Michael Melia

DPhil Student

St Cross College

Thesis: Be There, Anywhere: An Ongoing Experiment in European Coworking

Research: At its core, this project will present a social biography of a young transnational social network. Over a period of 12 months as an employee of a Parisian startup called Copass, I will work alongside entrepreneurs as a researcher and team member to explore the creation and launching of an online/offline social network from the inside out. This network is designed to facilitate global connections between ‘coworkers,’ a term to describe freelance workers, entrepreneurs and small companies who participate in a new style of working in shared technologically optimised workspaces. Based in a Paris coworking space where the social network is being built from, I will explore two ethnographic research questions: (1) how do these entrepreneurs build a social network? and (2) how do they deploy terms like ‘community,’ ‘society’ and ‘technology’ in the process? Inspired by methods in ethnomethodology and actor-network theory, I will analyse how divisions between society and technology, community and network, are emergent ongoing accomplishments of the everyday activities that build the social network. I will study how they become the endpoints of work rather than starting points of analysis. This project will ultimately examine the step-by-step activities that create a social network and the people, technologies and materials that are involved: how a social network is imagined, fabricated, modified and extended by those who put it into practice.

Other Research Interests: Digital Anthropology; Business and Organisational Anthropology; Material Culture; Transnationalism; Urban Space; Design; Entrepreneurship; Innovation; Science and Technology Studies.

Email: michael.melia@stx.ox.ac.uk

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