Trolling as transgression: Subversive affirmations against neoliberal austerity
This article draws attention to one of the neglected aspects of trolling in current literature: its potential to stand as a form of cultural politics that may inform counter-hegemonic challenges to prevalent ideologies. Rather than merely perceiving trolling as a threat to normality or a proof of the internet’s dystopic character, we look at the ways that certain trolls employ the method of ‘subversive affirmation’ for effectively addressing current events, and to mock hegemonic ideological currents, lifestyles and contexts in Greece today. We argue that the trolls we study are positioned against the hegemonic neoliberal framework and its attempts to achieve consensus on the supposed necessity of austerity reforms and the maintenance of the euro currency, as well as against a prevailing conservativism and nationalism that blend with the broader neoliberal assemblage of discourses, policies and practices in Greek society. By developing a thematic analysis on selected Facebook trolls’ posts, we discuss the ways that trolls function politically, transgressing the limits of the hegemonic discourses and identities, as well as the norms of mediated dialogue, deliberation and critique. The key mechanisms deployed by the trolls are the overlapping practices of over-identification and humour. This article suggests seeing trolling as a form of cultural production that not only damages, but redirects desires, produces identifications and instils passionate investments in political ideologies.