Routledge Encyclopedia of Citizen Media: Abstracts [S]

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Mette Mortensen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Over the past few years, selfies have become central to the practices and politics of visual self-representation inherent in citizen media. Selfies invariably hinge on the ‘self’ inscribed in the concept, but still raise questions concerning the relationship between individual and collective identities, subjective stories and shared concerns. This entry first presents empirical examples from citizen witnessing and civic protest movements of how individuals in contentious social and political situations use selfies to track, perform, and write their own instant history. To provide a historical framework for understanding current selfie practices, the entry next revisits scholarship on how the photographic portrait has been tied to regimes of visibility, to disciplining of the body, and to negotiations between empowerment and disempowerment (Sekula 1986, Mortensen, Andersen et al. 2003). Third, the entry discusses two scholarly approaches to selfies of relevance to citizen media. The first centres on the image itself and self-enacted performances (Hess 2015, Suler 2015, Jerslev and Mortensen 2016). The second examines the political, social, and cultural contexts of selfie practices in relation to, for example, participatory journalism (Koliska and Roberts 2015), military culture (Stein and Kuntsman 2015), post feminism (Murray 2015), queer storytelling (Vivienne and Burgess 2013) as well as issues of race and gender (Williams and Márquez 2015). Even if the two approaches have been presented as incompatible (Cruz and Thornham 2015), they are both vital to understanding selfies within a citizen media framework. Taken together, they enable analysis of how the self is visually performed and situated in diverse contexts and power relations (see also Frosh 2015).


Cruz, E. G. and H. Thornham (2015) ‘Selfies beyond Self-representation: The (theoretical) f(r)ictions of a practice’, Journal of Aesthetics & Culture 7: 1-10.

Frosh, P. (2015) ‘The Gestural Image: The selfie, photography theory, and kinesthetic sociability’, International Journal of Communication 9: 1607–1628.

Hess, A. (2015) ‘The Selfie Assemblage’, International Journal of Communication 9: 1629-1646.

Jerslev, A. and M. Mortensen (2016) ‘What is the Self in the Celebrity Selfie?: Celebrification, phatic communication and performativity’, Celebrity Studies 7(2): 249-263.

Koliska, M. and J. Roberts (2015) ‘Selfies: Witnessing and Participatory Journalism with a Point of View’, International Journal of Communication 9: 1672–1685.

Mortensen, M. et al. (2003) Geometry of the Face. Photographic Portraits, Copenhagen, The National Museum of Photography.

Murray, D. C. (2015) ‘Notes to Self: The visual culture of selfies in the age of social media’, Consumption Markets & Culture 18(6): 490-516.

Sekula, A. (1986) ‘The Body and the Archive’, October 39(Winter): 3-64.

Stein, R. and A. Kuntsman (2015) Digital Militarism. Israel’s Occupation in the Social Media Age, Stanford, Stanford University Press

Suler, J. (2015) ‘From Self-Portrais to Selfies’, International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies 12(2): 175-180.

Vivienne, S. and J. Burgess (2013) ‘The Remediation of the Personal Photograph and the Politics of Self-Representation in Digital Story- telling’, Journal of Material Culture 18(3): 279-298.

Williams, A. A. and B. A. Márquez (2015) ‘The Lonely Selfie King: Selfies and the conspicuous prosumption of gender and race’, International Journal of Communication 9: 1775-1787.



Katie Warfield, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Canada

This entry presents a brief history of contemporary modes of self-mediation via forms of citizen media online. It begins by deconstructing the two key concepts in the term self-mediation: selfhood and subjectivity, and mediation or the rubbing of selves up against different types of media and interfaces. The entry situates the concept of self-mediation within contemporary discussions of self-mediation in the digital era (Chouliaraki 2013; Deuze 2012; Jenkins 2016; Livingstone 2009; 2011; Papacharissi 2010; Thumin 2012; Walker-Rettberg 2014).

