Introduction: WikiLeaks as a New Form of Activism

  • Stephen M. E. Marmura


As an electronic whistle-blower platform with global reach, WikiLeaks poses a unique challenge to state and commercial institutions. Yet, its efforts to galvanize the public have met with uneven success. To understand why, and to appreciate WikiLeaks’ significance as an expression of counterpower, it is necessary to consider the informational and communicative paradoxes the group faces. These paradoxes must be examined in relation to the contingencies and longer-term political and economic trends affecting WikiLeaks’ fortunes, and the shifting strategies the group has pursued over time. Attention to these matters provides insight into the nature of the networked, post-truth media environment and the challenges it poses to activists today.


Revelations News State power Counterpower Paradoxes 


  1. Andrejevic, Mark. 2013. Infoglut: How Too Much Information Is Changing the Way We Think and Know. New York/London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Castells, Manuel. 1996. Rise of the Network Society. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  3. ———. 2012. Networks of Outrage and Hope. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  4. Christensen, Christian. 2014. WikiLeaks and the Afterlife of Collateral Murder. International Journal of Communication 8: 2593–2602. Scholar
  5. Curran, James. 2005. Mediations of Democracy. In Mass Media and Society, ed. James Curran and Michael Gurevitch, 122–149. London: Hodder Arnold.Google Scholar
  6. Dean, Jodi. 2002. Publicity’s Secret: How Technoculture Capitalizes on Democracy. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Dunn, Hopeton S. 2013. “Something Old, Something New…”: WikiLeaks and the Collaborating Newspapers – Exploring the Limits of Conjoint Approaches to Political Exposure. In Beyond WikiLeaks: Implications of Communications, Journalism and Society, ed. Benedetta Brevini, Arne Hintz, and Patrick McCurdy, 85–100. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ellul, Jacques. 1965. Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  9. Fenster, Mark. 2012. Disclosure’s Effects: WikiLeaks and Transparency. Iowa Law Review 97: 753–807 Scholar
  10. Giri, Saroj. 2010. WikiLeaks Beyond Wikileaks? Mute, December.
  11. Harsin, Jayson. 2015. Regimes of Posttruth, Postpolitics, and Attention Economies. Communication, Culture and Critique ISSN: 1735-9129.
  12. Harvey, David. 2005. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. McChesney, Robert W. 2008. The Political Economy of Media: Enduring Issues, Emerging Dilemmas. New York: Monthly Review Press.Google Scholar
  14. Sassen, Saskia. 2014. Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Schudson, Michael. 2001. The Objectivity Norm in American Journalism. Journalism 2 (2): 149–170. Scholar
  16. Uricchio, William. 2014. True Confessions: WikiLeaks, Contested Truths, and Narrative Containment. International Journal of Communication 8: 2567–2573. Scholar
  17. Zizek, Slavoj. 2011. Good Manners in the Age of WikiLeaks. London Review of Books 33 (2): 9–10. Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen M. E. Marmura
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologySt. Francis Xavier UniversityAntigonishCanada

Personalised recommendations