Alfred Schutz - The spatial, temporal and agency driven performance of identity

Schutz’ binary between face-to-face, and community of space relationships encourages us to consider belonging in the context of the information ecology. His contention is very much centred on the physicality of shared space, and how the commodities exchanged between participants in a relationship are both material and symbolic. The role of one’s agency is very much front and center in this narrative, and assumes that the “give and take” between people is the product of subtle allowances in nuance and perception based off the reactions of others. The physical aspect of space can easily be deconstructed to imply a temporal rather than physical presence, but the community of space (the marketplace of face-to-face interaction) is seemingly obviated in a virtual context. Not so much. The subtleties of interaction that he’s alluding to still very much exist in a digital, internet enable, and mediated context – yet they require a new set of rules and learned behavior on the part of performers. Interpersonal context, in the cyber-scape, is inferred by the assumption of agency as it’s afforded by digital literacy and technology. The problem here is that the information ecology, by its very nature, is imperceptible to most. It interconnects people despite their awareness of those connections. What this means is that identity, while very much a nominal construction on the part of individuals operating at the surface, is also a commodity implicated in the technology practices of mediating agents. It’s at this mediated level that agency can be challenged (privacy, NSA etc.).