Plenary talks

Pilar Garcés-Conejos Blitvich

Moral indignation, moral panics, social regulation, and online shaming

The aim of this presentation is to provide a better understanding of the proliferation of online shaming. Online shaming, cyber public shaming, online firestorms (Boudana, 2014; Gao, 2015; Ronson, 2016) have been the subject of interdisciplinary studies, the results of which have offered significant insights into this phenomenon. With very few exceptions (Johnen, Jungbult & Ziegele, 2017), these studies have taken a theoretical, macro-level approach. However, digital discourse analysis and netnographic approaches may shed more light on online shaming by helping us get “into the smart mob” (Rheinhold, 2007). With this in mind, seven recent cases of online shaming in the US have been analyzed, along with a sizeable amount of user-generated comments these triggered. Results show that conceptualizing online shaming along the lines of moral indignation/outrage (Ranulf, 1938; Barbalet, 2000), moral panics (Cohen, 1973; Goode & Ben-Yehuda, 1994; Hier, 2018; Ingraham & Reeves, 2016),and social regulation (Hier, 2016) helps us to better understand the motivations and goals of the digilantes or moral entrepreneurs (Cheong & Gong, 2010; Nhan,  Huey & Broll,  2015) that expose those cases and/or participate in their online dissemination. Further, online shaming seems to be inextricably linked to the socio-cultural context in which it takes place regarding the deviant behavior that needs to be exposed and punished (see also Gao & Stanyer, 2014).


Barbalet, J. M. (2002). Moral indignation, class inequality and justice: An exploration and revision of Ranulf. Theoretical Criminology6(3), 279-297.

Boudana, S. (2014). Shaming rituals in the age of global media: How DSK’s perp walk generated estrangement. European Journal of Communication29(1), 50-67.

Cheong, P. H., & Gong, J. (2010). Cyber vigilantism, transmedia collective intelligence, and civic participation. Chinese Journal of Communication3(4), 471-487.

Cohen, S. (1973). Folk devils and moral panics. London: Paladin.

Gao, L. (2016). The emergence of the human flesh search engine and political protest in China: Exploring the Internet and online collective action. Media, Culture & Society38(3), 349-364.

Hier, S. (2016). Moral panic, moral regulation, and the civilizing process. The British journal of sociology67(3), 414-434.

Gao, L., & Stanyer, J. (2014). Hunting corrupt officials online: the human flesh search engine and the search for justice in China. Information, Communication & Society17(7), 814-829.

Hier, S. (2018). Moral panics and digital-media logic: Notes on a changing research agenda. Crime, Media, Culture, 1-10.

Ingraham, C., & Reeves, J. (2016). New media, new panics. Critical Studies in Media Communication33(5), 455-467.

Johnen, M., Jungblut, M., & Ziegele, M. (2018). The digital outcry: What incites participation behavior in an online firestorm? New Media & Society20(9), 3140-3160.

Goode, E., & Ben-Yehuda, N. (1994). Moral panics: Culture, politics, and social construction. Annual review of sociology20(1), 149-171.

Nhan, J., Huey, L., & Broll, R. (2017). Digilantism: An analysis of crowdsourcing and the Boston marathon bombings. The British journal of criminology57(2), 341-361.

Ranulf, S. (1938). Moral indignation and middle-class psychology. Copenhagen: Levin & Munksgaard.

Rheingold, H. (2007). Smart mobs: The next social revolution. Basic books.

Ronson, J. (2016). So you’ve been publicly shamed. Riverhead Books.

Carey Jewitt

Emerging Sociotechnical Imaginaries of Digital Touch for Remote Personal Communication

Drawing on the IN-TOUCH project, a five-year ERC Award, I will explore emergent discourses and socio-technical imaginaries of digital touch for remote communication in personal relationships. I will present findings from a series of rapid prototyping workshops with apprentice professionals embedded in the ongoing global production of future sociotechnical imaginaries. These will center on a multimodal and multisensorial analysis of the workshop participants’ social and cultural conceptualization and exploration of remote digital touch communication organized around six analytical themes: Digital touch materiality, affordances & interfaces; Temporality of touch; Embodied and emplaced touch; Social and cultural touch norms; Tactile records and traces; and Ethics of remote personal touch communication. I will use these themes to interrogate participants’ past, present and future visions of remote digital touch communication, and how they interconnect to contribute to understand the emerging imaginary of digital touch prior to its future solidification into material political formations: the possibilities and challenges, continuities and changes, and potential directions.

