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Citizen Journalism

Einar Thorsen, Bournemouth University, UK

Examples abound where ordinary citizens have acted in journalistic ways – for example to document unfolding natural disasters, wars and conflicts, map human rights abuses, or challenge misuse of corporate or political power. Eyewitnesses are increasingly using their mobile phones to capture and instantly disseminate news. Activists are using the internet to mobilize and draw attention to their causes by communicating directly with other citizens.

In light of such developments, this entry critiques different ways of defining ‘citizen journalism’. It outlines the contested nature of the term, both within scholarly circles and from the perspective of professional journalists. Whilst the entry draws on some historical examples (for example the Indian Ocean Tsunami 2004, London bombings 2005, Saddam Hussain execution 2006, or Mumbai attacks 2008), the emphasis is on contemporary movements and case studies that help elucidate what citizen journalism means today. These are carefully selected to demonstrate the tensions associated with the term citizen journalism and why it remains a useful concept (for example, Jordi Mir’s recording of Ahmed Merabet’s killing during the attack on Charlie Hebdo, or the decapitation of Brazilian investigative blogger Evany José Metzker, both in 2015).

Arising from the above discussion the entry offers a brief meta-typology of different forms and practices of citizen journalism, and in so doing seeks to highlight both its important epistemological contribution and the blurred boundaries with professional journalism.


Carlson, M. and S. C. Lewis (eds) (2015) Boundaries of journalism: Professionalism, practices and participation, London and New York: Routledge.

Chouliaraki, L. (2016) ‘The Securitization of Citizen Reporting in Post-Arab Spring Conflicts’, in Mona Baker and Bolette Blaagaard (eds) Citizen Media and Public Spaces; Diverse expressions of Citizenship and Dissent, London and New York: Routledge.

Dahlgren, P. (2016) ‘Professional and Citizen Journalism: Tensions and complements’, in J. C. Alexander, E. B. Breese and M. Luengo (eds) The Crisis of Journalism Reconsidered, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 247-263.

Thorsen, E. and S. Allan (eds) (2014) Citizen Journalism: Global Perspectives, Volume 2, Peter Lang International Academic Publishers.

Wall, M. (2015) ‘Citizen Journalism: A retrospective on what we know, an agenda for what we don’t, Digital Journalism 3(6): 797-813.


Citizen Science

Gwen Ottinger, Drexel University, USA

This entry examines two traditions of citizen science. One, tracing its origins to amateur naturalism, involves ‘lay’ volunteers in projects designed by credentialed scientists with the goal of advancing basic knowledge. The second is driven by community groups organized to solve local problems, who see value in creating a quantitative basis for their local knowledge. This second form of citizen science, which may also be referred to as ‘civic science’, ‘community science’, and ‘participatory action research’, among other designations, exemplifies the idea of citizen media and is the focus of the entry. Through the collection of monitoring, health and visual data, participants give new meaning and visibility to their experiences as part of their quest for social change.

Drawing on my own research on air monitoring by communities at the fencelines of industrial facilities, as well as case studies from the literature at the intersection of environmental justice and science and technology studies, I demonstrates that social movement-based forms of citizen science are widely misunderstood by members of the scientific and regulatory communities, who attempt to array activities from traditions of citizen science on a single spectrum. By reducing grassroots efforts to their contributions to scientific knowledge, scientists undercut the emancipatory intent of social movement-based citizen science. In their misrecognition of grassroots efforts, we see the same patterns of appropriation encountered by other kinds of citizen media.


Irwin, A. (1995) Citizen Science: A study of people, expertise, and sustainable development, London: Routledge.

Ottinger, G. (2016) ‘Social Movement-Based Citizen Science’, in D. Cavalier and E. B. Kennedy (eds) The Rightful Place of Science: Citizen science, Tempe, AZ: Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes, pp. 89-104.

Shirk, J., H. L Ballard, C. C Wilderman, T. B. Phillips, A. Wiggins, R. Jordan, E. McCallie, M. Minarchek, B. V. Lewenstein, M. E. Krasny and R. Bonney (2012) ‘Public Participation in Scientific Research: A framework for deliberate design’, Ecology and Society 17(2): 29-48.

