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Hashtag Publics

The Power and Politics of Discursive Networks


Edited By Nathan Rambukkana

This collection investigates the publics of the hashtag. Taking cues from critical public sphere theory, contributors are interested in publics that break beyond the mainstream – in other publics. They are interested in the kinds of publics that do politics in a way that is rough and emergent, flawed and messy, and ones in which new forms of collective power are being forged on the fly and in the shadow of loftier mainstream spheres.
Hashtags are deictic, indexical – yet what they point to is themselves, their own dual role in ongoing discourse. Focusing on hashtags used for topics from Ferguson, Missouri, to Australian politics, from online quilting communities to labour protests, from feminist outrage to drag pop culture, this collection follows hashtag publics as they trend beyond Twitter into other spaces of social networking such as Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr as well as other media spaces such as television, print, and graffiti.
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Chapter Seven: Hashtagging the Invisible: Bringing Private Experiences into Public Debate : An #outcry against Sexism in Germany


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Hashtagging the Invisible: Bringing Private Experiences into Public Debate

An #outcry against Sexism in Germany



Dominant power structures are shaping the way knowledge is being (re-)produced in our societies. Important questions for critical theory are therefore: Who is speaking and able to shape discourses? From what standpoint is s/he speaking? and (How) can communication power change these structures that are affecting individual lives? In this paper, I argue that the specific communicative dispositions of hashtags have opened up new possibilities for political participation and contestation, especially to those who feel underrepresented in a traditional media public.

Manuel Castells analyzes in his groundbreaking Communication Power, “Why, how and by whom power relations are constructed and exercised through the management of communication processes, and how these power relationships can be altered by social actors aiming for social change by influencing the public mind” (Castells, 2009, p. 3). In this context, the question of whether “the Internet” will have an emancipatory potential for gender relations has been debated for about a decade now by feminist scholars in the fields of political science, communication, and cultural studies.1

This discussion gained new popularity with the fast development of Web 2.0 technologies and “social networking sites.” As Anita Harris argues, it is important to give “value” to these new forms of political participation: ← 101 | 102 →

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