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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 7. Holy Shit! It Works!!


I can suddenly become relieved when someone else in an online exchange is getting pounded or humiliated, because that means I’m safe for the moment. If someone else’s video is being ridiculed on YouTube then mine is temporarily protected. (Lanier, 2010, p. 60)

Disruptive spaces exist. Even fluid and volatile network spatialities have the potential to function as sites of mobilization (cf. chapter 4). When assessing this potential, however, we must keep in mind that such spaces are involved with other spaces in a game of symbolic struggle and domination (cf. chapter 5). Furthermore, when we are talking about digital disruption, we must also take into account the hybrid relations in the politics of the online/offline (cf. chapter 6). As chapter 6 shows, the multidimensionality of social space (Bourdieu, 1985) means not only that spaces are ordered in relation to each other, but also that agents within spaces are engaged in a symbolic game of status and social regulation.

In this chapter we look at the empirical case of user comments on YouTube, focusing on the processes by which various types of content are ← 93 | 94 → met by various types of reactions occupying differential positions in the social space of YouTube discourse. This is in keeping with this book’s argument that digital culture must be addressed as practice. As Bourdieu (1984, p. 244) writes:

To escape from the subjectivist illusion, which reduces social space to the conjuctural space of interactions, that is, a discontinuous...

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