Co-creation of Value in the Participatory Playground (PhD project)

There are fundamental transformations of user-producer relations and the infusion of new technologies in such interactions have redefined the roles in innovation and value creation processes (Thomke and von Hippel, 2002). Theoretical links between an emerging “new economic democracy” (Tapscott and Williams, 2007) in which “we all have a lead role” and a set of corporate practices that seek to capture and exploit participatory culture (Jenkins et al. 2013, p. 48), a “produsage based democratic model” (Bruns, 2008, p. 372), are central to this project.

Given this trajectory, researching LEGO fandom, as an example of one of the most active fan communities in the world (Antorini, 2007), may provide an important key for understanding many forms of fans empowerment (Baym and Burnett, 2009) and corporate strategies for value extraction (Zwick et al., 2008) in order to shed light on the broader ontological and epistemological changes that occurred within fan/corporate practices (Lanier et al., 2013).

In tracing the many motives involved in the construction of current practice performed by fans, my research will identify and analyze motivators and interests of a fan, while providing a comprehensive understanding of the complex dialectic of empowerment and exploitation.