Habermasian utopia or Sunstein's echo chamber? The ‘dark side’ of hashtag hijacking and feminist activism

Willis, Reilly (2020) Habermasian utopia or Sunstein's echo chamber? The ‘dark side’ of hashtag hijacking and feminist activism. Legal Studies, 40 (3). pp. 507-526. ISSN 0261-3875

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Society thinks, talks, and communicates in ways which are inherently different now from the pre-Internet era. Hashtags in particular have transformed community formation around a particular topic, issue, or goal. A new and relatively under-studied phenomenon is that of ‘hashtag hijacking’, where individuals or groups use a particular hashtag to draw attention to arguments and narratives which undermine or oppose the hashtag's objective. Most of the current literature looks at hashtag hijacking as a positive outlet for counter-discourse/counter-narratives to challenge dominant groups. This study, however, looks at the ‘dark side’ of hashtag hijacking, where groups use trolling tactics similar to the Alt_Right to reinforce misogynistic views. The hijacking of three hashtags is explored in this study: #notacriminal, #women2drive, and #mydressmychoice, to explore feminist theories on the role of social media in a ‘public space’. Does Twitter function as one common public sphere where inequalities are so deeply embedded that minority voices have no hope of being heard? Or does Twitter function as a meeting place for multiple competing public spheres, thus allowing minority – and in this case feminist – voices to be heard?

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: feminism, campaigning, women's rights, hashtags
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Business & Applied Social Science > Department of Applied Social Sciences
Depositing User: Reilly Willis
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2020 09:55
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2020 15:26
URI: https://oars.uos.ac.uk/id/eprint/1287

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