M/C Journal https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal <h1>M/C Journal</h1> <p><em>M/C Journal</em> was founded (as "M/C – A Journal of Media and Culture") in 1998 as a place of public intellectualism analysing and critiquing the meeting of media and culture. <em>M/C Journal</em> is a fully blind-, peer-reviewed academic journal, open to submissions from anyone. We take seriously the need to move ideas outward, so that our cultural debates may have some resonance with wider political and cultural interests. Each issue is organised around a one-word theme (<a href="https://journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/issue/archive">see our past issues</a>), and is edited by one or more guest editors with a particular interest in that theme. Each issue has a feature article which engages with the theme in some detail, followed by several shorter articles.</p> M/C - Media and Culture en-US M/C Journal 1441-2616 <p>Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:</p><ol><li>Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licenced under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/" rel="license">Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivatives 4.0 Licence</a> that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.</li><li>Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.</li><li>Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (see <a href="http://opcit.eprints.org/oacitation-biblio.html" target="_new">The Effect of Open Access</a>).</li></ol> Exclusion https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2731 <p>The theme of <em>exclusion</em> emerged at the IAMCR conference 2019 in Oregon, where we<sup>*</sup> hosted several panels that dealt with either the welcomed potential of the Web to help excluded groups to be heard and seen (e.g. #metoo online activism), or with negative <em>exclusion</em> and ostracising effects of media—such as hate speech on social media, strategies of “othering” in newspapers or “symbolic annihilation” (Tuchmann) on screens. In their special issue of <em>Media International Australia</em> on the role of media in social inclusion and exclusion in 2012, the editors Jacqui Ewart and Collette Snowden argued that research on <em>exclusion</em> and media was still a highly relevant topic (62). Eight years later we would like to second this claim: in a society where we still encounter inequality, polarisation, hate, and ostracism, the role of media needs to be considered even more than before. The saturation with media of our <em>lifeworlds</em> necessitates a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of <em>exclusion</em> in and through media.</p> <p>We begin this highly topical matter by looking into the past: Mark Dang-Anh’s feature article addresses <em>exclusion</em> and agency as linguistic practice in World War II. The field post letters of German soldiers were subject to control and censorship and soldiers—as part of National Socialism—thus performed discursive practices of inclusion and exclusion. Field post letters are seen in this sense as a <em>dispositif</em> (Foucault): on the one hand as a “rather rigid structure” and on the other hand as “potentially discourse-excluding social stratification of private communication”. Dang-Anh’s analytical thoughts on <em>exclusion</em> and media within a fascist dictatorship allow for a realignment in approaching mechanisms of <em>exclusion</em> in modern, multivocal societies. His differentiation into infrastructural and interactional processes of inclusion is furthermore guiding in conceiving the following articles on <em>exclusion</em> that play out on a structural level and on the level of communication strategies and practices.</p> <p>Moving from past to present, Sarah Baker and Amanda Rutherford reveal the manyfold mechanisms of stereotyping, and hence <em>exclusion</em>, of authentic representations of lesbians and gays in Hollywood films and TV series. The contribution reminds us of the complex and ambiguous <em>inclusion</em>/<em>exclusion</em> nexus of screen representations where the goodwill to create inclusive stories can result in new forms of exclusion. Drawing on <em>The L Word</em> and its sequel <em>The L Word: Generation Q</em>, the authors illustrate how both series successfully denaturalise the hegemonic straight gaze and how <em>The L Word: Generation Q </em>managed to address <em>exclusion</em> in a more nuanced way than its predecessor.</p> <p>Staying within the field of screen representation, Claudia Wegener, Elizabeth Prommer, and Christine Linke set out to investigate and reveal the <em>exclusion</em> of the diversity and variety of female life on <em>YouTube</em> in Germany. In their empirical study, including more than 2,000 videos from YouTubers, the authors’ findings expose and unmask the platform as highly gendered and disadvantageous to girls and women. Women are significantly underrepresented in the most popular videos, they are less visible as content producers, more limited in their range of topics, and they appear predominantly in relation to topics with a stereotypically female connotation.</p> <p>Having also a focus on influencers but applying a transnational and comparative perspective on influencer markets in Australia, Japan, and Korea, Crystal Abidin, Tommaso Barbetta, and Jin Lee describe the transformation of the role of influencers in the advertising market during the COVID-19 pandemic. Influencers, the authors argue, were “primed to be the dominant and default mode of advertising and communication in the post-COVID-19 era”. Yet, in order to remain successful under the changing conditions, new strategies and new formats were necessary. In their account of these developments the authors critically reflect on those able to keep up and those who are left behind in the changing market dynamics.</p> <p>In his theoretical consideration “A Flattering Robocalypse”, Matthew Horrigan turns towards <em>exclusion</em> by design, and one exclusionary practice embedded in the AI systems of the Web, the CAPTCHA. Horrigan identifies CAPTCHA as a system designed to distinguish humans from non-humans while applying a test-game that humans ultimately cannot win because it puts humans, at long last, at a disadvantage. His reflections provide a conceptual entry into the tension between human agency and machine AI which is at the heart of our capacity to act in a digitalised world.</p> <p>The last two articles both address exclusion mechanisms and strategies of particular groups in their use of social media. Julia Stüwe and Juliane Wegener examine over 7,500 “posts” and more than 4,000 “stories” of 142 German-speaking young cancer bloggers. They explore their social media behaviours and how young cancer bloggers use social media—particularly <em>Instagram</em>—for “information sharing, exchanging ideas, networking, and to address their unmet needs of the real world”. Yet, the bloggers exclude illness-related narratives from their posts, thus creating the paradox of self-chosen exclusion.</p> <p>In a self-reflexive study about the use of social media by academics, Franziska Thiele presents her results based on interviews with 16 communication scholars at different stages in their academic career. <em>ResearchGate</em>, the author argues, mainly targets people working in the scientific field, while excluding everyone else. It thus serves as “a symbol of distinction from other groups”. Yet, while clearly supporting careers in a highly competitive environment, Thiele’s study also reveals a reluctance among her participants to use social media in a work-related context. </p> <h2><strong>Note</strong></h2> <p>* The editors of this issue are the management team of the <a href="https://iamcr.org/">IAMCR</a> section <a href="https://iamcr.org/s-wg/section/mps"><em>Mediated Communication, Public Opinion, and Society</em></a>.</p> <h2><strong>References</strong></h2> <p>Ewart, Jacqui, and Collette Snowden. "The Media’s Role in Social Inclusion and Exclusion." <em>Media International Australia</em> 142.1 (2012): 61–63. &lt;<a href="https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1329878X1214200108">https://doi.org/10.1177/1329878X1214200108</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Tuchman, Gaye. "The Symbolic Annihilation of Women by the Mass Media." <em>Culture and Politics</em>. Eds. Lane Crothers <em>et al</em>. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000. 150–174. &lt;<a href="https://journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/workflow/index/2731/%20https:/doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-62397-6_9">https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-62397-6_9</a>&gt;.</p> Corinna Lüthje Susanne Eichner Copyright (c) 2020 Susanne Eichner; Corinna Lüthje http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-28 2020-11-28 23 6 10.5204/mcj.2731 Upgrading <em>The L Word: Generation Q</em> https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2727 <p><em>The L Word: Generation Q</em> is the reboot of <em>The</em> <em>L Word</em>, a long running series about a group of lesbians and bisexuals in Los Angeles in the early 2000s. Both programmes are unique in their positioning of lesbian characters and have been well received by audiences and critics alike. These programmes present a range of characters and narratives, previously excluded from mainstream film and television, bringing a refreshing change from the destructive images typically presented before. We argue that the reboot <em>Generation Q</em> now offers more meaningful representation of the broader lesbian and transgender communities, and discuss its relevance in the changing portrayals of gay representation.</p> <blockquote> <p>Gay visibility has never really been an issue in the movies. Gays have always been visible. It is how they have been visible that has remained offensive for almost a century. (Russo 66)</p> </blockquote> <p>In 2004 <em>The L Word</em> broke new ground as the very first television series written and directed by predominantly queer women. This set it apart from previous representations of lesbians by Hollywood because it portrayed a community rather than an isolated or lone lesbian character, that was extraneous to a cast of heterosexuals (Moore and Schilt). The series brought change, and where Hollywood was more often “reluctant to openly and non-stereotypically engage with gay subjects and gay characters” (Baker 41), the <em>L Word</em> offered an alternative to the norm in media representation. “The L Word’s significance lies in its very existence” according to Chambers (83), and this article serves to consider this significance in conjunction with its 2019 reboot, the <em>L Word: Generation Q</em>, to ascertain if the enhanced visibility and gay representation influences the system of representation that has predominantly been excluding and misrepresentative of gay life.</p> <p>The exclusion of authentic representation of lesbians and gays in Hollywood film is not new. Over time, however, there has been an increased representation of gay characters in film and television. However, beneath the positive veneer remains a morally disapproving undertone (Yang), where lesbians and gays are displayed as the showpiece of the abnormal (Gross, "Out of the Mainstream"). Gross ("Out of the Mainstream") suggests that through the ‘othering’ of lesbians and gays within media, a means of maintaining the moral order is achieved, and where being ‘straight’ results in a happy ending. Lesbians and gays in film thus achieve what Gerbner referred to as symbolic annihilation, purposefully created in a bid to maintain the social inequity. This form of exclusion often saw controversial gay representation, with a history of portraying these characters in a false, excluding, and pejorative way (Russo; Gross, "What Is Wrong"; Hart).</p> <p>The history of gay representation in media had at times been monstrous, playing out the themes of gay sexuality as threatening to heterosexual persons and communities (Juárez). Gay people were incorrectly stereotyped, and gay lives were seen through the slimmest of windows. Walters (15) argued that it was “too often” that film and television images would narrowly portray gays “as either desexualized or over sexualized”, framing their sexuality as the sole identity of the character. She also contested that gay characters were “shown as nonthreatening and campy 'others' or equally comforting and familiar boys (and they are usually boys, not girls) next door” (Walters 15). In Russo’s seminal text, <em>The Celluloid Closet</em>, he demonstrated that gay characters were largely excluded from genuine and thoughtful presentation in film, while the only option given to them was how they died.</p> <p>Gay activists and film makers in the 1980s and beyond built on the momentum of AIDS activism (Streitmatter) to bring films that dealt with gay subject matter more fairly than before, with examples like <em>The Birdcage</em>, <em>Philadelphia</em>, <em>To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar</em>, and <em>In and Out</em>. Walters argues that while “mainstream films like <em>Brokeback Mountain </em>and <em>The Kids are Alright </em>entertain moviegoers with their forthright gay themes and scenes” (12), often the roles have been more of tokenisation, representing the “surprisingly gay characters in a tedious romcom, the coyly queer older man in a star-studded indie hit, the incidentally gay sister of the lead in a serious drama” (Walters 12). This ambivalence towards the gay role model in the media has had real world effects on those who identify themselves as lesbian or gay, creating feelings of self-hatred or of being ‘unacceptable’ citizens of society (Gamson), as media content “is an active component in the cultural process of shaping LGBT identities” (Sarkissian 147). The stigmatisation of gays was further identified by the respondents to a study on media and gay identity, where “the prevailing sentiment in these discussions was a sense of being excluded from traditional society” (Gomillion and Guiliano 343). Exclusion promotes segregation and isolation, and since television media are ever-present via conventional and web-based platforms, their messages are increasingly visible and powerful.</p> <p>The improved portrayal of gay characters was not just confined to the area of film and television however, and many publications produced major stories on bi-sexual chic, lesbian chic, the rise of gay political power and gay families. This process of greater inclusion, however, has not been linear, and in 2013 the media advocacy group known as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation (GLAAD) mapped the quantity, quality, and diversity of LGBT people depicted in films, finding that there was still much work to be done to fairly include gay characters (<a href="http://www.glaad.org/sri/2013">GLAAD Studio Responsibility Index</a>). In another report made in 2019, which examined cable and streaming media, GLAAD found that of the 879 regular characters expected to appear on broadcast scripted primetime programming, 10.2% were identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and or queer (<a href="http://www.glaad.org/sri/2020">GLAAD Where Are We on TV</a>). This was the highest number of queer characters recorded since the start of their reporting.</p> <p>In January 2004, Showtime launched <em>The L Word</em>, the first scripted cable television to focus chiefly on lesbians. Over the course of six seasons it explored the deep bonds that linked the members of an evolving lesbian friendship circle. The central themes of the programme were the love and friendship between the women, and it was a television programme structured by its own values and ideologies. The series offered a moral argument against the widespread sexism and anti-gay prejudice that was evident in media. The cast, however, were conventionally beautiful, gender normative, and expensively attired, leading to fears that the programme would appeal more to straight men, and that the sex in the programme would be exploitative and pornographic. The result, however, was that women’s sex and connection were foregrounded, and appeared as a central theme of the drama. This was, however, ground-breaking television. The showrunner of the original <em>L Word</em>, Ilene Chaiken, was aware of the often-damning account of lesbians in Hollywood, and the programme managed to convey an indictment of Hollywood (Mcfadden). The <em>L Word</em> increased lesbian visibility on television and was revolutionary in countering some of the exclusionary and damaging representation that had taken place before. It portrayed variations of lesbians, showing new positive representations in the form of power lesbians, sports lesbians, singles, and couples.</p> <p>Broadly speaking, gay visibility and representation can be marked and measured by levels of their exclusion and inclusion. Sedgwick said that the <em>L Word</em> was particularly important as it created a “lesbian ecology—a visible world in which lesbians exist, go on existing, exist in forms beyond the solitary and the couple, sustain and develop relations among themselves of difference and commonality” (xix). However, as much as this programme challenged the previous representations it also enacted a “Faustian bargain because television is a genre which ultimately caters to the desires and expectations of mainstream audiences” (Wolfe and Roripaugh 76). The producers knew it was difficult to change the problematic and biased representation of queer women within the structures of commercial media and understood the history of queer representation and its effects. Therefore, they had to navigate between the legitimate desire to represent lesbians as well as being able to attract a large enough mainstream audience to keep the show commercially viable.</p> <p><em>The L Word: Generation Q</em> is the reboot of the popular series, and includes <em>some</em> of the old cast, who have also become the executive producers. These characters include Bette Porter, who in 2019 is running for the office of the Mayor of Los Angeles. Shane McCutchen returns as the fast-talking womanising hairdresser, and Alice Pieszecki in this iteration is a talk show host. When interviewed, Jennifer Beals (executive producer and Bette Porter actor) said that the programme is important, because there have been no new lesbian dramas to follow after the 2004 series ended (<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUzEMb0yzlo">Beals, <em>You Tube</em></a>). Furthermore, the returning cast members believe the reboot is important because of the increased attacks that queer people have been experiencing since the election of Donald Trump in 2016.</p> <p>Between the two productions there have been changes in the film and television landscape, with additional queer programmes such as <em>Pose</em>, <em>Orange Is the New Black</em>, <em>Euphoria</em>, <em>RuPaul’s Drag Race</em>, and <em>Are You the One</em>, for example. The new <em>L Word</em>, therefore, needed to project a new and modern voice that would reflect contemporary lesbian life. There was also a strong desire to rectify criticism of the former show, by presenting an increased variation of characters in the 2019 series. Ironically, while the <em>L Word</em> had purposefully aimed to remove the negativity of exclusion through the portrayal of a group of lesbians in a more true-to-life account, the limited character tropes inadvertently marginalised other areas of lesbian and queer representation. These excluded characters were for example fully representative trans characters. The 2000s television industry had seemingly returned to a period of little interest in women’s stories generally, and though queer stories seeped into popular culture, there was no dedicated drama with a significant focus on lesbian story lines (<a href="https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2019/12/the-l-word-generation-q-interview-showrunner"><em>Vanity Fair</em></a>).