2 thoughts on “Trolling, public engagement and the sociology of knowledge ”

  1. That’s a good post on a difficult topic, Mark. I wonder if you can trace it back at all to liberation movements and the belief that if a facilitator is able to ensure a safe space then the experiences of the oppressed can be voiced and consciousness will be raised and action taken. Sociologists often do not want to persuade per se when engaging in public discussion, but want to make space for such emancipatory awareness of the contradictions and power at play… So there is the problematic of being in post-emancipatory environments in which critical moments/critical pedagogy are commodified in slogans set out by professional enlighteners (with which sociologists are competing). There is also the problematic of professional trolls, not just comments made that appear to be on-the-spot reactions, however outrageous, to a social media post or online media blog/piece, but comments that are deliberately neo-conservative, inflammatory and meant to say more to the other commenters than the author of the blog/article/tweet. I think we must become less idealistic about who/what is trolling and who is paying. Yes, it is harassment, but why are we even looking at the comments and then feeling harassed?

  2. I guess my (depressing and cynical) point is that I’m not persuaded many sociologists meaningfully go into interactions with those intentions. They may believe they do but it was easier to sustain this when there were fewer interactions with the public.

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