Jiyeon Kang’s academic interests include online activism, youth culture, vernacular rhetoric, and globalization.
Her research focuses on conceptualizing the democratic potential of the Internet, with a specific interest in the communicative dynamics and cultural norms that have emerged in the contexts of youth-driven social movements and online communities. Her forthcoming book Igniting the Internet: Youth and Activism in Postauthoritarian South Korea examines a decade of Internet activism in South Korea by combining rhetorical analysis of online communities with ethnographic interviews. The book attends to the political significance of the Internet as not only an extension of existing politics but also a new social space in which the circulation of multisensory texts invites users to act upon their previously unarticulated yet shared desires and grievances. It also draws attention to long-term changes in political sensibilities even after the period of activism has passed. She has additionally published articles on vernacular discourse on the web, collective agency, unintended political effects, and memories of Internet-born activism.
Kang’s upcoming projects explore “new civilities” on the Internet, referring not simply to politeness but to the transforming social and ethical norms of coexistence. Her article-length project examines how a marginalized group maintains its distinct style in the digital environment, resisting attempts to dismiss it as emotional, rude, or disrespectful. She is concurrently working on a collaborative book-length project with Nancy Abelmann and Xia Zhang on the novel and varied civilities at play in the online communities of international undergraduate students in the U.S., China, and South Korea.