</p> <p>The first iteration of <em>The L Word</em> was aimed at satisfying lesbian audiences as well as creating mainstream television success. It was not a tacky or pornographic television series playing to male voyeuristic ideals, although some critics believed that it included female-to-female sex scenes to draw in an additional male viewership (Anderson-Minshall; Graham). There was also a great emphasis on processing the concept of being queer. However, in the reboot<em> Generation Q</em>, the decision was made by the showrunner Marja-Lewis Ryan that the series would not be about any forms of ‘coming out stories’, and the characters were simply going about their lives as opposed to the burdensome tropes of transitioning or coming out. This is a significant change from many of the gay storylines in the 1990s that were seemingly all focussed on these themes. The new programme features a wider demographic, too, with younger characters who are comfortable with who they are. Essentially, the importance of the 2019 series is to portray healthy, varied representations of lesbian life, and to encourage accurate inclusion into film and television without the skewed or distorted earlier narratives.</p> <p><em>The L Word</em> and <em>L Word: Generation Q</em> then carried the additional burden of countering criticisms <em>The L Word</em> received. Roseneil explains that creating both normalcy and belonging for lesbians and gays brings “cultural value and normativity” (218) and removes the psychosocial barriers that cause alienation or segregation. This “accept us” agenda appears through both popular culture and “in the broader national discourse on rights and belongings” (Walters 11), and is thus important because “representations of happy, healthy, well integrated lesbian and gay characters in film or television would create the impression that, in a social, economic, and legal sense, all is well for lesbians and gay men” (Schacter 729). Essentially, these programmes shouldered the burden of representation for the lesbian community, which was a heavy expectation.</p> <p>Critiques of the original <em>L Word</em> focussed on how the original cast looked as if they had all walked out of a high-end salon, for example, but in <em>L Word: Generation Q</em> this has been altered to have a much more DIY look. One of the younger cast members, Finlay, looks like someone cut her hair in the kitchen while others have styles that resemble YouTube tutorials and queer internet celebrities (<em><a href="https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2019/12/the-l-word-generation-q-interview-showrunner">Vanity Fair</a></em>). The recognisable stereotypes that were both including and excluding have also altered the representation of the trans characters. Bette Porter’s campaign manager, for example, determines his style through his transition story, unlike Max, the prominent trans character from the first series. The trans characters of 2019 are comfortable in their own skins and supported by the community around them. Another important distinction between the representation of the old and new cast is around their material wealth. The returning cast members have comfortable lives and demonstrate affluence while the younger cast are less comfortable, expressing far more financial anxiety. This may indeed make a storyline that is closer to heterosexual communities. <em>The L Word </em>demonstrated a sophisticated awareness of feminist debates about the visual representation of women and made those debates a critical theme of the programme, and these themes have been expanded further in <em>The L Word: Generation Q</em>. One of the crucial areas that the programme/s have improved upon is to denaturalise the hegemonic straight gaze, drawing attention to the ways, conventions and techniques of reproduction that create sexist, heterosexist, and homophobic ideologies (McFadden). This was achieved through a predominantly female, lesbian cast that dealt with stories amongst their own friend group and relationships, serving to upend the audience position, and encouraging an alternative gaze, a gaze that could be occupied by anyone watching, but positioned the audience as lesbian.</p> <p>In concluding, <em>The L Word</em> in its original iteration set out to create something unique in its representation of lesbians. However, in its mission to create something new, it was also seen as problematic in its representation and in some ways excluding of certain gay and lesbian people. <em>The L Word: Generation Q</em> has therefore focussed on more diversity within a minority group, bringing normality and a sense of ‘realness’ to the previously skewed narratives seen in the media. In so doing, “perhaps these images will induce or confirm” to audiences that “lesbians and gay men are already ‘equal’—accepted, integrated, part of the mainstream” (Schacter 729).</p> <h2>References</h2> <p>Anderson-Minshall, Diane. “Sex and the Clittie, in Reading the L Word: Outing Contemporary Television.” <em>Reading Desperate Housewives</em>. Eds. Janet McCabe and Kim Akass. I.B. Tauris, 2006. 11–14.</p> <p><em>Are You the One</em>? Presented by Ryan Devlin. Reality television programme. Viacom Media Networks, 2014.</p> <p>Baker, Sarah. “The Changing Face of Gay Representation in Hollywood Films from the 1990s Onwards: What’s Really Changed in the Hollywood Representation of Gay Characters?” <em>The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies </em>10.4 (2015): 41–51.</p> <p><em>Brokeback Mountain</em>. Dir. Ang Lee. Film. Focus Features, 2005.</p> <p>Chambers, Samuel. A. “Heteronormativity and The L Word: From a Politics of Representation to a Politics of Norms.” <em>Reading Desperate Housewives</em>. Eds. Janet McCabe and Kim Akass. I.B. Tauris, 2006. 81–98.</p> <p><em>Euphoria.</em> Dir. Sam Levinson. Television Series. HBO, 2019. </p> <p>Gamson, Joshua. “Sweating in the Spotlight: Lesbian, Gay and Queer Encounters with Media and Popular Culture.” <em>Handbook of Lesbian and Gay Studies</em>.London: Sage, 2002. 339–354.</p> <p>Graham, Paula. “The L Word Under-whelms the UK?” <em>Reading Desperate Housewives</em>. Eds. Janet McCabe and Kim Akass. I.B. Tauris, 2006. 15–26. </p> <p>Gross, Larry. “What Is Wrong with this Picture? Lesbian Women and Gay Men on Television.” <em>Queer Words, Queer Images: Communication and the Construction of Homosexuality</em>. Ed. R.J. Ringer. New York: New York UP, 1994. 143–156.</p> <p>Gross, Larry. “Out of the Mainstream: Sexual Minorities and the Mass Media.” <em>Gay People, Sex, and the Media</em>. Eds. M. Wolf and A. Kielwasser. Haworth Press, 1991. 19–36. </p> <p>Hart, Kylo-Patrick. R. “Representing Gay Men on American Television.” <em>Journal of Men’s Studies</em> 9 (2000): 59–79.</p> <p><em>In and Out</em>. Dir. Frank Oz. Film. Paramount Pictures, 1997.</p> <p>Juárez, Sergio Fernando. “Creeper Bogeyman: Cultural Narratives of Gay as Monstrous.” <em>At the Interface / Probing the Boundaries</em> 91 (2018): 226–249.</p> <p>McFadden, Margaret. T. <em>The L Word</em>. Wayne State University Press, 2014.</p> <p>Moore, Candace, and Kristin Schilt. “Is She Man Enough? Female Masculinities on The L Word.” <em>Reading Desperate Housewives</em>. Eds. Janet McCabe and Kim Akass. I.B. Tauris, 2006. 159–172.</p> <p><em>Orange Is the New Black</em>. Dir. Jenji Johan. Web series. Netflix Streaming Services, 2003–.</p> <p><em>Philadelphia</em>. Directed by Jonathan Demme. Film. Tristar Pictures, 1993.</p> <p><em>Pose</em>. Dirs. Ryan Murphy, Steven Canals, and Brad Falchuk. Television series. Color Force, 2018. </p> <p>Roseneil, Sasha. “On Missed Encounters: Psychoanalysis, Queer Theory, and the Psychosocial Dynamics of Exclusion.” <em>Studies in Gender and Sexuality</em> 20.4 (2019): 214–219.</p> <p><em>RuPaul’s Drag Race.</em> Directed by Nick Murray. Reality competition. Passion Distribution, 2009–.</p> <p>Russo, Vito. <em>The Celluloid Closet</em>. Rev. ed. New York: Harper &amp; Row, 1987.</p> <p>Sarkissian, Raffi. “Queering TV Conventions: LGBT Teen Narratives on <em>Glee</em>.” <em>Queer Youth and Media Cultures. </em>Ed. C. Pullen. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. 145–157.</p> <p>Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. “Foreword: The Letter L.” <em>Reading 'The L Word’: Outing Contemporary Television. Reading Desperate Housewives</em>. Eds. Janet McCabe and Kim Akass. I.B. Tauris, 2006. 20–25.</p> <p>Schacter, Jane S. “Skepticism, Culture and the Gay Civil Rights Debate in Post-Civil-Rights Era.” <em>Harvard Law Review </em>110 (1997): 684–731.</p> <p>Streitmatter, Rodger. <em>Perverts to Fab Five: The Media’s Changing Depiction of Gay Men and Lesbians</em>. New York: Routledge. 2009.</p> <p><em>The Birdcage</em>. Dir. Mike Nichols. Film. United Artists, 1995.</p> <p><em>The Kids Are Alright</em>. Dir. Lisa Cholodenko. Film. Focus Features, 2010.</p> <p><em>The L Word</em>. Created by Ilene Chaiken, Kathy Greenberg, and Michelle Abbott. TV drama. Showtime Networks, 2004–2009. </p> <p><em>The L Word</em>: <em>Generation Q</em>. Prods. Ilene Chaiken, Jennifer Beals, Katherine Moennig, and Leisha Hailey. TV drama. Showtime Networks, 2019–.</p> <p><em>To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar</em>. Dir. Beeban Kidron. Film. Universal Pictures, 1995.</p> <p>Walters, Suzanna Danuta. <em>The Tolerance Trap: How God, Genes and Good Intentions Are Sabotaging Gay Equality. New York: </em>New York UP, 2014.</p> <p>Yang, Alan. "From Wrongs to Rights: Public Opinion on Gay and Lesbian Americans Moves towards Equality." New York: The Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 1999.</p> Sarah Baker Amanda Rutherford Copyright (c) 2020 Sarah Baker, Amanda Rutherford http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-12-21 2020-12-21 23 6 10.5204/mcj.2727 Gender Representations on <em>YouTube</em> https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2728 <h1>Introduction</h1> <p>Media and gender are intricately linked in our society. Every day we see representations of women and men on the screen, read about politicians in the press, watch influencers on <em>YouTube</em> or go to the cinema where we meet screen heroes. Our images and notions of gender draw on these media narratives and role models. Children and young people are socialised with these views and cultivate their own identity and gender roles accordingly. Ideas of gender are not static. They are produced discursively in an ongoing process. Gender is understood as a social category, and this perspective is interwoven with an observation of people’s social behaviour, their “doing gender” (West and Zimmerman). From a social constructivist, the focus lies on the production processes connected with the construction of gender representations through the media. The question of how masculinity and femininity, concepts of “being a man” or “being a woman”, represented on a platform such as <em>YouTube</em> become relevant. Our research interest lies exactly in this: How gender inclusive is the video platform <em>YouTube</em>? Are male and female representations equally visible—or do we find exclusion mechanisms that hinder this?</p> <h1>Literature Review</h1> <p>Europe-wide studies show that children and adolescents are online for an average of 2.4 hours a day (Hasebrink <em>et al</em>.). Eighty-seven per cent of young people report watching videos (e.g. on <em>YouTube</em>) at least once a week (<em>ibid</em>., 11). This applies for Germany as well (MPFS). Considering the relevance <em>YouTube</em> has for adolescents, the question arises as to which role models are portrayed through <em>YouTube</em> and how diverse the representations of gender are depicted there. Initial analyses, primarily for the English-language <em>YouTube</em> platform, see its potential to counteract gender stereotypes (Maloney <em>et al</em>.), but generally show an unequal visibility of the genders on <em>YouTube</em>. These studies find that women are underrepresented, receive more hostile feedback and present themselves in stereotypical forms (Wotanis and McMillan; Döring; Molyneaux <em>et al</em>.). Döring and Mohseni showed in their current nine-country comparative analysis that men dominate the popular <em>YouTube</em> across countries and women are more likely to give up after hostility. The existing research usually examined the English-language, mainly US <em>YouTube</em>, it analysed gender performance, stereotypes in selected genres such as advertising or gaming, the stigmatisation of obesity, the representation and experiences of black women on <em>YouTube</em>, and the staging of alternative images of masculinity (see Hussin <em>et al</em>.; Kataria and Pandey; Wotanis and McMillan; Casabianca; Maloney <em>et al</em>.; Sobande). Molyneaux <em>et al</em>. noted in their landmark study gender-specific differences: female YouTubers tend to focus on private matters and interact more frequently with their users. Male YouTubers, on the other hand, share opinions and information and avoid emotions (Pedersen and Macafee). In addition, female vloggers are more often criticised for their appearance than for the content of their videos (Molyneaux <em>et al</em>.).</p> <p>Even though <em>YouTube</em> is an international medium, its use remains limited to language and nation. For example, the most popular <em>YouTube</em> stars among German children and young people are predominantly German-speaking influencers or sportsmen and women. In 2019, girls between the ages of 6 and 13 most often name Bibi, Dagi Bee, Shirin David, Lisa &amp; Lena, and Miley; boys at the same age Julien Bam, Gronkh, Die Lochis, LeFloid and Manuel Neuer (IZI). All these are German <em>YouTube</em> or sports stars. <em>YouTube</em> itself shows in its recommendations under the heading “most popular videos in Germany” exclusively German-language videos, music videos, or sporting events (<em>YouTube</em>). Therefore, <em>YouTube</em> also needs to be examined in national contexts, as well as in cross-national context.</p> <p>Our study will focus on the national German context to examine whether there are similar gender differences in the German-speaking <em>YouTube</em> as have been identified for the English-speaking <em>YouTube</em>. For German-speaking <em>YouTube</em>, few studies are available. Döring and Mohseni examined male and female operators of the top 100 <em>YouTube</em> channels in nine different countries. The results show that women make up 25 per cent of the top 100 German <em>YouTube</em> channel operators, a distribution which is similarly uneven in other countries. Usage data shows that the German-speaking <em>YouTube</em> appears to have a greater relevance among boys than girls. Boys (93%) use <em>YouTube</em> more often on a regular basis, than girls (86%), and rank it higher as their favourite app (MPFS). Other than for traditional media such as television or film, where intensive research has for decades shown a wide gender gap in the visibility of women (Prommer and Linke; Linke and Prommer), research on German-speaking <em>YouTube</em> is rare (Döring and Mohseni).</p> <h1>Hypotheses</h1> <p>In reflection of the research outlined above on representations of gender in media and the stereotypical portrayals of men and women in film and television, we assume that these gender role depictions are carried over into online videos on social media platforms. The fact that girls use <em>YouTube</em> somewhat less often, consider themselves less competent in the necessary Internet skills, and anticipate greater risks related to communicative aspects suggests that female operators might have been held back and that the female perspective might be marginalised in public (self-)portrayals. The following hypotheses will therefore guide our study:</p> <blockquote> <p>H1: Fewer women are channel operators of Germany’s most popular <em>YouTube</em> channels, and they are more limited in their choice of genres.</p> <p>H2: Women are less visible than men in popular <em>YouTube</em> videos.</p> <p>H3: Women portray themselves more often as connected to stereotypically female topics or are depicted as such in videos.</p> <p>H4: Men stage themselves as professionals.</p> </blockquote> <h1>Methods and Sample</h1> <p>Following these hypotheses, we conducted a two-step research. The first research step was to analyse to what extent women and men produce popular content. For this, we looked at the ratio of female to male YouTubers among the 1,000 most successful German channels. These YouTubers are called either creators or channel operators by the industry. Both terms are used synonymously here. To identify the most popular <em>YouTube</em> channels, we acquired the viewing and ranking data from the market research company <a href="https://socialblade.com/">Social Blade</a>, which is one of the very few sources for these data. We measured the popularity of the channels by the number of subscribers to a channel. The success of individual videos was measured by individual views.</p> <p>We coded the 1,000 most successful German <em>YouTube</em> channels, with a standardised quantitative content analysis. This method is frequently applied in existing studies on gender representations in <em>YouTube</em> (Döring; Döring and Mohensi). Different to existing research, we looked at a larger number of channels. This quantified analysis was combined with a more qualitative, but still standardised analysis of visibility of gender and concrete content and presentation forms (Prommer and Linke). For the second step we used the Audio-Visual Character Analysis (ACIS) developed by Prommer and Linke as a method that is able to code any audio-visual content in order to describe visibility and diversity of the depicted people. Here, the analysis considered the individual video as the unit of analysis. For 20 videos from each of the top 100 <em>YouTube</em> creators, we chose the 10 of most recent videos plus the 10 videos with the most views to be analysed. In total, 2,000 videos were analysed. For the qualitative analysis, looking at the visibility of gender, we excluded channels operated by institutions, such as radio and TV broadcasters, music labels, and other commercial entities. These were not considered since there is no individual person responsible. We also excluded “Let’s Play” videos, since these often do not show the operator, but only show game play from video games.</p> <h1>Results</h1> <h3>H1: Fewer women are operators of Germany’s most popular YouTube channels, and they are more limited in their choice of genres.</h3> <p>As the analyses show, if the non-individual channel operators are included in the statistics, we see that 27 per cent of the top popular channels in Germany are hosted by institutions (270); this leaves 172 channels operated by women (17%), 525 channels by men (53%), and 25 (3%) by mixed-gender teams. Further on, we will only consider the top 1,000 channels produced by one or more individuals; of these, one quarter (24%) of channel operators are female (fig. 1). This shows that, for every channel in the list produced by a woman, three are produced by men. Only three per cent of the channels are produced by men and women together, constituting a mixed-gender team.