Texts downloaded from this page should be used only for not-for-profit and productive purposes (e.g., teaching and scholarship). Any use in teaching or writing to be accompanied by full citation information, including authorial credit. For permission to use my work for any other purpose, please contact me at amass [at] uic [dot] edu.


Massanari, A. L. (2015). Participatory culture, community, and play: Learning from Reddit. New York: Peter Lang.

Silver, D. & Massanari, A. L. (2006). Critical cyberculture studies:  Current terrains, future directions (Eds). New York:  New York University Press.

Peer-reviewed articles

Massanari, A. L. (2018). Rethinking research ethics, power, and the risk of visibility in the era of the “alt-right” gaze. Ethic as method in the era of Big Data (A. Markham & A. Herman, Eds). Special issue of Social Media + Society.

This essay explores what the “alt-right” (White ethnonationalist, fascist, misogynistic, and anti-intellectual communities) means for social media researchers in terms of research ethics, risk, and visibility. First, it outlines how #Gamergate and #OperationDiggingDiGRA indicated that academic researchers could be targets of their hostility. This essay then draws on the work of Foucault and Mulvey to theorize how far-right groups have a kind of “gaze.” Then, it discusses how far-right extremism requires rethinking ethical questions around researchers and participants. Finally, some thoughts are offered as to what this means for how individuals, organizations, disciplines, and institutions can support research into these spaces.

Massanari, A. L. & Chess, S. (2018). Attack of the 50-Foot Social Justice Warrior: The discursive construction of SJWs in “alt-right” media. Online Misogyny (D. Ging & E. Siapera, Eds). Special issue of Feminist Media Studies.

This essay considers the origin and meaning of “social justice warrior” (SJW) memes. Despite each term within the phrase suggesting potentially positive connotations, we argue that as deployed within “alt-right” communities, it implies a kind of monstrous feminine: a woman who is unwieldy and out of control. We catalogue and analyze this meme using a visual discourse analysis of texts gathered through Google Images and Reddit. Our findings suggest that the SJW meme is deployed to emphasize opponents as having non-normative, problematic bodies, different brains (ones ruled by emotion rather than logic), and monstrous characteristics. We argue that such discourse is potentially dangerous, but that feminists may have the tools to recreate the SJW as an image of power.

Massanari, A. L. (2017). “Come for the period comics. Stay for the cultural awareness.”: Reclaiming the troll identity through feminist humor on Reddit’s /r/TrollXChromosomes. Feminist Media Studies.

/r/TrollXChromosomes is a women-focused humor subreddit on the community site This essay presents the findings of a thematic content analysis of TrollX’s top-ranked postings. Several themes emerge: that TrollX is a space for networked affective content, that postings often concern women’s embodiment and sexuality, and that they suggest feminist perspectives. These themes are all linked by the image of the troll: a remixed version of the negative, antisocial identity that disrupts and often harasses communities. The TrollX troll invokes a spirit of self-deprecation to revel in the absurdities of life and collectively celebrate women’s everyday experiences. However, this research also argues that the TrollX version of the feminist troll is only partially realized, as it tends to express ambivalence in regards to systemic, intersectional oppression.

Massanari, A. L. (2015). #Gamergate and The Fappening: How Reddit’s algorithm, community, and culture support toxic technocultures. New Media & Society.

This article considers how the social-news and community site has become a hub for anti-feminist activism. Examining two recent cases of what are defined as “toxic technocultures” (#Gamergate and The Fappening), this work describes how Reddit’s design, algorithm, and platform politics implicitly support these kinds of cultures. In particular, this piece focuses on the ways in which Reddit’s karma point system, aggregation of material across subreddits, ease of subreddit and user account creation, governance structure, and policies around offensive content serve to provide fertile ground for anti-feminist and misogynistic activism. The ways in which these events and communities reflect certain problematic aspects of geek masculinity are also considered. This research is informed by the results of a long-term participant-observation and ethnographic study into Reddit’s culture and community and is grounded in actor-network theory.

Massanari, A. L. (2015). Never Alone (Kisima In?itchu?a): Possibilities for participatory game design. Well-Played, 4(3).

Massanari, A.L. (2012). DIY design:  How crowdsourcing sites are challenging traditional graphic design practice. First Monday, 17(10).

