The assemblage of Digital Engagement Metrics as a market device
: the case of independent film

  • Michael Charles Bailey Franklin

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


Digital technology has radically disrupted the established ways of organising the film industry. However, digital initiatives such as marketing and distribution strategies involving social media and online distribution have also provided means through which filmmakers manage this environment. I investigate the role of the digital data involved, which I term Digital Engagement Metrics (DEMs), in market reconfiguration. Through exploratory, longitudinal case study of market construction for independent films, the thesis articulates the interdependent combination of attributes that co-constitute DEMs’ highly mobile, and multifaceted valuation capacities, and develops a conceptualisation of their role as a market device.

I engage with the literature of translation, calculation, and the performativity and materiality of markets. I then develop an approach for tracing market activity to understand the interaction of networked agencies that shape the arrangement of economic transactions. My analysis is delivered in three empirical chapters, which provide rare data on the emergent digital practice of a film production company. I chart the progressive establishment of DEMs’ role in the hybridisation of established market attachment frameworks, and the instantiation of new modes of coordinating market actors. I conclude that the dynamic assembly, content and distributed architecture of market arrangements involving DEMs simultaneously shape the product and enable its calculation. In addition to extending the reach of market studies into a new empirical field, I make a number of contributions to the theoretical literature. My findings bring two coordinating kinds of performativity into focus. These are the creation of felicitous conditions required to mobilise DEMs as an organisational concept, and the digital materialisation of the audience both as the market, and as a qualified property of the market object. Reading DEMs through the market devices lens renders previously hidden modes of calculation visible, and this has implications for developing assemblage-oriented research in the creative industries.
Date of Award2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorBarbara Townley (Supervisor) & Dimitrinka Stoyanova Russell (Supervisor)


  • Market device
  • Assemblage
  • Performativity
  • Film industry
  • Digital engagement
  • Calculation

Access Status

  • Full text open

Cite this