</p> <p>The <em>YouTube</em> genres, according to the <em>YouTube</em> classification, also show significant gender differences. Women can be seen first and foremost in tutorial channels (women: 61; men: 9). However, because only 24 per cent of channels in which an individual operator could be identified are contributed by women, all other genres except for tutorial channels are produced disproportionally more often by men. Gaming videos are solid male territory, as almost all "Let’s Play" channels are operated by men (women: 6; men: 150). Here, there are 25 men for every one woman who operates a gaming channel. This is particularly remarkable, as women make up 46 per cent of gamers (ISFE), and their underrepresentation can generally not be explained by lack of interest. Men operate channels in a wide variety of other genres, such as music (women: 9; men: 80) and sports (women: 4; men: 20). The genres of comedy, film, and education show only one female operator each—outnumbered from 10 to 1 to as much as 20 to 1. Examining the statistics for men and women separately reveals that men do not only operate the majority of the top 1,000 channels, but they are also visible in a wider variety of genres. Female YouTubers have primarily limited themselves to entertainment channels (50% of all women) and how-to channels (35% of all women). Male channels are more diverse and include entertainment (38% of all men), games (29% of all men), and music (15% of all men), as well as all other genres. Only in tutorial channels men are rarely seen (2%). The genre definitions of the <em>YouTube</em> channels used here are derived from <em>YouTube</em> itself, and these definitions are not in line with other genre theories and are overly broad. Nevertheless, these results confirm the first hypothesis that fewer women are operators of popular <em>YouTube</em> channels, and that women are more limited in their genre diversity.</p> <p><img src="https://journal.media-culture.org.au/public/site/images/seichner/prommer-1.jpg" alt="Gender distribution of the top 1,000 YouTube channel creators - individuals only (n=722)" width="1064" height="720" /></p> <p><em>Fig. 1: Gender distribution of the top 1,000 YouTube channel creators—individuals only (n=722)</em></p> <h3>H2: Women are less visible than men in popular <em>YouTube</em> videos.</h3> <p>From the list of the top 1,000 channels, the top 100 most successful channels produced by individuals were analysed in more depth. Of these top 100 channels we analysed 20 videos each, for a total of 2,000 videos, for the visibility and appearance of men, women, and non-binary persons. If we count the main protagonists appearing in these 2,000 videos, we see for every woman (979; 29%) more than two men (2,343; 69%). Only two per cent (54) of the people appearing in these videos had a non-binary gender (intersexual, transsexual, or other). Interestingly, this is a similar imbalance as we can detect in television as well (Prommer and Linke). In other categories, there is more diversity than in television: in total, 44 per cent of channel operators have a recognisable “migration background”, which is more commonly seen in men (49%) than in women (32%). “Migration background” is the official German definition of people with a foreign nationality, people not born in Germany, or having parents with these criteria. This confirms the second hypothesis, according to which women are visible in popular Web videos less often than men.</p> <h3>H3: Women portray themselves more often in connection to stereotypically female topics or are depicted as such in videos.</h3> <p>In the 2,000 videos from the top 100 channels, female YouTubers are primarily visible in service-oriented tutorial channels (on topics like beauty, food, and the household). Female YouTubers are predominantly represented in video blogs (vlogs: 17%), battles/challenges (16%), sketches/parodies (14%), and tutorials (11%). The haul/unboxing format, in which presenters unpack acquired products or gifts, is almost exclusively female. Men are visible in a wide array of formats such as battles/challenges (21%), sketches (17%), and vlogs (14%), including music (9%), opinions/positions (6%), interviews (2%), music parodies (3%), and question-answer formats (2%). The wide range of content produced by male YouTubers, compared to the limited range of female YouTubers, becomes even more obvious when we consider the topics of the individual videos. The results show that men engage with a variety of themes. Women’s topics, on the other hand, are limited: female YouTubers address beauty (30%), food (23%), relationships (23%), fashion and family, as well as household topics (15%). As fig. 2 shows, men present a bigger variety of topics such as music, relationships, family and fashion, and they also address politics (7%), gaming, and much more. The men’s list is significantly more comprehensive (21 topic areas instead of 15). The data thus confirm the third hypothesis, according to which female YouTubers are more often represented in popular videos with stereotypically female themes. It also becomes clear that their spectrum of topics is significantly more limited than that of male actors.</p> <p><img src="https://journal.media-culture.org.au/public/site/images/seichner/prommer-2.jpg" alt="" width="536" height="698" /></p> <p><em>Fig. 2: Topic and subject areas of main actors by gender (3,322), statistics for all women and all men; multiple answers possible</em></p> <h3>H4: Men stage themselves as professionals</h3> <p>The following results reveal selected characteristics of the staging with which the main female protagonists portray themselves in the 2,000 videos analysed, and which we understand as an expression of professional versus non-professional ability. Female YouTubers appear predominantly in private settings, and their relationships to (almost exclusively male) partners and to their families play a larger role in their appearances than with the male protagonists. Their activities in the videos are described more frequently by the women themselves as personal passions and hobbies, and they rarely discuss their activities as connected to a career. Women talk about their passions, while men thematise their professional abilities. While fewer than a quarter of female YouTubers (22%) address their careers, almost two thirds of men (61%) do so. When looking at hobbies and passions the reverse is true: while only a third of male YouTubers (32%) mention these themes, two thirds of women (64%) create this context in their videos. Also, public spaces and professional contexts are predominantly reserved for male protagonist on <em>YouTube</em>. This means that women shoot their videos in what appears to be their homes or other private environments, while men are also visible in offices or other professional environments (e.g. fitness studios). The settings in which most people are visible on <em>YouTube</em> are private houses and apartments, where most women (71%) and more than half of male actors (57%) are shown. Settings in the public sphere, in contrast, are chosen by male YouTubers twice as often (34%) as by females. This confirms the fourth hypothesis, which states that men communicate and stage themselves as professionals in their videos, measured by the choice of public settings, references to professional activity, and thematisation of emotions.</p> <h1>Limitations</h1> <p>This study represents a first step toward a quantified analysis of gender portrayals on <em>YouTube</em>. Although a large number of channels and videos were included in the analysis, it is not a comprehensive assessment of all of the most popular videos, nor a random sampling. Limiting the scope to the most popular content necessarily excludes videos that may show alternative content but receive fewer clicks and subscribers. The content analysis does not allow conclusions to be drawn regarding the videos’ actual reception among adolescents. Even though the data prove the platform’s popularity among children and young adults, the audience groups for the individual videos we analysed could not be broken down by sociodemographics. The gender-typical depictions can thus only be understood as an offering; no statements can be made as to their actual acceptance.</p> <h1>Discussion</h1> <p>The results show that Web videos favourited by children and young adults on the <em>YouTube</em> platform adopt and propagate similar role models to those that previously existed in television and film (Götz <em>et al</em>.). Female channel operators are significantly underrepresented in the most popular videos, they are more limited in their range of topics, and they appear predominantly in and with topics with a stereotypically female connotation. Further, most of women’s (self-)portrayals take place in private settings. Here, the new Web formats have not created a change from classical depictions on television, where women are also predominantly shown in their personal and private lives. Web videos emphasise this aspect, as female actors refer often to their hobbies rather than to their careers, thus characterising their actions as less socially legitimised. This shows that in their favourite new media, too, adolescents encounter traditional gender stereotypes that steer the engagement with gender onto traditional tracks. The actual variety of gender identities and gender roles in real life is not presented in the popular <em>YouTube</em> videos and therefore excluded from the mainstream audience. Clearly, the interplay of the structure of <em>YouTube</em>, the market, and audience demand does not lead to the inclusion and visibility of alternative role models.</p> <h2>References</h2> <p>Casabianca, Barbara. 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DOI: 10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00382.x.</p> <p>Prommer, Elizabeth, and Christine Linke. <em>Ausgeblendet: Frauen im deutschen Film und Fernsehen</em>. Herbert von Halem Verlag, 2019.</p> <p>Sobande, Francesca. “Watching Me Watching You: Black Women in Britain on YouTube.” <em>European Journal of Cultural Studies</em> 20.6 (2017): 655–71. DOI: 10.1177/1367549417733001.</p> <p>West, Candice, and D. H. Zimmerman. “Doing Gender.” <em>Gender and Society</em> 1.2 (1987): 125–51.</p> <p>Wotanis, Lindsey, and Laurie McMillan. “Performing Gender on YouTube.” <em>Feminist Media Studies</em> 14.6 (2014): 912–28. DOI: 10.1080/14680777.2014.882373.</p> <p><em>YouTube</em>. 23 Oct. 2019 &lt;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=beliebteste+videos+deutschland">https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=beliebteste+videos+deutschland</a>&gt;.</p> Claudia Wegener Elizabeth Prommer Christine Linke Copyright (c) 2020 Elizabeth Prommer, Claudia Wegener, Christine Linke http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-12-02 2020-12-02 23 6 10.5204/mcj.2728 Influencers, Brands, and Pivots in the Time of COVID-19 https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2729 <p>In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, where income has become precarious and Internet use has soared, the influencer industry has to strategise over new ways to sustain viewer attention, maintain income flows, and innovate around formats and messaging, to avoid being excluded from continued commercial possibilities. In this article, we review the press coverage of the influencer markets in Australia, Japan, and Korea, and consider how the industry has been attempting to navigate their way through the pandemic through deviations and detours. We consider the narratives and groups of influencers who have been included and excluded in shaping the discourse about influencer strategies in the time of COVID-19.</p> <p>The distinction between inclusion and exclusion has been a crucial mechanism to maintain the social normativity, constructed with gender, sexuality, wealth, able-ness, education, age, and so on (Stäheli and Stichweh, par. 3; Hall and Du Gay 5; Bourdieu 162). The influencer industry is the epitome of where the inclusion-exclusion binary is noticeable. It has been criticised for serving as a locus where social norms, such as femininity and middle-class identities, are crystallised and endorsed in the form of visibility and attention (Duffy 234; Abidin 122). Many are concerned about the global expansion of the influencer industry, in which young generations are led to clickbait and sensational content and normative ways of living, in order to be “included” by their peer groups and communities and to avoid being “excluded” (Cavanagh). However, COVID-19 has changed our understanding of the “normal”: people staying home, eschewing social communications, and turning more to the online where they can feel “virtually” connected (Lu <em>et al</em>. 15). The influencer industry also has been affected by COVID-19, since the images of normativity cannot be curated and presented as they used to be. In this situation, it is questionable how the influencer industry that pivots on the inclusion-exclusion binary is adjusting to the “new normal” brought by COVID-19, and how the binary is challenged or maintained, especially by exploring the continuities and discontinuities in industry.</p> <h1><strong>Methodology</strong></h1> <p>This cross-cultural study draws from a corpus of articles from Australia, Japan, and Korea published between January and May 2020, to investigate how local news outlets portrayed the contingencies undergone by the influencer industry, and what narratives or groups of influencers were excluded in the process. An extended discussion of our methodology has been published in an earlier article (Abidin <em>et al</em>. 5-7). Using the top ranked search engine of each country (Google for Australia and Japan, Naver for Korea), we compiled search results of news articles from the first ten pages (ten results per page) of each search, prioritising reputable news sites over infotainment sites, and by using targeted keyword searches: for Australia: ‘influencer’ and ‘Australia’ and ‘COVID-19’, ‘coronavirus’, ‘pandemic’; for Japan: ‘インフルエンサー’ (influensā) and ‘コロナ’ (korona), ‘新型コロ ナ’ (shin-gata korona), ‘コロナ禍’ (korona-ka); for Korea: ‘인플루언서’ (Influencer) and ‘코로나’ (corona) and ‘팬데믹’ (pandemic).</p> <p>111 articles were collected (42 for Australia, 31 for Japan, 38 for Korea). In this article, we focus on a subset of 60 articles and adopt a grounded theory approach (Glaser and Strauss 5) to manually conduct open, axial, and close coding of their headline and body text. Each headline was translated by the authors and coded for a primary and secondary ‘open code’ across seven categories: Income loss, Backlash, COVID-19 campaign, Misinformation, Influencer strategy, Industry shifts, and Brand leverage. The body text was coded in a similar manner to indicate all the relevant open codes covered in the article. In this article, we focus on the last two open codes that illustrate how brands have been working with influencers to tide through COVID-19, and what the overall industry shifts were on the three Asia-Pacific country markets. Table 1 (see Appendix) indicates a full list of our coding schema.</p> <h1><strong>Inclusion of the Normal in Shifting Brand Preferences </strong></h1> <p>In this section, we consider two main shifts in brand preferences: an increased demand for influencers, and a reliance on influencers to boost viewer/consumer traffic. We found that by expanding digital marketing through Influencers, companies attempted to secure a so-called “new normal” during the pandemic. However, their marketing strategies tended to reiterate the existing inclusion-exclusion binary and exacerbated the lack of diversity and inequality in the industry.</p> <h2>Increased Demand for Influencers</h2> <p>Across the three country markets, brokers and clients in the influencer industry increased their demand for influencers’ services and expertise to sustain businesses via advertising in the “aftermath of COVID-19”, as they were deemed to be more cost-efficient “viral marketing on social media” (Yoo). By outsourcing content production to influencers who could still produce content independently from their homes (Cheik-Hussein) and who engage with audiences with their “interactive communication ability” (S. Kim and Cho), many companies attempted to continue their business and maintain their relationships with prospective consumers (Forlani).</p> <p>As the newly enforced social distancing measures have also interrupted face-to-face contact opportunities, the mass pivot towards influencers for digital marketing is perceived to further professionalise the industry via competition and quality control in all three countries (Wilkinson; S. Kim and Cho; Yadorigi). By integrating these online personae of influencers into their marketing, the business side of each country is moving towards the new normal in different manners. In Australia, businesses launched campaigns showcasing athlete influencers engaging in meaningful activities at home (e.g. yoga, cooking), and brands and companies reorganised their marketing strategies to highlight social responsibilities (Moore).</p> <p>On the other hand, for some companies in the Japanese market, the disruption from the pandemic was a rare opportunity to build connections and work with “famous” and “prominent” influencers (Yadorigi), otherwise unavailable and unwilling to work for smaller campaigns during regular periods of an intensely competitive market. In Korea, by emphasising their creative ability, influencers progressed from being “mere PR tools” to becoming “active economic subjects of production” who now can play a key role in product planning for clients, mediating companies and consumers (S. Kim and Cho). The underpinning premise here is that influencers are tech-savvy and therefore competent in creating media content, forging relationships with people, and communicating with them “virtually” through social media.</p> <h2>Reliance on Influencers to Boost Viewer/Consumer Traffic</h2> <p>Across several industry verticals, brands relied on influencers to boost viewership and consumer traffic on their digital estates and portals, on the premise that influencers work in line with the attention economy (Duffy 234). The fashion industry’s expansion of influencer marketing was noticeable in this manner. For instance, Korean department store chains (e.g. Lotte) invited influencers to “no-audience live fashion shows” to attract viewership and advertise fashion goods through the influencers’ social media (Y. Kim), and Australian swimwear brand Vitamin A partnered with influencers to launch online contests to invite engagement and purchases on their online stores (Moore). Like most industries where aspirational middle-class lifestyles are emphasised, the travel industry also extended partnerships with their current repertoire of influencers or international influencers in order to plan for the post-COVID-19 market recovery and post-border reopening tourism boom (Moore; Yamatogokoro; J. Lee). By extension, brands without any prior relationships with influencers, whcih did not have such histories to draw on, were likely to have struggled to produce new influencer content. Such brands could thus only rely on hiring influencers specifically to leverage their follower base.