In the course of ongoing digitalization, the analog vinyl record has gained new popularity in a robust niche market since around the mid-2000s. The article analyzes this commodity object from a capitalist-critical perspective and assigns it to four commodity forms of the post-industrial economy. Based on this, the logic of particularity inherent in the vinyl record and related practices of singularization are demonstrated. With a view to different technical equipment with playback devices and different reception dispositives in dealing with music, the authors conclude that the current vinyl culture expresses a division of society. The culturality of the sound carrier points to specific interweavings with its users, which is expressed in multilayered practices, narratives, and myths. The paper concludes by arguing that the vinyl record is a crystallization point for a comprehensive, sometimes paradoxical social discourse on modernization processes, especially on the metaprocess of digitalization.

Article published in:

Digital Communication and Communication History.
Perspectives, Potentials, Problem Areas

Edited by Christian Schwarzenegger, Erik Koenen, Christian Pentzold, Thomas Birkner & Christian Katzenbach
Berlin, 2022
DOI 10.48541/dcr.v10.0 (SSOAR) | ISBN 978-3-945681-10-7

Book synopsis: It is time to explore digitization and digital media communication in terms of communication history. Digital communication often presents itself as largely timeless in a perpetual now. Yet digitization has an immanent historical dimension. Not only has it been involved in processes of social change for several decades now, but it has itself evolved and changed during this time. Only a long-term perspective makes it possible to distinguish between continuity and change, the transformation of existing communication phenomena and the emergence of actually new forms and phenomena of media communication in the context of digitization. To this end, the volume brings together contributions that deal with epistemological, methodological, and source-related peculiarities of the communication-historical study of digital communication. In addition, the contributions illuminate the potentials of digital media and digital methods for the historiography of communication. Thus, the volume shows which questions and perspectives become possible when digital media and communication are thought about and researched in long-term perspectives. The book aims to inform, sensitize, motivate, and hopefully also inspire further research that thinks digital communication and communication history together, and that contributes to giving digital communication a past.