This paper analyzes the current debate over crowdsourced/do–it–yourself (DIY) design. Specifically, it highlights underlying tensions between discourse within the professional graphic design field and an increasingly sophisticated and global community of DIY designers who are challenging their professional norms and practices. Through an exploration of these sites’ approach to intellectual property, design education, compensation, and community, this research explain how crowdsourcing companies discursively frame (and challenge) traditional design practices. Specific recommendations as to how crowdsourcing sites and the professional design community might coexist peacefully are offered.

Hunsinger, J. & Massanari, A.L. (2012). Editorial:  Special Issue on Virtual World Cultures. New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia, 18(4).

Massanari, A.L., (2012).  “Gendered pleasures:  The Wii, embodiment and technological desire” in Social Exclusion, Power, and Video Game Play (Eds. David G. Embrick, J. Talmadge Wright, and Andras Lukas). Lexington Books.

In this chapter, I explore the ways in which Nintendo’s Wii console has been designed and marketed specifically for “non-gamers” or those interested in casual gameplay: that is, women and older adults. I explain the waysin which the Wii has been marketed and discursively positioned to configure the domestic sphere in particular ways. In addition, I examine the ways in which Nintendo’s unique motion controller (the Wii remote) encourages players to use it as a prosthetic device that engages the body in play in new ways. I also explore Nintendo’s fitness game, Wii Fit, and describe how both the game’s marketing and the playing experience it offers, discursively reinscribes certain stereotypical gender politics and “disciplines” our bodies in new ways. I argue that Wii Fit proscribes a particular view of pleasure, one that focuses on a potentially problematic perspective of what it means to be fit.

Massanari, A. L. & Howard, P. N. (2011). Internet use and omnivorous information habits during U.S. presidential electionsJournal of Information Technology & Politics, 8(2). 177-198.

Technology convergence and rising expectations for interactivity have had a significant impact on the news diets of U.S. voters. While television may appear to be the most important single media in this system of political communication, for a growing portion of the population, news diets are defined by combinations and permutations of secondary media. What explains the changing distribution of primary media choice and the dramatic rise in secondary media? We offer a theory of omnivorous information habits to help explain the rising number of people who make active choices to get political news and information from several media technologies, sourced from multiple news organizations, and then engage with news and information through varied interactive tools. Data from 2000, 2004, and 2008 demonstrate not just the growing importance of secondary media, but the importance of the Internet in particular. Indeed, elections have become occasions in which people make significant changes in their information diets.

Massanari, A. L. (2010). Designing for imaginary friends: Information architecture, personas, and the politics of user-centered design. New Media & Society, 12(3). 401-416.

This article considers the problematic relationship between new media designers and users in current texts written about user-centered design (UCD) techniques. To better understand and solidify the importance of the user within the technological artifact, these designers often create ‘personas’ — prototypical users with names, faces, interests and preferences. Personas serve as boundary objects used as conceptual stand-ins for users when team members make design decisions. This article traces the discursive construction of the ‘user’ within web design texts and how these texts describe the persona technique. The analysis suggests that the use of personas is motivated as much by political realities within new media organizations, as it is by the desire to address user needs. In addition, it is argued that personas serve to reinscribe the conceptual separation between the user and designer despite technological developments (like Web 2.0) that blur this boundary.

Heider, D. & Massanari, A. L. (2010). Friendship, closeness, and disclosure in Second Life. International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations, 2(3). 61-74.

3-D virtual realms offer places for people to go interact, play games, and even do business. As these realms themselves become more sophisticated, the number of participants grows and the level and type of social interactions change. Meanwhile, scholars race to try to keep up. There is a growing, but still developing literature about interaction in virtual world. This paper explores communication and social intimacy in one such world, Second Life. In this paper, results of a four year ethnography in Second Life reveal findings that refute earlier research on computer-mediated communications, and support others while offering new findings to contribute to the growing body of knowledge.

Howard, P. N. & Massanari, A. L. (2007). Learning to search and searching to learn:  Income, education, and experience online. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(3).

