The Communicative Constitution of Atomization: Online Prepper Communities and the Crisis of Collective Action

Emil Husted, Sine Nørholm Just*, Erik Mygind du Plessis, Sara Dahlman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


As environmental and societal crises increase in numbers, severity, and urgency, online forums for so-called “doomsday preppers” have seen a concomitant surge in membership. Beginning from the perspective of communicative constitution of organization, we explore the sociotechnical communities that emerge on such forums. Methodologically, we use netnographic observations to show that online prepper communities are organizational, in the sense of being networks of communicative episodes that use common narratives to build identities around material objects and physical practices. However, the online prepper communities do not move from the enactment of organization to acting as organizations. This observation leads us to conceptualize online prepper communities as atomizations whose communicative constitution does not entail a capacity for collective action, but only manifests the similarity of disparate individuals. The communicative constitution of atomization, we argue, is symptomatic of an underlying social logic, which promotes individualized responses to collective problems.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberjqad005
JournalJournal of Communication
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)368-381
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Published online: 11 February 2023.


  • Doomsday prepping
  • Collective action
  • Communicative constitution of organization
  • Organizationality

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