ABOUT THIS BOOK
A rich sociological analysis of how and why we use anonymity.
In recent years, anonymity has rocked the political and social landscape. There are countless examples: An anonymous whistleblower was at the heart of President Trump’s first impeachment, the hacker group Anonymous compromised more than 77 million Sony accounts, and best-selling author Elena Ferrante resolutely continued to hide her real name and identity. In Anonymous, Thomas DeGloma draws on a fascinating set of contemporary and historical cases to build a sociological theory that accounts for the many faces of anonymity. He asks a number of pressing questions about the social conditions and effects of anonymity. What is anonymity, and why, under various circumstances, do individuals act anonymously? How do individuals accomplish anonymity? How do they use it, and, in some situations, how is it imposed on them?
To answer these questions, DeGloma tackles anonymity thematically, dedicating each chapter to a distinct type of anonymous action, including ones he dubs protective, subversive, institutional, and ascribed. Ultimately, he argues that anonymity and pseudonymity are best understood as performances, in which people obscure personal identities as they make meaning for various audiences. As they bring anonymity and pseudonymity to life, DeGloma shows, people work to define the world around them to achieve different goals and objectives.
Thomas DeGloma is associate professor of sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. He is the author of Seeing the Light: The Social Logic of Personal Discovery and coeditor of Interpreting Contentious Memory: Countermemories and Social Conflicts Over the Past and The Oxford Handbook of Symbolic Interactionism.