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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 6. *.Sub Culture


What the observer or the participant himself […] divides into two intermingling trends may in reality be only one. (Simmel, 1908, p. 79)

This chapter widens the scope of the discussion by venturing into domains of “the political” (Mouffe, 2000) other than hacktivism. To fully grasp the complexities of disruptive spaces we must, as argued in chapter 3, look at a wider variety of mobilizations and creativities. Online groups that diverge from the aims of the traditional political sphere, focusing instead on symbolic politics of popular culture, may deploy skills that are relevant in a more general sense. Jenkins (2006, p. 257) writes: “The political effects […] come not simply through the production and circulation of new ideas (the critical reading of […] texts) but also through access to new social structures (collective intelligence) and new models of cultural production (participatory culture).”

Because of this, we turn now to the study of practice in the part of the online piracy community that is focused on the creation and distribution of subtitle files. This scene, which has its origins in the rise in online piracy of copyrighted tv and movie content in recent years, supplies subtitles to accom ← 79 | 80 → pany ripped video files that are downloaded by users who do not speak the languages of the downloaded movies. In practice, this usually means subtitles that translate U.K. or U.S. English dialogue into languages of Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa, but sometimes also in the other direction, for example,...

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