Rodney Jones

Genres of disclosure, legibility, and the future of digital surveillance

In this talk I will discuss the importance of textuality in processes of surveillance in general, and, in particular, in digital surveillance. Historically, surveillance has been supported by a range of discursive practices designed to facilitate the entextualization of people’s actions, thoughts, communications and intentions in ways that make them somehow ‘legible’ (Scott, 1999) to the agents of surveillance, whether they be the church, the state, private corporations or individuals. Much of the disciplining power of surveillance, in fact, derives from the power to entextualize and recontextualize human experience (Bauman & Briggs, 1990). Often these processes have involved inciting people to entextualize their own inner thoughts and intentions though engaging with what Palen and Dourish (2003) call ‘genres of disclosure’, ways of text making based on socially recognized and regularly reproduced patterns of revelation: for example engaging in religious rituals of confession, filling out government forms, talking to psychologists or counselors, and sharing information about oneself on social media sites. Genres of disclosure enforce certain social expectations of participants about what they should reveal, when and to whom. The power of such genres is not just that they compel people to reveal personal information, but that they channel them into particular forms of entextualization, particular ways of rendering information that are most useful for those who have deployed these genres. In this way, genres of disclosure serve not just to ‘expose’ social actors, but also to, in many ways, to constitute them (Scollon, 2005).

Genres of disclosure used in digital surveillance, while sharing some similarities with analogue genres of disclosure, are also unique in a number of ways. Genres such as chat platforms, search engines, shopping sites, and social media sites, like older genres of disclosure, are designed to reproduce particular configurations of people, technology and practice that yield identifiable and socially meaningful forms of interaction and information disclosure. The main difference is that digital genres of disclosure rely less on the texts that people create and more on the interactional ‘residue’ (or metadata) they leave behind when creating these texts.

At the conclusion of the talk I will consider the future of genres of disclosure in digital environments, especially those that engage users in more multimodal forms of communication (such as Instagram and FaceTime), considering how visuality contributes to the development of new generic conventions and complicates algorithmic efforts to ‘read’ user generated texts.


Bauman, R., & Briggs, C. L. (1990). Poetics and performance as critical perspectives on language and social life. Annual Review of Anthropology, 19, 59–88.

Palen, L., & Dourish, P. (2003). Unpacking ‘Privacy’ for a Networked World. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 129–136). New York,: ACM.

Scollon, S. W. (2005). Agency distributed through time, space and tools: Bentham, Babbage and the census. In S. Norris & R. H. Jones (Eds.) Disourse in Action: Introducing mediated discourse analysis (pp. 172–182). London: Routledge.

Scott, J. (1999). Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Tuija Virtanen

Enhancing social presence through textual action

Much of computer-mediated communication (CMC) relies on frequent postings of ‘small texts’, accessible to large numbers of users. At the same time, easy navigation through links to other texts and other platforms employed in parallel, is a fundamental characteristic of current Interactive Multimodal Platforms (IMPs; Herring 2018). In this talk, I will investigate digital ‘microtextuality’ in a multimodal environment that manifests a high degree of ‘context collapse’ (Marwick & boyd 2010), by exploring recreational tweets posted as ‘original’ messages which do not explicitly link to other messages or constitute replies to other users. The focus is on the uses of self-referential third-person constructions in the dramatic present, such as *jumps up and down*, which have turned rhizomatic across modes of CMC and appear to be thriving in the era of IMPs as well. Exploring metapragmatic traces of the processes of users enhancing their social presence through text, my concern will be with their textual enactment of virtual action and emotion, their creation of disembodied online personae by externalizing and reassuming the self in such textual action, as well as the textual silence that they choose to present as salient in the written part of their messages. Findings suggest the presence of both everyday creativity and rapid conventionalization of such textual means, play and playfulness, and explicit efforts to engage in digital face-work, in particular through self-deprecating humour.


Herring, S.C. 2018. Emergent forms of computer-mediated communication and their global implications. LinguaPax Review 2017, 90-130.

Marwick, A.E. & boyd, d. 2010. I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience. New Media & Society 3: 4-33.