1st Edition

Affective Politics of Digital Media Propaganda by Other Means

Edited By Megan Boler, Elizabeth Davis Copyright 2021
    378 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    378 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This interdisciplinary, international collection examines how sophisticated digital practices and technologies exploit and capitalize on emotions, with particular focus on how social media are used to exacerbate social conflicts surrounding racism, misogyny, and nationalism. 

    Radically expanding the study of media and political communications, this book bridges humanities and social sciences to explore affective information economies, and how emotions are being weaponized within mediatized political landscapes. The chapters cover a wide range of topics: how clickbait, "fake news," and right-wing actors deploy and weaponize emotion; new theoretical directions for understanding affect, algorithms, and public spheres; and how the wedding of big data and behavioral science enables new frontiers of propaganda, as seen in the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook scandal. The collection includes original interviews with luminary media scholars and journalists. 

    The book features contributions from established and emerging scholars of communications, media studies, affect theory, journalism, policy studies, gender studies, and critical race studies to address questions of concern to scholars, journalists, and students in these fields and beyond.

    Preface by Jodi Dean

    Introduction: Propaganda by Other Means

    Megan Boler and Elizabeth Davis

    Part I: Theorizing Media and Affect

    Chapter 1: Affect, Media, Movement: Interview with Susanna Paasonen and Zizi Papacharissi

    Megan Boler and Elizabeth Davis

    Chapter 2: Reverberation, Affect, and Digital Politics of Responsibility

    Adi Kuntsman

    Chapter 3: "Fuck Your Feelings": The Affective Weaponization of Facts and Reason

    Sun-ha Hong

    Chapter 4: Blockchain, Affect, and Digital Teleologies

    Olivier Jutel

    Chapter 5: Becoming Kind: A Political Affect for Post-Truth Times

    Ed Cohen

    Chapter 6: Beyond Behaviorism and Black Boxes: The Future of Media Theory Interview with Wendy Chun, Warren Sack, and Sarah Sharma

    Megan Boler and Elizabeth Davis


    Part II: Affective Media, Social Media, and Journalism: New Relationships

    Chapter 7: Pioneering Countercultural Conservatism: Limbaugh, Drudge, and Breitbart

    Anthony Nadler

    Chapter 8: Breitbart’s Attacks on Mainstream Media: Victories, Victimhood, and Vilification

    Jason Roberts and Karin Wahl-Jorgensen 

    Chapter 9: Algorithmic Enclaves: Affective Politics and Algorithms in the Neoliberal Social Media Landscape

    Merlyna Lim

    Chapter 10: Hashtagging the Québec Mosque Shooting: Twitter Discourses of Resistance, Mourning,

    and Islamophobia

    Yasmin Jiwani and Ahmed Al-Rawi

    Chapter 11: Hindu Nationalism, News Channels, and "Post-Truth" Twitter: A Case Study of "Love


    Zeinab Farokhi

    Chapter 12: Computational Propaganda and the News: Journalists' Perceptions of the Effects of Digital Manipulation on Reporting

    Kerry Ann Carter Persen and Samuel C. Woolley


    Part III: Exploitation of Emotions in Digital Media: Propaganda and Profit

    Chapter 13: Empathic Media, Emotional AI, and the Optimization of Disinformation

    Vian Bakir and Andrew McStay

    Chapter 14: The Heart’s Content: The Emotional Turn at Upworthy

    Robert Hunt

    Chapter 15: Empires of Feeling: Social Media and Emotive Politics

    Luke Stark

    Chapter 16: Nudging Interventions in Regulating the Digital Gangsters in an Era of Friction-Free Surveillance Capitalism

    Leslie Regan Shade

    Chapter 17: Digital Propaganda and Emotional Micro-Targeting: Interview with Jonathan Albright,

    Carole Cadwalladr, Paolo Gerbaudo, and Tamsin Shaw

    Megan Boler and Elizabeth Davis

    Contributor and Interviewee Biographies


    Megan Boler is Professor in the Social Justice Education Department at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. Her research focuses on philosophy and politics of emotion; critical studies of affect, social media, and propaganda; and digital media practices within social movements. Her books include Feeling Power: Emotions and Education (1999), Democratic Dialogue in Education (2004), Digital Media and Democracy (2008), and DIY Citizenship (Ratto and Boler, 2014).

    Elizabeth Davis is a PhD candidate in the Social Justice Education Department at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. Her research focuses on histories and structures of feeling drawing on materialist, feminist, critical race, disability, media, and cultural studies approaches. Her articles can be found in Theory & Event, Emotion, Space and Society, and The Senses and Society.

    "This is an invaluable guidebook to the affective landscape of our political moment, packed with contributions from original and groundbreaking thinkers. It counters the pace and tone of online propaganda with a crucial critical intervention, contributing to our understanding of the fate of understanding itself—and the consequences for political life." 

    Mark Andrejevic, Professor of Communications & Media Studies, Monash University

    "This collection presents the state of the art for investigating affective politics. Importantly, it outlines the risks posed to our democratic institutions if we don’t ensure the technical and legal fixes required to delimit social media firms capitalizing on emotional appeals and cognitive biases."

    Philip N. Howard, Director, Oxford Internet Institute and Professor, Oxford University, author of Lie Machines (2020)

    "Affective Politics of Digital Media is a body of work that demonstrates just how central affective dynamics are to the political realities generated in an increasingly mediatized world...any chapter of this book stands as a useful entry point for scholars interested in the affective politics of digital media, with each offering a unique perspective and potential avenue for further exploration. It is therefore an important collection for anybody working in the fields of technology, media, journalism, political communications, and policy, and for those seeking to become attuned to the affective dynamics of digital media more broadly."

    Rachel Billington, New Media and Society 24(6)