Trapping a monster : Transgressing discursive and symbolic order in cyberspace

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http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201905212050
Title: Trapping a monster : Transgressing discursive and symbolic order in cyberspace
Author: Babets, Aliaksei
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Humanistinen tiedekunta, Maailman kulttuurien laitos
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts, Department of World Cultures
Helsingfors universitet, Humanistiska fakulteten, Institutionen för världens kulturer
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2019
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201905212050
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/301928
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: alue- ja kulttuurintutkimus
Area and Cultural Studies
Region- och kulturstudier
Abstract: This work explores and attempts to identify the image of monstrosity that exists in cyberspace. Over the last few decades, the Internet has had a significant impact on society. The specific spatiality, materiality, and a mode of functioning of symbolic order in cyberspace influenced monsters and the way they function within the contemporary, digitally mediated society. By examining a hate comment case at the Higher School of Equality activist group, the author analyzes the process of the formation of the image of the monstrous and outlines its main features in cyberspace. Understanding of the existing image of monstrosity provides feedback on the contemporary fears of society and allows us to see what constitutes the present-day ultimate Other. The author focuses on the role of order as a condition for the existence of monsters who always attempt to transgress it. Two chapters of the work examine two types of order: discursive and symbolic ones. The first chapter analyzes the role of discursive order in the formation of the image of monstrous by implementing the ideas of discourse and normality. Normality plays a vital role in the formation of the image of monstrous because monsters are always what is outside of the norm. The contextuality of discursive normality implies that the image of monster is also contextual. Furthermore, through the concept of materiality of media, the work articulates cyberspace as a productive location which can have its own problematics and a specific image of monstrosity. New materialist approach establishes affirmative relations between cyberspace and real space and allows for a differing image of monstrosity to exist. The chapter also discusses how the current discourse in Russian social media influences the Higher School of Equality activist page. The second chapter discusses the existence of symbolic order in cyberspace as well as its potential to influence the image of monster. The author provides an overview of the idea of symbolic order and establishes its linkage to the concept of monstrosity. Next, the mode of functioning of symbolic order in cyberspace is examined. There are three hypotheses: the end of symbolic order in cyberspace, continuation of symbolic order in cyberspace, and continuation of symbolic order in cyberspace by other means. The author discusses each of the hypotheses and claims for the presence of symbolic order in cyberspace which enables the existence of monsters. Each chapter is followed by a case analysis where the described framework is applied to the Higher School of Equality case. Case analysis focuses on the dynamics that occur on the intersection of discursive normalities of Russian media and Higher School of Equality group. The conclusion part puts the results from two chapters together and discusses what constitutes the image of monster in cyberspace. The work identifies that the main features of the image of monster in cyberspace are its contextuality and the impossibility of complete externalization of a monster. Therefore, on the Internet, the multiplicity of internet pages and contexts allows to move between normalities and thus monstrosities easily. However, one is confronted by a situation where a subject can identify together with someone who can be a monster in a different context. It brings about the second feature which is the proximity of a monster due to the impossibility of its externalization. The work concludes that in cyberspace, each subject can potentially and contextually occupy the position of a monster.
Subject: Monstrosity
cyberspace
order
normality
digital media


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