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What on Earth Is Anonymous a Case Of?: Demystifying a Digitally-enabled Social Movement scene in the Era of Pseudonymity
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology. (Cultural Matters)
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Anonymous is notoriously difficult to define. The network or group or brand (or whatever) has been described as a “loose collective of anarchists,” “loose group of Internet denizens,” “nebulous collective,” “rhizomatic,” “hacker network,” “vigilantes,” “e-bandits,” and even so banally as “online activists.” Recently, several authors have argued that Anonymous is an example of new forms of organization and activism. My aim is to clarify and demystify the case of Anonymous for researchers. In doing so, I develop the concept of social movement scenes in a digital milieu. I argue, based on an exhaustive literature review, that Anonymous’ activism is but part of a digitally-enabled social movement scene. I show that the Anonymous scene—with its roots in the epicentre of subcultural trolling known as 4chan.org—is part of a broader imageboard scene that has had outsized influence in the modern politics and culture of the Internet. This network of people and places has served as the seedbed for several high profile online social movements. Understanding Anonymous as a part of a scene clarifies what Anonymous is a case of, how its paradoxes are a consequence of naming, and how it does not need to force us to rethink social movements theory. Instead, the simple analytical tool of scenes can be used to understand the way in which ostensibly non-political websites and communities have led to some of the most characteristic and visible protest and activism in the digital age.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
Keywords [en]
digital activism, social movements, Anonymous, sociological theory, media ecologies, connective action, scenes, hacktivism, 4chan, subcultural trolling
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-401720OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-401720DiVA, id: diva2:1383779
Conference
23rd Annual Alternative Futures and Popular Protest, Manchester, March 26-28, 2018.
Available from: 2020-01-08 Created: 2020-01-08 Last updated: 2020-01-08

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association
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Language
  • de-DE
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Output format
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