Wylie, S. A., K. Jalbert, S. Dosemagen and M. Ratto (2014) ‘Institutions for Civic Technoscience: How critical making is transforming environmental research’, The Information Society 30(2): 116-126.



Engin Isin, Queen Mary University of London, UK and University of London Institute in Paris, France

If indeed citizenship has become a major object of struggle over the last three or four decades, it surely has to do with many profound transformations that are taking place on a global scale. Many scholars have studied the relationships between these transformations and the concept of citizenship itself. Some urged tightening the use of citizenship to indicate that the term refers strictly to membership in a state (status) whilst others have encouraged more differentiated uses of the term to describe various practices of belonging, identification and struggles. Thus, various uses of the term, such as ‘multicultural citizenship’, ‘sexual citizenship’, ‘transnational citizenship’ or ‘digital citizenship’, have entered into circulation. Terms such as ‘media citizenship’ or ‘cultural citizenship’ are now widely used. These uses create tensions when legal citizenship can have a precise meaning of who may or may not act under certain capacities, as differentiated uses proliferate where seemingly anyone can act like a citizen. This tension might well be productive and inherent in the concept itself. The entry outlines a critical approach to citizenship that acknowledges its need to be continually differentiated while recognizing that it may need a precise meaning. It proposes considering citizenship functioning under different senses that mobilize it: citizenship (in) law, citizenship (in) practice, citizenship (in) theory, and citizenship (in) acts. There are always gaps between these senses and the creative work of citizens takes place in these gaps.


Balibar, É. (2015) Citizenship, Cambridge: Polity.

Butler, J. (2015) Senses of the Subject, New York: Fordham University Press.

Marback, R. and M. W. Kruman (eds) (2015) The Meaning of Citizenship, Detroit: Wayne University Press.

Ofer, I. and T. Groves (eds) (2016) Performing Citizenship: Social movements across the globe, London: Routledge.

Zivi, K. (2012) Making Rights Claims: A practice of democratic citizenship, Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Civil Disobedience

Ian Alan Paul, Stony Brook University, USA

At anti-eviction sit-ins in Spain, house demolition protests in the West Bank of Palestine, or airport occupations in protest of Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban, civil disobedience and media practice have become deeply intertwined and for all practical purposes inseparable. Whether these acts of defiance are recorded, broadcast and transmitted by the participants themselves in order to reach, speak to and converse with global audiences, or captured by ever more sophisticated surveillance technologies, protests must now account for the ways in which they occur within spaces which are always-already suffused with media that structure and shape the terrain of contemporary political movements.

Civil disobedience, the political tradition and tactic defined by acts of organized non-cooperation and collective refusal, has adapted to a world increasingly shaped by evolving forms of media. Online and on the streets (and often both), what it means to resist has required near continuous reinvention as loci of power have migrated from parliaments to networks, as political struggles have become necessarily transnational, and as digital technologies have become the central infrastructure of global cultures. Drawing upon contemporary case studies from across the globe, including experiments in electronic civil disobedience (ecd), live-streamed sit-ins, social media campaigns and others, this entry examines some of the ways in which civil disobedience has responded to related practices such as hacktivism and direct action as well as the rapidly evolving media contexts it takes place within.


Thoreau, Henry David (1993) Civil Disobedience and Other Essays, New York: Dover Publications.

Critical Art Ensemble (2001) Digital Resistance: Explorations in tactical media, New York: Autonomedia.

Castells, Manuel (2009) Communication Power, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Raley, Risa (2009) Tactical Media, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.


Civil Society

Manès Weisskircher, TU Dresden, Germany

The concept of civil society has been intensively debated by scholars, activists and policymakers from diverse ideological backgrounds. Its vast scope is underlined by the six forms of civil society discussed in the Oxford Handbook of Civil Society: the nonprofit sector, development NGOs, grassroots associations, social movements, social enterprises, and global civil society.

