Open Access

Emergent self-mediating classes in the digital semiosphere: Covid-19 conspiracies and the climate justice movement


In this article, we advocate for media studies to adopt a systematic evolutionary-complexity model, in order to link the study of human culture and knowledge practices to the biosphere and geosphere, arguing that such global phenomena require a new kind of cultural science. For this purpose, we extend Juri Lotman's model of the semiosphere to the “digital semiosphere”, superseding inherited adversarial models in both mainstream media and media studies. We contrast the mediation of Covid-19 with that of the climate crisis, using Lotman's model to propose that, in the digital semiosphere, the global emergence of girl-led climate activism and far-right Covid-19 conspiracy groups indicates how new social classes are organising around the means of their own mediation. We discuss ways to study and forecast such emergent processes using the means of cultural data analytics and related approaches.