Agglomerations, Relationality, and In-betweenness: Re-learning to Research Agency in Digital Communication


  • Ignas Kalpokas Vytautas Magnus University, LCC International University



agency, posthumanism, technology, agglomeration, anthropocentrism, algorithm


As today’s communicative acts are usually irrevocably tied with digital technology, it is important to better understand the resulting ontological and epistemological shifts. The central claim of this article is that humans can no longer be the prime referents of research, either as pure communicators or pure audiences. Instead, research must become sensitive to relational agential flows, whereby different entities interact within ontologically flat agglomerations. For this purpose, the article develops a posthumanist account of the research process that explicitly rejects traditional anthropocentric assumptions in favor of an egalitarian framework that emphasizes relationality and, therefore, constant multidirectional change without linear paths of causation.


Ammerman, W. (2019). The invisible brand: Marketing in the age of automation, Big Data, and machine learning. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Andrews, L. (2019). Public administration, public leadership and the construction of public value in the age of the algorithm and ‘Big Data’. Public Administration, 97(2), 396–310.

Annany, M. (2016). Toward an ethics of algorithms: Convening, observation, probability, and timeliness. Science, Technology & Human Values, 41(1), 93–117.

Barad, K. (2003). Posthumanist performativity: Toward an understanding of how matter comes to matter. Signs, 28(3), 801–831.

Braidotti, R. (2019). Posthuman knowledge. Cambridge and Medford: Polity.

Bucher, T. (2018). If… then: Algorithmic power and politics. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

Caplan, R. & Boyd, D. (2018). Isomorphism through algorithms: Institutional dependencies in the case of Facebook. Big Data & Society, 5(1).

Cheney-Lippold, J. (2017). We are data: Algorithms and the making of our digital selves. New York: New York University Press.

Citton, Y. (2017) The ecology of attention. Cambridge and Malden: Polity.

Damasio, A. (2018). The strange order of things: life, feeling, and the making of cultures. New York: Pantheon Books.

Davies, W. (2019). Nervous states: How feeling took over the world. London: Vintage.

DeLanda, M. (2016). Assemblage theory. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Döveling, K., Harju, H. A. & Sommer, D. (2018). From mediatized emotion to digital affect cultures: New technologies and global flows of emotion. Social Media & Society, 4(1), 130-155.

Ess, Ch. (2015). The onlife manifesto: Philosophical backgrounds, media usages, and the futures of democracy and equality. In L. Floridi (Ed.) The onlife manifesto: Being human in a hyperconnected era (pp. 89–109). Cham: Springer,

Eyal, N. (2019). Hooked: How to build habit-forming products. London: Penguin.

Ferrante, A. & Sartori, D. (2016). From anthropocentrism to post-humanism in the educational debate. Relations, 4(2), 175–194.

Flyverbom, M. & Murray, J. (2018). Datastructuring: Organizing and curating digital traces into action. Big Data & Society, 5(2).

Greene, J. C. (2013). On rhizomes, lines of flight, mangles, and other assemblages. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 26(6), 749–458.

Greenfield, A. (2018). Radical technologies: The design of everyday life. London and New York: Verso.

Guzman, A. L. & Lewis, S. C. (2020). Artificial intelligence and communication: A human-machine communication research agenda. New Media & Society, 22(1), 70–86.

Harman, G. (2018). Object-oriented ontology: A new theory of everything. London: Pelican Books.

Hildebrandt, M. (2016). Law as information in the era of data-driven agency. The Modern Law Review, 79(1), 1–30.

Just, N. & Latzer, M. (2017). Governance by algorithms: Reality construction by algorithmic selection in the internet. Media, Culture & Society, 39(2), 238–258.

Kalpokas, I. (2019). A Political theory of post-truth. London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Karakayli, N., Kostem, B., & Galip, I. (2018). Recommendation systems as technologies of the self: algorithmic control and the formation of music taste. Theory, Culture & Society, 35(2), 3–24.

Kelleher, J. D. & Tierney, B. (2018). Data science. Cambridge (MA) and London: The MIT Press.

Klinger, U. & Swensson, J. (2018). The end of media logics? On algorithms and agency. New Media & Society, 20(12), 4653–4670.

Kormelink, T. G. & Meijer, I. C. (2019). Material and sensory dimensions of everyday news use. Media, Culture & Society, 41(5), 637–653.

Langlois, G. & Elmer, G. (2019). Impersonal subjectivation from platforms to infrastructures. Media, Culture & Society, 41(2), 236–251.

Lee, F. et al. (2019). Algorithms as folding: Reframing the analytical focus. Big Data & Society, 6(2).

