Parody of esteem?
LAD and the rise of ‘silly citizenship’
in Digital contention in a divided society
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Memes and parody accounts are examples of the ‘silly citizenship’ theorised by Hartley (2010) to capture citizens’ ‘playful’ engagement with political issues online. In terms of the latter, these are often deployed to satirise and hold politicians and authority figures to account for their public statements and actions. In the case of Northern Ireland, self-styled non-sectarian ‘parody group’ Loyalists Against Democracy (LAD) emerged as one of the most vocal critics of the flag protests in December 2012. Its supporters argued that the group articulated the views of the ‘silent majority’ by highlighting the bigotry and sectarianism of loyalists on pages such as LPPU. Conversely, critics accused the group of peddling negative stereotypes of working-class loyalists by shaming them for their poor spelling and grammar in their social media comments. Chapter 5 explores the role of LAD in contentious politics in Northern Ireland between December 2012 and November 2013. It presents the results of the first empirical study of content posted on the group’s Facebook and Twitter profiles, with a view to exploring whether such content could persuasively be framed as satire. It will also examine the extent to which loyalists were represented as ‘social abjects’ akin to the ‘chav’ stereotype used to demonise white working-class communities in England (Tyler, 2013). The role of the group in campaigns such as #givepootstheboot will be explored in order to assess its evolving role within the Northern Irish information ecosystem as a focal point for the contestation of contentious political issues.

Digital contention in a divided society

Social media, parades and protests in Northern Ireland

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