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Title: Understanding technology through a sociology of branding : the case of the digital camera
Author: Smith, Steve
ISNI:       0000 0004 2675 4556
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2005
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In an age in which everything from technologies to whole countries seems to be branded, brands and branding have received relatively little attention in sociology. The aim of this thesis is to develop a sociological understanding of brands through an investigation of digital cameras. I take a constructivist approach which understands that what a technology is, what it will do, and what its effects are, are the consequences of specific interpretations of that technology. This thesis contributes to the literature on branding and consumer practices by undertaking three types of research. The first investigation is of advertising. The second investigation consists of a qualitative study of eleven Sony Centres conducted over a twelve month period. The third investigation consists of a thirteen month ethnography of an online community whose members own a range of digital cameras belonging to the ‘DigiCam’ brand (a pseudonym). Through an analysis of the data, I show that brands and branding are central means for organising how digital cameras are constructed in advertisements and Sony Centres. Yet my analyses of Sony Centre staff and community members’ practices complicate existing claims in sociology about brands. The brands I analysed are only partially successful. Staff do not always act in the ways intended, and they occasionally undermine officially constructed meanings for Sony products and the Sony brand. Despite DigiCam cameras being the raison d’etre of the community, community members show an indifference to the brand. Further, members structure the community according to their own interests and desires, and construct DigiCam cameras through complex sets of practices and negotiations. The implications of this thesis are that firstly, any sociological investigation of a consumer technology should include brands, secondly, a sociological investigation of a brand extends the unit of analysis from one technology to many, and thirdly, looking at the brand is a new methodological approach for sociologically investigating how technologies are constructed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available