Routledge Encyclopedia of Citizen Media: Abstracts [F]

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Zoetanya Sujon, London College of Communication, University of the Arts London (UAL), UK

Facebook is a complex site, marked by its massive size, constant change, continual expansion and ever increasing platform power. As such, it is difficult to place Facebook in terms of citizen media, as it simultaneously perpetuates the capitalist logic associated with corporate media as well as a citizen oriented logic enabling community building, social movements and many forms of creative and civic expression. In order to understand Facebook in light of these opposing logics, this entry provides an overview of current research and scholarship from across the spectrum, beginning with critical perspectives of Facebook as a corporate platform and followed by relevant unaffiliated citizen research and examples. In terms of critical perspectives, Facebook not only co-opts citizen action but also subverts the ‘social’ into monetizable forms of connection through metrics and the ‘like economy’ (e.g. Van Dijck 2013, Marwick 2013, Fuchs 2017). Three important and recent cases demonstrating this capitalist logic are: Facebook’s 2014 mood manipulation study, India’s 2016 rejection of Facebook’s Free Basics for monopolistic reasons, and the use of targeted advertising on Facebook for building anti-citizen white supremacist and nazi movements (September 2017). At the other end of the spectrum, a more grassroots and citizen oriented Facebook can be grouped into three themes: protest and social movements (Garbaudo 2016, Tufecki 2017), identity and community building (Lingel 2017), and citizen or participatory journalism (Rone 2016). Finally, Bennett and Segerberg’s work on ‘connective action’ (2013) provides a broader framework for understanding how these often opposing logics work simultaneously and in tandem.


Bennett, L. W. and A. Segerberg (2013) The Logic of Connective Action: Digital media and the personalization of contentious politics, Cambridge University Press.

Gerbaudo, P. (2016) ‘Rousing the Facebook Crowd: Digital enthusiasm and emotional contagion in the 2011 protests in Egypt and Spain’, International Journal of Communication, 10: 254–273.

Lingel, J. (2017) ‘Fight for your Platform to Party: Brooklyn drag and the battle for a queerer Facebook’, Digital Countercultures and the Struggle for Community, MIT Press, 99-122.

Marwick, A. (2013) Status Update: Celebrity, publicity, and branding in the social media age, New Haven, CT.: Yale University Press.

Rone, J. (2016) ‘The People Formerly Known as the Oligarchy: The co-optation of citizen journalism’, in M. Baker and B. Blaagaard (eds) Citizen Media and Public Spaces, London & New Yord: Routledge, 208-224.

Tufecki, Z. (2017) Twitter and Tear Gas: The power and fragility of networked protest, New Haven, CT.: Yale University Press.

Van Dijk, J. (2013) Culture of Connectivity: A critical history of social media, Oxford: Oxford University Press.



Eva Cheuk-Yin Li, Lancaster University, UK

Fandom is a diverse field of inter- and multi-disciplinary inquiry across academic traditions such as sociology, anthropology, psychology and cultural studies. Building on the active audience paradigm, it emerged in the early 1990s as a distinct field that explores the expression of personal/group identities, aesthetics and desires. There is a diverse focus in terms of the object of fandom, such as cult film and television, popular music, idols and celebrities, anime, manga, theatre, and also sports and gaming. Most research employs qualitative and ethnographic methods, while there is a recent call for more work in quantitative and mixed methods.

This entry maps four major themes and emerging trends in fandom scholarship. The first theme is research on fan labour and artefacts, one of the most closely examined areas in the field. Research works mainly celebrate fan creativity, emotions, desires, and participation, which are manifested in fan fictions, fanzines, fan conventions, performances of cosplay, and the alternative economy of exchanging fan arts such as doujinshi. The second theme is digital fandom in convergence culture. Web 2.0 and social media have tremendously transformed the mode of participation and offer a new space for the expression of self and group identities. Other research topics under this theme include online/offline dynamics, the rise of Internet ‘fandom publics’, and Internet research ethics. Following the importance of the Internet as the new site of participation, the third theme is fan activism and civic engagement. Some forms of fan activism focus on the dynamics of the consumer and the industry, for example, from fan letters in the early days of fandom to more recent social media campaign and crowdfunding activities. There is also emerging research that focuses on celebrity-driven civic engagement and fan-initiated philanthropy. The final theme is research on transcultural/transnational fandom and intersectionality; this is one of the most significant emerging themes in the field. This research engages critically with the dynamics of the relationship between West and non-West as well as global North/South in fandom, alongside the fabrication of power in various structural and institutional arrangements of gender, sexuality, class, and more recently, race.


Booth, P. (2010) Digital Fandom: New Media Studies, New York: Peter Lang.

Chin, B. and L. H. Morimoto. (2013) ‘Towards a Theory of Transcultural Fandom’, Participations: Journal of Audience Research 10(1): 92-108.

