Publication Details

C. Sharp, 'What's in a hashtag? Vulnerability as a transformative disposition within social media' (2018) 22 (4) Media and Arts Law Review 363-381.

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This article focuses on the disposition of vulnerability as expressed within social media using hashtags. It argues that individuals use and facilitate emotion within social media narratives to frame and contextualise normative expectations of the legal system; and that these stories collectively create one narrative of transformative vulnerability. In particular, the author argues that in times of crisis, vulnerability is constituted and maintained through the prism of fear perpetuated in social media narratives. Yet, at the same time, these narratives also contain within them the blueprints for hope - through narratives of solidarity and unity - resistance to fear is transformed into hope. Although fear and vulnerability are powerful dispositions that can be manipulated, hope is equally commanding and offers significant transformative potential, and this is no more evident than in the moment of a crisis. Using a case study of Twitter responses to a 2017 London terror event, this article will interrogate expectations of law and justice that are mediated through the complex interaction of fear and hope.