Viral Storytelling and Subjectivity in Social Networks: How Personalised Contributions via Memes, Gifs, Hashtags and Comments Affect the Deliberation of Mainstream and Alternative Politics
University of Westminster, United Kingdom
Since the proliferation of social networks a few decades ago, users have embraced new modes of storytelling and discussing social and political grievances online. In addition to blogging, microblogging, commenting, liking and sharing, they have also started to exploit the more fragmented bits of communication, namely Internet memes, gifs, hashtags and other seemingly "incomplete" texts.
Brexit and the US presidential campaign of the 2016 saw the use of memes in both traditional and digital politics - politicians employed memes to attract audience to their discourses; whilst other voices were emerging online, aiming to ride the waves of user-generated vitality on social networks and resists to the dominant discourse.
This research studies the impact of viral storytelling and digital communication on the political discourses in social networks. It amalgamates the studies on the attention deficit that has been identified among the Internet publics in the 2010s, emotional storytelling for political activism, affective publics and creative emotional deliberation of politics in the digital space. It also aims to draw the links between the personalised expressions of grievances and opinions, to the formation of collective mobilisations and narratives. This approach aims to link the existing studies on affective publics, alternative political activism and digital storytelling with the need to acknowledge the blurring lines between personalised and collective political discussions; understanding the ways how individualised subjectivities turn into mainstream yet often reverberate back into subcultures.
Dr Anastasia Denisova is a Lecturer in Journalism at the Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI), University of Westminster. Before starting her academic career, she worked as a journalist in Russia for over a decade; she keeps writing for the Independent, Global Voices and other media platforms. Anastasia has published her academic research on alternative digital politics, microbloggers, satire and Internet memes in Media, Culture & Society, Demokratizatsiya, Comparative Sociology, among others. She received awards for best presentations at academic conferences (such as Oxford Internet Institute’s recognition). Currently, she is looking at viral cultures and memes in the Western digital politics; the role they play in propaganda, populism and citizen deliberation.
On Precariousness and Emancipation: Female Political Subjectivities and Agency in the Greek Far-Right
DE MONTFORT UNIVERSITY, United Kingdom
Why do women join far-right parties? How do they position themselves in relation to their party’s ideology? What is the impact of their political agency on party ideology, organization, structure, and strategies? Answers to these questions are important for fully understanding the current thriving of a much-dangerous phenomenon that threatens hard-won democracy. This article offers novel responses to these questions through the study of the Greek Golden Dawn (GD), as one of the far-right parties in Europe that have been successful at recruiting women. It links party politics and gender and politics literature by examining GD women’s political subjectivities and agency. It employs a women-centered, close-up, internalist approach to the study of the topic and a qualitative research design. It thematically analyzes empirical ethnographic data from participant observation and interviews with GD women politicians and seasoned activists and documents that appear on the GD’s official website and on the blog of the GD Women’s Front. It challenges arguments that women are affiliated to far-right parties through men. It shows that GD women have managed to construct a catch-all, flexible, and coherent gender discourse that is becoming central to GD’s ideological and policy positions. It also highlights the ways through which gender is employed by the far right to augment its support base, especially when structural conditions are ripe. Therefore, it argues that such gender discourse could lead to an increase in the popularity and support of far-right parties among women and men with diverse views about gender and politics, both in Greece and elsewhere.
Dr Nayia Kamenou is a VC2020 Lecturer in the School of Applied Social Sciences at De Montfort University, Leicester, United Kingdom. Dr Kamenou’s research is interdisciplinary and cuts across political science, sociology, and gender studies. Her research interests include gender, sexuality, and political agency. She conducts research and has published work on the interrelations between nationhood, ethnic identities, gender, and sexuality; the impact of Europeanization on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer, and intersex rights, identities, and activism; women’s participation in far-right parties and the formation of gendered political agency and identities within the far right; women’s role in peace-building processes; representations of gender and sexual identities in cinema; and the impact of law and policy on trans* identities and political mobilization. Dr Kamenou’s work is firmly committed to political and social concerns and to the development of possible interventions for their resolution.