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Posts Tagged ‘current research’

News from money games research

Monday, May 7th, 2012
India, Korea and – gambling. Those have been the three subjects of my research for the last five years. The connection between the three in my research has been the fact that they have dealt with the new media culture. In India I studied mobile phones, in Korea mobiles and internet, and in gambling especially online poker. My gambling culture research received a boost a few weeks ago when I got a grant from the Finnish Foundation for Gaming Research. According to my research plan, I will eventually write a book about online poker as a cultural phenomenon. The book will include most of my research up to date, extended revisions of my columns for Poker Magazine and Pokerilehti as well as a year-long online gaming diary of a gambling rookie – me. In the meantime, if you are interested in gambling research, you can read one of my latest publications on poker.

I will also give a presentation about my recent studies (including the themes of my upcoming book) on online poker at Nordic DiGRA 2012 in Tampere, Finland in June as well as at the 9th European Conference on Gambling Studies and Policy Issues in Loutraki, Greece in September.

Moreover, a chapter by me and Dr. Perpetual Crentsil titled Ethnography on Immigrant Gambling and Online Poker for a book edited by Prof. Pauliina Raento will come out this summer by Gaudeamus.

And for the last issue of this update, I will (finally) revise and resubmit my manuscript for Visual Culture and Gender. The text is titled Signs of Battle and Joy: Observations of Gender in Online Poker Imagery and will analyze poker advertisements in the Finnish edition of Poker Magazine as well as apply Jean Baudrillard’s and Umberto Eco’s views of hyperreality while at it.



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The Thumb Tribe and other Korea-related Gigs

Monday, April 30th, 2012
Although my research project (2007-2010) about Korean new media culture funded by the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation has ended a few years ago, the typing of Korea-related texts is not. Here are a few of my recent recent publications.

Eomjijok – The Korean thumb tribe. Reflections of young and urban Koreans’ mobile communication in Digital Pioneers. Cultural drivers of future media culture (ed. by Sonja Kangas). Published by the Finnish Youth Research Society. [READ THE WHOLE BOOK]

Keeping in Touch: The Significance of the Mobile Phone to Young People in South Korea in IADIS International Journal on WWW/Internet, 8 (2): 28-41. [SEE THE CONTENTS OF THE ISSUE and mail me for a copy]

“Our Beautiful Land Dokdo!” The Role of Rhetoric and Nationalist Narrative in South Korean Attitudes to the Ownership of the Disputed Dokdo Island. Teoksessa Desmond Ball, Anthony Milner, Matthew Hill & Mary Quilty (toim.), The Languages of Security in the Asia-Pacific: Case Studies. Australian Research Council-Australian National University. [In Press, READ MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT]

In case you know Finnish and are interested in Korean visions of education, see my interview for YLE Teema: Hyppytunti, a program about education below (extended online version, first aired 12 Dec 2011).




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Back from India!

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Our daughter at the feet of a Jain holiness.



I’m back from my 5-month ethnographic fieldwork trip to South India collecting data for our Mobile Communication, Gender and Development project. I’ve got plenty of interesting observations and interviews thanks to my efficient research assistants and interpreters as well as friendly villagers of Villupuram district. Despite the abundant but sometimes annoying flora and fauna as well as the quirkish forces of nature including Cyclone Thane rummaging through our neighborhood, the fieldwork was a success.

At the moment I am going through my field notes and interviews for some articles and conference papers. In June I will present a paper titled “It’s like a third arm!” – The Cultural Meanings of the Mobile Phone in Rural South India in the IV STS Italia National Conference titled “Emerging Technologies, Social Worlds” in Rovigo. [ABSTRACT]

At the food market.

I will also start working on an article similar to that presented in Rovigo but for a special mobile communication culture issue of Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society. The article is titled Can the Subaltern Woman Speak on the Phone? The Social Value, Cultural Meaning and Gendered Use of the Mobile Phone in Rural South India. [ABSTRACT]


Also, a conference report titled From a Workshop into a Network: India Researchers Unite written by Dr. Mari Korpela from University of Tampere and I was just published by Suomen Antropologi. [READ]

The temple next door.



