Routledge Encyclopedia of Citizen Media: Abstracts [H]

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Hacking and Hacktivism

Julia Rone, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium and University of Cambridge, UK

Since its early days as a subculture, hacking has experienced a series of deep transformations that can be defined as commercialization, criminalization and politicization. Hacking skills and ethics have been persistently professionalized and integrated in the process of production. This process of commercialization started with the early software companies and the Open Source movement in the 1990s and has culminated in today’s ‘hackathons’: sprint-like design events, where participants write code and build apps for the purpose of self-promotion. The criminalization of hacking reached its first peak in the 1990s, often dubbed the “golden age of cracking” (Jordan 2016), but criminal modes of hacking are still widespread. Finally, hacking has been increasingly politicized as a practice, and it is in this respect that it is particularly relevant to citizen media and social mobilizations. As the Zapatista movement and the alter-globalization protests unfolded in the late 1990s, activists adopted creative uses of technology to achieve political impact, thus giving rise to what has been termed ‘hacktivism’: a specific new blend of hacking and political activism (Jordan and Taylor 2004). More recently, powerful actors such as Wikileaks and Anonymous have used hacking and the affordances of information technologies to challenge established powers (Coleman 2015). While Anonymous count on digital crowds of outsiders to disrupt critical infrastructures, Wikileaks relies on individual insiders to disseminate crucial information through secure technologies (Bodo 2014). At a time when state-sponsored hacking and surveillance have become common practice (Wooley and Howard, 2017), new projects such as ‘Security Without Borders’ aim to offer secure technologies and to protect citizen activists and journalists in an increasingly monitored and dangerous environment (Guarnieri 2017). Moving from the fringes to the mainstream, hacking today is not only used by a variety of governments and corporations, but also remains a crucial bottom-up resource for securing free citizen participation and expression.


Bodo, B. (2014) ‘Hacktivism 1-2-3: How privacy enhancing technologies change the face of anonymous hacktivism’, Internet Policy Review 3(4): 1-13.

Coleman, G. (2015) Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous, Brooklyn, NY and London: Verso.

Guarnieri, C. (2017) ‘What is to be Hacked?’, limn: Issue 8 Hacks, Leaks and Breaches. Available at

Jordan, T. (2016) ‘A Genealogy of Hacking’, Convergence 23(5): 528-544.

Jordan, T. and P. Taylor (2004) Hacktivism and Cyberwars: Rebels with a Cause?, London: Routledge.

Wooley, S. and P. Howard (2017) ‘Computational Propaganda Worldwide: Executive summary’, Computational Propaganda Research Project, Working Paper 2017.11.


Hip Hop

Christopher Vito, Southwestern College, USA

Hip-hop artists have utilized technological advancements and concordant shifts in the marketplace to create avenues for success despite competition from majors. Thus, this entry covers two major points: (1) hip-hop’s history of resistance to major record labels, and (2) the current wave of resistance by independent artists utilizing a DIY ethic wherein they have a larger stake in music production, distribution and marketing.

First, hip-hop’s history is filled with cyclical patterns of commodification and resistance as hip-hop spreads and evolves. For instance, within the United States independent hip-hop artists have appropriated DIY techniques from punk music in the 1970s. Many communities, from the UK to Japan, utilize hip-hop’s diaspora to address pertinent local issues and resist corporatization. Second, Forman (2000) argues that the most recent wave of indie rappers have responded to the formation of 360 degree contracts, management conflicts, and poor economic relations between musician and label. For example, American artists such as Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Tech N9ne, and Chance the Rapper have made headlines by choosing to remain independent rather than sign with a major record label. Similarly, UK artists such as Lowkey, Mic Righteous, and English Frank have spoken out against capitalism and the big businesses.


Forman, M. (2000) ‘Represent: Race, Place, and Space in Rap Music’, Popular Music 19(1): 65-90.

Harkness, G. (2012) ‘True School: Situational Authenticity in Chicago’s Hip-Hop Underground’, Cultural Sociology 6(3): 283–298.

Marshall, L. (2013) ‘The 360 Deal and the ‘New’ Music Industry’, European Journal of Cultural Studies 16(1): 77-99.

Rose, T. (2008) The Hip Hop Wars: What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip Hop– And Why It Matters, New York: BasicCivitas.

Strachan, R. (2007) ‘Micro-independent Record Labels in the UK’, European Journal of Cultural Studies 10(2): 245-265.


Hyperlocal Media

Jerome Turner and David Harte, Birmingham City University, UK

The term hyperlocal media was used in the context of journalism from 2004 and subsequently defined as “online news or content services pertaining to a town, village, single postcode or other small, geographically defined community” (Radcliffe, 2012: 6). With this came a hope that hyperlocal media might fill the gap of receding local media (Nielsen 2015), suggesting a certain elitism in the use of the term, whereby editor/writers considered themselves part of a specific movement, producing original content and encouraging civic engagement to reinvigorate degenerated local public spheres. Studies of hyperlocal media have demonstrated that such expectations are upheld to an extent (Williams et al. 2015). However, as practices increasingly incorporate both broadcast models (blogs) as well as more participatory, networked spaces, hyperlocal media must also be understood in terms of the social and cultural value created for communities of place as chronicler of the everyday. Hyperlocal media is therefore better defined as citizen media rather than citizen journalism, following Baker and Blaagaard’s distinction (2016) – for and by the people, not always confined by journalistic standards. This entry therefore explores international studies demonstrating hyperlocal media as a platform for mobilizing publics in democratic change (Postill 2011), as much as equally significant but more parochial concerns of ‘lost pet’ appeals and local crime stories (Turner 2015).


Baker, M. and B. B. Blaagaard (2016) ‘Reconceptualizing Citizen Media. A preliminary charting of a complex domain’, in M. Baker and B. B. Blaagaard (eds) Citizen Media and Public Spaces, New York & London: Routledge, 1-22.

Nielsen, R. K. (2015) Local Journalism: The Decline of Newspapers and the Rise of Digital Media, London: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

Postill, J. (2011) Localizing the Internet: An Anthropological Account, Berghahn Books.

Radcliffe, D. (2012) Here and Now: UK hyperlocal media today. Nesta. Available at [Accessed 12 November 2017].

Turner, J. (2015) ‘Good Dog, Bad Dog: Exploring Audience Uses and Attitudes to Hyperlocal Community News Media through the Prism of Banal Pet Stories’, Anthropological Notebooks 21(3): 39-50.

Williams, A., D. Harte and J. Turner (2015) ‘The Value of UK Hyperlocal Community News’, Digital Journalism 3: 680-703.