Using data from the Pew Internet and American Life Project surveys, this article explores changing trends in reported sophistication and satisfaction with search skills and with search engines. We find that the proportion of Internet users searching online for answers to specific questions—as opposed to casual browsing—has grown significantly. Moreover, as users get more experience online, they increasingly become dependent on search engines, confident in their findings, and savvy about how search engines structure information, privilege paid results, and track users. When other factors are controlled, years of online experience is a strong predictor of the likelihood of a person doing specific searches on a daily basis, and experience can have an even stronger positive effect than education and income. We also find that years of online experience, frequency of use, and sophistication with multiple search engines can overcome socio-economic status in predicting how active a person is in searching across different topics.

Massanari, A.L. (2007) ‘In Context: Information Architects, Politics, and Interdisciplinarity’, unpublished PhD dissertation, Department of Communication, University of Washington.

This study considers the ongoing development and future trajectory of a particular aspect of new media practice, the information architecture field, focusing specifically on the years 1995-2005. Richard Saul Wurman coined the term “information architect” (IA) in the late 1970s (Knemeyer, 2004 January, p. 3), arguing that just as architects envision and structure buildings with their patrons in mind, individuals can structure information in ways that facilitate its use. IAs are responsible for making information understandable by creating useful classification/navigation schemes that help users find their way through complex libraries of information on the Web. The practicing IA is typically concerned with three domains: content, users, and context (Rosenfeld & Morville, 2002). IAs juggle these in tandem, attempting to organize content created by the technological organization, the informational goals of the end-product’s users, and the often-unstated technical abilities and cultural assumptions users are working under. IAs and other user-centered designers use a variety of techniques borrowed from fields like anthropology and cognitive science in an attempt to design intuitive systems (Kuniavsky, 2003).

This inquiry examines experts’ influence on the discursive development of a professional practice. As such, it extends the work of scholars such as Anthony Giddens (1991), who examined the importance of experts in structuring how and what we think. Three different sets of data comprise my study’s corpus: materials written about IA; postings to an open and unmoderated professional mailing list (SIG-IA); and interviews with experts within the field of IA. Using theoretical approaches drawn from actor-network theory (Callon & Latour, 1981; Latour, 1988, 1993, 2005) and cultural-historical activity theory (Engeström, 2001; Engeström, Miettinen, & Punamäki-Gitai, 1999; Kaptelinin & Nardi, 2006; Nardi, 1996), and using discourse analysis methods outlined by Foucault (1972) and Gee (1999), I illustrate the ways this field has been discursively constructed by experts within it. First, I explore the tensions inherent in the practice of IA and its relation to other disciplines. Then, I examine the assumptions about the nature of intuitive interfaces, users, and the role of ethics in the discourse in the field of IA. Lastly, my study considers the political ramifications of the tools, methods, and rhetorical practices promoted in texts written about the field and the ways its practitioners construct it through professional discourse. I argue that the numerous contradictions contained within the IA activity system potentially threaten its formalization and acceptance within the larger user-centered design community.

Selected Book Chapters

Massanari, A. L. (2016). Contested play: The culture and politics of Reddit bots. In R. Gehl and M. Bakardjieva’s (Eds.) Socialbots and their friends: Digital media and the automation of sociality (pp. 110-127). New York: Routledge.

Massanari, A. L. (2016). “Damseling for dollars”: Toxic technocultures and geek masculinity. In R. Lind’s (Ed.) Race and gender in electronic media: Content, Context, Culture (pp. 312-327). New York: Routledge.

Blasiola, S., Feng, M. & Massanari, A. L. (2015). Riding in cars with strangers: A cross-cultural comparison of privacy and safety in Ingress. In M. Willson and T. Leaver’s (Eds) Social, casual, mobile: Changing games (pp. 135-148). New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

Dougherty, M. & Massanari, A. L. (2013). Best practices for bloggers: Dimensions for consideration. In Y. Crotty & M. Farren (Eds.) Digital literacies in education: Creative, multimodal and innovative practices (pp. 201-220). Bern: Peter Lang.

