Qualification project

Workspaces of Mediation: How Instagram Co-Constitutes Practices, Spaces, and Time-Dynamics of Fashion Design?

Research department: Economy and Civil Society

IRS Research Topic: Research on Innovation Processes New Social Practices Shared Knowledge - Locally and Over Distance

Project Leader within IRS: Alica Repenning

Duration: 01/2020 - 03/2023


"Virtual and material worlds are not separate, they are one. It's not that I look at one thing online and something else offline. I'm in places virtually just as much on the move" (Fashion designer, interview in February 2020).

The dissertation project starts with the observation that a mixing of online and offline spaces increasingly occurs in the everyday life of actors. Online interactions influence offline interactions and vice versa. Together, relational on/offline practices form the everyday space of fashion designers (Leszczynski 2015; van Dijck 2013; Barns 2019). In the wake of this, academics increasingly critically point towards the influence of online platforms under the buzzwords “platform capitalism” or “platform society” (Langley and Leyshon 2017; van Dijck et al. 2018).

Against this backdrop, the dissertation project addresses the question to what extent the constitution of creative everyday spaces is changed by a combination of on/offline spaces. How do working practices change? To what extent are interactions and spaces expanded or changed and what new (digital) hurdles arise? Using fashion design as an example, the online platform Instagram is identified as an influential actor in the socio-technical everyday fabric of fashion designers and the role of the platform in shaping practices and spaces is critically assessed.

Methodologically, the dissertation project combines online and offline observations and is grounded on the conduction of semi-structured interviews. Together, the data is analysed in a qualitative content analysis.

The dissertation is affiliated with the Humboldt University of Berlin and is supervised by Prof. Dr. Suntje Schmidt.

Photo: zapp2photo/stock.adobe.com


IRS doctoral researcher Alica Repenning is investigating the spaces of creative work in fashion design in her PhD project in the research area “Economy and Civil Society”. Her paper “Workspaces of Mediation: How Digital Platforms Shape Practices, Spaces and Places of Creative Work” has now been published in the journal “Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie (TSEG)”. The analysis of Berlin fashion designers shows that they move in a complex web of digitalised work spaces, work locations and work practices. Digital platforms such as Instagram help to determine this network through their structures and mechanisms. more info