To disconnect or not to disconnect

A question negotiated between unequal structures and different s copes of personal agency


  • Victoria A. E. Kratel Institute of Media Studies, University of Tübingen


digital disconnection, self-determined media use, homo disconnectus, structure and agency, right to disconnect, gender, feminism, social class


In the “digital age” (Ahmed, 2020) and its “constant connectivity” (Couldry & Hepp, 2017), the countertrend of digital disconnection is gaining momentum in both popular culture and academia. And although media non-use practices seem more relevant than ever, not everyone is able to self-determine their media use. This scholarly essay seeks reasons for the unequal access to digital disconnection. The theoretical basis is provided by contributions of Pierre Bourdieu and Anthony Giddens to the structure and agency debate. Building on this, I introduce the fictitious agent of homo disconnectus, who is given maximum agency and the best structures to digitally disconnect. The homo disconnectus thus serves as a tool to illustrate contrasts between privileges and marginalization. A deeper examination of gender and class reveals that digital disconnection is particularly difficult for women and low-income earners. Therefore, I conclude that research should not focus solely on digital disconnection that is already practiced but should also closely investigate where and why it cannot take place. 


Victoria A. E. Kratel, Institute of Media Studies, University of Tübingen

served as a researcher in the project „Media Disconnection as a Self-Assertion Tactic in the Digital Age,“ funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) at the University of Tuebingen, Germany. Starting in August 2023, she will join the „Digitox“ project as a PhD fellow at Kristiania University College in Oslo,





Kratel, V. A. E. . (2023). To disconnect or not to disconnect: A question negotiated between unequal structures and different s copes of personal agency. Medien & Zeit. Kommunikation in Vergangenheit Und Gegenwart, 38(1), 20–31. Abgerufen von