From this starting point, the entry combines a narrative framework with postphenomenological theory (Ihde 2010) to map the changing relationship between selves, identities, bodies, media and technologies. Narrative inquiry encourages attention to how the self is narrated via discourse and emplotment (Polkinghorne 1991) to focus on the changing relationship between writer, text and medium, and post-phenomenology adds attention to the impact of evolving material forces (e.g. platform affordances). Thus this entry narrates a material and discursive contemporary genealogy (2000 to present) to understand contemporary modes of self-mediation via citizen media.

Early writing on micro-blogging explained writing the self as akin to historical modes of self-mediation like diaries, where writing was—via humanist inspirations— primarily solitary, reflective, linear, singular and relatively separate from the bodies and subjectivities of the writer. By contrast, empirical work on contemporary modes of self-mediation challenges this original paradigm by describing self-mediation as often collective, dialogic, discursive and material, interrupted, incomplete, continual, rescripted, transmediated, remixed, rhizomatic, entangled, and deeply enfolded within the affective lived experience of the online writer. This entry traces the material discursive entanglements and mediated becomings of the self – influenced by post-humanism – via microblogging, online fanfiction, and tracing through increasingly multimodal forms of expression (e.g. selfies, avatars, gifs, vines, YouTube™ vlogging, Snapchat™ photos and digital stories, and locative media). Importantly, I argue that the self that is mediated is not a humanistic agentic singularity but rather an entanglement of material and discursive forces of class, gender, sexuality, race and citizenship.


Blackman, L. (2012) Immaterial Bodies: Affect, embodiment, mediation, London & Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.

Georgakopoulou, A. (2017) ‘Small Stories Research: A Narrative Paradigm for the Analysis of Social Media’, in A. Quan-Haase and L. Sloan (eds) Sage Handbook of Social Media Research Methods, Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Hogan, B. (2010) ‘The Presentation of Self in the Age of Social Media: Distinguishing performances and exhibitions online’, Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society 30(6): 377-386.

Papacharissi, Z. (2010) A Networked Self: Identity, community, and culture on social network sites, New York: Routledge.

Polkinghorne, D. (1991) ‘Narrative and Self-Concept’, Journal of Narrative and Life History 1(2-3): 135-153.

Social Media

Neil Sadler, Queen’s University Belfast, UK

The referent of the label ‘social media’ is as vast as it is difficult to define. With this in mind, the entry begins with an attempt to specify what constitutes social media and their relationship to social networking sites. While accepting that contemporary social media are by no means the first media forms to be social, it examines the ways in which they differ from earlier forms, particularly with regard to shifting social and communicative hierarchies and increasing possibilities for user participation. This includes an exploration of the emergence of social media along with the development of “web 2.0” during the early 2000s, paired with a review of the evolution of scholarship on the topic, including discussions on techno-optimism and pessimism, the notion of the echo chamber, and the increased visibility and importance of ‘empty signifiers’ and highly affective approaches to communication. The latter part of the entry examines the uses of social media as they pertain to citizen media, focusing on three key issues: the performance of collective identities and the rise of “citizenism” (Gerbaudo 2017); the transmission of news and information; and, more controversially, the organization and coordination of protest.


Gerbaudo P. (2017) The Mask and the Flag: Populism, citizenism and global protest. London: Hurst and Company.

Gunning, J. and L. Z. Baron (2014) Why Occupy a Square? People, protests and movements in the Egyptian Revolution, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Howard P. and M. Hussain (2011) ‘The Role of Digital Media’, Journal of Democracy 22(3): 35–48.

Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture: Where old and new media collide, New York and London: University of New York Press.

Papacharissi, Z. (2015) Affective Publics: Sentiment, technology and politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Social Movement Studies and Citizen Media

Tina Askanius, Malmö University, Sweden

This entry provides a discussion of citizen media from the perspective of social movement studies. Social movements are broadly understood to be “(a) mostly informal networks of interaction, based on (b) shared beliefs and solidarity, mobilized around (c) contentious themes through (d) the frequent use of various forms of protest” (della Porta and Mattoni 2015). Positioning media and mediation processes at the heart of all of these dimensions of social movements, the entry pulls together key readings and current literature on the interplay between media and movements. In doing so, it highlights some of the work currently being done by a new generation of social movement media scholars working to bridge the gap between media and communication studies and social movement studies. Much of this work is centred around the notion of media practices in social movement politics to avoid media centrism, one-medium/platform bias and binary distinctions between digital and non-digital forms of citizen media (Cammaerts et al. 2013; Mattoni 2012; Mattoni and Thère 2014; Kaun 2016; Kavada 2015, 2016).

