Digital domesticity

Project overview

Jenny Kennedy, Michael Arnold, Martin Gibbs, Bjorn Nansen, and Rowan Wilken. 2020. Digital Domesticity: Media, Materiality, and Home Life. Oxford University Press, Oxford UK.

At the turn of the twenty-first century, typical households were equipped with a landline telephone, a desktop computer connected to a dial-up modem, and a shared television set. Television, radio and newspapers were the dominant mass media. Today, homes are now network hubs for all manner of digital technologies, from mobile devices littering lounge rooms to Bluetooth toothbrushes in bathrooms—and tomorrow, these too will be replaced with objects once inconceivable.

This project has advanced media domestication research through an ecology-based approach to the abundance and materiality of media in the home. It has traced the origins of these digital developments with two decades of empirical fieldwork and ethnographic investigation, including multiple investigative techniques such as household interviews, technology tours, cultural probes, remote data collection via mobile applications, and more to offer ground-breaking insight into domestic media consumption.  The project has unearthed social and material accounts of media technologies and provides insight into family negotiations regarding technology usage in such a way that puts technology in the context of recent developments of digital infrastructure, devices, and software—all of which are now woven into the domestic fabric of the modern household.

Project team

  • Martin Gibbs, Professor
  • Michael Arnold, Professor, Historical and Philosophical Studies, The University of Melbourne
  • Bjørn Nansen, Senior Lecturer, Media and Communications, The University of Melbourne
  • Jenny Kennedy, Research Fellow, Digital Ethnography Research Centre, RMIT University
  • Rowan Wilken, Professor, Digital Ethnography Research Centre, RMIT University

Contact details


Jenny Kennedy, Michael Arnold, Martin Gibbs, Bjorn Nansen, and Rowan Wilken. 2020. Digital Domesticity: Media, Materiality, and Home Life. Oxford University Press, Oxford UK.

Gibbs, M., Carter, M. and Nansen, B. (2017). Those LED-Lit, Water-Kooled, Multi-Screen, Streamline Battlestations. Selected Papers of Internet Research 18.0, The Association of Internet Researchers (AOIR). Tartu, Estonia (18–21 October):

Wilken, R., Kennedy, J., Nansen, B., Arnold, M. and Gibbs, M. (2016). Overcoming the Tyranny of Distance? High Speed Broadband and the Significance of Place. In M. Griffiths and K. Barbour (eds), Making Publics, Making Places. Adelaide, SA, Aust: University of Adelaide Press, pp. 193–216.

Kennedy, J., Arnold, M., Nansen, B., Wilken, R., and Gibbs, M. (2015) Digital Housekeepers and Digital Expertise in the Networked Home, Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies. 21(4): 408–422.

Wilken, R., Arnold, M., Gibbs, M., Kennedy, J., and Nansen, B. (2015) Framing the NBN: An Analysis of Newspaper Representations. Communication, Politics and Culture, 47(3): 55–69.

Dias MP, Arnold M, Gibbs M, Nansen B, Wilken R. (2014). Asynchronous Speeds: Disentangling the Discourse of ‘High-Speed Broadband’ in Relation to Australia’s National Broadband Network. Media International Australia.151(1): 117–126. doi:10.1177/1329878X1415100116

Nansen B, Wilken R, Arnold M, Gibbs M. (2014). Digital Literacies and the National Broadband Network: Competency, Legibility, Context. Media International Australia. 145(1): 64-74. doi:10.1177/1329878X1214500108.

Wilken R, Nansen B, Arnold M, Kennedy J & Gibbs M. (2013). National, local and household media ecologies: The case of Australia’s National Broadband Network. Communication, Politics & Culture. 46(2): 136–154.

Nansen B, Arnold M, Gibbs M. & Davis H. (2011). Dwelling with Media Stuff: Latencies of Materiality in Four Australian Homes. Environment & Planning D – Society & Space. 29(4): 693–715.

Nansen B, Arnold M, Gibbs M and Davis H. (2010). Time, Space and Technology in the Working-Home: An Unsettled Nexus. New Technology, Work & Employment. 25(2): 136–153.

Nansen, B., Arnold, M., Gibbs, M., and Davis, H. (2009). Domestic orchestration: Rhythms in the mediated home. Time and Society. 18 (2–3): 181–207.

Arnold, M., Gibbs, M. and Wright, P. (2003). ‘Intranets and the Creation of Local Community: “Yes, an intranet is all very well, but do we still get free beer and a barbeque?” In M. Huysman, E. Wenger and V. Wulf (eds) Communities and Technologies. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. 33