Going beyond normative definitions of civil society, this entry focuses on four empirical dimensions that are crucial for understanding not only civil society, but also the citizen media that civil society players produce. First, civil society overlaps and interacts with other political players such as the state and markets. Correspondingly, civil society players do not produce media in a separate sphere – the very possibility of producing citizen media is severely constrained by state action and corporate market structures and logics. Second, conflict is inherent to civil society – its players do not operate in a harmonious sphere. Transferring this insight to citizen media practices, civil society players may clash heavily over the control of online domains and social media accounts, for example. Third, civil society does not only consist of ‘progressive’ players in favour of left-wing or liberal values; far-right groups that produce various forms of citizen media, offline and online, also belong to civil society. Fourth, the consequences of a ‘strong’ or ‘weak’ civil society are highly disputed, for instance in relation to the exercise of democracy.  Similarly, citizen media may have various important effects, but in some cases their role is overstated.

In addressing these issues, the entry draws on a variety of citizen media practices involving civil society players, such as the ‘pink tide’ movement in Latin America, Indymedia, the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong, Samizdat in Eastern Europe, the role of social media during the Arab uprisings, and radical right PEGIDA groups in Germany and beyond.


Berman, Sheri (1997) ‘Civil Society and the Collapse of the Weimar Republic’, World Politics 49: 401-429.

Chandhoke, Neera (2007) ‘Civil Society’, Development in Practice 17: 607-614.

Edwards, Michael (ed.) (2011) The Oxford Handbook of Civil Society, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kopecký, Petr and Cas Mudde (2003) ‘Rethinking Civil Society’, Democratization 10: 1-14.

Tocqueville, Alexis de (2017) Democracy in America, Mineola: Dover Publications.



Fruela Fernández, Universitat de les Illes Balears, Spain

Originating ‘in medieval-era English property law’ (Caffentzis 2016: 96), the commons has become a fundamental concept for activism and alternative political thought across the world since the 1990s (ibid: 98). In general terms, most scholars would agree that the commons refer to a variety of goods (understood in a broad sense) that do not belong to a single individual, but are shared, used, and protected by a community (e.g. a field, a wood or a lake). However, the ramifications of this general principle, which is present in many cultures across the world, are complex; equally, the ways in which it has evolved as a contemporary political concept are disputed and have generated a variety of divergent interpretations, to the extent that some scholars have suggested it should be understood as an ‘umbrella concept’ (Subirats and Rendueles 2016: 9).

This entry addresses the historical and intellectual complexity of the commons by presenting an overview of the key debates in the field, which mainly touch upon the composition of the commons (material/immaterial, goods/practices) and their relationship with capitalism (coexistence, alternative model or rejection). After discussing the main differences and commonalities between current understandings of the concept, it explores its contemporary applications across digital activism (Wikipedia, Creative Commons), housing and banking initiatives, and social movements (post-2008 movement of the squares).


Caffentzis, G. (2016) ‘Commons’, in Keywords for Radicals. The contested vocabulary of late-Capitalist struggle, in K. Fritsch, C. O’Connor and A.K. Thompson (eds) Oakland: AK Press, 95-101.

Federici, S. (2004) Caliban and the Witch: Women, the body and primitive accumulation, New York: Autonomedia.

Midnight Notes Collective (1990) ‘Introduction to the New Enclosures’, Midnight Notes 10: 1-9.

Ostrom, E. (1990) Governing the Commons: The evolution of institutions for collective action, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Subirats, J. and C. Rendueles (2016) Los (bienes) comunes. ¿Oportunidad o espejismo? Barcelona: Icaria.


Community Media

Clemencia Rodríguez, Temple University, USA

The term ‘community media’ means different things, depending on context. This entry explains the four main understandings of community media: 1) the Latin American tradition that conceives of community media as the media of marginalized communities and social justice; 2) the European tradition of community media as expression of local cultures; 3) the Indigenous/Aboriginal tradition, in which community media are used to strengthen cultural practice as power and resistance; and 4) the US tradition of media activists’ continuous struggles against commercial media. In each geo-political context, community media emerged at the intersection of regulatory regimes, social movements toward more democratic media, and corporate take overs of media infrastructures. Therefore, community media take different shapes and forms, and the entry explains the multiple variants of the term. For example, while in Australia a national campaign legitimized community radio as early as the 1960s, in the United States community radio existed mainly as pirate radio until 2014. The entry defines the main theoretical contributions and presents the key scholars, activists and media initiatives of each tradition.


