Cultural Affordances and Social Media

Sun, Yinan
Suthers, Dan
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This paper first reviews the development and application of affordances theory in the field of social media studies. Then, it examines the significance and limitations of the original meaning of affordances of the environment that is provided by American psychologist James Gibson. The paper argues that the cultural aspect of affordances has been understated and should be included as part of affordances theory. To enrich theoretical understanding of affordances and further facilitate empirical studies of social media affordances, the paper offers a novel definition of cultural affordances that bridges cultural studies and social media studies. The new definition of cultural affordances includes two layers, which are cultural affordances of technology and affordances of the cultural. Later, the paper provides examples to showcase how this novel definition can be applied in prior empirical studies with a focus on WeChat.
Social Networking and Communities, affordances, cultural studies, social media, technology, wechat
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