Date of Degree

9-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor

George Fragopoulos

Subject Categories

American Popular Culture | American Studies

Keywords

collective identity, online communities, virtual space, framing processes, race and class stratification, Brooklyn, New York, gentrification, social media

Abstract

In the following thesis I examine how race- and class-based power structures are conceptualized and actualized in the virtual sphere. The Internet as an “imagined community” upholds the historically embedded power structures that perpetuate deeply-rooted American hegemonic ideals as they relate to race and class.

To demonstrate the conceptualization of power structures in virtual space an analysis of discourse on the social media and news aggregate website, Reddit, that positions online conversations about race and class as an extension of the racial inequality present in social structures offline. Isolating gentrification, and topics related to gentrification such as new business openings and apartment hunting advice, this thesis observes how Redditors participate in the perpetuation of harmful, archaic power structures through discussions that establish a culture of neoliberalism and minimize the voices of people of color. Finally, I argue that the replication of race- and class-based power structures online suggests an ongoing process of gentrification in virtual space.

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