The Digital Arena

  • Mark A. Wood
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Crime, Media and Culture book series (PSCMC)


This chapter examines how fight pages have generated participatory modes of spectating bare-knuckle violence, and in doing so, have brokered agonistic publics where street justice and ​bare-knuckle brawling are valorized. Drawing on a content analysis of close to 6000 user comments posted on Crazy Street Fights, The Craziest Fights Ever, Just Fights Videos, Real Crazy Fights and Only Street Fighting, I examine why individuals commented on these pages, what they said when they did so, and how Facebook’s architecture might generate new criminologically significant socialities where criminal acts are legitimated.


  1. Agnew, R. (1991). The interactive effects of peer variables on delinquency. Criminology, 29(1): 47–72.Google Scholar
  2. Akers, R. L. (1977). Deviant behaviour: A social learning approach. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.Google Scholar
  3. Anderson, B. (2004). Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. London, UK: Verso.Google Scholar
  4. Asuncion, J. (2010). Reaction images. Know Your Meme. Retrieved October 15, 2016, from
  5. Baym, N. K., & boyd, d. (2012). Socially mediated publicness: An introduction. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 56(3): 320–329.Google Scholar
  6. Beccaria, C. (2006/1819). On crimes and punishments. In A. Thomas (Ed.), On crimes and punishments and other writings. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bell, D. (2006a). Introduction: Cyberidentities. In D. Bell (Ed.), The cybercultures reader: Second edition. London, UK: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Bell, D. (2006b). Webs as pegs. In S. Herbrechter & M. Higgins (Eds.), Returning (to communities). New York, NY: Rodopi.Google Scholar
  9. Best, J. (1999). Random violence: How we talk about new crimes and new victims. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  10. Blackman, S. (2014). Subcultural theory: An historical and contemporary assessment of the concept for understanding deviance. Deviant Behavior, 35(6): 496–512.Google Scholar
  11. Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of a theory of practice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bourdieu, P. (1990). The logic of practice. Cambridge, UK: Polity.Google Scholar
  13. boyd, d. (2008). Taken out of context: American teen sociality in networked publics. PhD dissertation, University of California Berkeley.Google Scholar
  14. boyd, d. (2010). Social network sites as networked publics: Affordances, dynamics, and implications. In Z. Papacharissi (Ed.), Networked self: Identity, community, and culture on social network sites. London, UK: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Brett, B. (2012). The psychology of sharing: Why do people share online? The New York Times Customer Insight Group. Retrieved October 16, 2016, from
  16. Bursik, R. J., Jr., & Grasmick, H. G. (1999). Neighborhoods & crime. New York, NY: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  17. Butler, J. (2008/1990). Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. London, UK: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Cheung, C. (2004). Identity construction and self-presentation on personal homepages: Emancipatory potentials and reality constraints. In D. Gauntlett & R. Horsley (Eds.), Web studies. London, UK: Edward Arnold.Google Scholar
  19. Cobbina, J. E., Like-Haislip, T. Z., & Miller, J. (2010). Gang fights versus cat fights: Urban young men’s gendered narratives of violence. Deviant Behaviour, 31(7): 596–624.Google Scholar
  20. Cohen, A. P. (1985). The symbolic construction of community. Chichester, UK: Ellis Horwood.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Cover, R. (2012). Performing and undoing identity online: Social networking, identity theories and the incompatibility of online profiles and friendship regimes. Convergence, 18(2): 177–193.Google Scholar
  22. Crenshaw, K. (1991). Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color. Stanford Law Review, 43(6), 1241–1299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Debord, G. (2010/1983). The society of the spectacle. Detroit, MI: Black & Red.Google Scholar
  24. Décary-Hétu, D., & Morselli, C. (2011). Gang presence in social network sites. International Journal of Cyber Criminology, 5(2): 876–890.Google Scholar
  25. Derrida, J. (1992). Given time: I counterfeit money. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  26. Ferrell, J., Hayward, K., & Young, J. (2008). Cultural criminology: An invitation. London, UK: Sage.Google Scholar
  27. Fileborn, B. (2014). Online activism and street harassment: Digital justice of shouting into the ether. Griffith Journal of Law and Human Dignity, 2(1): 32–51.Google Scholar
  28. Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. New York, NY: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  29. Fraser, N. (1990). Rethinking the public sphere: A contribution to the critique of actually existing democracy. Social Text, 25/26: 56–80.Google Scholar