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The Korean Thumb Tribe and Other Digital Pioneers

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011
The Finnish Youth Research Society has just published a book edited by Sonja Kangas and written by her and eight other scholars (including yours truly). The book focuses on the digital lives of the youth in Korea, Japan and Finland, three countries that are among the leading information societies of the world. My exploration on “The Korean Thumb Tribe” relies on both quantitative and qualitative data on young Koreans – a group of whom I had the pleasure of working with to observe the mobile communication patterns in Seoul. Please read the abstract below and enjoy the book which is free for all to read.

DIGITAL PIONEERS 
Cultural drivers of future media culture
Sonja Kangas (ed.)

Digital media are central in youngsters’ lives, both time-wise and culturally – creating meanings, strengthening relationships and pondering values. Digital activities are gaining a bigger share of youths’ everyday life. The Internet provides several ways for them to express themselves, find friends or dating partners and likeminded people. It is a mass medium for everyone, providing the possibility of becoming a celebrity, being politically active, joining international networks, watching television, chatting with friends or just spending time online.

It is a channel for expressing where I am, what I plan to do and what type of information or contacts I am looking for.Ten years ago young communication acrobatics in Japan, South Korea and Finland were sovereign, fearless and experimental pioneers of mobile phones and the Internet. Currently youngster’s use of digital media has globally been described as snack size or remix culture in that they combine pieces from here and there, follow several information and communication channels simultaneously and utilize social networks.This book will provide an overview of the online life and values of 15-25 year olds in countries that were pioneers of digital services at the end of 1990s and describe the change that has happened within the past 10 years.

Digital Pioneers looks at social networking among the youngsters, covering a wide spectrum of topics from media use, social networking, trust, and friendships to motivational factors. The book also looks at the development of so-called gaming lifestyle. Japan, South Korea and Finland are no longer far ahead of the rest of the world. But do these pioneer countries of the 1990s still have some special qualities that can generate novel digital cultures in the 21st century? Where will the next generation of online brands develop in 2011.

Finnish Youth Research Society, internet publications 49.
ISBN 978-952-5464-99-3 (PDF). ISSN-L 1799-9219. ISSN 1799-9219.
http://www.nuorisotutkimusseura.fi/julkaisuja/digitalpioneers.pdf

Please see other e-publications of
the Finnish Youth Research Society here.



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India Researchers of Finland

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011
Scholars studying India in Finland are getting organized. I have just started a blog with a list of names, keywords and, hopefully soon, interesting publications and news from the field.

Go see!

See also earlier post about our India workshop.



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The Value of Gambling and Its Research

Thursday, May 5th, 2011
Professor Pauliina Raento writes about gambling research in his introduction to our article published in the latest Suomen Antropologi: Journal of Finnish Anthropological Society.

Gambling today is a multi-billion-dollar industry with global influence. It is a prominent part of culture and a major financial contributor to society in Finland and many other countries where governments own, license and regulate gambling enterprises. Most people in Western societies have some experience of gambling, and many buy a lottery ticket, play slot machines, or bet on sports as a regular part of their leisure. Over the past decades the gambling industry has grown massively, due to its entry into new territories, the increased popularity of gambling, and new globally influential innovations, such as televised poker tournaments and online gambling. The political, economic and cultural implications of this change have been notable. Gambling scholarship is on the rise and its foci are broadening especially in the social sciences and cultural studies.

The time is ripe for anthropologists to take a fresh look at gambling. This would have multiple benefits. For one, a look at new, popular forms of gambling would flush out some disciplinary stubbornness regarding topics and approaches. From the past, distant and primitive the emphasis should continue to shift even more strongly toward what is new and happening here and now. The study of online poker, says Jukka Jouhki in this Forum, offers one opportunity to bring anthropologists up to speed with understanding recent technological developments, and cultural forms that have sprung up with them. After all, more people now log on to online gambling sites than to Facebook (Gambling Online Magazine October 26th, 2010). Ethnography, one powerful tool of anthropology, should be expanded to online environments. More stimulating methodological ponderings and innovation will inevitably follow.

Read the whole article here including the following texts:

Raento, Pauliina: The Value of Gambling and Its Research. Introduction.
Jouhki, Jukka: Writing against Culture with Online Poker.
Kinnunen, Jani: The Social Rewards of Online Gambling.
Matilainen, Riitta: Gambling and Consumption. The Hidden Values of Historical Perspectives.