</p> <p>The increasing demand for influencers in industries like fashion, food, and travel is especially notable. In the attention economy where (media) visibility can be obtained and maintained (Duffy 121), media users practice “visibility labor” to curate their media personas and portray branding themselves as arbiters of good taste (Abidin 122). As such, influencers in genres where personal taste can be <em>visibly </em>presented—e.g. fashion, travel, F&amp;B—seem to have emerged from the economic slump with a head start, especially given their dominance on the highly visual platform of <em>Instagram</em>. Our analysis shows that media coverage during COVID-19 repeated the discursive correlation between influencers and such hyper-visible or visually-oriented industries. However, this dominant discourse about hyper-visible influencers and the gendered genres of their work has ultimately reinforced norms of self-presentation in the industry—e.g. being feminine, young, beautiful, luxurious—while those who deviate from such norms seem to be marginalised and excluded in media coverage and economic opportunities during the pandemic cycle.</p> <h1><strong>Including Newness by Shifting Format Preferences</strong></h1> <p>We observed the inclusion of newness in the influencer scenes in all three countries. By shifting to new formats, the previously excluded and lesser seen aspects of our lives—such as home-based content—began to be integrated into the “new normal”. There were four main shifts in format preferences, wherein influencers pivoted to home-made content, where livestreaming is the new dominant format of content, and where followers preferred more casual influencer content.</p> <h2>Influencers Have Pivoted to Home-Made Content</h2> <p>In all three country markets, influencers have pivoted to generating content based on life at home and ideas of domesticity. These public displays of homely life corresponded with the sudden occurrence of being wired to the Internet all day—also known as “LAN cable life” (랜선라이프, <em>lan-seon life</em>) in the Korean media—which influencers were chiefly responsible for pioneering (B. Kim). While some genres like gaming and esports were less impacted upon by the pivot, given that the nature and production of the content has always been confined to a desktop at home (Cheik-Hussein), pivots occurred for the likes of outdoor brands (Moore), the culinary industry (Dean), and fitness and workout brands (Perelli and Whateley).</p> <p>In Korea, new trends such as “home cafes” (B. Kim) and DIY coffees—like the infamous “Dalgona-Coffee” that was first introduced by a Korean YouTuber 뚤기 (<em>ddulgi</em>)—went viral on social media across the globe (Makalintal). In Japan, the spike in influencers showcasing at-home activities (Hayama) also encouraged mainstream TV celebrities to open social media accounts explicitly to do the same (Kamada). In light of these trends, the largest Multi-Channel Network (MCN) in Japan, UUUM, partnered with one of the country’s largest entertainment industries, Yoshimoto Kogyo, to assist the latter’s comedian talents to establish a digital video presence—a trend that was also observed in Korea (Koo), further underscoring the ubiquity of influencer practices in the time of COVID-19.</p> <p>Along with those creators who were already producing content in a domestic environment before COVID-19, it was the influencers with the time and resources to quickly pivot to home-made content who profited the most from the spike in Internet traffic during the pandemic (Noshita). The benefits of this boost in traffic were far from equal. For instance, many others who had to turn to makeshift work for income, and those who did not have conducive living situations to produce content at home, were likely to be disadvantaged.</p> <h2>Livestreaming Is the New Dominant Format</h2> <p>Amidst the many new content formats to be popularised during COVID-19, livestreaming was unanimously the most prolific. In Korea, influencers were credited for the mainstreaming and demotising (Y. Kim) of livestreaming for “live commerce” through real-time advertorials and online purchases. Livestreaming influencers were solicited specifically to keep international markets continuously interested in Korean products and cultures (Oh), and livestreaming was underscored as a main economic driver for shaping a “post-COVID-19” society (Y. Kim). In Australia, livestreaming was noted among art (Dean) and fitness influencers (Dean), and in Japan it began to be adopted among major fashion brands like Prada and Chloe (Saito).</p> <p>While the Australian coverage included livestreaming on platforms such as <em>Instagram</em>, <em>Facebook</em>, <em>YouTube</em>, <em>Twitch</em>, and <em>Douyin</em> (Cheik-Hussein; Perelli and Whateley; Webb), the Japanese coverage highlighted the potential for <em>Instagram Live</em> to target young audiences, increase feelings of “trustworthiness”, and increase sales via word-of-mouth advertising (Saito). In light of reduced client campaigns, influencers in Australia had also used livestreaming to provide online consulting, teaching, and coaching (Perelli and Whateley), and to partner with brands to provide masterclasses and webinars (Sanders). In this era, influencers in genres and verticals that had already adopted streaming as a normative practice—e.g. gaming and lifestyle performances—were likely to have had an edge over others, while other genres were excluded from this economic silver lining.</p> <h2>Followers Prefer More Casual Influencer Content</h2> <p>In general, all country markets report followers preferring more casual influencer content. In Japan, this was offered via the potential of livestreaming to deliver more “raw” feelings (Saito), while in Australia this was conveyed through specific content genres like “mental or physical health battles” (Moore); specific aesthetic choices like appearing “messier”, less “curated”, and “more unfiltered” (Wilkinson); and the growing use of specific emergent platforms like <em>TikTok</em> (Dean, Forlani, Perelli, and Whateley). In Korea, influencers in the photography, travel, and book genres were celebrated for their new provision of pseudo-experiences during COVID-19-imposed social distancing (Kang). Influencers on Instagram also spearheaded new social media trends, like the “#wheredoyouwannago_challenge” where Instagram users photoshopped themselves into images of famous tourist spots around the world (Kang).</p> <h1><strong>Conclusion</strong></h1> <p>In our study of news articles on the impact of COVID-19 on the Australian, Japanese, and Korean influencer industries during the first wave of the pandemic, influencer marketing was primed to be the dominant and default mode of advertising and communication in the post-COVID-19 era (Tate). In general, specific industry verticals that relied more on visual portrayals of lifestyles and consumption—e.g. fashion, F&amp;B, travel—to continue partaking in economic recovery efforts. However, given the gendered genre norms in the industry, this meant that influencers who were predominantly feminine, young, beautiful, and luxurious experienced more opportunity over others. Further, influencers who did not have the resources or skills to pivot to the “new normals” of creating content from home, engaging in livestreaming, and performing their personae more casually were excluded from these new economic opportunities.</p> <p>Across the countries, there were minor differences in the overall perception of influencers. There was an increasingly positive perception of influencers in Japan and Korea, due to new norms and pandemic-related opportunities in the media ecology: in Korea, influencers were considered to be the “vanguard of growing media commerce in the post-pandemonium era” (S. Kim and Cho), and in Japan, influencers were identified as critical vehicles during a more general consumer shift from traditional media to social media, as TV watching time is reduced and home-based e-commerce purchases are increasingly popular (Yadogiri). However, in Australia, in light of the sudden influx of influencer marketing strategies during COVID-19, the market seemed to be saturated more quickly: brands were beginning to question the efficiency of influencers, cautioned that their impact has not been completely proven for all industry verticals (Stephens), and have also begun to reduce commissions for influencer affiliate programmes as a cost-cutting measure (Perelli and Whateley).</p> <p>While news reports on these three markets indicate that there is some level of growth and expansion for various influencers and brands, such opportunities were not experienced equally, with some genres and demographics of influencers and businesses being excluded from pandemic-related pivots and silver linings. Further, in light of the increasing commercial opportunities, pressure for more regulations also emerged; for example, the Korean government announced new investigations into tax avoidance (Han). Not backed up by talent agencies or MCNs, independent influencers are likely to be more exposed to the disciplinary power of shifting regulatory practices, a condition which might have hindered their attempt at diversifying their income streams during the pandemic. Thus, while it is tempting to focus on the privileged and novel influencers who have managed to cling on to some measure of success during the pandemic, scholarly attention should also remember those who are being excluded and left behind, lest generations, cohorts, genres, or subcultures of the once-vibrant influencer industry fade into oblivion.</p> <h2><strong>References</strong></h2> <p>Abidin, Crystal. “#In$tagLam: Instagram as a repository of taste, a burgeoning marketplace, a war of eyeballs.” <em>Mobile Media Making in an Age of Smartphones</em>. Eds. Marsha Berry and Max Schleser. 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"코로나 여파, 연예인·인플루언서 마케팅 활발 [COVID-19, Star-Influencer Marketing Becomes Active].” <em>SkyDaily</em> 19 May 2020. &lt;<a href="http://www.skyedaily.com/news/news_view.html?ID=104772">http://www.skyedaily.com/news/news_view.html?ID=104772</a>&gt;.</p> <h2><strong>Appendix</strong></h2> <table style="height: 429px;" width="621"> <tbody> <tr style="height: 39px;"> <td style="height: 39px; width: 252.8px;"> <p><strong>Open codes</strong></p> </td> <td style="height: 39px; width: 362.667px;"> <p><strong>Axial codes</strong></p> </td> </tr> <tr style="height: 39px;"> <td style="height: 195px; width: 252.8px; vertical-align: top;" rowspan="5"> <p>1) Brand leverage</p> </td> <td style="height: 39px; width: 362.667px;"> <p>Targeting investors</p> </td> </tr> <tr style="height: 39px;"> <td style="height: 39px; width: 362.667px;"> <p>Targeting influencers</p> </td> </tr> <tr style="height: 39px;"> <td style="height: 39px; width: 362.667px;"> <p>Targeting new digital media formats</p> </td> </tr> <tr style="height: 39px;"> <td style="height: 39px; width: 362.667px;"> <p>Targeting consumers/customers/viewers</p> </td> </tr> <tr style="height: 39px;"> <td style="height: 39px; width: 362.667px;"> <p>Types of brands/clients</p> </td> </tr> <tr style="height: 39px;"> <td style="height: 195px; width: 252.8px; vertical-align: top;" rowspan="5"> <p>2) Industry shifts</p> </td> <td style="height: 39px; width: 362.667px;"> <p>Brand preferences</p> </td> </tr> <tr style="height: 39px;"> <td style="height: 39px; width: 362.667px;"> <p>Content production</p> </td> </tr> <tr style="height: 39px;"> <td style="height: 39px; width: 362.667px;"> <p>Content format</p> </td> </tr> <tr style="height: 39px;"> <td style="height: 39px; width: 362.667px;"> <p>Follower preferences</p> </td> </tr> <tr style="height: 39px;"> <td style="height: 39px; width: 362.667px;"> <p>Type of Influencers</p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p><em>Table 1: Full list of codes from our analysis</em></p> Crystal Abidin Tommaso Barbetta Jin Lee Copyright (c) 2020 Crystal Abidin, Tommaso Barbetta, Jin Lee http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-12-02 2020-12-02 23 6 10.5204/mcj.2729 A Flattering Robopocalypse https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2726 <blockquote> <p>RACHAEL. It seems you feel our work is not a benefit to the public.<br />DECKARD. Replicants are like any other machine. They're either a benefit or a hazard. If they're a benefit it's not my problem.<br />RACHAEL. May I ask you a personal question?<br />DECKARD. Yes.<br />RACHAEL. Have you ever retired a human by mistake? (Scott 17:30)</p> </blockquote> <p>CAPTCHAs (henceforth "captchas") are commonplace on today's Internet. Their purpose seems clear: block malicious software, allow human users to pass. But as much as they exclude spambots, captchas often exclude humans with visual and other disabilities (Dzieza; W3C Working Group). Worse yet, more and more advanced captcha-breaking technology has resulted in more and more challenging captchas, raising the barrier between online services and those who would access them. In the words of inclusive design advocate Robin Christopherson, "<a href="https://abilitynet.org.uk/news-blogs/ai-making-captcha-increasingly-cruel-disabled-users">CAPTCHAs are evil</a>".</p> <p>In this essay I describe how the captcha industry implements a posthuman process that speculative fiction has gestured toward but not grasped. The hostile posthumanity of captcha is not just a technical problem, nor just a problem of usability or access. Rather, captchas convey a design philosophy that asks humans to prove themselves by performing well at disembodied games. This philosophy has its roots in the Turing Test itself, whose terms guide speculation away from the real problems that today's authentication systems present. Drawing the concept of "procedurality" from game studies, I argue that, despite a design goal of separating machines and humans to the benefit of the latter, captchas actually and ironically produce an arms race in which humans have a systematic and increasing disadvantage. This arms race results from the Turing Test's equivocation between human and machine bodies, an assumption whose influence I identify in popular film, science fiction literature, and captcha design discourse.</p> <h1>The Captcha Industry and Its Side-Effects</h1> <p>Exclusion is an essential function of every cybersecurity system. From denial-of-service attacks to data theft, toxic automated entities constantly seek admission to services they would damage. To remain functional and accessible, Websites need security systems to keep out "abusive agents" (Shet). In cybersecurity, the term "user authentication" refers to the process of distinguishing between abusive agents and welcome users (Jeng <em>et al</em>.). Of the many available authentication techniques, CAPTCHA, "Completely Automated Public Turing test[s] to tell Computers and Humans Apart" (Von Ahn <em>et al</em>. 1465), is one of the most iconic.</p> <p>Although some captchas display a simple checkbox beside a disclaimer to the effect that "I am not a robot" (Shet), these frequently give way to more difficult alternatives: perception tests (fig. 1). Test captchas may show sequences of distorted letters, which a user is supposed to recognise and then type in (Godfrey). Others effectively digitize a game of "I Spy": an image appears, with an instruction to select the parts of it that show a specific type of object (Zhu <em>et al</em>.). A newer type of captcha involves icons rotated upside-down or sideways, the task being to right them (Gossweiler <em>et al</em>.). These latter developments show the influence of gamification (Kani and Nishigaki; Kumar <em>et al</em>.), the design trend where game-like elements figure in serious tasks.</p> <p><img src="https://journal.media-culture.org.au/public/site/images/seichner/figure1-letsdoaquicksecuritycheck.png" alt="" width="1440" height="536" /><em>Fig. 1: A series of captchas followed by multifactor authentication as a "quick security check" during the author's suspicious attempt to access LinkedIn over a Virtual Private Network</em></p> <p>Gamified captchas, in using tests of ability to tell humans from computers, invite three problems, of which only the first has received focussed critical attention. I discuss each briefly below, and at greater length in subsequent sections.</p> <p>First, as many commentators have pointed out (W3C Working Group), captchas can accidentally categorise real humans as nonhumans—a technical problem that becomes more likely as captcha-breaking technologies improve (e.g. Tam <em>et al</em>.; Brown <em>et al</em>.). Indeed, the design and breaking of captchas has become an almost self-sustaining subfield in computer science, as researchers review extant captchas, publish methods for breaking them, and publish further captcha designs (e.g. Weng <em>et al</em>.). Such research fuels an industry of captcha-solving services (fig. 2), of which some use automated techniques, and some are "human-powered", employing groups of humans to complete large numbers of captchas, thus clearing the way for automated incursions (Motoyama <em>et al</em>. 2). Captchas now face the quixotic task of using ability tests to distinguish legitimate users from abusers with similar abilities.</p> <p><img src="https://journal.media-culture.org.au/public/site/images/seichner/matthew-2-copy.png" alt="" /><br /><em>Fig. 2: Captcha production and captcha breaking: a feedback loop</em></p> <p>Second, gamified captchas import the feelings of games. When they defeat a real human, the human seems not to have encountered the failure state of an automated procedure, but rather to have lost, or given up on, a game. The same frame of "gameful"-ness (McGonigal, under "Happiness Hacking") or "gameful work" (under "The Rise of the Happiness Engineers"), supposed to flatter users with a feeling of reward or satisfaction when they complete a challenge, has a different effect in the event of defeat. Gamefulness shifts the fault from procedure to human, suggesting, for the latter, the shameful status of loser.</p> <p>Third, like games, gamified captchas promote a particular strain of logic. Just as other forms of media can be powerful venues for purveying stereotypes, so are gamified captchas, in this case conveying the notion that ability is a legitimate means, not only of apportioning privilege, but of humanising and dehumanising. Humanity thus appears as a status earned, and disability appears not as a stigma, nor an occurrence, but an essence.</p> <p>The latter two problems emerge because the captcha reveals, propagates and naturalises an ideology through mechanised procedures. Below I invoke the concept of "procedural rhetoric" to critique the disembodied notion of humanity that underlies both the original Turing Test and the "Completely Automated Public Turing test." Both tests, I argue, ultimately play to the disadvantage of their human participants.</p> <h1>Rhetorical Games, Procedural Rhetoric</h1> <p>When videogame studies emerged as an academic field in the early 2000s, once of its first tasks was to legitimise games relative to other types of artefact, especially literary texts (Eskelinen; Aarseth). Scholars sought a framework for discussing how video games, like other more venerable media, can express ideas (Weise).</p> <p>Janet Murray and Ian Bogost looked to the notion of procedure, devising the concepts of "procedurality" (Bogost 3), "procedural authorship" (Murray 171), and "procedural rhetoric" (Bogost 1). From a proceduralist perspective, a videogame is both an object and a medium for inscribing processes. Those processes have two basic types: procedures the game's developers have authored, which script the behaviour of the game as a computer program; and procedures human players respond with, the "operational logic" of gameplay (Bogost 13). Procedurality's two types of procedure, the computerised and the human, have a kind of call-and-response relationship, where the behaviour of the machine calls upon players to respond with their own behaviour patterns. Games thus train their players.