Sociala medier – ett nät av härskartekniker? [Power Games on the Internet – On the Online Use of Master Supression Techniques]

Annakarin Nyberg, Mikael Wiberg


Recently, online hate has been much debated as a phenomenon in social media. It involves explicit forms of bullying, designations and black painting of individuals and groups. Online hate can be seen as an extreme form of attempts to create power asymmetries between people, it may also be seen as an extension of master suppression techniques. In our research, we have directed our attention to a related, but much more subtle way of exercising social power and positioning games online, for example by making invisible, ridicule, withholding information, double punishment, imposition of guilt and shame, violence and threats about violence as well as objectification. More specific, we focus the opportunities to exercise power made possible when these classic suppression techniques are moving into social media. The central issues in this article are: what forms does the classic master suppression techniques takes in social media, and what counter-strategies emerge in the quest to relate to these? Our research is based on a qualitative interview study on people's use and experience of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and blogs. In light of this study, we show how social media action spaces allow various forms of domination techniques, and we also discuss the importance of the internet and social media's potential network effects in this context. Furthermore, we identify 11 counter-strategies that have been formed in order to address the practice of domination techniques in social media. Finally, we discuss what media training for social media could mean in the light of the social power and positioning games that unfolds on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and in the blogosphere today.


master counter-strategies, suppression techniques, online hate, online strategies, social media

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