  30. Gerlitz, C., & Helmond, A. (2013). The like economy: Social buttons and the data-intensive web. New Media Society, 15(8): 1348–1365.Google Scholar
  31. Glaser, D. (1956). Criminality theories and behavioural images. American Journal of Sociology, 61(5): 433–444.Google Scholar
  32. Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. New York, NY: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  33. Goldsmith, A. J. (2010). Policing’s new visibility. British Journal of Criminology, 50(5): 914–934.Google Scholar
  34. Goldsmith, A. J., & Brewer, R. (2015). Digital drift and the criminal interaction order. Theoretical Criminology, 19(1): 112–130.Google Scholar
  35. Greer, C. (2004). Crime, media and community: Grief and Virtual engagement in late modernity. In J. Ferrell, K. Hayward, W. Morrison, & M. Presdee (Eds.), Cultural criminology unleashed. London, UK: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Gross, E. F. (2004). Adolescent Internet use: What we expect, what teens report. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 25(6): 633–649.Google Scholar
  37. Herring, S. C. (2002). Computer-mediated communication on the Internet. Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, 36(1): 109–168.Google Scholar
  38. Hogan, B. (2010). The presentation of self in the age of social media: Distinguishing performances and exhibitions online. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 30(6): 377–386.Google Scholar
  39. John, N. A. (2012). Sharing and Web 2.0: The emergence of a keyword. New Media & Society, 15(2): 167–182.Google Scholar
  40. Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of social media. Business Horizons, 53(1): 59–68.Google Scholar
  41. Kiesler, S., Siegel, J., & McGuire, T. W. (1984). Social psychological aspects of computer-mediated communication. American Psychologist, 39: 1123–1134.Google Scholar
  42. Kimmel, M. S. (1994). Masculinity as homophobia: Fear, shame, and silence in the construction of gender identity. In H. Brod & M. Kaufman (Eds.), Theorizing masculinities. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  43. Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (2008). Metaphors we live by. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  44. Lange, P. G. (2008). Publicly private and privately public: Social networking on YouTube, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1): 361–380.Google Scholar
  45. Lapidot-Lefler, N., & Barak, A. (2012). Effects of anonymity, invisibility, and lack of eye-contact on toxic online is inhibition. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(2): 434–443.Google Scholar
  46. Lea, M., O’Shea, T., Fung, P., & Spears, R. (1992). Flaming in computer-mediated communication: Observations, explanations, implications. New York, NY: Harvester Wheatsheaf.Google Scholar
  47. Maffesoli, M. (1996). The time of the tribes: The decline of individualism in mass society. London, UK: Sage.Google Scholar
  48. Mann, L. (1988). Sports crowds and the collective behaviour perspective. In J. H. Goldstein (Ed.), Sports, games, and play: Social and psychological viewpoints. London, UK: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  49. Marwick, A. E., & boyd, d. (2010). I Tweet honestly, I Tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience. New Media & Society, 13(1): 114–133.Google Scholar
  50. Massumi, B. (2002). Parables for the virtual: Movement, affect, sensation. London, UK: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Mathiesen, T. (1997). The viewer society: Michel Foucault’s ‘Panopticon’ revisited. Theoretical Criminology, 1(2): 215–234.Google Scholar
  52. McCosker, A. (2014). Trolling as provocation: YouTube’s agonistic publics. Convergence, 20(2): 201–217.Google Scholar
  53. Melnick, M. J. (1993). Searching for sociability in the stands: A theory of sports spectating. Journal of Sport Management, 7(1): 44–60.Google Scholar
  54. Milivojevic, S., & McGovern, A. (2014). The death of Jill Meagher: Crime and punishment on social media. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 3(3): 22–39.Google Scholar
  55. Miller, W. I. (2005). Eye for an eye. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Morselli, C., & Décary-Hétu, D. (2013). Crime facilitation purposes of social networking sites: A review and analysis of the ‘cyberbanging’ phenomenon. Small Wars & Insurgencies, 24(1): 152–170.Google Scholar
  57. Papacharissi, Z. (2009a). The virtual sphere: The Internet as a public sphere. New Media & Society, 4(1): 9–27.Google Scholar
  58. Papacharissi, Z. (2009b). The virtual geographies of social networks: A comparative analysis of Facebook, LinkedIn and ASmallWorld. New Media & Society, 11(1–2): 199–220.Google Scholar
  59. Pascoe, C. J. (2005). ‘Dude, You’re a Fag’: Adolescent masculinity and the fag discourse. Sexualities, 8(3): 329–346.Google Scholar
  60. Pink, S., Horst, H., Postill, J., Hjorth, L., Lewis, T., & Tacchi, J. (2016). Digital ethnography: Principles and practice. London, UK: Sage.Google Scholar
  61. Powell, A. (2015). Seeking rape justice: Formal and informal responses to sexual violence through technosocial counter-publics. Theoretical Criminology, 19(4): 571–588.Google Scholar
