for the digital age.
  • Miller, V. (2018).The ethics of digital being: vulnerability, invulnerability, and “dangerous surprises.” In: Digital Existence: Ontology, Ethics and Transcendence in Digital Culture. Routledge.
    This chapter will engage with the notion that one of the key defining features of digital being, at least in terms of ethical engagement with others via technological interfaces and networks, is a heightened state of both invulnerability and vulnerability. Merleau-Ponty suggested that embodied existence in the world is defined by a stance of vulnerability and the anticipation of ‘dangerous surprises’. In digital existence, I suggest that our continuous, archived, digital presence, distributed in a multitude of networks, archives, databases and servers, opens us up to increased vulnerabilities of which we are only partially aware. These vulnerabilities become more present to us when we hear of, or are the victims of trolling, a data breach, hacking scandal or other form of ‘dangerous surprise’.

    This chapter looks in detail at two incidents: the five-year long trolling campaign against Nicola Brookes, and the ‘Ashley Madison hack’ of 2015. Using these examples, this paper will investigate the notion of vulnerability as one way to investigate being in the digital age. I argue that digital being consists of a contradictory stance to the world: of heightened invulnerability in our social encounters with others, alongside a heightened vulnerability to a host of unknown ‘dangerous surprises’. I suggest further that the negotiation of this stance is fundamental to any development of an ethics for the digital age.
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