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Postmodernin pelimiehen todellisuus

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Kiinnostaako mediaetnografinen pohdinta pokerikulttuurista? Siinä tapauksessa lue allekirjoittaneen kirjoittama Postmodernin pelimiehen todellisuus – Mediaetnografisia huomioita pokerista kulttuurisena ilmiönä. Artikkeli on juuri julkaistu Pelitutkimuksen vuosikirjassa 2010. Alla myös em. artikkelin tiivistelmä ja lista vuosikirjan artikkeleista. 



Artikkelin tiivistelmä
Artikkeli perustuu pokerikulttuuria käsittelevän tutkimusprojektin synnyttämiin näkökulmiin ja ilmiön mediaetnografi seen havainnointiin. Artikkelin kohteena on pokerin fenomenologia ja siihen liittyvä kulttuurinen merkitysjärjestelmä netissä ja offline-maailmassa. Postmodernin kulttuurintutkimuksen keskustelun tukemana kirjoituksessa esitellään myös huomioita pokeriin liittyvästä mainonnasta, maskuliinisuudesta ja rahan merkityksestä. Pokerikulttuurin representaatioiden olemassaolon tapaa kommentoidaan viittaamalla muun muassa hyperreaalin käsitteeseen.


Asiasanat:  nettipokeri, postmoderni, mediaetnografia, hyperreaali, kulttuurinen merkitysjärjestelmä, mieskuva


Pelitutkimuksen vuosikirja 2010: artikkelit

  1. Saara Toivonen ja Olli Sotamaa: Pelaajien näkökulmia pelien digitaaliseen jakeluun. 1-10.
  2. Vili Lehdonvirta ja Juho Hamari: Pelimekaniikat osana ansaintalogiikkaa – Miten pelisuunnittelulla luodaan kysyntää. 11-21.
  3. Katriina Heljakka: Hiljaisen tiedon pelikentällä – Lautapelisuunnittelu vuorovaikutusprosessina. 22-32.
  4. Eetu Paloheimo: Verkkorahapelien vetovoimatekijät. 33-41.
  5. Jani Kinnunen: Leikkisä raha peleissä. 42-57.
  6. Jukka Jouhki: Postmodernin pelimiehen todellisuus – Mediaetnografisia huomioita pokerista kulttuurisena ilmiönä. 58-68.
  7. Arttu Perttula ja Pauliina Tuomi: “Tää oli oikeesti aika jännä!” – Mobiilia moninpeliä julkisella näytöllä. 69-82.
  8. Jaakko Suominen: ”Pieni askel ihmiskunnalle, mutta jättiharppaus tietokoneistetuille roolipeleille” – MikroBitti-lehden peliarvostelut pelaamisen historiatietoisuuden rakentajina 1984–2008. 83-98.

Lue myös julkaisun katsaukset ja kirja-arviot.


Abstract of my article in Pelitutkimuksen vuosikirja 2010.
The article is based on views generated by a research project focusing on poker culture as well as on observations made by implementing media ethnographical approach in examining the phenomenon. The article concentrates on the phenomenology and cultural system of meaning of poker in online and offl  ine worlds.  Supported by discussion within postmodern cultural studies, the article further presents observations of the advertising, masculinity and meaning of money related to poker. Moreover, the mode of existence of the representations of poker culture is commented by referring to the concept of hyperreal, among others. Keywords: online poker, postmodern, media ethnography, hyperreal, cultural system of meaning, male image.



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An anthropologist examining online poker

Friday, August 27th, 2010

Talking to Science Journalists
Perhaps because of the strange combination of being a cultural anthropologist studying online poker, I was invited to give a talk to a group of journalists from The Finnish Association of Science Journalists and Editors on an excursion in University of Jyväskylä. I talked about how cultural anthropology can approach online poker as a cultural phenomenon. Below is an edited summary of my talk.

Life is a Gamble

First things first. Every day we invest our resources, money, time or effort in objects, processes, happenings etc. the outcome of which is not sure to us. We might pay 8 € for a movie ticket and regret it afterwards because the film wasn’t worth it. We might take time to go for a walk in a park and end up soaking wet because of a downpour and wish we had stayed home watching TV. Then again, we might take a chance and go to a restaurant, pay only a few euros for a meal and think the atmosphere, company and taste of the food were ten times worth the money and the time we paid.

