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New Noise

A Cultural Sociology of Digital Disruption

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Simon Lindgren

This book is about online subcultures thriving in the border zones between pop cultural and political engagement. Combining classic theories of space, power and resistance with current case studies of digital piracy, online activism and remix culture, the book develops a cultural theory of social movements in the digital age.
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Chapter 2. In Search of Space

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Whatever code we hack, be it programming language, poetic language, math or music, curves or colourings, we create the possibility of new things entering the world. (Wark, 2004, n.p.)

According to Jones (1994, p. 17) “computer-mediated communication is, in essence, socially produced space.” This book is about the study of digital culture, with a focus on the types of spaces it enables. In the previous chapter, “disruptive spaces” were conceptualized as sites of struggle where structure and hegemony can constrain agency and resistance. But at the same time, they also form the basis for the development of tactics for coping with, evading, or resisting oppressive and limiting forces. Perspectives on disruptive spaces risk falling into either technophilia or technophobia.

Digital media tools and platforms may be a major force to be reckoned with as they enable different forms of revolutionary or rebellious activities in areas ranging from art and culture to piracy and politics. Yet, although it has long been assumed that digital media has a liberatory potential, technologies as such do not have decided outcomes inscribed in them. We turn therefore to ← 19 | 20 → the empirical questions regarding disruptive spaces: What, precisely, are these spaces? What do they do, and with what specific contextualized effects? What characterizes the disruptive spaces, and how might they be understood in relation to the wider framework of hegemony and resistance, publics and counterpublics? In order to be able to answer these questions, an analytical strategy is needed.

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