Current Research

SOCIAL MEDIA AND NEOLIBERAL SOCIETY: 
CRITICAL STUDIES OF SITES, USERS, AND SPACES

SITES     USERS     SPACES

Background

Social media websites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others, have become central to our everyday way of life. Social media and the rhetoric of “Web 2.0” rose to prominence in the years immediately preceding the economic crisis of 2007-2008, which dealt a major blow to the political and economic ideology of neoliberalism. Since this time, neoliberal ideology has managed to stave off popular critique and its entrenchment in our daily lives has only deepened. The recovery of neoliberalism grew in parallel with the rise of social media.

More recently, the surprising 2016 electoral victory of Donald Trump, whose use of Twitter has been tied to his popularity, demonstrates the degree to which social media helps to foster the growth of conservative, populist, and neoliberal rhetoric. How was it that so many people were blindsided by Trump’s victory?

To understand this kind of problem, further study of the ideological function of social media, and its ability to structure global culture and society, is necessary. Therefore, I hypothesize that a correlation exists between the rise of social media and the further entrenchment of neoliberal rhetoric into mainstream popular culture. Social media opens a unique window into our understanding of neoliberal rhetoric and ideology.

I use social media heuristically for building knowledge about the pervasiveness of neoliberalism by examining three component parts of the relationship between the two: sites, users, and spaces.

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