Conflict & Humanitarian Studies and Citizen Media

Derya Yuksek, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium

This entry examines citizen media from the perspective of conflict and humanitarian studies, informed by the interdisciplinary framework of cultural studies, to provide an overview of contemporary critical debates on conflict, media and society.

Historically, the dominance of war-centric approaches has confined our understanding of conflict to its negative and violent forms. In these contexts, interventions focused primarily on prevention and elite peace-making, thus overshadowing the structural and cultural drivers of conflict omnipresent in society due to power inequalities and injustices. For decades, particularly as enshrined in the works of the conflict transformation school (Curle 1971, Galtung 1996, Lederach 2003), attention shifted from this minimalist view to a maximalist one that recognizes the constructive potential of conflict for social change processes, and sees conflict and peace along a continuum, where peace becomes a praxis, as reflected in the continuous, society-wide struggles for democracy, equality, and justice. Still, the scholarly emphasis remains on the material-structural and cognitive-psychological aspects of this dynamic. Less attention is placed on the cultural and discursive (Jabri 1996, Demmers 2012, Carpentier 2015) that works to produce, frame and reproduce the former aspects, in which media play a crucial role both as channels and as agents themselves.

Against this background, this entry first surveys key scholarly work on media, conflict and peace, and provides a brief overview of the (destructive and constructive) functions that media may serve in conflicts and reconciliation. Following a non media-centric approach, it then examines citizen media in relation to conflict transformation, with the facilities they provide for self-representation and empowerment from micro (individual) to macro (societal) levels. While due attention is given to the repressive and reactionary forms these media may take (Downing 2001, Atton 2002) that work to trigger antagonisms and, in certain contexts, overt violence, the focus of inquiry is on the emancipatory potential of citizen media and the democratic-pluralist expressions they enable by, among and through citizens in a variety of forms: organized and non-organized, physical or digital, individual or collective. Finally, the entry reviews recent case studies of community-based media initiatives in the ethno-politically divided island of Cyprus to better illustrate the different functions citizen media may serve in conflict situations: on the one hand, by enabling dialogue and contestation among conflict-torn communities in constructing alternative narratives and imaginaries of conflict and peace; on the other hand, by facilitating various forms of nonviolent activism that give expression to such discursive transformation in individual and collective action, through confrontation, advocacy and resistance.


Atton, C. (2002). Alternative media. London: Sage.

Carpentier, N. (Ed.). (2015). Culture, Trauma & Conflict : Cultural studies perspectives on contemporary war. Cambridge.

Curle, A. (1971) Making Peace, London: Tavistock.

Demmers, J. (2012) Theories of Violent Conflict: An introduction, London: Routledge.

Downing, J., T.V. Ford, G. Gil and L. Stein (2001) Radical Media: Rebellious communication and social movements, London: Sage.

Galtung, J. (2009) Theories of Conflict. Definitions, dimensions, negations, formations, Oslo: Transcend.

Jabri, V. (1996) Discourses on Violence: Conflict analysis reconsidered, Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Lederach, J. P. (2003) The Little Book of Conflict Transformation, Good Books.


Content Moderation and Volunteer Participation

Martin J. Riedl, The University of Texas at Austin, USA

Online venues of public or semi-public communication such as social media, news websites’ comments sections or dating apps depend on volunteer contributions of user-generated content – images, videos or texts – that are provided as a form of free online labour. Citizens use platforms for a variety of ends – to participate politically, to assemble around specific topics such as self-help communities, or to engage in citizen journalism. Yet, media content is inherently subject to the very rules that govern it.

