Always On, But Never There: Political Parody, the Carnivalesque and the Rise of the ‘Nectorate’

Authors: Neag, A. and Berger, R.

Editors: Ross, A. and Rivers, D.

Publisher: Routledge

In the framework of their worldview the members of a language community come to an understanding on central themes of their personal and social lives. (Habermas, 1984: 59)

Digital communication is now ingrained in contemporary social life. The Internet and associated increase in popularity of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have provided citizens and communities with a multitude of channels through which to express civic participation and engagement. Wiggins and Bowers (2014: 1891) reflect these observations through the term ‘participatory digital culture’, a notion characterized by “relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement” and “strong support for creating and sharing creations” (Jenkins, 2009: xi). For example, and in relation to political involvement, Loader et al (2014: 143) explain that the political identities of young people are now shaped more by “the manner in which they participate and interact through the social networks which they themselves have had a significant part in constructing”. Engagement of this type is not limited to the political sphere, however, and can also be seen in the domains of education (e.g. RateMyProfessor), institutions (corporations, government or non-profit - e.g. via Twitter), and in advertising and marketing (e.g. memetics and viral media).

Often underpinning participation in these digital cultures is a discourse of (de)legitimization. Legitimizing discourse is concerned with varying issues, decisions and actions and is specifically related to “power positions of actors and broader social structures – in other words, to institutions” (Vaara, 2014: 503). In particular, legitimacy has been a focus in relation to discourse in terms of individuals and authority (Van Leeuwen, 2007; 2008), political lobbying and campaigning (Davis, Glantz & Novak, 2016), corporate entities (Boyd, 2000), through music (Screti, 2013) and in relation to parliamentary discourse (Rojo & van Dijk, 1997). With the growth of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and increased access to participation through viral and memetic media, the discourse of (de)legitimization has begun to take a different shape. By incorporating chapters adopting a range of analytical approaches (e.g., Critical Discourse Analysis, genre analysis, netnography), the proposed volume strives to document how members of participatory digital cultures engage with the discourse of (de)legitimization in relation to individuals and institutions.

As members of such cultures of participation, we the editors hope to expand understanding of how participation in such digital cultures reflects a growing level of civic participation and engagement in contemporary society. Therefore, chapter proposals are welcome that document, investigate and analyze the ways in which the Internet and social media demonstrate this.

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