Historically, social movement studies have paid only “tangential attention to media dynamics” and a “persistent divorce” between media studies research and theory and research by sociologists, political scientists and historians has created a certain fragmentation of knowledge on the topic (Downing 2008:41). With the upsurge in protest movements across the world since 2010, scholarly interest, covering a multitude of disciplines, in the relation between political mobilizations and digital media in particular has however increased dramatically. While ensuring that the broader historical trajectory of this relation is not ignored, this entry pays particular attention to the relatively recent adaptation and appropriation of social media into social movement media repertoires and how this has influenced both strategic and expressive activities of social movements actors and organizations.

The social movement perspective implies that privilege is given to the role of citizen media in movement building, collective action and strategic communication at the expense of the appropriation of such media and media practices in more loose, individualized and ephemeral forms of civic engagement and activism of unaffiliated citizens that have also mushroomed over the past decade (see Neumeyer, entry on activism, this volume).


Cammaerts, B., A. Mattoni and P. McCurdy (2013) Mediation and Protest Movements, Bristol, UK: Intellect.

della Porta, D. and A. Mattoni (2016) ‘Social Movements’, in G. Mazzoleni, K. Barnhurst, K. Ideda, R. Maia and H. Wessler (eds) The International Encyclopedia of Political Communication. Blackwell-Wiley.

Downing, J. (2008) ‘Social Movement Theories and Alternative Media: An evaluation and critique’, Communication, Culture & Critique 1(1): 40-50.

Kavada, A. (2015) ’Creating the Collective: Social media, the Occupy Movement and its constitution as a collective actor’, Information, Communication & Society 18(8): 872-886.

Kavada, A. (2016) ‘Social Movements and Political Agency in the Digital Age: A communication approach, Media and Communication 4(4): 8-12.

Kaun, A. (2016) Crisis and Critique. A history of media participation in times of crisis, London: Zed Books.

Mattoni, A. (2012) Media Practices and Protest Politics. How precarious workers mobilise, Farnham, UK: Ashgate.



Alex Khasnabish, Mount Saint Vincent University, Canada

Solidarity is one of the most commonly used terms in social justice movements and activist milieus and yet its meaning, for many, is evocative and aspirational rather than specific and contextual. Indeed, even in social movement studies, the term is often treated as a social fact that is present or absent rather than as a relational phenomenon that is always in process and never finished.

Drawing on some of the best scholar-activist work on the topic, this entry argues that solidarity is a transformative relationship that is always in the process of being worked out by the parties who lay claim to it, rather than an act or a status that simply exists or does not. Looking at examples both contemporary and historical, the entry demonstrates the ways that social movements, those who make them up, and those who study them have sought to materialize solidaristic relations as a critical step to building grassroots power and transforming intolerable and unjust social conditions. It also explores the media channels through which activists and organizers have sought to build, express and circulate solidaristic relationships with others in struggle. Finally, it examines the consequences of the difficult work of forging solidarity among disparate actors engaged in social justice struggle and the possibilities and barriers to it.


Dixon, C. (2014) Another Politics: Talking across today’s transformative movements, Berkeley: University of California Press.

Featherstone, D. (2012) Solidarity: Hidden histories and geographies of internationalism, London/New York: Zed Books.

Linebaugh, P. and M. Rediker (2000) The Many-Headed Hydra Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic, Boston: Beacon Press. Avialable online: (last access 3 April 2017).

Lynd, S. and A. Grubačić (2008) Wobblies & Zapatistas: Conversations on anarchism, marxism and radical history, Oakland, CA: PM Press.

