Social media, vigilantism and Indigenous people in Australia

Cunneen, Chris, and Russell, Sophie (2017) Social media, vigilantism and Indigenous people in Australia. In: Pontell, Henry N., (ed.) Oxford Research Encyclopedia: Criminology and Criminal Justice. Oxford Research Encyclopedias . Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

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Abstract

The pervasiveness and prominence of mass media are key features of contemporary societies. Nowhere is this more relevant than when we look at the ubiquity of social media. In recent years, anticrime Facebook pages have appeared across all states and territories in Australia, and as our social spaces increasingly shift from the physical to the virtual realm, different forms of online cybervigilantism have emerged. This article explores the ways in which community justice and vigilantism in Australia are exercised through social media in the wider context of the racialized criminalization of Indigenous young people. We also discuss how new forms of media are used to produce and reproduce a racialized narrative of crime, which at the same time has the effect of legitimating violence against young Indigenous Australians. The text draws on a number of anticrime Facebook pages and finds that the very presence of these sites legitimates the beliefs of its members, while providing details about potential targets, most of whom are young people. We contend that the views expressed on these sites mirror, in more prosaic language, sentiments that are expressed in sections of the old media and among a number of ultraright politicians and groups. Further, these sites do little to question the broader ideological and political frameworks that present crime and disorder as being divorced from structural and historical conditions. There is, then, an assumed social consensus around what is being presented on these Facebook sites: namely, that overt racism and calls to vigilante violence are socially and politically acceptable. While there appears to be a direct link between the Facebook groups and incidents of violence in some cases, on a broader level, it is the constant reinforcement of an environment of racist violence that is most troubling.

Item ID: 52051
Item Type: Book Chapter (Reference)
Keywords: social media, vigilantism, Indigenous, Australia, youth offending, racial criminalization, racist violence
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Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC grant DP130100184
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2018 00:10
FoR Codes: 18 LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES > 1801 Law > 180101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Law @ 30%
18 LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES > 1801 Law > 180119 Law and Society @ 40%
18 LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES > 1899 Other Law and Legal Studies > 189999 Law and Legal Studies not elsewhere classified @ 30%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9404 Justice and the Law > 940403 Criminal Justice @ 40%
94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9404 Justice and the Law > 940499 Justice and the Law not elsewhere classified @ 50%
94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9404 Justice and the Law > 940404 Law Enforcement @ 10%
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