Modes of governance may include top-down approaches where platform moderators, often working under precarious labour conditions (Roberts, 2014), regulate and moderate user-generated content. By contrast, peer production sites such as Wikipedia rest upon principles in which citizens self-organize to create and set up regimes of content creation and moderation (Reagle Jr., 2010), where volunteers provide free labour for the common good of a particular community. This ‘civic labor’ (Matias, 2016) serves threefold stake holders: platform participants, other moderators, and the platform itself. As platforms grow, however, governance in democratic peer production settings may gravitate towards oligarchy (Shaw & Hill, 2014). Platform moderation policies and censorship mechanisms in both commercial and volunteer platforms can clash with user interests. Therefore, due process, or the protection of the rights of contributors in cases where speech rights are curtailed by social media takedowns, is attracting more attention (e.g. Anderson, Stender, West and York 2016).

This article provides an overview of research and debates on content moderation and its social relevance at the intersection of platform power and users (Gillespie 2018; Suzor, Van Geelen and West 2018) – between liability mitigation and social media platform cultures, and between high degrees of content moderation and little interference. It then focuses on Reddit (e.g., Massanari, 2015) as an exemplary case of how content is moderated and managed – both through voluntary labour and professional content moderators – and explores the social and political ramifications of such mechanisms of platform governance.


Anderson, J., M. Stender, S. M. West and J. C. York (2016) Unfriending Censorship: Insights from four months of crowdsourced data on social media censorship. Available online: (last accessed 5 April 2018).

Gillespie, T. (2018a) ‘Governance of and by Platforms’, in J. Burgess, T. Poell and A. Marwick (eds) SAGE handbook of social media. SAGE.

Gillespie, T. (2018b, January 16) ‘The Logan Paul YouTube Controversy and what we Should Expect from Internet Platforms’, Vox. Available online: (last accessed 5 April 2018).

Massanari, A. L. (2015) Participatory Culture, Community and Play: Learning from Reddit, New York, Bern, Frankfurt, Berlin, Brussels, Vienna, Oxford, Warsaw: Peter Lang.

Matias, J. N. (2016) ‘The Civic Labor of Online Moderators’, IPP 2016: The Platform Society, University of Oxford, 22-23 September 2016.

Reagle Jr., J. M. (2010) Good Faith Collaboration : The Culture of Wikipedia, Cambridge, Massachusetts; London, England: MIT Press.

Roberts, S. T. (2014) Behind the Screen: The hidden digital labor of commercial content moderation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Shaw, A. and B. M. Hill (2014) ‘Laboratories of Oligarchy? How the iron law extends to peer production’, Journal of Communication 64(2): 215–238.

Suzor, N., T. Van Geelen and S. M. West (2018) ‘Evaluating the Legitimacy of Platform Governance : A review of research and a shared research agenda’, International Communication Gazette. Available online: (last accessed 20 April 2017).



Henry Jones, Aston University, UK

Convergence is one of the most pervasive – but also divisive – concepts within contemporary media studies (Hay and Couldry 2011). First discussed in the 1970s and ‘80s by ‘prophets’ of the field such as Ithiel de Sola Pool, the term was initially used to describe the blurring of lines between previously distinct media technologies (Jenkins 2006). As such, in the 1990s it became primarily associated with the macro-phenomenon of digitization and the idea that the unprecedented possibility of converting all media objects into a shared mathematical language of 0s and 1s allowed for the creation of new convergent meta-devices that might store, transmit and receive all kinds of media content (Storsul and Fagerjord 2010). More recently, however, the term has variously been applied to economic, regulatory, political and even historical developments, leading to widespread confusion as to its ‘true’ meaning and growing scepticism as to its usefulness as a conceptual lens (Allen 2017; Balbi 2017). Nevertheless, a number of dominant narratives of convergence may be distinguished, and the term can and has been productively applied to the analysis of citizen media. Consequently, this entry concentrates on highlighting what are generally referred to as ‘technological’ and ‘cultural’ processes of convergence, making use of a concrete case study examining the rise of WikiLeaks (Miekle and Young 2011) to illustrate the discussion.


Allen, M. (2017) ‘Web 2.0: An Argument Against Convergence’, in S. Sparviero, C. Peil & G. Balbi (eds) Media Convergence and Deconvergence, London: Palgrave MacMillan, 177-196.

