The Production of Phygital Social Spaces: a Study on the Influential Factors that Foster New Interactions amongst Second-Generation British Nigerian Youth
Onafuye, Rebecca Ayotunde
British Nigerian youths use of social media is undoubtedly altering the characteristics of urban festival landscapes, which no longer can be described merely as a physical construct. Shifts in the space-making paradigm have been caused by the interplay of physical and digital interactions performed by these youths and from a macro perspective, which as a result formulates a homogenous visual of a new dimensional space (Kirsch, 1995; Salinas, 2014a). The aim of this study is to illustrate and analyse the production of new phygital space through the ways youths interact within festival landscapes. In the context of this Doctoral Dissertation, the concept of phygital is used to describe a unique and interactive experience, birthed through the intersection between physical spatial objects and the use of digital technologies. Through the analysis of 1974 Henri Lefebvre’s conceptual triad as a foundation for the development in space-making, this research also aims to articulate the physical, digital and socio-cultural influences of youths interaction and formation of hybrid space (Stikker, 2013). Various researchers like Ciolfi (2004), Benedikt (1992), Dyson (1998) and others, have argued that physical and digital models do not seamlessly interlock with one another. However, the advancement in digital technologies and social media suggests otherwise, calling for research to suggest how both dimensions of space, and its inhabitants can coexist and interact within an existing landscape. Following on from an in-depth and critical narrative (in Chapter 2), this study uses qualitative and quantitative data of youth in real-life social settings to reimagine the role of the festival landscape and youth in the construction of phygital space. This is accomplished through an extension of Lefebvre’s spatial triad to develop a visual framework to show the social construction of phygital space. Furthermore, an in-depth investigation is made to explore the socio-cultural nuances to suggest a slightly divisive but beneficial approach to new hybrid space-making. The findings of this research illustrate the physical, digital and socio-cultural factors that influence social interactions amongst British Nigerian youths in festivals. In an attempt to depict the contemporary interactions of youths usage of digital media, new notions of space and culture emerge as the forefront of such communication. For instance the concept of instagrammable space and the #forusbyus culture emerges in the latter chapters, as a predominate factor of hybrid space-making. It is this notion and others that suggests that phygital space is socially produced.
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