Lupton, D. (2018). How do data come to matter? Living and becoming with personal data. Big Data & Society, 5(2).

Lupton, D. (2020). Data selves. Cambridge and Medford: Polity.

Mahon, P. (2018). Posthumanism: A guide for the perplexed. London and New York: Bloomsbury.

Margulies, J. D. & Bersaglio, B. (2018). Furthering post-human political ecologies. Geoforum, 94, 103–106.

Mitchell, A. (2014). Only human? A worldly approach to security. Security Dialogue, 45(1), 5–21.

Monforte, J. (2018). What is new for new materialism for a newcomer. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 10(3), 378–390.

Mosco, V. (2017). Becoming digital: Toward a post-internet society. Bingley: Emerald Publishing.

Muriel, D. & Crawford, G. (2020). Video games and agency in contemporary society. Games and Culture, 15(2), 138-157.

Nadal, M. & Skov, M. (2018). The Pleasure of art as a matter of fact. Proceedings of the Royal Society B., 285: 20172252.

Newell, S. & Marabelli, M. (2015). Strategic opportunities (and challenges) of algorithmic decision­-making: A call for action on the long-term societal effects of ‘datification’. Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 24, 3–14.

Neyland, D. (2019). The everyday life of an algorithm. London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Perel, M. & Elkin-Koren, N. (2017). Black box tinkering: Beyond disclosure in algorithmic enforcement. Florida Law Review, 69(1), 181–221.

Peterson, C. (2011). The posthumanism to come. Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 16(2), 127–141.

Pötzsch, H. (2018). Archives and identity in the context of social media and algorithmic analytics: Towards an understanding of iArchive and predictive retention. New Media & Society, 20(9), 3304–3322.

Proferes, N. & Summers, E. (2019). Algorithms and agenda-setting in Wikileaks’ #Podestaemails release. Information, Communication & Society, 22(11), 1630–1645.

Sadowski, J. (2019). When data is capital: Datafication, accumulation, and extraction. Big Data & Society, 6(1).

Schwitzgebel, E. & Garza, M. (2015). A defense of the rights of artificial intelligences. Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 39(1), 89–119.

Seubert, S. & Beckert, C. (2019). The Culture industry revisited: Sociophilosophical reflections on ‘privacy’ in the digital age. Philosophy and Social Criticism, 45(8), 930–947.

Siggelkow, N. &Terwiesch, C. (2019). Connected strategy: Building continuous customer relationships for competitive advantage. Boston (MA): Harvard Business Review Press.

Singer, P.W. & Brooking, E. T. (2019). Like war: The weaponization of social media. Boston and New York: Mariner Books.

Srinivasan, K. & Kasturirangan, R. (2016). Political ecology, development and human exceptionalism. Geoforum, 75, 125–128

St. Pierre, E. A. (2019). Post qualitative inquiry in an ontology of immanence. The Qualitative Inquiry, 25(1), 3–16.

Sunstein, C. R. (2018). #Republic. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.

The Onlife Initiative (2015). The onlife manifesto. In L. Floridi (Ed.) The onlife manifesto: Being human in a hyperconnected era (pp. 7–13). Cham: Springer.

Ünver, H. A. (2019). Artificial intelligence, authoritarianism and the future of political systems. Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies, available at:

Vaidhyanathan, S. (2018). Anti-social media: How Facebook disconnects us and undermines democracy. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

Vannini, P. (2015). Non-representational research methodologies: An introduction. In P. Vannini (Ed.) Non-representational methodologies: Re-envisioning research (pp. 1-17). London and New York: Routledge.

Velkova, J. & Kaun, A. (2019). Algorithmic resistance: Media practices and the politics of repair. Information, Communication & Society, doi: 10.1080/1369118X.2019.1657162.

Wetherell, M. (2015). Trends in the turn to affect: A social psychological critique. Body & Society, 21(2): 139–166.

Williamson, B. (2017). Moulding student emotions through computational psychology: Affective learning technologies and algorithmic governance. Education Media International, 54(4), 267–288.

Zamith, R., Belair-Gagnon, V. & Lewis, S. C. (2019). Constructing audience quantification: Social influences and the development of norms about audience analytics and metrics. New Media & Society, doi: 10.1177/1461444819881735.

Zuboff, S. (2015). Big Other: Surveillance capitalism and the prospects of an information civilization. Journal of Information Technology, 30, 75–89.




How to Cite

Kalpokas, I. (2021). Agglomerations, Relationality, and In-betweenness: Re-learning to Research Agency in Digital Communication. Central European Journal of Communication, 13(3(27), 426-440.



Methods & Concepts