Mediatizing terrorism : a study of audiences' construction of violent events under datafied capitalism

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This dissertation studies the circulation of transnational mobile media accounts of terror attacks in order to examine the intersection of violence, liberalism, anti-Muslim racism, and authoritarianism as it is transformed in the data-driven political economy of communication. The dissertation's central question asks: how is mediatized terrorism encountered, made sense of, and responded to by mobile audiences in datafied media? To answer, I use a new method for digital observation that collects screenshots from participants' mobile devices every five seconds for longitudinal studies. Through observation of U.S. mobile media users' reception of a wave of Daesh-linked terror attacks in Europe and North Africa in the spring of 2017, I identify four mediatized rituals responding to these attacks. One ritual, specific to far-right ecosystems, assimilates attacks and unrelated social conflict into an imagined future of what liberal pluralism portends, creating the possibility for offline action stoking cycles of violence. The other observed responses constitute a limited suite of individualized responses that are habituated by the data-driven political economy of mobile media. These findings contrast with prominent critiques of social media (e.g., polarization) by highlighting the distinct threat posed by ritual action in far-right mobile media. This analysis also adds nuance to disinformation frameworks that abstract users' construction of reality from their mediatized social contexts and cultural practices. The conclusion proposes developing a decolonial global media technology ethics based on these findings that mobilizes media against persistent orientalism and far-right authoritarianism in the global political landscape emerging under datafication.


Type of resource text
Form electronic resource; remote; computer; online resource
Extent 1 online resource.
Place California
Place [Stanford, California]
Publisher [Stanford University]
Copyright date 2022; ©2022
Publication date 2022; 2022
Issuance monographic
Language English


Author Fitzgerald, Andrew Arthur
Degree supervisor Glasser, Theodore L
Degree supervisor Hamilton, James, 1961-
Thesis advisor Glasser, Theodore L
Thesis advisor Hamilton, James, 1961-
Thesis advisor Turner, Fred
Thesis advisor Wang, Ban, 1957-
Degree committee member Turner, Fred
Degree committee member Wang, Ban, 1957-
Associated with Stanford University, Department of Communication


Genre Theses
Genre Text

Bibliographic information

Statement of responsibility Andrew Arthur Fitzgerald.
Note Submitted to the Department of Communication.
Thesis Thesis Ph.D. Stanford University 2022.

Access conditions

© 2022 by Andrew Arthur Fitzgerald
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).

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