Lucie Chateau | Finding Political Empowerment in the Digital Public Sphere: Affects, Affordances and Aesthetics

Lucie Chateau | Finding Political Empowerment in the Digital Public Sphere: Affects, Affordances and Aesthetics | IMPACT: Empowering resilient society | Tilburg University | Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Martine S. Prange, Prof. Odile Heynders, Prof Michiel Bot | Project dates: 01/01/2019- 01/06/2023 | luciechateau[at]gmail.com

This project concerns the deliberative potential of digital public spheres and the possibility of finding a space for a critique of capitalism online, and the forms this critique might embody. To this, I will need to address the obstacles standing in the way of formulating a critique of ideology online. This will range from the structural to the more abstract, such as platform ownership and regimes of power under capitalism, (Dahlgren, 2005, Fuchs, 2014) algorithmic segregation, (Freelon, 2015) social networking site affordances (Bucher,2018) to a theory of affective communication and publics. (Papacharissi, 2015) The aesthetic forms to be studied are memes and their affective potential. Grammars of memes to be included are those that question or attack capitalism, either directly through the form of post-left community memes (Citarella, 2018) or indirectly through the widespread mainstream mental illness memes (own research). Eventually, my main research question will centre around the following:

  • To what extent can a critique of capitalism be articulated and effective in online contexts?

My project will take the form of a series of articles based on the themes outlined above. Subsequent research questions in development will include the following; 1) How do depression memes mobilise an affective discontent around regimes of work under late stage capitalism? 2) How do the affordances of Reddit, Instagram and Tumblr shape the anti-capitalism subcultures present on the platforms?