Structures of Participation and Contestation| Publics and Protest on the Tumblr Dashboard

by Michael Turner

Institution: The George Washington University
Year: 2016
Keywords: Cultural anthropology; Communication; Web studies
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2066849
Full text PDF: http://pqdtopen.proquest.com/#viewpdf?dispub=10003987


This project investigates the way that larger power structures and highly specific site architectures affect voices of contestation through a situated ethnographic study of theBlackLivesMatter movement on Tumblr. Rather than a comprehensive study, this project looks at how protesters may utilize high media and social network literacy to strategically make their voices heard by seemingly isolated and uninvolved users. Rather than ignorant to the structures around them, the specifics of these choices or e-tactics demonstrate a degree of awareness by protesters of larger cultural forces that may limit or constrain their ability to be heard. Through this lens, this thesis compares the role of Tumblr and other social sites as arenas for democratic dialogue and the insertion of previously marginalized peoples and narratives. The use of blogs by #BlackLivesMatter protesters and other counter-hegemonic movements as a realm for civic journalism and “counter media-errorism” is also analyzed. Ultimately, this project shows a clear need for further ethnographic study on the particulars of Internet and information and communication technology structures and how activists pursue social change within these structures.