« All articles from this issue

Javnost - The Public, Vol. 31 - 2024, No. 2

Anti-Systemic Counterpublics: Rethinking the Counterpublic Sphere

, pages: 213-230

Amid debates over the impact of social media platforms on democratic societies, there is increasing academic interest in how they offer new spaces for destabilising forces and movements that challenge democratic values, practices and norms. This article proposes an analytical framework to study “anti-systemic counterpublics”—defined as arenas for production and circulation of discourse that undermine the legitimacy of the established socio-political order. Integrating insights from both counterpublics literature and the theoretical literature of anti-system parties, this study shifts focus from progressive counterpublics seeking to expand the discursive space for marginalised voices and groups to anti-systemic counterpublics contesting the dominant socio-political order. The analytical framework delineates three dimensions of anti-systemic counterpublics: the content of their discourse (discursive), their modes of articulation and expression (performative), and their strategies for alliance-building and positioning within broader information landscapes (positional). Using two case studies—anti-lockdown movements and a news outlet—I illustrate how such counterpublics often align with fringe political actors and hyper-partisan news media. These cases help illuminate their strategies, from crafting persuasive messages to mobilising identities, and opposing mainstream actors and narratives. This framework offers a lens to understand the evolution and influence of anti-systemic voices, both in digital and non-digital spaces.

Full text (available at Taylor & Francis) | Export Reference |

« All articles from this issue