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The Centre for Sociology of Democracy studies democracy in modern societies. Our projects deal with democracy from different perspectives and with different methods.

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Social movements

In their chapter for the Concise Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics in the Social Sciences, Taina Meriluoto and Eeva Luhtakallio discuss the specificities of ethical questions when studying a political topic, in particular social movements and activists in stigmatized or risky positions.

Visual politicization and youth challenges to an unequal public sphere: conceptual and methodological perspectives

By discussing current youth’s democratic practices and introducing the concept of visual politicization, Eeva Luhtakallio, Taina Meriluoto and Carla Malafaia argue for a reconsideration of what we understand as political action and propose new methodological tools for analyzing it.

Visual bodies, ritualised performances: an offline-online analysis of Extinction Rebellion’s protests in Finland and Portugal

In their article, Carla Malafaia, Jenni Kettunen and Eeva Luhtakallio explore the function of bodies as tools of visibility in ritualised online-offline performances. By analysing performative protests, the authors shed light on the importance of paying attention to non-verbal levels of political action and argumentation.

Education and climate activism: Youth democratic practices and imaginations towards a common world

In this editorial Carla Malafaia, Maria Fernandes-Jesus and Eeva Luhtakallio discuss the new diverse ways young generations have become mobilized to tackle the climate crisis and picture ways towards a common world and practices.

The Pepe the Frog Image-Meme in Hong Kong: Visual Recurrences and Gender Fluidity on the LIHKG Forum

Using a combination of a computational big data analysis and a qualitative analysis, Katrien Jakobs, Degel Cheung, Vasileios Maltezos and Cecilia Wong examine how activists used the Pepe the Frog image-meme to make statements about Hong Kong politics, gender and democracy during the 2019 Anti-Extradition Bill and Law Movement.

‘Missing school isn’t the end of the world (actually, it might prevent it)’: climate activists resisting adult power, repurposing privileges and reframing education

In her article, Carla Malafaia studies how youths manage their activism and argues that activists construct margins of resistance in their political practices by incorporating processes that interrupt adult structures while reframing educational imagination.

PLURALITY IN URBAN POLITICS: Conflict and Commonality in Mouffe and Thévenot

In their article, by augmenting Mouffe’s agonistic pluralism with Thévenot’s pragmatic sociology, Veikko Eranti and Taina Meriluoto develop both an analytical framework for a more nuanced study of urban politics as sites of democracy and a detailed conceptualization of pluralism in democracy.

Fame democracy? Social media and visuality-based transformation of the public sphere

In their article, Eeva Luhtakallio and Taina Meriluoto argue that a fame-based logic has become dominant in the strategies of actors in many different situations concerning political action in public. By recognizing the fame-based values informing public action with a pragmatist approach, they argue that a wider variety of action can be recognized as public action and the normative foundations that inform people’s action in public can be interrogated.

How do civil society organizations influence climate change politics? Evidence from India, Indonesia, and Finland

In their article, Luhtakallio, Ylä-Anttila and Lounela compare the efforts of civil society organizations to influence climate change policymaking in three countries with very different traditions of democratic decision making.

The Pepe the Frog Image-Meme in Hong Kong: Visual Recurrences and Gender Fluidity on the LIHKG Forum

Using a combination of a computational big data analysis and a qualitative analysis, Katrien Jakobs, Degel Cheung, Vasileios Maltezos and Cecilia Wong examine how activists used the Pepe the Frog image-meme to make statements about Hong Kong politics, gender and democracy during the 2019 Anti-Extradition Bill and Law Movement.

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Abstract:

This paper examines how Pepe the Frog, a cartoon character originally created by American cartoonist Matt Furie, and currently a global digital image-meme of online activism, was adopted and adapted in Hong Kong during the 2019 Anti-Extradition Bill and Law Movement (反對逃犯條例修訂運動; faan deoi tou faan tiu lai sau ding wan dung) (hereafter: anti-ELAB Movement) on one of the most prevalent protest platforms, the LIHKG forum (LIHKG 論壇). We combined a computational big data analysis of the posts’ metadata and a qualitative analysis of the Hong Kong Pepe image-meme to examine how it contributed to highly emotive and contentious discussions about the future of Hong Kong. The aim is to reveal how activists on this platform framed this imported image-meme to make statements about Hong Kong politics, as well as gender and democracy. The scope of visual content on social media today creates an opportunity for cross-disciplinary collaboration and new methodological approaches that combine a scaling of large quantities of images with representative sampling and theories of online activism. Our theoretical interest aims at documenting how activists reveled in various visual cultures and adopted the image-meme within social media discourse. We are equally interested in identifying the gender representations of these figures and how they drove emotional responses and discussions during the movement’s high points. The Anti-ELAB protests and the LIHKG forum were specifically characterized by a large participation of younger women. Alongside the proposition for Hong Kong self-determination, the forum hosted discussions about the role of female activists within the struggle. Since Pepe had previously been adopted by xenophobic alt-right groups and the misogynist “manosphere,” we monitored and interpreted recurring Pepe-imagery to find out how normative-conservative, or gender-fluid and emancipatory tropes were used on the LIHKG forum.

The article is published open access and is available here.

Minja