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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 9. The Subactivist Challenge


Subactivism may or may not leak out of the small social world and become publicly visible, meaning that its acts and products, although multiple, can remain insulated in the private sphere. This, however, does not condemn subactivism to inconsequentiality. (Bakardjieva, 2009, p. 96)

How can everyday participation be translated into a politics with the power to make a mark on society as a whole? This chapter uses the example of digital piracy to explore the question of how everyday acts of disruption or disobedience in digital culture may be developed into something like a social movement. A starting point for this is Beck’s (1997) notion of “subpolitics,” which refers to the type of politics that is expressed outside of the established and traditional system—and often in relation to specific issues rather than as a complete ideological package. Beck’s point is that instead of suggesting that politics and morality are on the wane in the postmodern world, one might just as well argue that such claims are the result of a misconception of current social reality. The fact that many people have a declining interest in traditional formal politics should not necessarily be interpreted as a sign that there is an actual lack ← 125 | 126 → of political orientation or action in society at large (cf. Mouffe, 2000). This point is illustrated by, for example, the occurrence of activities such as culture jamming and adbusting (Klein, 2000; Wettergren, 2005), online campaign organizations (e.g.,, and hacktivism (McCaughey & Ayers,...

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