THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS: Dissertation Abstract
July 29, 2012 § 13 Comments
Ethnographic in approach, this dissertation examines trolling, an online subculture devoted to meme creation and social disruption. Rather than framing trolling behaviors as fundamentally aberrant, I argue that trolls are agents of cultural digestion; they scour the landscape, repurpose the most exploitable material, then shove the resulting monstrosities into the faces of an unsuspecting populace.
Within the political and social context of the United States, the region to which I have restricted my focus, I argue that trolls on 4chan/b/ and Facebook digest and often perform a grotesque pantomime of a number of pervasive cultural logics, including masculine domination (Bourdieu 2001) and white privilege (Dyer 1997). Additionally, I argue that the rhetorical and behavioral tactics embraced by trolls, including sensationalism, spectacle, and emotional exploitation, are homologous to tactics routinely deployed by American corporate media outlets. In short, trolling operates within existing systems, not in contrast to, immediately complicating, and often ironizing, knee-jerk condemnations of trolling behaviors.
UPDATE: My dissertation is not available for download, and won’t be until sometime in 2014. I am currently revising the book manuscript for publication, and that timeline is out of my hands. Hopefully soon everything will be public, but these things take time!