1st Edition

Popular Culture, Social Media, and the Politics of Identity

By William Clapton Copyright 2025
    200 Pages
    by Routledge

    Popular Culture, Social Media, and the Politics of Identity advances a novel methodological approach — pop culture as political object — to capture the centrality of popular culture as an object of a broad range of political contests and debates that constitute pop culture artefacts by generating and informing specific meanings and understandings of them.

    It is no longer novel to claim that popular culture matters to world politics. The literature on Popular Culture and World Politics (PCWP) has demonstrated the cultural basis of political action and meaning-making. However, this book argues that in doing so, the PCWP literature has focused primarily on the traditionally narrow range of issues, actors, and things that mainstream International Relations regards as part of world politics. While PCWP challenges restrictive disciplinary understandings of the sites of legitimate inquiry where one can purposefully gain knowledge about world politics, comparatively little has been done to challenge constricted understandings of what world politics is, who it involves, and where it takes place. Methodological approaches in the literature largely treat popular culture and politics as separate and therefore focus on understanding how popular culture relates to and intersects with a relatively circumscribed notion of world politics. Focusing on the everyday politics of how audiences perceive and contest popular cultural artefacts, this book demonstrates that pop culture does not merely intersect with or reflect discrete political processes, it is also directly situated as an object of politics. The author analyses current debates over identity politics across a range of contemporary pop cultural artefacts including films and video games.

    This book will be of interest to scholars and students of International Relations, Political Science, and Cultural and Media Studies.

    1. Introduction

    Introducing Pop Culture as Political Object        

    The Ethics of Internet Research


    Structure and Case Studies


    2. Audiences and Everyday Politics: Popular Culture as Political Object           

    Existing Approaches in PCWP  

    The Limitations of PCWP         

    Expanding PCWP Methodologies: Pop Culture as Political Object          



    3. Digital Technologies, Social Justice Activism, and Identity Politics 

    Web 2.0 and Social Media: The ‘Battleground’ of Contemporary Identity Politics

    ‘Get Woke’: The Evolution of Social Justice Activism   

    Fighting Back: Reclaiming Pop Culture for the ‘True Fans’        



    4. Gamergate, (Anti)Feminism, and the Horizon Series          


    The Horizon Games – Plot, Themes, Representations     

    Politics, Feminism, and SJWs are Ruining Gaming (and HZD/HFW)      

    HZD and HFW are Pretty Good (But I Still Hate Feminism)       

    The Embodiment of Gender in Video Games     

    Race and Cultural Appropriation           



    5. ‘Who You Gonna Call? Not Women’: The 2016 Ghostbusters Reboot           

    Furore and Controversies Surrounding Feig’s Ghostbusters        

    Feminist Conspiracies, Forced Politics, and Wokeness Have Destroyed Ghostbusters

    Trump, the 2016 Election, and Ghostbusters      

    Racism and Attacks Against the Cast    



    6. Social Justice Activism in a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Controversies of The Last Jed   

    ‘I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This’ – Online Reactions to TLJ  

    Rey the ‘Mary Sue’ and Unwanted Feminism in Star Wars         

    You Can’t Have Racial Diversity in a Galaxy of Trillions of Humans and Aliens

    ‘May the Forced Diversity Be With You’          



    7. ‘Elves and Hobbits Don’t Look Like That’: Racial Diversity, White Fragility, and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power     

    Tolkien, Race, and the Furore Over a Racially Diverse Middle Earth       

    White Fragility and Middle Earth          

    White Precarity, Cultural Theft, and the ‘End of the White Race’



    8. Conclusion  




    William Clapton is Associate Professor in International Relations in the School of Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales, Australia.