New Modes of Intellectual Life in the Network Society




Lang, Jessica

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This dissertation examines the Anonymous network, as well as the 4chan image-board from which Anonymous emerged, to explore the status of intellectual life today and the ways in which networks are using technology and leveraging changes in media structures to create alternative discourses and recast the terms of public debate. Aiming to identify new modes of intellectual engagement in America today, the first half of this dissertation reviews prominent definitions of the intellectual, sets forth a clear denotation, and reviews the role of the intellectual as an historical actor in American since the 20th century. The case studies that follow focus on the activities of the Anonymous network since 2008, when Anonymous announced a staunch commitment to social justice, as well as 4chan, an image-board known for its vile depravity. The aim of this research is not to determine whether these networks are liberatory or oppressive, but to delineate what can be learned from their activities and operations, and the ways in which network society can be used in the service of intellectual aims.



Cultural anthropology, Communication, 4chan, Anonymous, Digital, Intellectual, Internet, Network