The spatial, networked and embodied agency of social media: a critical discourse perspective on Banksy’s political expression

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Abstract

This article asks how social media changes and challenges critical agency through spatial, networked and embodied discourses? It argues that CDS has the potential to explore relations and contexts that go beyond the deliberative participatory, affective and exploitative conditions of social media. Employing a critical discursive reading of street artist Banksy’s mural of a Les Misérables-poster on the public wall across from the French embassy in London in 2016, we argue that social media is neither purely deliberative, affective, nor exploitative. The illustrative case allows us to trace the intricate digital intertextual and interdiscursive relations between social media, public spaces and embodied politics offered in counter-discourse. Further, the case brings new light to the ability of CDS in combination with political discourse theory to underscore the political agency in social contexts. While critiques of the affective and exploitative conditions of social media have merit as critiques of hegemonic discourses, an affirmative response that emphasises the political agency in counter-discourses highlights the nuances of social media. This article argues that intersecting CDS with social media presents an opportunity to gain a complex understanding of how the political is played out in changing publics consisting of different mediated spaces, digital as well as non-digital.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Discourse Studies
ISSN1740-5904
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Nov 2020

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