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The politics of digital platforms: Sour Dictionary, activist subjectivities, and contemporary cultures of resistance

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Title
The politics of digital platforms: Sour Dictionary, activist subjectivities, and contemporary cultures of resistance
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Okten
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author
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Bratich
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Jack Z
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Jack Z Bratich
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chair
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Wolfson
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Todd
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Todd Wolfson
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Marchi
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Regina M.
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Regina M. Marchi
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Yesil
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Bilge Yesil
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Advisory Committee
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Rutgers University
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degree grantor
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School of Graduate Studies
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theses
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2019
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2019-10
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2019
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English
Abstract (type = abstract)
I study the affective mechanisms of how information is turned into action or inaction within a participatory culture facilitated by social media platforms. I analyze Sour Dictionary (SD), a popular humor-based forum-like digital platform in Turkey. SD is not an official dictionary; it is a satire-based platform where users post definitions and re-definitions about daily events and socio-political issues to challenge each other's perception of their common sense judgments. I argue that SD facilitates interactions as a place of unlearning, where people detach themselves from the disciplinary apparatuses and authoritarian practices in Turkey through the help of everyday conversations and discussions about taboo topics on race, gender and sexuality, for example. However, I also show the limits of the unlearning movement through presenting the socio-technical changes in SD since 1999 in relation to design, moderation, Turkish law and politics. In order to address the tensions between unlearning and the crises of unlearning, I trace empowering and debilitating practices at the intersection of the development of SD as a major social media platform and socio-political developments in Turkey. I conducted two digital ethnographies: the first was between September 2013 and January 2014 and the second was between January 2017 and January 2018. I also conducted 47 in-depth interviews with administrators, moderators, influencers, lawyers, coders, and key users of the platform. I show that the early-years geek culture within SD cultivated empowering practices through playful contributions, especially by building a culture of resistance against rote practices in Turkey in terms of race, gender, and social class. However, this geek culture also had its own tensions, as participants were mostly upper-middle class, educated, tech-deterministic, and reproduced masculine discourses by creating their own norms. By tracing the ambivalence around the empowering/debilitating potentials of the SD geek culture practices, I show how the culture of resistance presents itself within different milieus. First, it showed its peak potentials during the Gezi Protests in Turkey in 2013 in its the production of activist subjectivity. Second, I also argue that the post-Gezi political climate in Turkey, the tensions within the logic of culture of resistance, and platform developments on SD (design, governance, content moderation, format changes) created problematic information practices (misinformation, disinformation, trolling, insults). I show that the empowering potentials of SD were neutralized by the contradictory flow of affects that rendered the platform both alternative and mainstream at the same time. It was perceived as alternative because of the feeling of connectedness, sensibilities of critiquing, and ethos of opposition formed around challenging normalized practices; mainstream because of the interplay between its ad-based revenue streams and platforming developments.
Subject (authority = RUETD)
Topic
Communication, Information and Library Studies
Subject (authority = local)
Topic
Platform politics
Subject (authority = LCSH)
Topic
Social media -- Turkey
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Rutgers University Electronic Theses and Dissertations
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ETD_10226
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1 online resource (x, 306 pages) : illustrations
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Ph.D.
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Includes bibliographical references
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rucore10001600001
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doi:10.7282/t3-k3w9-nw52
Genre (authority = ExL-Esploro)
ETD doctoral
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The author owns the copyright to this work.
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Okten
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Permission or license
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2019-09-08 16:51:03
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Alptug Okten
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Rutgers University. School of Graduate Studies
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Author Agreement License
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I hereby grant to the Rutgers University Libraries and to my school the non-exclusive right to archive, reproduce and distribute my thesis or dissertation, in whole or in part, and/or my abstract, in whole or in part, in and from an electronic format, subject to the release date subsequently stipulated in this submittal form and approved by my school. I represent and stipulate that the thesis or dissertation and its abstract are my original work, that they do not infringe or violate any rights of others, and that I make these grants as the sole owner of the rights to my thesis or dissertation and its abstract. I represent that I have obtained written permissions, when necessary, from the owner(s) of each third party copyrighted matter to be included in my thesis or dissertation and will supply copies of such upon request by my school. I acknowledge that RU ETD and my school will not distribute my thesis or dissertation or its abstract if, in their reasonable judgment, they believe all such rights have not been secured. I acknowledge that I retain ownership rights to the copyright of my work. I also retain the right to use all or part of this thesis or dissertation in future works, such as articles or books.
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2019-10-31
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2021-10-30
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Access to this PDF has been restricted at the author's request. It will be publicly available after October 30th, 2021.
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Copyright protected
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Open
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