Duffett, M. (2013) Understanding Fandom: An introduction to the study of media fan culture, New York: Bloomsbury.

Hutchins, A. and N. T. J. Tindall (2016) Public Relations and Participatory Culture: Fandom, social media and community engagement, Oxon: Routledge.

Jenkins, H. (2014) ‘Fandom Studies as I See It’, The Journal of Fandom Studies 2(2): 89-109.

Pande, R. (2016) ‘Squee from The Margins: Racial/Cultural/Ethnic Identity in Global Media Fandom’, in P. Booth and L. Bennett (eds) Seeing Fans: Representations of Fandom in Media and Popular Culture, New York: Bloomsbury, 209-220.


Film Studies and Citizen Media

Jens Eder, Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf, Germany

Britta Hartmann, University of Bonn, Germany

Film studies is a disciplinary field with open boundaries towards neighbouring disciplines like media studies, but with a specific focus on the aesthetic structures of film and audiovisual media in their various contexts and histories. This entry focuses on four strands of research that are relevant to citizen media: (1) the history of audiovisual citizen media, (2) citizens’ current documentary practices, including alternative or ‘radical film’, (3) the aesthetics of audiovisual protest, and (4) today’s video activism on the Web 2.0. The first strand reconstructs the historical development of, for instance, workers’ films (Alexander 1981) or the uses of film and video in the context of civil rights movements in various countries (Zutavern 2015). Research in the second strand, driven also by organizations like the Radical Film Network and regular events like Visible Evidence or the Workers Unite Film Festival, studies a varied field of topics ranging from documentaries made by non-professionals (Juhasz/Lebow 2015) to self-organized activist film festivals (Iordanova/Torchin 2012). Some film scholars have begun to analyze the visual aesthetics of protest (Fahlenbrach 2017), and a new line of research explores the emerging field of video-activism 2.0 between social media and social movements, focusing on its affective strategies (Eder 2017), its counterpublics, and its practices of production and distribution (Presence 2015). This entry offers an overview of these different strands of research and draws on diverse audiovisual forms from various countries that serve as citizen media.


Alexander, W. (1981) Film on the Left: American documentary film from 1931 to 1942, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Eder, J. (2017) ‘Affective Image Operations’, in J. Eder and C. Klonk (eds) Image Operations. Visual Media and Political Conflict, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 63-78.

Fahlenbrach, K. (2017) ‘Images and Imagery of Protest’, in K. Fahlenbrach, M. Klimke and J. Scharloth (eds.) Protest Cultures. A Companion, Oxford/New York: Berghahn Books, 243-258.

Iordanova, D. and L. Torchin (eds) (2012) Film Festival Yearbook 4: Film festivals and activism, St Andrews: St Andrews Film Studies.

Juhasz, Alexandra and A. Lebow (2015) A Companion to Contemporary Documentary Film, Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell.

Presence, S. (2015) ‘The Contemporary Landscape of Video-Activism in Britain’, in E. Mazierska and L. Kristensen (eds) Marxism and Film Activism: Screening Alternative Worlds, New York/Oxford: Berghahn, 186-212.

Zutavern, J. (2015) Politik des Bewegungsfilms [Politics of Activist Films]. Marburg: Schüren.


Flash Mobs

Christian DuComb, Colgate University, USA

The first flash mob, organized by Harper’s Magazine editor Bill Wasik in 2003, took place in the rug department at the flagship Macy’s store in midtown Manhattan, “where, all at once, two hundred people wandered over to the carpet in the back left corner and, as instructed, informed clerks that they all lived together in a Long Island City commune and were looking for a ‘love rug'” (Wasik 2006:57). Wasik assembled this crowd of twenty- and thirty- something artists and professionals through anonymous emails to perform a sly critique of the conformism of hipster culture.

Whether playful or political, flash mobs disrupt the tightly laced social and spatial conventions of the twenty-first century city, occasionally erupting in violence. This entry traces the impact of digital technology on the rapid development and global diffusion of flash mobbing. As John H. Muse observes, flash mobs “almost invariably film themselves … and later distribute the video online”, creating “secondary mass audiences” through media like YouTube (2010:10-11). Some of these secondary audiences then stage similar events of their own, leading to a complex trans-mediation of live performance and streaming video in events as varied as the International Pillow Fight Day and the early protests of the Syrian Uprising.


Ducomb, C. and J. Benmen (2014) ‘Flash Mobs, Violence and the Turbulent Crowd’, Performance Research 19(5): 32-38.

Freedlander, D. (2010) ‘Urban Folk Art: Performance, politics, and the right to the City’, Theater 40(3): 25–41.

Muse, J. H. (2010) ‘Flash Mobs and the Diffusion of Audience’, Theater 40(3): 9–23.

Wasik, W. (2006) ‘My Crowd; or, Phase 5: A report from the inventor of the flash mob’, Harper’s Magazine, March, 56-66.