Milstein, C. (2015) Taking Sides: Revolutionary solidarity and the poverty of liberalism, Oakland, CA: AK Press.

Prashad, V. (2008) The Darker Nations: A people’s history of the third world, New York/ London: New Press.

Shotwell, A. (2016) Against Purity: Living ethically in compromised times, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Walia, H. (2013) Undoing Border Imperialism, Anarchist interventions 6, Oakland, CA: AK Press.



Paul Reilly, University of Sheffield, UK

The use of social media by citizens to ‘bear witness’ to traumatic events is illustrative of the new forms of digital citizenship that have emerged since the 2010s (Allan et al. 2013, Isin and Huppert 2015). This entry focuses specifically on one such digital act, namely how social media platforms can be used to create and share acts of sousveillance, a form of “inverse surveillance” that empowers citizens through the use of technology to “access and collect data about their surveillance” (Mann et al. 2003:333). The two primary forms of sousveillance, hierarchical and personal, are critically evaluated with reference to a number of prominent examples. These include the #BlackLivesMatter campaign to focus attention upon violent police attacks on African-Americans since 2014 (Freelon et al. 2016), as well as the use of YouTube by eyewitnesses to highlight alleged police brutality during the so-called ‘Battle of Stokes Croft’ that occurred in Bristol, England, in April 2011. In particular, the entry considers how audience responses to acts of police brutality shared on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are influenced by news media coverage of these incidents. Previous research has indicated that the sharing of sousveillance footage online may raise as many questions about the behaviour of the alleged victims as it does of the police (Reilly 2015). The entry concludes by considering whether sousveillant practices facilitated via social media constitute a shift in informational power from nation-states to marginalized groups.


Allan, S. (2013) Citizen Witnessing: Revisioning Journalism in Times of Crisis. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Freelon, D., C. D. McIlwain. and M. D. Clark (2016) Beyond the Hashtags: #Ferguson, #Blacklivesmatter, and the Online Struggle for Offline Justice, Washington D.C.: Center for Media and Social Impact, American University.

Isin, E. and E. Ruppert (2015) Being Digital Citizens, London: Rowman and Littlefield International.

Mann, S., J. Nolan and B. Wellman (2003) ‘Sousveillance: Inventing and Using Wearable Computing Devices for Data Collection in Surveillance Environments’, Surveillance & Society 1(3): 331-355.

Reilly, P. (2015) ‘Every Little helps? YouTube, Sousveillance and the ‘Anti-Tesco’ Riot in Bristol’, New Media and Society 17(5): 755-771.


Space and Place

Matilda Tudor, Uppsala University, Sweden

How we conceptualize the relationship between media and space has implications for how we conceive of citizen media. Media may be regarded either as an enabling infrastructure that connects disenfranchised individuals and disparate locations, or as fundamentally interconnected with how we experience and negotiate locality. Media is also commonly understood to produce spaces in its own right, providing alternative geographies for action. Despite their centrality in contemporary media studies, space and place remain difficult to grasp as concepts, however, and continue to evoke discussion relating to the ontological status of the digitally connected human subject. This entry therefore begins by outlining key debates that emerged in the late twentieth century and reveal the anxieties as well as wishful thinking characteristic of this period in relation to electronic and digital media’s ability to overthrow geography and enable disembodiment (Meyrowitz 1985). It then looks more closely at what has increasingly been referred to as the ‘spatial turn’ in media studies. Addressing the materiality of everyday life, new perspectives focus more on how media interact with physical conditions and limitations, and stress the need to examine these issues from a grounded standpoint (Couldry and McCarthy 2004; Falkheimer and Jansson 2006). Instead of leading to the end of geography, new flows and connections across the social and geographical dimensions are understood to ‘rearrange’ space and place, revealing previously unexamined spatial complexities (Graham 1998). The entry concludes with a discussion of findings from ethnographic work conducted among queer media users in contemporary Russia that examined their everyday movements and perceptions of space. It draws on the work of media phenomenologists in order to capture the mundane entanglement of media in everyday experience (Moores 2012) and argues for the importance of recognizing a multiply situated media user in order to grasp the complexities of contemporary social existence.