  62. Presdee, M. (2000). Cultural criminology and the carnival of crime. London, UK: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Pyrooz, D. C., Decker, S. H., & Moule, R. K. (2015). Criminal and routine activities in online settings: Gangs, offenders, and the Internet. Justice Quarterly, 32(3): 471–499.Google Scholar
  64. Riches, R. (1986). The phenomenon of violence. In D. Riches (Ed.), The anthropology of violence. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  65. Robards, B., & Bennett, A. (2011). MyTribe: Post-subcultural manifestations of belonging on social network sites. Sociology, 45(2): 303–317.Google Scholar
  66. Robins, K. (1999). Against virtual community: For a politics of distance. Angelaki, 4(2): 163–170.Google Scholar
  67. Ross, L., Greene, D., & House, P. (1977). The ‘false consensus effect’: An egocentric bias in social perception and attribution processes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 13(3): 279–301.Google Scholar
  68. Ross, N. (2011). Teen in court over series of random attacks in CBD. Herald Sun, February 28. Retrieved October 16, 2016, from
  69. Rowe, C. (2009). E-mail play and accelerated change. In C. Rowe & E. L. Wyss (Eds.), Language and new media: Linguistic, cultural, and technological evolutions. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.Google Scholar
  70. Salter, M. (2013). Justice and revenge in online counter-publics: Emerging responses to sexual violence in the age of social media. Crime Media Culture, 9(3): 225–242.Google Scholar
  71. Salter, M. (2016). ‘Real men don’t hit women’: Constructing masculinity in the prevention of violence against women. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 49(4): 463–479.Google Scholar
  72. Sandberg, S. (2008). Street capital: Ethnicity and violence on the streets of Oslo. Theoretical Criminology, 12(2): 153–171.Google Scholar
  73. Sauter, T. (2014). ‘What’s on your mind?’ Writing on Facebook as a tool for self-formation. New Media & Society, 16(5): 823–839.Google Scholar
  74. Schandorf, M. (2012). Mediated gesture: Paralinguistic communication and phatic text. Convergence, 19(3): 319–344.Google Scholar
  75. Seidler, K. (2010). Crime, culture and violence: Understanding how masculinity and identity shapes offending. Bowen Hills, Australia: Australian Academic Press.Google Scholar
  76. Short, J. A., Williams, E., & Christie, B. (1976). The social psychology of telecommunications. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  77. Spears, R., & Lea, M. (1992). Social influence and the influence of the ‘social’ in computer-mediated communication. In M. Lea (Ed.), Contexts of computer mediated communication. London, UK: Harvester Wheatsheaf.Google Scholar
  78. Sproull, L., & Kiesler, S. (1991). Connections: New ways of working in the networked organization. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  79. Staiger, J. (2005). Media reception studies. New York, NY: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  80. Suler, J. (2004). The online disinhibition effect. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 7(3): 321–326.Google Scholar
  81. Sutherland, E. H. (1939). Principles of criminology. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott.Google Scholar
  82. Trahan, A. (2011). Qualitative research and intersectionality. Critical Criminology, 19(1): 1–14.Google Scholar
  83. van Dijck, J. (2012). Facebook and the engineering of connectivity: A multi-layered approach to social media platforms. Convergence, 19(2): 141–155.Google Scholar
  84. Wacquant, L. J. D. (1995). Pugs at work: Bodily capital and bodily labour among professional boxers. Body and Society, 1(1): 65–93.Google Scholar
  85. Warner, M. (2002). Publics and counterpublics. Cambridge, MA: Zone Books.Google Scholar
  86. Watt, K. (2013). Participatory promises: Living through resistance at the theater. Theater, 43(3): 36–49.Google Scholar
  87. Wikström, P. O. H., & Sampson, R. J. (2003). Social mechanisms of community influences on crime and pathways in criminality. In B. Lahey, T. Moffitt, & A. Caspi (Eds.), The causes of conduct disorder and serious juvenile delinquency. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  88. Williams, M. (2006). Virtually criminal: Crime, deviance and regulation online. London, UK: Routledge.Google Scholar
  89. Willson, M. (1997). Community in the abstract: A political and ethical dilemma. In D. Holmes (Ed.), Virtual politics. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  90. Wood, M. A. (2016). ‘I just wanna see someone get knocked the fuck out’: Spectating affray on Facebook fight pages. Crime Media Culture. doi:
  91. Wood, M. A. (2017). Antisocial media and algorithmic deviancy amplification: Analysing the id of Facebook’s technological unconscious. Theoretical Criminology, 21(2): 168–185.Google Scholar
  92. Zimmerman, G. M., & Messner, S. F. (2011). Neighborhood context and nonlinear peer effects on adolescent violent crime. Criminology, 49(3): 873–903.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark A. Wood
    • 1
  1. 1.CriminologyUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

Personalised recommendations