Stable Cultures in Cyberspace
- Contact person:
- Lovisa Broms
- The Swedish-Norwegian Foundation for Equine Research
- Responsible at Malmö University:
- Susanna Hedenborg
- Project members:
- Aage Radmann – Norwegian School of Sport Sciences
- Time frame:
- 01 April 2018 - 30 June 2022
- Research subject:
About the project
In recent years, questions about horse-keeping and the welfare of horses have been debated in social media. Voices of researchers, elite and leisure riders are heard, and different ideas about horse-keeping meet, clash and are discussed. The purpose of the project is to analyze stable cultures in cyberspace in Sweden and Norway. Horse riders’ communication in social media in relation to horse-keeping will be focused. Research on the relationship between horses and humans is scant. In one study, Dashper (2017) analyses the content of blogs by English hobby and elite riders. The study shows that Internet forums are important places for tales about the relationships between horses and humans and important spaces for creating standards for horse-keeping. The internet is possibly extra important for this group, as traditional media does not cover the horse world to any significant extent. As opposed to previous studies, the present project will combine the study of social media habits with analyses of social media content and interviews with riders of different age groups.
The aim is to gain insights into riders’ motivations and explanations for their media habits and how different kinds of information in social media is granted value. In addition, stable cultures in cyberspace will be studied in two different national contexts (Norway and Sweden) to identify whether there is a stable culture or several stable cultures in cyberspace. Previous studies have highlighted military norms as central to the European stable culture. Later studies have demonstrated that the military norms in the Swedish stable culture are somewhat questioned. In addition, gender constructions have been crucial in the understanding of norms in stable cultures. The socially constructed femininity present in horse stables is complex and include norms related to strength, toughness and heavy work – norms that in other contexts are connected to masculinity. In this study, stable cultures presented on the Internet will be analyzed. Social media has changed communication dramatically and today anyone can share anything any time. News, rumours, ideas, opinions are spread through the Internet and social media.
A survey reaching riders in Sweden and Norway is used to map out the use of social media related to gender, age and horse and riding experience with a focus on horse-keeping. Twelve focus group interviews in Sweden and Norway will be done. The netnographic method relies mainly on observation, often supported by online interviews. The project group will observe chosen “influencers” connected to equestrian sports. Interest in horses and equestrian sports is growing in Sweden and Norway. Whether research and proven experience about horse-keeping and the welfare of horses is spread to all those that come into contact with horses today can be questioned. It is also reasonable to believe that traditional sources of knowledge, such as the practical learning in the stable environment, educational materials and institutional education are challenged by the information that can be quickly obtained through social media. The influence of social media on the dissemination and quality of knowledge has become increasingly evident. An example related to the well-being of humans concerns unscientific claims that vaccination of children causes autism. These claims are widely spread on the Internet and have had a negative impact on vaccination rates. In this project, special attention will be given to which information is given (and why) the highest value by participants in different age groups, gender and riding experience. For various equestrian stakeholders, it is essential to understand what knowledge is attained by riders and horse owners on the Internet, this in order to adjust and disperse correct information about horse-keeping and welfare of horses.