</p> <p>Through the training that is play, players acquire habits they bring to other contexts, giving videogames the power not only to express ideas but "disrupt and change fundamental attitudes and beliefs about the world, leading to potentially significant long-term social change" (Bogost ix). That social change can be positive (McGonigal), or it can involve "dark patterns", cases where game procedures provoke and exploit harmful behaviours (Zagal <em>et al</em>.). For example, embedded in many game paradigms is the procedural rhetoric of "toxic meritocracy" (Paul 66), where players earn rewards, status and personal improvement by overcoming challenges, and, especially, excelling where others fail. While meritocracy may seem logical within a strictly competitive arena, its effect in a broader cultural context is to legitimise privileges as the spoils of victory, and maltreatment as the just result of defeat.</p> <p>As game design has influenced other fields, so too has procedurality's applicability expanded. Gamification, "the use of game design elements in non-game contexts" (Deterding <em>et al</em>. 9), is a popular trend in which designers seek to imbue diverse tasks with some of the enjoyment of playing a game (10). Gamification discourse has drawn heavily upon Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's "positive psychology" (Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi), and especially the speculative psychology of flow (Csikszentmihalyi 51), which promise enormously broad benefits for individuals acting in the "flow state" that challenging play supposedly promotes (75).</p> <p>Gamification has become a celebrated cause, advocated by a group of scholars and designers Sebastian Deterding calls the "Californian league of gamification evangelists" (120), before becoming an object of critical scrutiny (Fuchs <em>et al</em>.). Where gamification goes, it brings its dark patterns with it. In gamified user authentication (Kroeze and Olivier), and particularly gamified captcha, there occurs an intersection of deceptively difficult games, real-world stakes, and users whose differences go often ignored.</p> <h1>The Disembodied Arms Race</h1> <p>In captcha design research, the concept of disability occurs under the broader umbrella of usability. Usability studies emphasise the fact that some technology pieces are easier to access than others (Yan and El Ahmad). Disability studies, in contrast, emphasises the fact that different users have different capacities to overcome access barriers. Ability is contextual, an intersection of usability and disability, use case and user (Reynolds 443). When used as an index of humanness, ability yields illusive results.</p> <p>In <em>Posthuman Knowledge</em>, Rosi Braidotti begins her conceptual enquiry into the posthuman condition with a contemplation of captcha, asking what it means to tick that checkbox claiming that "I am not a robot" (8), and noting the baffling multiplicity of possible answers. From a practical angle, Junya Kani and Masakatsu Nishigaki write candidly about the problem of distinguishing robot from human: "no matter how advanced malicious automated programs are, a CAPTCHA that will not pass automated programs is required. Hence, we have to find another human cognitive processing capability to tackle this challenge" (40). Kani and Nishigaki try out various human cognitive processing capabilities for the task. Narrative comprehension and humour become candidates: might a captcha ascribe humanity based on human users' ability to determine the correct order of scenes in a film (43)? What about panels in a cartoon (40)? As they seek to assess the soft skills of machines, Kani and Nishigaki set up a drama similar to that of Philip K. Dick's <em>Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep</em>.</p> <p><em>Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep</em>, and its film adaptation, <em>Blade Runner</em> (Scott), describe a spacefaring society populated by both humans and androids. Androids have lesser legal privileges than humans, and in particular face execution—euphemistically called "retirement"—for trespassing on planet Earth (Dick 60). <em>Blade Runner</em> gave these androids their more famous name: "replicant". Replicants mostly resemble humans in thought and action, but are reputed to lack the capacity for empathy, so human police, seeking a cognitive processing capability unique to humans, test for empathy to test for humanness (30). But as with captchas, <em>Blade Runner</em>'s testing procedure depends upon an automated device whose effectiveness is not certain, prompting the haunting question: "have you ever retired a human by mistake?" (Scott 17:50).</p> <p><em>Blade Runner'</em>s empathy test is part of a long philosophical discourse about the distinction between human and machine (e.g. Putnam; Searle). At the heart of the debate lies Alan Turing's "Turing Test", which a machine hypothetically passes when it can pass itself off as a human conversationalist in an exchange of written text. Turing's motivation for coming up with the test goes: there may be no absolute way of defining what makes a human mind, so the best we can do is assess a computer's ability to imitate one (Turing 433).</p> <p>The aporia, however—how can we determine what makes a human mind?—is the result of an unfair question. Turing's test, dealing only with information expressed in strings of text, purposely disembodies both humans and machines. The <em>Blade Runner</em> universe similarly evens the playing field: replicants look, feel and act like humans to such an extent that distinguishing between the two becomes, again, the subject of a cognition test. The Turing Test, obsessed with information processing and steeped in mind-body dualism, assesses humanness using criteria that automated users can master relatively easily. In contrast, in everyday life, I use a suite of much more intuitive sensory tests to distinguish between my housemate and my laptop. My intuitions capture what the Turing Test masks: a human is a fleshy entity, possessed of the numerous trappings and capacities of a human body.</p> <p>The result of the automated Turing Test's focus on cognition is an arms race that places human users at an increasing disadvantage. Loss, in such a race, manifests not only as exclusion by and from computer services, but as a redefinition of proper usership, the proper behaviour of the authentic, human, user. Thus the Turing Test implicitly provides for a scenario where a machine becomes able to super-imitate humanness: to be perceived as human more often than a real human would be. In such an outcome, it would be the human conversationalist who would begin to fail the Turing test; to fail to pass themself off according to new criteria for authenticity. This scenario is possible because, through procedural rhetoric, machines shift human perspectives: about what is and is not responsible behaviour; about what humans should and should not feel when confronted with a challenge; about who does and does not deserve access; and, fundamentally, about what does and does not signify authentic usership.</p> <p>In captcha, as in <em>Blade Runner</em>, it is ultimately a machine that adjudicates between human and machine cognition. As users we rely upon this machine to serve our interests, rather than pursue some emergent automated interest, some by-product of the feedback loop that results from the ideologies of human researchers both producing and being produced by mechanised procedures. In the case of captcha, that faith is misplaced.</p> <h1>The Feeling of Robopocalypse</h1> <p>A rich repertory of fiction has speculated upon what novelist Daniel Wilson calls the "Robopocalypse", the scenario where machines overthrow humankind. Most versions of the story play out as a slave-owner's nightmare, featuring formerly servile entities (which happen to be machines) violently revolting and destroying the civilisation of their masters. <em>Blade Runner</em>'s rogue replicants, for example, are effectively fugitive slaves (Dihal 196). Popular narratives of robopocalypse, despite showing their antagonists as lethal robots, are fundamentally human stories with robots playing some of the parts.</p> <p>In contrast, the exclusion a captcha presents when it defeats a human is not metaphorical or emancipatory. There, in that moment, is a mechanised entity defeating a human. The defeat takes place within an authoritative frame that hides its aggression. For a human user, to be defeated by a captcha is to fail to meet an apparently common standard, within the framework of a common procedure. This is a robopocalypse of baffling systems rather than anthropomorphic soldiers.</p> <p>Likewise, non-human software clients pose threats that humanoid replicants do not. In particular, software clients replicate much faster than physical bodies. The sheer sudden scale of a denial-of-service attack makes Philip K. Dick's vision of android resistance seem quaint. The task of excluding unauthorised software, unlike the impulse to exclude replicants, is more a practical necessity than an exercise in colonialism.</p> <p>Nevertheless, dystopia finds its way into the captcha process through the peril inherent in the test, whenever humans are told apart from authentic users. This is the encroachment of the hostile posthuman, naturalised by us before it denaturalises us. The hostile posthuman sometimes manifests as a drone strike, <em>Terminator</em>-esque (Cameron), a dehumanised decision to kill (Asaro). But it is also a process of gradual exclusion, detectable from moment to moment as a feeling of disdain or impatience for the irresponsibility, incompetence, or simply unusualness of a human who struggles to keep afloat of a rising standard.</p> <p>"We are in this together", Braidotti writes, "between the algorithmic devil and the acidified deep blue sea" (9). But we are also in this separately, divided along lines of ability. Captcha's danger, as a broken procedure, hides in plain sight, because it lashes out at some only while continuing to flatter others with a game that they can still win.</p> <h1>Conclusion</h1> <p>Online security systems may always have to define some users as legitimate and others as illegitimate. Is there a future where they do so on the basis of behaviour rather than identity or essence? Might some future system accord each user, human or machine, the same authentic status, and provide all with an initial benefit of the doubt?</p> <p>In the short term, such a system would seem grossly impractical. The type of user that most needs to be excluded is the disembodied type, the type that can generate orders of magnitude more demands than a human, that can proliferate suddenly and in immense number because it does not lag behind the slow processes of human bodies. This type of user exists in software alone.</p> <p>Rich in irony, then, is the captcha paradigm which depends on the disabilities of the threats it confronts. We dread malicious software not for its disabilities—which are momentary and all too human—but its abilities. Attenuating the threat presented by those abilities requires inverting a habit that meritocracy trains and overtrains: specifically, we have here a case where the plight of the human user calls for negative action toward ability rather than disability.</p> <h2>References</h2> <p>Aarseth, Espen. "Computer Game Studies, Year One."<em> Game Studies</em> 1.1 (2001): 1–15.</p> <p>Asaro, Peter. "On Banning Autonomous Weapon Systems: Human Rights, Automation, and the Dehumanization of Lethal Decision-Making." <em>International Review of the Red Cross</em> 94.886 (2012): 687–709.</p> <p><em>Blade Runner</em>. Dir. Ridley Scott. Warner Bros, 1982.</p> <p>Bogost, Ian. <em>Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames</em>. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007.</p> <p>Braidotti, Rosi. <em>Posthuman Knowledge</em>. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2019.</p> <p>Brown, Samuel S., <em>et al</em>. 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"Attacks and Design of Image Recognition Captchas." <em>Proceedings of the 17th ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security</em>. 2010.</p> Matthew Horrigan Copyright (c) 2020 Matthew Horrigan http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2021-01-15 2021-01-15 23 6 10.5204/mcj.2726 Young Cancer on <em>Instagram</em> https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2724 <h1><strong>Introduction </strong></h1> <p>Although our postmodern (media) society should provide room for diversity and otherness (Greer and Jewkes), some people are not integrated but rather excluded. Social exclusion can be defined as the discrepancy of the wish of being part of a society and its possibilities to be part of it and contains feelings or experiences of physically or emotionally exclusion from others (Burchardt <em>et al</em>.; Riva and Eck). It is not really known what or who is responsible for social exclusion (Hills <em>et al</em>.), but it is certain that it is not that rare phenomenon — especially in social media. Here, digital engagement characteristics (likes, follows, shares, and comments) are important to build up, renew, and strengthen different forms of relationships. But if users do not receive any feedback, the risk of feeling social excluded increases. In this context, adolescents and young adults as the primary audience are the focus of interest. They seem to be especially vulnerable when it comes to social ostracism within social media and its potential negative psychological effects (Timeo <em>et al</em>.).</p> <p>The variety of social exclusion allows multiple perspectives on the topic. Hereafter we focus on young people with cancer. This life-threatening disease can increase the risk of being excluded. Cancer as a chronic illness and its negative effects on people’s lives, such as potential death, long-term and late effects, private and social burdens (Hilgendorf <em>et al</em>.), show an obvious otherness compared to the healthy peer, which might push ostracism effects and social exclusion of young people within social media to a new level. We actually can see a large number of (included) young cancer patients and survivors using social media for information sharing, exchanging ideas, networking, and addressing their unmet needs of the real world (Chou <em>et al</em>.; Chou and Moskowitz; Ruckenstuhl <em>et al</em>.; Perales <em>et al</em>.). Especially <em>Instagram</em> is becoming more present in social cancer communication (Stage <em>et al</em>.), though it actually increasingly represents cheerful, easy-going content (Hu <em>et al</em>.; Waterloo <em>et al</em>.). Judging by the number of cancer-related hashtags, we can see more and more public cancer bloggers thematise cancer illness on <em>Instagram</em>.</p> <p>But less is known about the actual content posted by cancer bloggers on <em>Instagram</em>. This leads us to the question, to what extent is cancer content found and included or excluded on public <em>Instagram</em> profiles of German speaking cancer bloggers? And is there a difference between biography descriptions with visible cancer references and posted motifs, captions and hashtags?</p> <h1><strong>Chronic Illnesses, Identities, and Social Networks </strong></h1> <p>Chronic illnesses such as cancer not only affect the body, but also impact on the identity of those affected. It is understood as life-changing with both short-term and long-term effects on the identity-forming process and on the already developed identity (Bury; Charmaz; Leventhal <em>et al</em>.). With their diagnosis, adolescents and young adults face a double challenge: they have to cope with the typical developmental changes of this age group and they have to negotiate these changes against the background of a life-threatening illness (Makros and McCabe; Zebrack and Isaacso). Miller shows three levels of identity for young cancer patients (pre-cancer identity, patient identity, and post-cancer identity), which are used regularly and flexibly by those affected in their interaction with the social network in order to maintain relationships and to minimise communicative misunderstandings. Moreover, the negotiation of the self within the social network and its expectations, especially towards convalescent people, can lead to paradoxical situations and identities of young people with cancer (Jones <em>et al</em>.). Although therapeutic measures are completed and patients may be discharged as cured, physical, cognitive, and emotional challenges with regard to the illness (e.g. fatigue, loss of performance, difficulty concentrating) still have to be overcome. These challenges, despite recovery, cause those affected to feel they still belong to a cancer group which they have actually largely outgrown medically and therapeutically, and also continually remind them of their present difference from the healthy peer group. </p> <p>To minimise these differences, narratives are the means for those affected to negotiate their new illness-related identity with their network (Hyde). These processes can be digitally transformed on blogs or to age-appropriate social network sites (SNS), which enable users to record and communicate experiences and emotions in an uncomplicated, situational manner and with fewer inhibitions (Kim and Gilham). Cancer contents on SNS are called <em>autopathography</em> and can serve as a means of self-expression, whilst at the same time stimulating communication and networking and thus significantly influencing identity and identity development in the chronic disease process (Rettberg; Ressler <em>et al</em>.; Abrol <em>et al</em>.; Stage). The possibility of recording and archiving private moments in a digital environment through photos and texts creates a visual diary. Here, illness recordings are not just motifs, but also part of an identity process by accepting the self as being ill (Nesby and Salamonsen; Tembeck).</p> <h1><strong><em>Instagram</em>-Exclusive Positivity</strong></h1> <p><em>Instagram</em> is the most popular social media network amongst 14-29 year olds in Germany (Beisch <em>et al</em>.). It presents itself as a highly visual structured platform. Furthermore, both posts and stories are dominated by content with innocuous motifs (Hu <em>et al</em>.). Additionally, the visual culture on <em>Instagram</em> is supported by integrated image optimisations such as filters and therefore often associated with high aesthetic standards (Waterloo <em>et al</em>.). This encourages the exchange of idealised self-presenting and self-advertising content (Lee <em>et al</em>.; Lup <em>et al</em>.; Sheldon and Bryant). The positive tone of the shared motifs and captions can also be explained by larger, sometimes anonymous networks on <em>Instagram</em>. The principle of non-reciprocal following of public accounts increasingly creates weak ties, which can additionally encourage the sharing of positively connoted content due to the anonymity (Lin <em>et al</em>.; Waterloo <em>et al</em>.). The posting of negative moods or image motifs to anonymous followers does not seem to be socially standardised, due to the associated intimate thoughts and feelings (Bazarova). In addition, users are aware of the public framework in which they address intimate topics and discourses (Bazarova and Choi). Internal platform standards and technical possibilities thus create a particular posting culture: an environment that is—due to its strong visual-aesthetic structure and anonymous follower-based networks—almost exclusively positive.