Couldry, N. and A. McCarthy (2004) MediaSpace: Place, scale and culture in a media age, New York: Routledge.

Falkheimer, J. And A. Jansson (eds) (2006) Geographies of Communication. The spatial turn in media studies, Göteborg: Nordicom.

Graham, S. (1998) ‘The End of Geography or the Explosion of Place? Conceptualizing space, place and information technology’, Progress in Human Geography 22(2): 165-185.

Meyrowitz, J. (1985) No Sense of Place: The impact of Electronic media on social behavior, New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Moores, S. (2012) Media, Place and Mobility, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.



Aoileann Ní Mhurchú, University of Manchester, UK

This entry discusses how we can understand ‘subjectivity’ as a process that is linked to contestation and difference rather than as a presence linked to status and essence. It considers how several bodies of research, including postcolonialism/decolonialism, poststructuralism and feminism have helped us come to this understanding of subjectivity. We come to understand subjects from this perspective as made by the acts they engage in rather than as pre-existing those acts. The entry examines creative practices linked to vernacular language and music – practices increasingly recognized as interventions into static and more fixed understandings about identity, belonging and community – to consider why an understanding of subjectivity as process is useful. It argues that it is useful as it helpfully enables us to reflect on dynamic understandings of subjecthood and move beyond static, limited ideas of identity.


Ní Mhurchú, A. (2016) ‘Unfamiliar Acts of Citizenship: Enacting Citizenship in Vernacular Music and Language’, Citizenship Studies (20)2: 156-172.

Shapiro, M. (2013) Studies in Transdiciplinary Methods, London: Routledge.

Williams, Q (2017) Remix Multilingualism: Hip-hop Ethnography and Performing Marginalised Voice, Bloomsbury Publishing.



Arne Hintz, Cardiff University, UK

Citizens have historically used a variety of media to intervene in public space. However, as part of this, they have been subjected to different types of state and corporate surveillance. Alternative and social movement media have been targeted by state surveillance, and the broad range of online citizen media, as the Snowden revelations demonstrated, are heavily monitored and analysed by both commercial platforms and state agencies. What, then, are the implications and challenges of surveillance and (data-based) monitoring for citizen media? And how can citizen media, in turn, serve to tackle those challenges?

This entry addresses three dimensions of this connection between citizen media and surveillance. First, it explores the consequences of state and commercial surveillance for (both online and offline) citizen media practices and discusses, for example, the ‘chilling effect’ of surveillance on free expression. Secondly, it investigates the potential for citizen media to uncover and counter-act surveillance, for example through ‘sousveillance’ strategies. Finally, it explores the broader implications of surveillance for state-citizen relations. While citizen media have long been a key component of active citizenship and its empowering implications, the power shifts implied by surveillance require us to re-think the role of citizen media, particularly in digital environments.


Fuchs, C., K. Boersma, A. Albrechtslund and M. Sandoval, M. (eds) (2012) Internet and Surveillance: The challenges of Web 2.0 and social media. Abingdon: Routledge.

Hampton, K.N., L. Rainie, W. Lu, M. Dwyer, I. Shin and K. Purcell (2014) ‘Social Media and the ‘Spiral of Silence’’, Pew Research Center, Washington, DC. Available online: (last accessed 3 April 2017).

Hintz, A., L. Dencik, K. Wahl-Jorgensen, M. Rogers, and I. Brown (2017) ‘Digital Citizenship and Surveillance Society’, special section of the International Journal of Communication 11: 731–739. Available online: (last accessed 3 April 2017).

Lyon, D. (2015) Surveillance after Snowden, Malden: Polity Press.

Mann, S., J. Nolan and B. Wellman (2003) ‘Sousveillance: Inventing and Using Wearable Computing Devices for Data Collection in Surveillance Environments”, Surveillance & Society 1(3): 331-355.