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New Noise

A Cultural Sociology of Digital Disruption


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 4. Hacktivist Mobilization


(Social) space is not a thing among other things, nor a product among other products; rather, it subsumes things produced and encompasses their interrelationships in their coexistence and simultaneity—their (relative) order and/or (relative) disorder. (Lefebvre, 1974, p. 73)

Currently, a good deal of attention is focused on the role of networked digital media in political processes around the world. In particular, much discourse relates to the potential uses of new social tools and platforms by grassroots interest groups, social movements, NGOs, and oppressed populations to voice their concerns, talk back to the powers that be, and actually make a difference. A number of uprisings across the globe during the last couple of years have been popularly labeled “Twitter revolutions”: the civil unrest following the 2009 elections in Moldova (Munteanu & Mungiu-Pippidi, 2009), the Iranian election protests in 2009 and 2010 (Burns & Eltham, 2009; Grossman, 2009), the 2010 to 2011 Tunisian protests against the Ben Ali regime, and the 2011 Egyptian protests against President Mubarak (Jansen, 2010). During the second part of 2011, the events of the so-called Arab Spring often were bundled together ← 49 | 50 → with the emergence of the Occupy movement (Gessen, 2012) and hacktivist initiatives such as Anonymous and LulzSec (Barnard-Wills, 2011) in discussions of “why it’s kicking off everywhere” (Skinner, 2011; Mason, 2012).

All of these cases involve using digital tools to disturb or circumvent official flows of information from traditional media or economic and governmental institutions. Over the last few...

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