Chapter 10: Joining the Conversation: Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, and You

Watch This!

Let’s watch Video 10.2 and see what happens when we plug some of these concepts into different Boolean search engines.

Article: “Productive Provocations: Vitriolic Media, Spaces of Protest and Agonistic Outrage in the 2011 England Riots”

Authors: Anthony McCosker (Swinburne University, Faculty of Life and Social Sciences) and Amelia Johns (Deakin University, Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation)

Abstract: The intense social upheaval that spread through a number of UK cities in the riots and protests of August, 2011, signalled the terrifying speed with which passionate disaffection can turn to uncontained violence. At stake in the dense and volatile debate that ensued, and in the acts of violence themselves, were contests over spaces as well as competing models of democracy, publics and citizenship, including the appropriate use of social media. Within these debates, almost universally, rational deliberative discourse and action is assumed to be the only route to legitimate “civil” society. So what is to be made of the violent physical contest over city squares, streets and property, as well as contests over acts of participation and demonstration played out online through the hundreds of eyewitness videos posted to sites like YouTube and the endless flow of often vitriolic words in blogs, comments spaces and social network sites? This paper uses a video posted to YouTube titled ‘Clapham Junction Speaker (London Riots 2011)’ to examine the passion and provocation that flowed beyond the city streets to enliven, intensify and sustain forms of protest and civic engagement. We argue that the aggressive and antagonistic tenor of the Speaker’s twenty minute monologue, the bitter vitriol that flowed through the comments space, and even the act of posting it constitute significant elements of a generative, ‘agonistic’ public, to use Chantal Mouffe’s term, that operates in multiple spaces and outside of the rationalising discourse demanded by mainstream media and government. This paper develops a richer understanding of these spaces of protest, and the concept of provocation central to these events.

You will notice that the article we have chosen does not focus on the exact subject of our representative example. This is fine. Applying the research and ideas of scholars to examine another topic is a long-standing scholarly practice. There are countless postcolonial or feminist or Freudian readings of Shakespeare’s plays that use the claims and findings of academics to create new readings of different subjects. Just because you are standing on the shoulders of giants does not mean you have to look in the same direction. Creating new applications with the articles you find is a major part of joining the scholarly conversation.


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Write Here, Right Now: An Interactive Introduction to Academic Writing and Research Copyright © 2018 by Ryerson University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.