Diamond Hands to The Moon: Idiocultural Mobilization and Politicization of Personal Finance on r/wallstreetbets

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningfagfællebedømt


In January 2021, the shares of the brick-and-mortar video games retail chain GameStop exploded in value. At the same time, billboards on highways and ads in Times Square in New York City used cryptic visuals and seemingly meaningless emojis with diamonds and rockets. Mainstream media soon had an explanation: This was the story of how the subreddit r/wallstreetbets had mobilized thousands of retail investors in a fight against evil hedge funds. Based on a case study of r/wallstreetbets and the GameStop incident, we analyze how idiosyncratic internet culture was incorporated into a broadly resonant and emotionally inflected narrative that lionized the ‘little man’, focusing on both individual profits and collective grievances. Through a theoretical framework combining sociological theories of internet culture and framing analysis, we identify an overall communication structure that drew on three interconnected discursive layers: idiocultural memes, investment-specific information, and a moralized, collectivized injustice frame with heroes and villains. We further argue that the GameStop (GME) incident instantiates a case of the politicization of personal finance, where the investment practices and strategies of ordinary people were transformed into a political issue. As such, the article makes two contributions to the existing literature. First, we contribute to the nascent literature on internet cultures related to personal finance by looking at a specific subreddit devoted to stock trading and investing. Second, we show how idiocultural elements, such as emojis and memes, can function both as contested and exclusionary material aimed at insiders and as flexible components of communications framed for broad mobilization through emotionally resonant notions of grievance and injustice.
TidsskriftConvergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies
Antal sider18
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 2023


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