Massanari, A. L. (2012). Gendered pleasures: The Wii, embodiment and technological desire. In D. G. Embrick, J. T. Wright & A. Lukacs (Eds.), Social exclusion, power and video game play: New research in digital media and technology (Vol. 2) (pp. 279-293). Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Selected Reports, Book Reviews, and Other Publications

Massanari, A. L. (2018). Social Justice Warriors as the “Alt-Right” Bogeyman. Flow.TV: A Critical Forum on Media and Culture. Available online:

Massanari, A. L. (2018). /r/DeepFakes and Reddit’s Ongoing Misogyny Problem. Flow.TV: A Critical Forum on Media and Culture. Available online:

Massanari, A. L. (2017). Rose McGowan and the “neutrality” of social media platforms. Flow.TV: A Critical Forum on Media and Culture. Available online: 

Massanari, A. L. et al. (2016). Pokémon Go syllabus: Got to catch all the references. Online at:

Massanari, A. L. (2014). A Feast of Jackdaws: Reddit micro-celebrity, algorithms, and gender. New Criticals. Available online:

Selected conference papers

Massanari, A. L. (2018). Critical platform studies. Presented at Design as Method workshop at the International Communication Association conference in Prague, Czechia, May 23-28, 2018.

Massanari, A. L. (2017). “Come for the period comics. Stay for the cultural awareness”: Reclaiming the troll identity through feminist humor on Reddit’s /r/TrollXChromosomes. Presented at the International Communication Association conference in San Diego, CA, May 25-29, 2017.

Massanari, A. L. (2017). Intersectional game design: Lessons from Never Alone. Presented at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) conference in Chicago, IL, March 22-March 26, 2017.

Quinn, K. & Massanari, A. L. (2016). No place for old men (and women): Representations of older adult gamers. Presented at the Association of Internet Researchers (AOIR) conference in Berlin, Germany, October 5-8, 2016.

Massanari, A. L. (2016). Internet research ethics roundtable I. “New problems, new relationships” [roundtable]. Presented at the Association of Internet Researchers (AOIR) conference in Berlin, Germany, October 5-8, 2016.

Massanari, A. L. (2016). #CyberMisogyny: Combating gendered hate online [forum participant]. Presented at Console-ing Passions International Conference on Television, Video, Audio, New Media and Feminism conference in South Bend, IN, June 16-18, 2016.

Massanari, A. L. (2016). Meet me at the crossroads: Intersectionality and feminist game studies [workshop]. Presented at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) conference in Atlanta, GA, March 30-April 3, 2016.

Massanari, A. L. (2015). Brain tingles and scary holes: ASMR, trypophobia, and the sensorial web [panel paper]. Presented at the Association of Internet Researchers (AOIR) conference in Phoenix, AZ, October 21-24, 2015.

Massanari, A. L. (2015). It’s really about ethics in games research: Reflections on #Gamergate [roundtable panelist]. Presented at the Association of Internet Researchers (AOIR) conference in Phoenix, AZ, October 21-24, 2015.

Massanari, A. L. (2015). MRA’s, #Gamergate and TheFappening: How Reddit’s algorithm, community and culture enables toxic technocultures. Presented at Console-ing Passions International Conference on Television, Video, Audio, New Media and Feminism conference in Dublin, Ireland, June 18-20, 2015.

Massanari, A. L. (2015). Feminist resistance on /r/ShitRedditSays and /r/GamerGhazi. Presented at The Gendered Politics of Production: Girls and Women as Media Producers symposium at Middlesex University in London, England, June 16, 2015.

Massanari, A. L. (2014). Virtual digs: what does the Internet, Archaeology and Phenomenology have in common? [panelist]. Presented at the Association of Internet Researchers (AOIR) conference in Daegu, South Korea, October 22-24, 2014.

Massanari, A. L. (2014). “Why are all of you such assholes?” ShitRedditSays, gender, and counterperformance on reddit. Presented at the Theorizing the Web conference in Brooklyn, New York, April 25-26, 2014.

Massanari, A. L. (2013). Digital and material practices of crowdsourcing design sites. Presented at the American Anthropological Association annual meeting in Chicago, IL, November 20-24, 2013.

Massanari, A. L. (2013). Playful participatory culture: Learning from Reddit. Presented at the Association of Internet Researchers (AOIR) conference in Denver, CO, October 23-26, 2013.

Massanari, A. L. (2013). The pleasures and perils of nostalgia: Playing L.A. Noire. Presented at the Digital Games Research Association (DIGRA) conference in Atlanta, GA, August 26-29, 2013.