Skip to main content

Activism, Anonymity, Accountability

Pollyanna Ruiz (LSE): Activism, Anonymity, Accountability

Image of Pollyanna RuizWhile the public sphere is in principle open to articulations of dissent, activists frequently perceive themselves to be actively excluded from mainstream public debates. This sense of exclusion is felt particularly acutely by protesters from autonomous traditions whose reluctance to adopt social roles such as leader or spokesperson makes communicating with a hierarchically organized and potentially punitive mainstream even more problematic. The internet appears to offer these activists an alternative route into mainstream arenas by creating temporary spaces of political engagement, which protect individuals’ anonymity while also being accessible to a wide range of interested parties.

This paper will explore the ethical implications raised by autonomous activists’ occupation of both online and offline spaces. It will examine the way in which anonymity furthers both the ideological and organizational interests of these protest movements and reflect upon the more problematic ethical implications of such usage within the wider public sphere. This paper will then conclude by situating these developments within a wider historical context.


Pollyanna is interested in the media’s role in the construction of social and political change. Her research focuses on the ways in which protest movements bridge the gap between their own familiar but marginal spaces, and a mainstream which is suspicious at best and downright hostile at worst. She is particularly interested in the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion as they extend across time and focuses on the potentially productive frictions between differently orientated protest clusters.

 Pollyanna completed her PhD at the University of Sussex in 2010 and is currently a Fellow in the Department of Media and Communication at the London School of Economics. Her book Articulating Dissent; Protest and the Public Sphere will be published by Pluto in 2014.