Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

Document Type



Culture jamming is a form of contentious politics in which activists utilize ironic frames to challenge a dominant set of social relationships and institutions. Despite its contestational nature, scholars rarely apply the insights of social movement theory to explain this curious phenomenon. The main concerns of this project are to provide an empirical analysis of culture jamming organizations and to develop a theoretical approach to explaining repertoire change and tactical choice. The primary thesis mediating these empirical and theoretical concerns is that a close relation exists between the development of twentieth century art in advanced Western democracies and culture jamming. Developing this argument and addressing these concerns entails three basic tasks. First, in view of the failure of the literature to provide a robust concept, I develop a rigorous conceptualization of culture jamming as an oppositional tactic. Second, I present an approach to theory that begins to integrate the macro- and micro-levels of analysis. This task involves both a dialogue between sociologists Charles Tilly and Pierre Bourdieu and their reconciliation with collective action theory, the application of rational choice theory to social movements and protest. Although multi-faceted, this synthesis focuses on collective identities and resources as explanations of the evaluations of tactical alternatives. Third, I improve on previous efforts to study culture jamming empirically by applying the most rigorous methodological techniques available under significant data and sampling constraints. I compare and contrast the data from a sample of twelve culture jamming organizations to generate the most comprehensive empirical portrait of such groups in the literature.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Clark, William