Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Dr. Tony Christensen

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Status degradation ceremonies are a process through which a denouncer(s) and members of a community shift an individual’s status within their social group to a lower position (Garfinkel, 1956). Current status degradation ceremony literature primarily focuses on ceremonies that are carried out by formal officials as well as the impacts of these ceremonies on the denounced individuals. This research provides insights into ceremonies led by “pseudo-officials,” individuals or groups who hold no formally recognised position but claim to act in the public interest in the same manner as formally appointed officials are expected to. This exploratory case study focuses on the cyber-vigilante organisation Creep Catchers and their attempts to gain legitimacy in their role as a denouncer responsible for carrying out status degradation ceremonies. Using a social constructionist framework, the thesis examines how Creep Catchers constructs the sexual exploitation of children online as a widespread, but hidden phenomenon that has been neglected by the officials charged with combatting it. In doing so, Creep Catchers attempts to establish the grounds by which they are justified in their attempts to act as denouncers in status degradation ceremonies that target online child predators. However, legitimacy as a denouncer must be conferred by the audiences who witness the ceremony. Thus, the reaction to Creep Catchers by their online audience is unpacked to examine both the acceptance and rejection of Creep Catchers as legitimate denouncers.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Criminology Commons