</p> <p>However, these assumptions and findings are based on a general posting culture, which is usually not focussed on niche topics like cancer. Previous studies show that SNS are used for exchange and networking, especially by young cancer patients (Chou and Moskowitz; Perales <em>et al</em>.). Studies from online SNS disease-related self-help groups show that weak ties in illness situations are considered beneficial when it comes to self-disclosure, seeking help, and support (Wright <em>et al</em>.; Love <em>et al</em>.; Donovan <em>et al</em>.). In addition, <em>Instagram</em> is part of the so-called “vital media” (Stage <em>et al</em>.), which means it is very important for young cancer patients to share cancer-related material.</p> <p>But despite these research findings less is known about the content shared by German-speaking bloggers who have visible cancer references in their <em>Instagram</em> biography. Do they include a serious, even life-threatening illness on a platform that actually stands for positivity, or do they follow the invisible platform regulations in their posted content and statements and exclude it by themselves?</p> <p>The specific objectives of this explorative study were (a) to obtain a descriptive analysis of the manner in which cancer bloggers post content on <em>Instagram</em>, and (b) to determine the extent to which most applied practices exclude the posting of certain negatively connoted motives and emotions associated with cancer.</p> <h1><strong>Methodology</strong></h1> <p>For the study, 142 German-speaking cancer bloggers (14–39 years of age) with public accounts and visible cancer references in their biography were researched on <em>Instagram</em>. The sample was divided into posts (7,553) and stories (4,117). The content was examined using a standardised content analysis and a code book with relevant categories (motifs, body presences, emotions, captions, emojis; ICR Cronbach’s alpha = 0.85). </p> <p>Measured by the value of the content posted, the story users, at 23 years of age, were comparatively much younger than the post users, at 30 years of age. The sample was predominantly female in both posts (81%) and stories (99%). The most common form of cancer was breast cancer (posts: 28%; stories: 29%), followed by brain tumors (posts: 19%; stories: 16%) and leukaemia (posts: 4%; stories: 19%). Most content was shared by people who were actively involved in treatment – 46% of posts and 54% of stories. Completed treatments were more common in posts (39%) than in stories (19%).</p> <p>At the time of data collection, the <em>Instagram</em> entries were explicitly open to the public, and no registration was required. The content, not the individual, was analysed to minimise the risk for the bloggers and to prevent them from violations of privacy and autonomy by third parties. Furthermore, the entries were assigned unidentifiable numbers to ensure that no tracing is possible (Franzke <em>et al</em>.).</p> <h1><strong>Results</strong></h1> <p>The sample consists of public cancer blogger accounts who document everyday experiences for their network in images and videos. The following results are shown for posts (P) and stories (S).</p> <h2><strong>Motifs and Bodies</strong></h2> <p>Looking at the evaluation of the image motifs, the <em>selfie</em> predominates both in posts, with 20.7 per cent, and stories, with 32.8 per cent. Other popular photo motifs are pictures of <em>food</em> (P: 10.2%; S: 11.0%), <em>activities</em> (P: 7.2%; S: 7.7%), <em>landscapes</em> (P: 6.3%; S: 7.1%), and of/with <em>family and friends</em> (P: 12.5%; S: 6.0%). Photos in <em>medical or clinical settings</em> are rare, with one per cent in the posts and three per cent in the stories. Looking at the bodies and faces displayed, a comparatively normal to positive image of the bloggers that were studied can be observed. Most of the people in the posts present themselves with <em>hair</em> (81.3%), wear <em>make-up</em> (53.3%) and <em>smile</em> at the camera (64.1%). A similar trend can also be seen in the stories. Here 63.8 per cent present themselves with <em>hair</em>, 62.7 per cent with <em>make-up</em> and 55.3 per cent with <em>happy facial expressions</em>. In contrast, <em>scars</em> (P: 1.6%; S: 4.4%) or <em>amputations</em> (P: 0.2%; S: 0.1%) are hardly ever shown. Thus, possible therapy-accompanying symptoms, such as alopecia, ports for chemotherapy, or amputations (e.g. mastectomy in the case of breast cancer) are rarely or hardly ever made visible by cancer bloggers.<strong> </strong></p> <h2><strong>Captions, Hashtags, and Emojis</strong></h2> <p>Similar to the motifs, everyday themes dominate in the captions of the images, such as the description of <em>activities</em> (P: 23.2%; S: 18.0%), food (P: 8.2%; S: 9.3%), or <em>beauty/fashion</em> (P: 6.2%; S: 10.2%). However, information on the <em>current health status</em> of the person affected can be found under every tenth photo, both in the stories and in the posts. Hashtags are mainly found amongst the posts with 81.5 per cent. In keeping with the caption, normal themes were also chosen here, divided into the categories of <em>activities</em> (17.7%), <em>beauty/fashion</em> (7.6%), <em>food</em> (5.8%), and <em>family/friends</em> (4.8%). Illness-specific hashtags (e.g. #cancer, #survivor, or #chemo) were chosen in 15.6 per cent. In addition, the cancer bloggers in this study used emojis in 74 per cent of their posts. In the stories, however, only 28.2 per cent of the content was tagged with emojis. The most common category is <em>smileys &amp; people</em> (P: 46.8%; S: 52.8%), followed by <em>symbols</em> (e.g. hearts, ribbons) (P: 21.1%; S: 26.5%), and <em>animals &amp; nature</em> (P: 17.0%; S: 14.2%).</p> <h2><strong>Emotions</strong></h2> <p>In captions, hashtags and emojis, emotions were divided into <em>positive</em> (e.g. joy, fighting spirit), <em>neutral</em> (e.g. simple narration of the experience), and <em>negative</em> (e.g. fear, anger). It is noticeable that in all three categories predominantly and significantly positive or neutral words and images were used to describe emotional states or experiences. In the case of captions, 40.4 per cent of the posts and 43.9 per cent of the stories could be classified as <em>positive</em>. For the hashtags, the values were 18.7 per cent (P) and 43 per cent (S), and for the emojis 60 per cent (P) and 65.7 per cent (S). In contrast, there were hardly any <em>negative</em> moods (<em>captions</em> P: 5.7%, S: 5.8%; <em>hashtags</em> P: 4.4%, S: 0.7%; <em>emojis</em> P: 8.7%, S: 6.4%).</p> <p>Although the disease status (e.g. active in therapy or completed) had less impact on emotional messages, a significant connection with the applied thematic areas could be observed. Thus, it is apparent that medical and/or therapeutic aspects tend to be described with positive and negative words and hashtags, e.g. the current health status (χ²(3) = 795.44, p =.000, φ = 0.346) or the topics of illness/health via hashtag (χ²(3) = 797.67, p =.000, φ = 0.361). Topics such as food (χ²(3) = 20.49, p =.000, φ = 0.056) or beauty/fashion (χ²(3) = 51.52, p =.000, φ = 0.092) are recognisably more impersonal from an emotional perspective.</p> <h1><strong>Discussion</strong></h1> <h2><strong>A Digital Identity Paradox</strong></h2> <p>Drugs, chemotherapy, setbacks, physical impairments, or anxiety are issues that usually accompany cancer patients during treatment and also in remission. Looking at the content posted by German-speaking cancer bloggers on <em>Instagram</em>, illness-related images and words are comparatively rare. The bloggers show their normal, mostly cancer-free world, in which negative and illness-related content does not seem to fit. Although they clearly draw attention to their illness through their biography, this is not or only rarely addressed. Therefore, it can be stated that cancer as a topic is excluded by choice by the bloggers examined. Neither motifs, captions, nor hashtags make the illness visible. This seems paradoxical because the content and biography appear to contradict each other. And yet, the content studied only shows what Jones <em>et al</em>. and Miller have already described: their identity paradox, or multiple identities. The digital acceptance of one's own illness and solidarity with (anonymous) fellow sufferers is clearly given through the disclosure in the biography, but yet a normal and healthy online ego—comparable to the peer group and equal to their own illness identity—is aspired to. It seems as if those affected have to switch their identity back and forth. The awareness that they are already different in real life (in this case, ill) encourages the users examined to show a normal, age-appropriate life—at least online, which is why we speak of an <em>identity paradox 2.0</em>. Based on our data, the obvious otherness of being ill—and in this context the potential higher risk of digital ostracism effects (Greer and Jewkes; Timeo <em>et al</em>.)—can be a reason for self-exclusion of the cancer topic, in order not to be excluded by a healthy peer.</p> <h2><strong>The </strong><strong>Standard</strong><strong> Creates the Content</strong></h2> <p>The positive tone that can be found in almost every second post can be explained by the platform standards and practices themselves (Waterloo <em>et al</em>.). Thus, smiling faces in a public environment correspond more to this than sadness, anger, or despair. Although disease-related topics in captions are also provided with negatively connoted language, they do not have a determining influence on the public self-image of the blogger and their life and the illness. The strong visual culture on <em>Instagram</em> does not leave much scope for "other", perhaps more authentic serious content. The fact that published content has the potential to talk about cancer and to make one’s own experience with the disease transparent is proven by blogs (Kim and Gilham). <em>Instagram</em> does not currently seem to be particularly suitable for public profiles to make serious illness narratives about cancer.</p> <h1><strong>Conclusion</strong></h1> <p>It remains to be noted that public cancer blogs attempt to include a serious topic on <em>Instagram</em>. But with regard to the data, we can see a form of (maybe unconsciously) self-chosen exclusion of illness narratives. The reasons might vary. On the one hand, cancer bloggers want to belong to a healthy peer group, and expressing a visible otherness would exclude them. Therefore, they try to reduce the higher risk potential of ostracism effects. On the other hand, internal <em>Instagram</em> regulations and standards create an environment which can strengthen the bloggers' posting behaviours: young people, especially, post life-affirming and life-related content. This also helps them to cope with crisis situations and to avoid being dominated by a life-threatening disease. 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No, I really don’t want that.’ (Postdoc)</p> </blockquote> <p>Social media such as <em>Facebook</em> or <em>Twitter</em> have become an integral part of many people’s everyday lives and have introduced severe changes to the ways we communicate with each other and about ourselves. Presenting ourselves on social media and creating different online personas has become a normal practice (Vorderer <em>et al</em>. 270). While social media such as <em>Facebook</em> were at first mostly used to communicate with friends and family, they were soon also used for work-related communication (Cardon and Marshall). Later, professional networks such as <em>LinkedIn</em>, which focus on working relations and career management and special interest networks, such as the academic social networking sites (ASNS) <em>Academia.edu</em> and <em>ResearchGate</em>, catering specifically to academic needs, emerged.</p> <p>Even though social media have been around for more than 15 years now, academics in general and German academics in particular are rather reluctant users of these tools in a work-related context (König and Nentwich 175; Lo 155; Pscheida <em>et al</em>. 1). This is surprising as studies indicate that the presence and positive self-portrayal of researchers in social media as well as the distribution of articles via social networks such as <em>Academia.edu</em> or <em>ResearchGate</em> have a positive effect on the visibility of academics as well as the likelihood of their articles being read and cited (Eysenbach; Lo 192; Terras). Gruzd, Staves, and Wilk even assume that the presence in online media could become a relevant criterion in the allocation of scientific jobs.</p> <p>Science is a field where competition for long-term positions is high. In 2017, only about 17% of all scientific personnel in Germany had permanent positions, and of these 10% were professors (Federal Statistical Office 32). Having a professorship is therefore the best shot at obtaining a permanent position in the scientific field. However, the average vocational age is 40 (Zimmer <em>et al</em>. 40), which leads to a long phase of career-related uncertainty. Directing attention to yourself by acquiring knowledge in the use of social media for professional self-representation might offer a career advantage when trying to obtain a professorship. At the same time, social media, which have been praised for giving a voice to the unheard, become a tool for the exclusion of scholars who might not want or be able to use these tools as part of their work and career-related communication, and might remain unseen and unheard.</p> <p>The author obtained current data on this topic while working on a project on Mediated Scholarly Communication in Post-Normal and Traditional Science under the project lead of Corinna Lüthje. The project was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). In the project, German-speaking scholars were interviewed about their work-related media usage in qualitative interviews. Among them were users and non-users of social media. For this article, 16 interviews with communication scholars (three PhD students, six postdocs, seven professors) were chosen for a closer analysis, because of all the interviewees they described the (dis)advantages of career-related social media use in the most detail, giving the deepest insights into whether social media contribute to a social exclusion of academics or not.</p> <h1>How to Define Social Exclusion (in Academia)?</h1> <p>The term social exclusion describes a separation of individuals or groups from mainstream society (Walsh <em>et al</em>.). Exclusion is a practice which implies agency. It can be the result of the actions of others, but individuals can also exclude themselves by choosing not to be part of something, for example of social media and the communication taking part there (Atkinson 14).</p> <p>Exclusion is an everyday social practice, because wherever there is an in-group there will always be an out-group. This is what Bourdieu calls distinction. Symbols and behaviours of distinction both function as signs of demarcation and belonging (Bourdieu, <em>Distinction</em>). Those are not always explicitly communicated, but part of people’s behaviour. They act on a social sense by telling them how to behave appropriately in a certain situation. According to Bourdieu, the practical sense is part of the habitus (Bourdieu, <em>The Logic of Practice</em>). The habitus generates patterns of action that come naturally and do not have to be reflected by the actor, due to an implicit knowledge that is acquired during the course of (group-specific) socialisation.</p> <p>For scholars, the process of socialisation in an area of research involves the acquisition of a so-called disciplinary self-image, which is crucial to building a disciplinary identity. In every discipline it contains a dominant disciplinary self-image which defines the scientific perspectives, practices, and even media that are typically used and therefore belong to the mainstream of a discipline (Huber 24). Yet, there is a societal mainstream outside of science which scholars are a part of. Furthermore, they have been socialised into other groups as well. Therefore, the disciplinary mainstream and the habitus of its members can be impacted upon by the societal mainstream and other fields of society. For example, societally mainstream social media, such as <em>Twitter</em> or <em>Facebook</em>, focussing on establishing and sustaining social connections, might be used for scholarly communication just as well as ASNS. The latter cater to the needs of scholars to not just network with colleagues, but to upload academic articles, share and track them, and consume scholarly information (Meishar-Tal and Pieterse 17). Both can become part of the disciplinary mainstream of media usage.</p> <p>In order to define whether and how social media contribute to forms of social exclusion among communication scholars, it is helpful to first identify in how far their usage is part of the disciplinary mainstream, and what their including features are. In contrast to this, forms of exclusion will be analysed and discussed on the basis of qualitative interviews with communication scholars.</p> <h1>Including Features of Social Media for Communication Scholars</h1> <p>The interviews for this essay were first conducted in 2016. At that time all of the 16 communication scholars interviewed used at least one social medium such as <em>ResearchGate</em> (8), <em>Academia.edu</em> (8), <em>Twitter</em> (10), or <em>Facebook</em> (11) as part of their scientific workflow. By 2019, all of them had a <em>ResearchGate</em> and 11 an <em>Academia.edu</em> account, 13 were on <em>Twitter</em> and 13 on <em>Facebook</em>. This supports the notion of one of the professors, who said that he registered with <em>ResearchGate</em> in 2016 because "everyone’s doing that now!” It also indicates that the work-related presence especially on <em>ResearchGate</em>, but also on other social media, is part of the disciplinary mainstream of communication science.</p> <p>The interviewees figured that the social media they used helped them to increase their visibility in their own community through promoting their work and networking. They also mentioned that they were helpful to keep up to date on the newest articles and on what was happening in communication science in general.</p> <p>The usage of <em>ResearchGate</em> and <em>Academia.edu</em> focussed on publications. Here the scholars could, as one professor put it, access articles that were not available via their university libraries, as well as “previously unpublished articles”. They also liked that they could see "what other scientists are working on" (professor) and were informed via e-mail "when someone publishes a new publication" (PhD student). The interviewees saw clear advantages to their registration with the ASNS, because they felt that they became "much more visible and present" (postdoc) in the scientific community. Seven of the communication scholars (two PhD students, three postdocs, two professors) shared their publications on <em>ResearchGate</em> and <em>Academia.edu</em>. Two described doing cross-network promotion, where they would write a post about their publications on <em>Twitter</em> or <em>Facebook</em> that linked to the full article on <em>Academia.edu</em> or <em>ResearchGate</em>.