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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 5. Network Politics


[C]ontemporary political dynamics are decidedly different from those in previous decades: there exists today a fearful new symmetry of networks fighting networks. One must understand how networks act politically, both as rogue swarms and as mainframe grids. (Galloway & Thacker, 2007, p. 15)

As discussed in chapter 2, the structure of any social field can be conceived of in terms of relations of symbolic power. This is—we remember—because “the social world is a system of symbolic exchanges,” and “social action is an act of communication” (Bourdieu, 1977a, p. 646). In the last chapter we demonstrated that the ad hoc space of a hashtag can indeed function as a space of mobilization and disruption. But any social space is also involved in the multidimensional space of society, where different spaces are “more or less strongly and directly subordinated” to others in relations of power (Bourdieu, 1985, p. 736).

The “social reality” […] is an ensemble of invisible relations, those very relations which constitute a space of positions external to each other and ← 65 | 66 → defined by their proximity to, neighborhood with, or distance from each other, and also by their relative position, above or below or yet in between, in the middle. (Bourdieu, 1989, p. 19)

This is another way of stating, as Galloway (2004, p. 245) does, that “network architecture is politics.” This goes not only for hardware or software architecture, but also for the architecture of the social as regulated through...

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