Balbi, G. (2017) ‘Deconstructing “Media Convergence”: A Cultural History of the Buzzword, 1980s–2010s’, in S. Sparviero, C. Peil & G. Balbi (eds) Media Convergence and Deconvergence, London: Palgrave MacMillan, 31-51.

Hay, J. and N. Couldry (2011) ‘Rethinking Convergence/Culture: An introduction’, Cultural Studies 25(4-5): 473-486.

Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, New York: New York University Press.

Miekle, G. and S. Young (2011) Media Convergence: Networked Digital Media in Everyday Life, London: Palgrave MacMillan.

Storsul, T. & A. Fagerjord (2010) ‘Digitization and Media Convergence’, in W. Donsbach (ed.) The International Encyclopedia of Communication, Malden, MA: John Wiley & Sons.



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

The co-optation of citizen media is a process whereby commercial, government and radical political actors divert citizen media initiatives and use them to further their own causes, thus undermining their potential to effect aesthetic and socio-political change (Baker and Blaagaard, 2017) and to provide an alternative to an increasingly un-accountable, concentrated and de-democratized media system (Fenton 2012). First, commercial co-optation precludes the very possibility of acting in public space(s), as commercial actors increasingly encroach on online and offline space for the purposes of profit extraction. The algorithmic structuring of relevance on social media, for example, mediates appearances and creates regimes of visibility that favour particular types of content over others on the basis of commercial criteria (Couldry and Hepp 2017). Corporations have further co-opted different types of citizen media in more immediate ways, for example by integrating them in the news production process (Kperogi 2010) or by commercializing them (Abaza 2015). The use of terms often associated with citizen media (such as collaboration, sharing and emancipation) for branding purposes has been aptly described as a form of “wiki-washing” (Fuster Morel 2011). Second, governments across the world have experimented with different strategies for co-opting citizen media, including funding trolls and a wide range of actors posing as unaffiliated citizens, in order to manufacture consent and hinder dissidence (Morozov 2011; Treré 2015). Third, the far right has co-opted for its own purposes citizen media pioneered by progressive left movements (Simpson and Druxes 2015). While the so-called ‘alt-right’ movement in the US has certainly had a profound impact, the promotion of hate speech and authoritarian attitudes can hardly be interpreted as contributing to emancipation or democratization. Precisely because they are considered ‘freer’ and less regulated, citizen media have been instrumental in the diffusion of hate speech and fake news. All these examples of co-optation point to the need to take into account wider economic, legal and political regimes in order to distinguish cases in which citizen media challenge established power structures and those in which they stabilize them and stifle not only dissent but also the possibility of imagining new forms of dissent.


Simpson, A. P. and H. Druxes (2015) Digital Media Strategies of the Far Right in Europe and the United States, Lanham: Lexington Books.

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. Diverse Expressions of Citizenship and Dissent, London: Routledge, 1-22.

Couldry, N. and A. Hepp (2017) The Mediated Construction of Reality, Cambridge: Polity.

Fenton, N. (2012) ‘De-democratizing the News? New Media and the Structural Practices of Journalism’, in E. S. and A. Veglis (eds) The Handbook of Global Online Journalism, London: John Wiley & Sons, 119-134.

Fuster Morell, Mayo (2011) ‘The Unethics of Sharing: Wikiwashing’, International Review of Information, Volume 15: 9-16

Kperogi, F. A. (2010) ‘Cooperation with the Corporation? CNN and the hegemonic co-optation of citizen journalism through’, New Media and Society 13(2): 314-329.

Morozov, E. (2011) The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom, London: Public Affairs.

