I am Noah J. Springer, PhD and I recently published my dissertation on Reddit. AMA!
I officially defended my dissertation on Reddit in May, however because the academic publishing process lags severely in comparison to the digital nature of this site, some of the content in the dissertation may seem outdated. Nevertheless, I have maintained a personal interest in the site and have followed most of the developments on Reddit since I finished writing. I believe many of you would be interested in my findings.
You can find the full copy of my dissertation here, but for those of you who don't want to read 275 pages, you can read my abstract below. For those of you who do manage to slog through the whole thing, please feel free to ask me anything for weeks, or even months to come. I will be checking back here regularly, so feel free to come back at a later date.
This dissertation represents an in depth examination of the cultural practices, technological affordances and political economic forces that inform the publics and counterpublics formed on the website reddit. Through interpretivist netnography, textual analysis and document analysis, the research presented here establishes a variety of different events (both historical and contemporary) and discourses that have taken place on the site and shows how these events and discourses are emblematic of contemporary neoliberal ideologies. Drawing on the theoretical tradition of the “public sphere” established by Jürgen Habermas, this research concludes that reddit shows the potential for an effective public sphere through digital technology. However, despite this potential, much of the discourse on reddit reinforces traditional neoliberal ideologies; furthermore, actions on behalf of the administration, moderators and users on the sites also indicate that while reddit has afforded individuals the opportunity to change federal political policy, these events do not translate into an inclusive public sphere that escapes the neoliberal trappings of technological fetishism
Let me know what you think of my research, and make sure to AMA!
Noah J. Springer, PhD
Edit: I was told my original link to my dissertation didn't work for some, so I have replaced it with a copy on my website.
Edit 2: I'm taking a couple hour break for now, but I will be back later tonight to answer a few more questions. Don't worry though, if I don't get to you tonight I will be continuing tomorrow as well, and basically as long as people are asking. Thanks for the attention everyone! Be back shortly.
Edit 3: It seems like the reddit hug of death killed my website. Please visit this link for a copy of the dissertation. It seems not to work for some people, but it does work on FireFox for me. Otherwise, try Googling my name with "publics and counterpublics on the front page of the Internet" and see if you can find it.