‘Vinyl never say die’: The re-incarnation, adoption and diffusion of retro-technologies

David Sarpong, Shi Dong, Gloria Appiah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


New technologies continue to shape the way music is produced, distributed and consumed. The new turn to digital streaming services like iTunes, Spotify and Pandora, in particular, means that very recent music format technologies such as cassettes and CD's have almost lost their value. Surprisingly, one ‘obsolete’ music format technology, Vinyl record, is making a rapid comeback. Vinyl sales around the world, in recent times, have increased year on year, and the number of music enthusiast reaching for these long-playing records (LP's) continue unabated. Drawing on the sociology of translation as an interpretive lens, we examine the momentum behind the revival of vinyl record, as a preferred music format choice for a growing number of music enthusiasts. In doing this we unpack the inarticulate and latent network of relationships between human and non-human actors that constitutively give form to the contemplative knowledge (what has become) of the resurgence of vinyl as a format of choice. We conclude by discussing how insights from the vinyl reincarnation story could help open up new possibilities for rethinking the contextual re-emergence of near-obsolete technologies, the mobilization of different actors to aid their re-diffusion and potential exploitation of value from retro-technologies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-118
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Early online date29 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


  • Actor network theory
  • Diffusion of innovation
  • Retro-technologies
  • Vinyl technology


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