Treré, E. (2015) ‘The Dark Side of Digital Politics: Understanding the Algorithmic Manufacturing of Consent and the Hindering of Online Dissidence’, IDS Bulletin 47(1). Available at


Crowdsourcing and Crowdfunding

Alexandra Reynolds, Arts University Bournemouth, UK

This entry examines the etymology of ‘crowdsourcing’, a term coined in 2005 by Wired editor Jeff Howe, and defines the term as set out by Estellés-Arolas and González Ladrón-de-Guevara (2012). Drawing on Brabham’s work (2013), it delivers an overview of crowdsourcing, -funding in entrepreneurship, science, technology and government, referring to projects such as Kickstarter, Topcoder and Citizenlab. The focus then turns to the different ways in which cultural, creative and activist communities have interpreted crowdsourced practice (Oomen and Aroyo 2011, Ridge 2014, Dunn and Hedges 2014, Terras 2016). For the purposes of illustration, various recent cultural crowdsourcing initiatives – including UCL’s Transcribe Bentham, the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War, Brooklyn Museum’s Freeze Tag, Aaron Koblin and Chris Milk’s This Exquisite Forest, Shift’s Historypin and Jonathan Harris’ Cowbird, as well as activist initiatives including Sukey and Actipedia – are introduced. Examples of crowdfunding initiatives include projects at the British Library and the British Museum/UCL’s Micropasts.

The entry contextualises projects within New Capitalism as a Neoliberal form of Late Biopower (Bauman 2013, Fisher 2011, Sennett 2006). Attention is drawn to leadership, sovereignty and regulation within crowdsourcing and links between information circulation and hegemonic power (Dean 2009, Lovink 2011). Crowdsourcing is distinguished from co-creation and the commons as defined by Scholz (2016) and Bollier (2016), and related to Baker and Blaagaard’s definition of citizen media (2016).


Brabham, D. (2013) Crowdsourcing, Cambridge, Mass and London: MIT Press.

Ridge, M. (ed.) (2014) Crowdsourcing our Cultural Heritage, Burlington, Ashgate.

Terras, M. (2016) ‘Crowdsourcing in the Digital Humanities’ in Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens and John Unsworth (eds) A New Companion to Digital Humanities, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 420-439.

Fisher, E. (2011) Media and New Capitalism: The Spirit of Networks, London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Dean, J. (2009) Democracy and other Neoliberal Fantasies: Communicative Capitalism and Left Politics, Durham, Duke University Press.


Culture Jamming

Vince Carducci, College for Creative Studies, USA

Culture jamming is a form of activism that raises awareness of social and political concerns by deconstructing media communications that emanate from authoritative sources such as corporations and government. A common tactic is to modify or parody the words or images of an official communication, such as an advertisement or a website, to expose an alternative, often subversive, point of view contrary to the message’s original intention. The term ‘cultural jamming’ is generally agreed to have been coined in 1984 by the San Francisco-based experimental music band Negativland (Dery 1993). Lievrouw (2011) cites early examples of culture jamming in the late 1970s, though antecedents can be found in the first quarter of the twentieth century with the adoption of Cubist collage and montage by avant-garde art movements such as Dada and Surrealism, and subsequently by the Situationist International, whose technique of appropriating and reconfiguring cultural ephemera termed detournement (Debord 1995 [1967]) is central to culture jamming practice.

From a political perspective, culture jamming is a declaration of agency within the public sphere, especially in opposition to so-called mainstream culture, akin to the gestures of graffiti and the more sustained productions of tactical media (Garcia and Lovink 1997). According to the Situationists, the deconstructive tactic of detournement may be met by the reconstructing force of recuperation, allowing for the co-option and reabsorption of radical ideas back into the dominant system – for example, a Che Guevara t-shirt on sale at the Gap (Heath and Potter 2004). The entry examines this mode of address undertaken by unaffiliated constituents within the public sphere.


Debord, G. (1995 [1967]) The Society of the Spectacle, New York: Zone.

Dery, M. (1993) ‘Culture Jamming: Hacking, Slashing, and Sniping in the Empire of the Signs’. Available at: (accessed 15 February 2017).

Garcia, D. and G. Lovink (1997) ‘The ABC of Tactical Media’, 11 May. Available at: (accessed 15 February 2017).

Heath, J. and A. Potter (2004) The Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can’t be Jammed, Toronto, CS: HarperCollins Canada.

Lievrouw, L. A. (2011) Alternative and Activist New Media, Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.