Dice is life (source Psychology Today).
On a larger scale, we might take a leap of faith and get another job, sell the house and go abroad for a year, or meet a girl, get married and have five kids and think it was all worth the trouble – or not. It is all a gamble. And you can get hooked too. You might go overboard with your jogging, eating, painting or work and be satisfied by the return, end up spending all your money and/or time on it and neglet your friends and family. If you are skillful and level-headed enough, you might cope very well with all the elements of chance in your life, estimate the risks, control your time-use and take action accordingly – and end up living an exciting and fulfilling life. If sometimes you end up losing your bet, you might still think it was worth the shot.

In a way life is like poker. Or, poker is a crystallization of the elements of chance and skill and investment and turnout, in life.

New Anthropology
When people think anthropologists are like Indiana Jones I hate to correct them. Dr. Jones is actually an archeologist but archeology and anthropology do have some things in common. Although archeology concentrates on past cultures and societies it usually examines them in some excotic location like anthropology has traditionally done. The object of research of both disciplines also connotes otherness, non-Westernity and certain strangeness – something that is not “Us”.

Dr. Indiana Jones (source Hollywood.com).
However, contemporary anthropology is open virtually to all phenomena, new or old, ours or theirs, and fieldwork is increasingly done in one’s own native society. The themes that anthropology has always studied, the everyday stuff like marriage, religion, working, pastime, rituals etc., are still studied but extended to include the whole world, not just the remote tribes. I would even dare to say there is no possible thing in the world that couldn’t somehow be approached as an object of anthropological research.

“Anthropology can study anything?” my father once asked (perpetuously wondering what an earth I’m doing for work). “Yes, anything,” I answered. Then he provokingly asked if going to the toilet, or defecation, could be an object of study in anthropology. I said, actually, it would be a great object of anthropological research. The function is universal but the tradtions vary in different cultures. There are strict rules about when, where or with whom to do it and how to speak about it and what to do with the results. Anthropology is about shared significances, worldviews, actions and norms, or in a word, cultures.

Cultures like online poker.

Approaching Online Poker
The first thing I noticed about online poker research was that it is essentially a problem. At least this is the feeling one gets while browsing through published literature: online poker = addiction = problem. That is what scholars get money for and that is what the media write about and people read about – poker-players as addicts, home-breakers and money-squandering losers. To me it is as strange as it would be to study jogging and focus only on strains or stumbling, or to do research on food and concentrate only on choking accidents, or to approach sex only through venereal diseases. To be fair, not all media does this though. There are all the specialized poker media that endorse poker culture and celebrate its heroes.

Thus it seems like these images are the only ones about poker in media and academia.

Poker champ/addict (sources Miscellaneouspics and Makefive).
I think it is time to get to know the Everyday of online poker and see what happens among the usual, normal people, the over 95 % who are not champions or addicts. I want to know the boring side of poker. For example, a case study of mine about a poker-player and his family certainly revealed refreshingly undramatic things about the game. The main informant, a civil servant with wife and kids, earned a considerable amount of money a month. It helped the family a great deal with rent and other monthly expenditures, and even left some money for a holiday trip – things that weren’t possible without the father’s poker hobby. And the father still had time for work, kids and the wife. This is how it usually goes. What a discovery!

I had another very obvious but forbidden observation. My main informant’s qualities as a succeful poker player were desirable qualities in other sectors of life as well. Logic, contemplation and self-restrain, just to name a few, didn’t do him harm in work or family life either. All in all, poker was present in the family but in a positive way. Even the wife applauded her husband for doing something fruitful in his pastime. The wife said she only watched television, which never brought the family a penny.

These observations from the case study were welcomed by the media as “exceptional results” and often denigrated by the poker community because the results were too obvious –  most people played poker without problems. Obvious or not, poker is a culturally loaded subject and traditional anthropological themes are easily and fruitfully transferred to study it. For example in my research I have distinguished four interrelated M’s — morality, marginality, masculinity and money — that are particularly interesting to an anthropologist.
  • What is the cultural configuration in which the morality of poker manifests?
  • What are the sociocultural elements that marginalize poker as a hobby or profession?
  • What makes online poker representations a hyper masculine venture?
  • What is the social and symbolic value of money in poker?

Serious pokermen (source PokerBonus).
Everything so far implies that poker research and gambling studies in general need more information about the everyday practices. Is mainstream anthropology up to the challenge? Maybe not for a long time. First the discipline should get to know things like television, then perhaps the Internet and mobile phones. Then, if it is still up to it, online gambling could be studied in anthropology.
Or, one can take a chance and go for a short cut.



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