Lee Gensler

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New York, Graduate Center, City U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10506

Approve Date

April 6, 2023

Project Title

Gensler, Lee (New York, Graduate Center, City U. of) "Leftbook and contested visions of the good: Social media platform governance, political subjectivity, and new moral traditions"

In 2010, Facebook introduced ‘Groups’ to allow users to organize around shared interests. Currently, over 1.8 billion people use Facebook groups. A large portion of groups fall into what is known as Leftbook’a community of groups with certain shared standards set by politically left-leaning group admins. This project examines social media platform governance and the formation of digital culture in Leftbook. Through twelve months of multimodal ethnographic research, it explores how social media platforms shape and are shaped by the moral orders operating within them and examines the political subjectivities of those who are empowered and disempowered within those systems. I examine how the governance structure of Facebook functions, what modes of power operate within the layered governance structure of Leftbook, and how power and governance relate to visions of the good and moral orders. I investigate who is eligible to participate in the communities constructed within Leftbook, how that is determined, and what forms of political subjectivity are elicited within that process. This project approaches Leftbook as an important terrain in which to answer questions about how regimes of power and particular visions of the good elicit and shape claims to belonging, legitimacy, and moral personhood.