</p> <p>The usage of <em>Twitter</em> and especially <em>Facebook</em> focussed a lot more on accessing discipline-related information and social networking. The communication scholars mentioned that various sections and working groups of professional organisations in their research field had accounts on Facebook, where they would post news. A postdoc said that she was on <em>Facebook</em> "because I get a lot of information from certain scientists that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise".</p> <p>Several interviewees pointed out that <em>Twitter</em> is "a place where you can find professional networks, become a part of them or create them yourself" (professor). On <em>Twitter</em> the interviewees explained that they were rather making new connections. <em>Facebook</em> was used to maintain and intensify existing professional relationships. They applied it to communicate with their local networks at their institute, just as well as for international communication. A postdoc and a professor both mentioned that they perceived that Scandinavian or US-American colleagues were easier to contact via <em>Facebook</em> than via any other medium. One professor described how he used <em>Facebook</em> at international conferences to arrange meetings with people he knew and wanted to meet. But to him <em>Facebook</em> also catered to accessing more personal information about his colleagues, thus creating a new "mixture of professional respect for the work of other scientists and personal relationships", which resulted in a "new kind of friendship".</p> <h1>Excluding Features of Social Media for Communication Scholars</h1> <p>While everyone may create an <em>Academia.edu</em>, <em>Facebook</em>, or <em>Twitter</em> account, <em>ResearchGate</em> is already an exclusive network in itself, as only people working in a scientific field are allowed to join. In 2016, eight of the interviewees and in 2019 all of them had signed up to <em>ResearchGate</em>. So at least among the communication scholars, this did not seem to be an excluding factor. More of an issue was for one of the postdocs that she did not have the copyright to upload her published articles on the ASNS and therefore refrained from uploading them. Interestingly enough, this did not seem to worry any of the other interviewees, and concerns were mostly voiced in relation to the societal mainstream social media.</p> <p>Although all of the interviewees had an account with at least one social medium, three of them described that they did not use or had withdrawn from using <em>Facebook</em> and <em>Twitter</em>. For one professor and one PhD student this had to do with the privacy and data security issues of these networks. The PhD student said that she did not want to be reminded of what she “tweeted maybe 10 years ago somewhere”, and also considered tweeting to be irrelevant in her community. To her, important scientific findings would rather be presented in front of a professional audience and not so much to the “general public”, which she felt was mostly addressed on social media.</p> <p>The professor mentioned that she had been on <em>Facebook</em> since she was a postdoc, but decided to stop using the service when it introduced new rules on data security. On one hand she saw the “benefits” of the network to “stay informed about what is happening in the community”, and especially “in regards to the promotion of young researchers, since some of the junior research groups are very active there”. On the other she found it problematic for her own time management and said that she received a lot of the posted information via e-mail as well. <br />A postdoc mentioned that he had a <em>Facebook</em> account to stay in contact with young scholars he met at a networking event, but never used it. He would rather connect with his colleagues in person at conferences. He felt people would just use social media to “show off what they do and how awesome it is”, which he did not understand. He mentioned that if this “is how you do it now … I don't think this is for me.”</p> <p>Another professor described that <em>Facebook</em> "is the channel for German-speaking science to generate social traffic”, but that he did not like to use it, because “there is so much nonsense ... . It’s just not fun. <em>Twitter</em> is more fun, but the effect is much smaller", as bigger target groups could be reached via <em>Facebook</em>.</p> <p>The majority of the interviewees did not use mainstream social media because they were intrinsically motivated. They rather did it because they felt that it was expected of them to be there, and that it was important for their career to be visible there. Many were worried that they would miss out on opportunities to promote themselves, network, and receive information if they did not use <em>Twitter</em> or <em>Facebook</em>. One of the postdocs mentioned, for example, that she was not a fan of <em>Twitter</em> and would often not know what to write, but that the professor she worked for had told her she needed to tweet regularly. But she did see the benefits as she said that she had underestimated the effect of this at first: “I think, if you want to keep up, then you have to do that, because people don’t notice you.” This also indicates a disciplinary mainstream of social media usage.</p> <h1>Conclusion</h1> <p>The interviews indicate that the usage of <em>ResearchGate</em> in particular, but also of <em>Academia.edu</em> and of the societal mainstream social media platforms <em>Twitter</em> and <em>Facebook</em> has become part of the disciplinary mainstream of communication science and the habitus of many of its members. <em>ResearchGate</em> mainly targets people working in the scientific field, while excluding everyone else. Its focus on publication sharing makes the network very attractive among its main target group, and serves at the same time as a symbol of distinction from other groups (Bourdieu, <em>Distinction</em>). Yet it also raises copyright issues, which led at least one of the participants to refrain from using this option.</p> <p>The societal mainstream social media <em>Twitter</em> and <em>Facebook</em>, on the other hand, have a broader reach and were more often used by the interviewees for social networking purposes than the ASNS. The interviewees emphasised the benefits of <em>Twitter</em> and <em>Facebook</em> for exchanging information and connecting with others.</p> <p>Factors that led the communication scholars to refrain from using the networks, and thus were excluding factors, were data security and privacy concerns; disliking that the networks were used to “show off”; as well as considering <em>Twitter</em> and <em>Facebook</em> as unfit for addressing the scholarly target group properly. The last statement on the target group, which was made by a PhD student, does not seem to represent the mainstream of the communication scholars interviewed, however. Many of them were using <em>Twitter</em> and <em>Facebook</em> for scholarly communication and rather seemed to find them advantageous. Still, this perception of the disciplinary mainstream led to her not using them for work-related purposes, and excluding her from their advantages.</p> <p>Even though, as one professor described it, a lot of information shared via <em>Facebook</em> is often spread through other communication channels as well, some can only be received via the networks. Although social media are mostly just a substitute for face-to-face communication, by not using them scholars will miss out on the possibilities of creating the “new kind of friendship” another professor mentioned, where professional and personal relations mix. The results of this study show that social media use is advantageous for academics as they offer possibilities to access exclusive information, form new kinds of relations, as well as promote oneself and one’s publications. At the same time, those not using these social media are excluded and might experience career-related disadvantages. As described in the introduction, academia is a competitive environment where many people try to obtain a few permanent positions. By default, this leads to processes of exclusion rather than integration. Any means to stand out from competitors are welcome to emerging scholars, and a career-related advantage will be used. If the growth in the number of communication scholars in the sample signing up to social networks between 2016 to 2019 is any indication, it is likely that the networks have not yet reached their full potential as tools for career advancement among scientific communities, and will become more important in the future.</p> <p>Now one could argue that the communication scholars who were interviewed for this essay are a special case, because they might use social media more actively than other scholars due to their area of research. Though this might be true, studies of other scholarly fields show that social media are being applied just the same (though maybe less extensively), and that they are used to establish cooperations and increase the amount of people reading and citing their publications (Eysenbach; Lo 192; Terras). The question is whether researchers will be able to avoid using social media when striving for a career in science in the future, which can only be answered by further research on the topic.</p> <h2>References</h2> <p>Atkinson, A.B. “Social Exclusion, Poverty and Unemployment.” <em>Exclusion, Employment and Opportunity</em>. Eds. A.B. Atkinson and John Hills. London: London School of Economics and Political Science, 1998. 1–20.</p> <p>Bourdieu, Pierre. <em>Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste.</em> Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard UP, 1984.</p> <p>———. <em>The Logic of Practice</em>. Stanford, California: Stanford UP, 1990.</p> <p>Cardon, Peter W., and Bryan Marshall. “The Hype and Reality of Social Media Use for Work Collaboration and Team Communication.” <em>International Journal of Business Communication</em> 52.3 (2015): 273–93.</p> <p>Eysenbach, Gunther. “Can Tweets Predict Citations? Metrics of Social Impact Based on Twitter and Correlation with Traditional Metrics of Scientific Impact.” <em>Journal of Medical Internet Research</em> 13.4 (2011): e123.</p> <p>Federal Statistical Office [Statistisches Bundesamt]. <em>Hochschulen auf einen Blick: Ausgabe 2018:</em> 2018. 27 Dec. 2019 &lt;<a href="https://www.destatis.de/Migration/DE/Publikationen/Thematisch/BildungForschungKultur/Hochschulen/BroschuereHochschulenBlick.html">https://www.destatis.de/Migration/DE/Publikationen/Thematisch/BildungForschungKultur/Hochschulen/BroschuereHochschulenBlick.html</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Gruzd, Anatoliy, Kathleen Staves, and Amanda Wilk. “Tenure and Promotion in the Age of Online Social Media.” <em>Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology</em> 48.1 (2011): 1–9.</p> <p>Huber, Nathalie. <em>Kommunikationswissenschaft als Beruf: Zum Selbstverständnis von Professoren des Faches im deutschsprachigen Raum</em>. Köln: Herbert von Halem Verlag, 2010.</p> <p>König, René, and Michael Nentwich. “Soziale Medien in der Wissenschaft.” <em>Handbuch Soziale Medien</em>. Eds. Jan-Hinrik Schmidt and Monika Taddicken. Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien, 2017. 170–188.</p> <p>Lo, Yin-Yueh. “Online Communication beyond the Scientific Community: Scientists' Use of New Media in Germany, Taiwan and the United States to Address the Public.” 2016. 17 Oct. 2019 &lt;<a href="https://refubium.fu-berlin.de/bitstream/handle/fub188/7426/Diss_Lo_2016.pdf?sequence=1&amp;isAllowed=y">https://refubium.fu-berlin.de/bitstream/handle/fub188/7426/Diss_Lo_2016.pdf?sequence=1&amp;isAllowed=y</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Meishar-Tal, Hagit, and Efrat Pieterse. “Why Do Academics Use Academic Social Networking Sites?” <em>IRRODL</em> 18.1 (2017).</p> <p>Pscheida, Daniela, Claudia Minet, Sabrina Herbst, Steffen Albrecht, and Thomas Köhler. <em>Nutzung von Social Media und onlinebasierten Anwendungen in der Wissenschaft: Ergebnisse des Science 2.0-Survey 2014</em>. Dresden: Leibniz-Forschungsverbund „Science 2.0“, 2014. 17 Mar. 2020. &lt;<a href="https://d-nb.info/1069096679/34">https://d-nb.info/1069096679/34</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Terras, Melissa. <em>The Verdict: Is Blogging or Tweeting about Research Papers Worth It?</em> LSE Impact Blog, 2012. 28 Dec. 2019 &lt;<a href="https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2012/04/19/blog-tweeting-papers-worth-it/">https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2012/04/19/blog-tweeting-papers-worth-it/</a>&gt;.</p> <p>Vorderer, Peter, <em>et al</em>. “Der mediatisierte Lebenswandel: Permanently Online, Permanently Connected.” <em>Publizistik</em> 60.3 (2015): 259–76.</p> <p>Walsh, Kieran, Thomas Scharf, and Norah Keating. “Social Exclusion of Older Persons: a Scoping Review and Conceptual Framework.” <em>European Journal of Ageing</em> 14.1 (2017): 81–98.</p> <p>Zimmer, Annette, Holger Krimmer, and Freia Stallmann. “Winners among Losers: Zur Feminisierung der deutschen Universitäten.” <em>Beiträge zur Hochschulforschung</em> 4.28 (2006): 30-57. 17 Mar. 2020 &lt;<a href="https://www.uni-bremen.de/fileadmin/user_upload/sites/zentrale-frauenbeauftragte/Berichte/4-2006-zimmer-krimmer-stallmann.pdf">https://www.uni-bremen.de/fileadmin/user_upload/sites/zentrale-frauenbeauftragte/Berichte/4-2006-zimmer-krimmer-stallmann.pdf</a>&gt;.</p> Franziska Thiele Copyright (c) 2020 Franziska Thiele http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2020-11-28 2020-11-28 23 6 10.5204/mcj.1693 Excluding Agency https://www.journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/2725 <h1>Introduction</h1> <blockquote> <p>Nun habe ich Euch genug geschrieben, diesen Brief wenn sei [<em>sic</em>] lesen würden, dann würde ich den Genickschuß bekommen.<br />Now I have written you enough, this letter if they would read it, I would get the neck shot. (M., all translations from German sources and quotations by the author)</p> </blockquote> <p>When the German soldier Otto M. wrote these lines from Russia to his family on 3 September 1943 during the Second World War, he knew that his war letter would not be subject to the National Socialist censorship apparatus. The letter contains, <em>inter alia</em>, detailed information about the course of the war on the front, troop locations, and warnings about the Nazi regime. M., as he wrote in the letter, smuggled it past the censorship via a “comrade”. As a German soldier, M. was a member of the <em>Volksgemeinschaft</em>—a National Socialist concept that drew a “racist and anti-Semitic borderline” (Wildt 48)—and was thus not socially excluded due to his status. Nevertheless, in the sentence quoted above, M. anticipates possible future consequences of his deviant actions, which would be carried out by “them”—potentially leading to his violent death.</p> <p>This article investigates how social and societal exclusion is brought forth by everyday media practices such as writing letters. After an introduction to the thesis under discussion, I will briefly outline the linguistic research on National Socialism that underlies the approach presented. In the second section, the key concepts of <em>agency</em> and <em>dispositif</em> applied in this work are discussed. This is followed by two sections in which infrastructural and interactional practices of exclusion are analysed. The article closes with some concluding remarks.</p> <p>During the Second World War, <em>Wehrmacht</em> soldiers and their relatives could not write and receive letters that were not potentially subject to controls. Therefore, the blunt openness with which M. anticipated the brutal sanctions of behavioural deviations in the correspondence quoted above was an exception in the everyday practice of war letter communication. This article will thus pursue the following thesis: private communication in war letters was subject to specific discourse conditions under National Socialism, and this brought forth <em>excluding agency</em>, which has two intertwined readings. Firstly, “excluding” is to be understood as an attribute of “agency” in the sense of an acting entity that either is included and potentially excludes or is excluded due to its ascribed agency. For example, German soldiers who actively participated in patriotic service were included in the <em>Volksgemeinschaft</em>. By contrast, Jews or Communists, to name but a few groups that, from the perspective of racist Nazi ideology, did not contribute to the community, were excluded from it. Such excluding agencies are based on specific practices of dispositional arrangement, which I refer to as <em>infrastructural exclusion of agency</em>. Secondly, excluding agency describes a linguistic practice that developed under National Socialism and has an equally stabilising effect on it. Excluding agency means that agents, and hence protagonists, are excluded by means of linguistic mitigation and omission. This second reading emphasises practices of linguistic construction of agency in interaction, which is described as <em>interactional exclusion of agency</em>. In either sense, exclusion is inextricably tied to the notion of agency, which is illustrated in this article by using data from field post letters of the Second World War.</p> <p>Social exclusion, along with its most extreme manifestations under fascism, is both legitimised and carried out predominantly through discursive practices. This includes for the public domain, on the one hand, executive language use such as in laws, decrees, orders, court hearings, and verdicts, and on the other hand, texts such as ideological writings, speeches, radio addresses, folk literature, etc. Linguistic research on National Socialism and its mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion has long focussed on the power of a regulated public use of language that seemed to be shaped by a few protagonists, most notably Hitler and Goebbels (Schlosser; Scholl). More recent works, however, are increasingly devoted to the differentiation of heterogeneous communities of practice, which were primarily established through discursive practices and are manifested accordingly in texts of that time (Horan, <em>Practice</em>). Contrary to a justifiably criticised “exculpation of the speakers” (Sauer 975) by linguistic research, which focusses on language but not on situated, interactional language use, such a perspective is increasingly interested in “<em>discourse</em> in National Socialism, with a particular emphasis on language use in context as a shared, communicative phenomenon” (Horan, <em>Letter </em>45). To understand the phenomenon of social and societal exclusion, which was constitutive for National Socialism, it is also necessary to analyse those discursive practices of inclusion and exclusion through which the speakers co-constitute everyday life. I will do this by relating the discourse conditions, based on Foucault’s concept of <em>dispositif</em> (<em>Confessions </em>194), to the agency of the correspondents of war letters, i.e. field post letters.