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Digital Media

Transformations in Human Communication

Edited By Paul Messaris and Lee Humphreys

The age of digital media has given rise to a new social world. It is a world in which the transmission of information from the few to the many is steadily being supplanted by the multi-directional flow of facts, lies, and ideas. It is a world in which hundreds of millions of people are voluntarily depositing large amounts of personal details in publicly accessible databases. It is a world in which interpersonal relationships are increasingly being conducted in the virtual sphere. Above all, this is a world that seems to be veering off in unpredictable ways from the trends of the immediate past. This book is a probing examination of that world, and of the changes that it has ushered into our lives.

In more than thirty essays by a wide range of scholars, this must-have second edition examines the impact of digital media in six areas – information, persuasion, community, gender and sexuality, surveillance and privacy, and cross-cultural communication – and offers an invaluable guide for students and scholars alike. With one exception, all essays are completely new or revised for this volume.

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Chapter 23: Porn Audiences Online (Clarissa Smith / Feona Attwood / Martin Barker)


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Porn Audiences Online

Clarissa Smith, Feona Attwood and Martin Barker

Since the early 2000s, studies of pornography have focused on the changes in the ways that porn is produced and distributed—on “porn after porn” (Biasin, Maina, & Zecca, 2014) and the place of pornography in various cultures and subcultures. Attention has been paid to the differences between “commercial, predictable and dull” porn and new forms of “netporn” that may be seen as “networked, interactive, novel, intellectually and aesthetically challenging” (Paasonen, 2007, p. 164) and the ways that “online technologies re-structure the pornographic” (Paasonen, 2010, p. 1298; see also Jacobs, Janssen, & Pasquinelli, 2007). The term “post porn” has been used to describe the emergence of porn that is explicit, politicized, and challenging (see Stüttgen, 2009).

These changes have been accompanied by a growth in academic studies of pornography, most notably the launch of a dedicated journal Porn Studies in 2014. And while pornography has continued to be at the center of public controversies around media, gender, sexuality, and technology—often framed as a type of moral concern—some very recent academic work has worked hard to reframe discussion. Shira Tarrant’s book Gender, Sex, and Politics: In the Streets and Between the Sheets in the 21st Century (2015) includes pornography in a set of topics for “sparking debates in to women’s and gender studies, sexuality, and gender courses,” not in the familiar “pro/con debate format” but...

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