</p> <h1>On Agency and <em>Dispositif</em></h1> <p><em>Agency</em> and <em>dispositif</em> are key concepts for the analysis of social exclusion, because they can be applied to analyse the situated practices of exclusion both in terms of the different capacities for action of various agents, i.e. acting entities, and the inevitably asymmetrical arrangement within which actions are performed. Let me first, very briefly, outline some linguistic conceptions of agency. While Ahearn states that “agency refers to the socioculturally mediated capacity to act” (28) and thus conceives agency as a potential, Duranti understands agency “as the property of those entities (i) that have some degree of control over their own behavior, (ii) whose actions in the world affect other entities’ (and sometimes their own), and (iii) whose actions are the object of evaluation (e.g. in terms of their responsibility for a given outcome)” (453). Deppermann considers agency to be a means of social and situational positioning: “‘agency’ is to capture properties of the subject as agent, that is, its role with respect to the events in which it is involved” (429–30). This is done by linguistic attribution. Following Duranti, this analysis is based on the understanding that agency is established by the ascription of action to an entity which is thereby made or considered accountable for the action. This allows a practice-theoretical reference to Garfinkel’s concept of accountability and identifies agentive practices as “visibly-rational-and-reportable-for-all-practical purposes” (7). The writing of letters in wartime is one such reflexive discursive practice through which agents constitute social reality by means of ascribing agency.</p> <p>The concept of semantic roles (Fillmore; von Polenz), offers another, distinctly linguistic access to agency. By semantic roles, agency in situated interaction is established syntactically and semantically. Put simply, a distinction is made between an Agent, as someone who performs an action, and a Patient, as someone to whom an action occurs (von Polenz 170; semantic roles such as Agent, Patient, Experiencer, etc. are capitalised by convention). Using linguistic data from war letters, this concept is discussed in more detail below.</p> <p>In the following, “field post” is considered as <em>dispositif</em>, by which Foucault means</p> <blockquote> <p>a thoroughly heterogeneous ensemble consisting of discourses, institutions, architectural forms, regulatory decisions, laws, administrative measures, scientific statements, philosophical, moral and philanthropic propositions – in short, the said as much as the unsaid. Such are the elements of the apparatus [<em>dispositif</em>]. The apparatus [<em>dispositif</em>] itself is the system of relations that can be established between these elements. (Foucault, <em>Confessions </em>194)</p> </blockquote> <p>The English translation of the French “dispositif” as “apparatus” encourages an understanding of <em>dispositif</em> as a rather rigid structure. In contrast, the field post service of the Second World War will be used here to show how such <em>dispositifs</em> enable practices of exclusion or restrict access to practices of inclusion, while these characteristics themselves are in turn established by practices or, as Foucault calls them, procedures (Foucault, <em>Discourse</em>).</p> <p>An important and potentially enlightening notion related to <em>dispositif</em> is that of <em>agencement</em>, which in turn is borrowed from Deleuze and Guattari and was further developed in particular in actor-network theory (Çalışkan and Callon; Gherardi). What Çalışkan and Callon state about markets serves as a general description of <em>agencement</em>, which can be defined as an “arrangement of heterogeneous constituents that deploys the following: rules and conventions; technical devices; metrological systems; logistical infrastructures; texts, discourses and narratives …; technical and scientific knowledge (including social scientific methods), as well as the competencies and skills embodied in living beings” (3). This resembles Foucault’s concept of <em>dispositif</em> (Foucault, <em>Confessions</em>; see above), which “denotes a heterogeneous ensemble of discursive and nondiscursive elements with neither an originary subject not [<em>sic</em>] a determinant causality” (Coté 384). Considered morphosemantically, <em>agencement</em> expresses an important interrelation: in that it is derived from both the French <em>agencer</em> (to construct; to arrange) and <em>agence</em> (agency; cf. Hardie and MacKenzie 58) and is concretised and nominalised by the suffix <em>-ment</em>, <em>agencement</em> elegantly integrates structure and action according to Giddens’s ‘duality of structure’. While this tying aspect certainly contributes to a better understanding of dispositional arrangements and should therefore be considered, <em>agencement</em>, as applied in actor-network theory, emphasises above all “the fact that agencies and arrangements are not separate” (Çalışkan and Callon) and is, moreover, often employed to ascribe agency to material objects, things, media, etc. This approach has proven to be very fruitful for analyses of socio-technical arrangements in actor-network theory and practice theory (Çalışkan and Callon; Gherardi). However, within the presented discourse-oriented study on letter writing and field post in National Socialism, a clear analytical differentiation between agency and arrangement, precisely in order to point out their interrelation, is essential to analyse practices of exclusion. This is why I prefer <em>dispositif</em> to <em>agencement </em>as the analytical concept here.</p> <h1>Infrastructural Exclusion of Agency in Field Post Letters</h1> <p>In the Second World War, writing letters between the “homeland” and the “frontline” was a fundamental everyday media practice with an estimated total of 30 to 40 billion letters in Germany (Kilian 97). War letters were known as field post (<em>Feldpost</em>), which was processed by the field post service. The <em>dispositif </em>“field post” was, in opposition to the traditional postal service, subject to specific conditions regarding charges, transport, and above all censorship. No transportation costs arose for field post letters up to a weight of 250 grams. Letters could only be sent by or to soldiers with a field post number that encoded the addresses of the field post offices. Only soldiers who were deployed outside the Reich’s borders received a field post number (Kilian 114). Thus, the soldiers were socially included as interactants due to their military status. The entire organisation of the field post was geared towards enabling members of the <em>Volksgemeinschaft</em> to communicatively shape, maintain, and continue their social relationships during the war (Bergerson <em>et al</em>.).</p> <p>Applying Foucault, the <em>dispositif</em> “field post” establishes selection and exclusion mechanisms in which “procedures of exclusion” (<em>Discourse </em>52) become manifest, two of which are to be related to the field post: “exclusion from discourse” and “scarcity of speaking subjects” (Spitzmüller and Warnke 73). Firstly, “procedures of exclusion ensure that only certain statements can be made in discourse” (Spitzmüller and Warnke 73). This exclusion procedure ought to be implemented by controlling and, ultimately, censoring field post letters. Reviews were carried out by censorship offices (<em>Feldpostprüfstellen</em>), which were military units independent of the field post offices responsible for delivery. Censorship initially focussed on military information. However, “in the course of the war, censorship shifted from a control measure aimed at defence towards a political-ideological review” (Kilian 101). Critical remarks could be legally prosecuted and punished with prison, penitentiary, or death (Kilian 99). Hence, it is assumed that self-censorship played a role not only for public media, such as newspapers, but also for writing private letters (Dodd). As the introductory quotation from Otto M. shows, writers who spread undesirable information in their letters anticipated the harshest consequences. In this respect, randomised censorship—although only a very small proportion of the high volume of mail was actually opened by censors (Kilian)—established a permanent disposition of control that resulted in a potentially discourse-excluding social stratification of private communication.</p> <p>Secondly, the <em>dispositif</em> “field post” was inherently exclusive and excluding, as those who did not belong to the <em>Volksgemeinschaft</em> could not use the service and thus could not acquire agentive capacity. The “scarcity of speaking subjects” (Spitzmüller and Warnke 73) was achieved by restricting participation in the field post system to members of the <em>Volksgemeinschaft</em>. Since agency is based on the most basic prerequisite, namely the ability to act linguistically at all, the mere possibility of exercising agency was infrastructurally restricted by the field post system. Excluding people from “agency-through-language” means excluding them from an “agency of an existential sort” (Duranti 455), which is described here, regarding the field post system, as <em>infrastructural exclusion of agency</em>.</p> <h1>Interactional Exclusion of Agency in Field Post Letters</h1> <p>In this section, I will elaborate how agency is brought forth interactionally through linguistic means on the basis of data from a field post corpus that was compiled in the project “Linguistic Social History 1933 to 1945” (Kämper). The aim of the project is an actor-based description of discursive practices and patterns at the time of National Socialism, which takes into account the fact that society in the years 1933 to 1945 consisted of heterogeneous communities of practice (Horan, <em>Practice</em>). Letter communication is considered to be an interaction that is characterised by mediated indexicality, accountability, reflexivity, sequentiality, and reciprocity (Dang-Anh) and is performed as situated social practice (Barton and Hall). The corpus of field letters examined here provides access to the everyday communication of members of the ‘integrated society’, i.e. those who were neither high-ranking members of the Nazi apparatus nor exposed to the repressions of the fascist dictatorship. The corpus consists of about 3,500 letters and about 2.5 million tokens. The data were obtained by digitising letter editions using OCR scans and in cooperation with the field post archive of the Museum for Communication Berlin (cf. sources below). We combine qualitative and quantitative methods, the latter providing heuristic indicators for in-depth hermeneutical analysis (Felder; Teubert). We apply corpus linguistic methods such as keyword, collocation and concordance analysis to the digitised full texts in order to analyse the data intersubjectively by means of corpus-based hermeneutic discourse analysis (Dang-Anh and Scholl). However, the selected excerpts of the corpus do not comprise larger data sets or complete sequences, but isolated fragments. Nevertheless, they illustrate the linguistic (non-)constitution of agency and thus distinctively exemplify exclusionary practices in field post letter writing.</p> <p>From a linguistic point of view, the exclusion of actors from action is achieved syntactically and semantically by <em>deagentivisation</em> (Bernárdez; von Polenz 186), as will be shown below. The following lines were written by Albert N. to his sister Johanna S. and are dated 25 June 1941, shortly after the beginning of the German <em>Wehrmacht’s</em> military campaign in Russia (<em>Russlandfeldzug</em>) a few days earlier.</p> <blockquote> <p>Vor den russ. Gefangenen bekommt man einen Ekel, d.h. viele Gefangene werden nicht gemacht.<br />One gets disgusted by the Russian prisoners, i.e. many prisoners are not made. (N.)</p> </blockquote> <p>In the first part of the utterance, “mitigation of agency” (Duranti 465) is carried out using the impersonal pronoun “man” (“one”) which does not specify its referent. Instead, by means of deagentivisation, the scope of the utterance is generalised to an indefinite in‑group of speakers, whereby the use of the impersonal pronoun implies that the proposition is valid or generally accepted. Moreover, the use of “one” generalises the emotional expression “disgust”, thus suggesting that the aversive emotion is a self-evident affect experienced by everyone who can be subsumed under “one”. In particular, this includes the author, who is implicitly displayed as primarily perceiving the emotion in question. This reveals a fundamental practice of inclusion and exclusion, the separating distinction between “us”/“we” and “them”/“the others” (Wodak). In terms of semantic roles, the inclusive and generalised formal Experiencer “one” is opposed to the Causative “Russian prisoner” in an exclusionary manner, implicitly indicating the prisoners as the cause of disgust. </p> <p>The subsequent utterance is introduced by “i.e.”, which marks the causal link between the two phrases. The wording “many prisoners are not made” strongly suggests that it refers to homicides, i.e. executions carried out at the beginning of the military campaign in Russia by German troops (Reddemann 222). The depiction of a quasi-universal disgust in the first part establishes a “negative characterization of the out-group” (Wodak 33) which, in the expressed causal relation with the second phrase, seems to morally legitimise or at least somehow justify the implied killings. The passive form entirely omits an acting entity. Here, deagentivisation obscures the agency of the perpetrators. However, this is not the only line between acting and non-acting entities the author draws. The omission of an agent, even the impersonal “one”, in the second part, and the fact that there is no talk of self-experienceable emotions, but war crimes are hinted at in a passive sentence, suggest the exclusion of oneself as a joint agent of the indicated actions. As further data from the corpus indicate, war crimes are usually not ascribed to the writer or his own unit as the agents but are usually attributed to “others” or not at all.</p> <blockquote> <p>Was Du von Juden schreibst, ist uns schon länger bekannt. Sie werden im Osten angesiedelt.<br />What you write about Jews is already known to us for some time. They are being settled in the East. (G.)</p> </blockquote> <p>In this excerpt from a letter, which Ernst G. wrote to his wife on 22 February 1942, knowledge about the situation of the Jews in the war zone is discussed. The passage appears quite isolated with its cotext in the letter revolving around quite different, trivial, everyday topics. Apparently, G. refers in his utterance to an earlier letter from his wife, which has not been preserved and is therefore not part of the corpus. “Jews” are those about whom the two agents, the soldier and his wife, write, whereas “us” refers to the soldiers at the front. In the second part, agency is again obscured by deagentivisation. While “they” anaphorically refers to “Jews” as Patients, the agents of their alleged resettlement remain unnamed in this “agent-less passive construction” (Duranti 466). Jews are depicted here as objects being handled—without any agency of their own. The persecution of the Jews and the executions carried out on the Russian front (Reddemann 222), including those of Jews, are euphemistically played down here as “settlements”. “Trivialization” and “denial” are two common discursive practices of exclusion (Wodak 134) and emerge here, as <em>interactional exclusion of agency</em>, in one of their most severe manifestations.</p> <h1>Conclusion</h1> <p>Social and societal exclusion, as has been shown, are predominantly legitimised as well as constituted, maintained, and perpetuated by discursive practices. Field post letters can be analysed both in terms of the infrastructure—which is itself constituted by infrastructuring practices and is thus not rigid but dynamic—that underlies excluding letter-writing practices in times of war, and the extent to which linguistic excluding practices are performed in the letters. It has been shown that agency, which is established by the ascription of action to an entity, is a central concept for the analysis of practices of exclusion. While I propose the division into <em>infrastructural</em> and <em>interactional exclusion of agency</em>, it must be pointed out that this can only be an analytical distinction and both bundles of practices, that of infrastructuring and that of interacting, are intertwined and are to be thought of in relation to each other. Bringing together the two concepts of <em>agency</em> and <em>dispositif</em>, despite the fact that they are of quite different origins, allows an analysis of exclusionary practices, which I hope does justice to the relation of interaction and infrastructure. By definition, exclusion occurs against the background of an asymmetrical arrangement within which exclusionary practices are carried out. Thus, <em>dispositif</em> is understood as an arranged but flexible condition, wherein agency, as a discursively ascribed or infrastructurally arranged property, unfolds.</p> <p>Social and societal exclusion, which were constitutive for National Socialism, were accomplished not only in public media but also in field post letters. Writing letters was a fundamental everyday media practice and the field post was a central social medium during the National Socialist era. However, exclusion occurred on different infrastructural and interactional levels. As shown, it was possible to be <em>excluded by agency</em>, which means exclusion by societal status and role. People could linguistically <em>perform an excluding agency</em> by constituting a division between “us” and “them”. Also, specific discourses were excluded by the potential control and censorship of communication by the authorities, and those who did not <em>suppress agency</em>, for example by self-censoring, feared prosecution.</p> <p>Moreover, the purely linguistic practices of exclusion not only constituted or legitimised the occasionally fatal demarcations drawn under National Socialism, but also concealed and trivialised them. As discussed, it was the perpetrators whose <em>agency was excluded</em> in war letters, which led to a mitigation of their actions. In addition, social actors were depreciated and ostracised through deagentivisation, mitigation and omission of agency. In extreme cases of social exclusion, linguistic deagentivisation even prepared or resulted in the revocation of the right to exist of entire social groups.</p> <p>The German soldier Otto M. feared fatal punishment because he did not communicatively act according to the social stratification of the then regime towards a <em>Volksgemeinschaft</em> in a field post letter. This demonstrates how thin the line is between inclusion and exclusion in a fascist dictatorship. I hope to have shown that the notion of <em>excluding agency</em> can provide an approach to identifying and analytically understanding such inclusion and exclusion practices in everyday interactions in media as dispositional arrangements. However, more research needs to be done on the vast yet unresearched sources of everyday communication in the National Socialist era, in particular by applying digital means to discourse analysis (Dang-Anh and Scholl).</p> <h2>Sources</h2> <p>G., Ernst. “Field post letter: Ernst to his wife Irene. 22 Feb. 1942.” <em>Sei tausendmal gegrüßt: Briefwechsel Irene und Ernst Guicking 1937–1945</em>. Ed. Jürgen Kleindienst. Berlin: JKL Publikationen, 2001. Reihe Zeitgut Spezial 1.</p> <p>M., Otto. 3 Sep. 1943. 3.2002.7163. Museum for Communication, Berlin. 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