Open Social Scholarship Annotated Bibliography/Action and Activism

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Open Social Scholarship Annotated Bibliography
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Category Overview[edit]

Most often, activism involves campaign-based practices calling for social or political action. In recent years, there has been an increase of activism in the digital medium, due to the wider scope of outreach and visibility available online. This category offers resources on how the internet and social media help enhance social activism. It contains articles on Hacktivism (i.e., hacking computer systems for political and social purposes) (Losh 2012), activist blogging (Merry 2013), and social networks such as Twitter (Boyraz et al. 2011; Merry 2013; Sandoval-Almazan 2014). Certain authors approach online activism critically (Bennett 2004), and others study the growth of activism by looking into how specific websites allow for greater potential in political and social work. Various case studies are referenced in this category to highlight the potential of online tools in specific revolutionary movements, including the Dutch campaign “Wij vertrouwen stemcomputers niet,” which translates to “We do not trust voting computers” (a campaign against electronic voting, Oostveen 2010), and “Stop the War Coalition” (a British anti-war organization, Pickerill 2009). This category includes contemporary examples of how activism has been carried out through various online platforms and addresses the effectiveness of such practices.

Annotations[edit]

Bennett, W. Lance. 2004. “Communicating Global Activism: Strengths and Vulnerabilities of Networked Politics.” In Cyberprotest: New Media, Citizens, and Social Movements, edited by Wilm van de Donk, Brian D. Loader, Paul G. Nixon, and Dieter Rucht, 123–46. London: Routledge.

Bennett explores how digital communication affects political movements in favour of individuals and communities with limited resources. The author’s observations suggest that digital communication practices affect the growth and forms of global activism. He claims that there is a relationship between communication practices and the evolution of democracy, suggesting that personal digital networks are channeling the movement known as media democracy. In his article, Bennett conducts an analysis that studies the strengths and vulnerabilities of communication practices that allow transnational activism. The various sections address the social contexts of internet activism, identity in distributed social networks, politics in distributed communication networks, and the organization of protest networks. Bennett studies communication as a political strategy and organizational resource by analyzing online protest activities. The author also addresses permanent campaigns and political organization and suggests that network structures shape the coherence of communication content. He concludes that the distributed electronic public sphere has the potential of becoming the exemplar of public information in various aspects of politics.

Bennett, W. Lance, and Alexandra Segerberg. 2011. “Digital Media and the Personalization of Collective Action.” Information, Communication & Society 14 (6): 770–99. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1369118X.2011.579141.

Benentt and Segerberg investigate the 2009 G20 London Summit during the global financial crisis and analyze how protest networks used digital media to mobilize engaged individuals. They study different forms of personalization and personalized politics, including degrees of flexibility in affiliation, issue definition, and expression. The authors address digital communication in the organization of at protest and focus on the political capacity of collective action networks as well as the mobilization of individualized publics. Bennett and Segerberg explore individualized technology and organization of protest networks, asking questions about conventional political capacities and organizational communication. They also address protests against the economic crisis, as well as protest coalitions and personalized communication, in order to analyze methods used during the mobilization process. Benett and Segerberg investigate personalized communication and protest capacity, including engagement strength, agenda strength, and network strength. The authors conclude that the coalition that adopted more personalized communication strategies maintained the strongest network, and that organization networks can benefit from digital media applications for more coherent, collective work.

Boyraz, Maggie, Aparna Krishnan, and Danille Catona. 2011. “Who is Retweeted in Times of Political Protest? An Analysis of Characteristics of Top Tweeters and Top Retweeted Users During the 2011 Egyptian Revolution.” Atlantic Journal of Communication 23 (2): 99–119. http://doi.org/10.1080/15456870.2015.1013103.

Boyraz, Krishnan, and Catona study factors that affected retweets on Twitter during the Egyptian revolution of 2011. They both present an overview of Twitter and briefly contextualize the revolution. Boyraz, Krishnan, and Catona focus on factors such as source and content that increase how viral a message on Twitter becomes in times of crisis. They also address top tweeters versus top retweeted users by studying what characteristics might differentiate the former from the latter and stress the importance of content during a political protest. The authors discuss source characteristics—credibility, sociability, connectivity, and content choices (the latter considers language intensity, information sharing, and social action)—to assess persuasiveness according to the number of retweets. The dataset was obtained from TwapperKeeper, which contains 150,000 tweets from 45,000 users posted between January 25th and February 11th 2011 using the #Jan25 hashtag. The findings show that users closer to the action, with more media affiliation, longer account duration, and more followers are more likely to be retweeted. The authors have also found that sharing information did not affect the number of retweets and that there was an absence of social action features. They conclude that microblogging is yet to be explored by communication scholars, since tools like Twitter can be utilized in various ways and allows immediate sharing of information as an outlet when other channels are blocked.

Deibert, Ronald J. 2000. “International Plug N’ Play? Citizen Activism, the Internet and Global Public Policy.” International Studies Perspectives 1: 255–72. https://doi.org/10.1111/1528-3577.00026.

Deibert examines the use of the internet and the World Wide Web by citizen users lobbying against the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI). He highlights various reasons why this case is instructive, emphasizing that press accounts, academic studies, and state and civil society participation in this campaign suggested a strong connection between anti-MAI and the internet. He suggests that the internet helped groups to pressure politicians and publicize anti-MAI views. Deibert explores the nonstate actor inclusion in international policy processes, nongovernmental organizations’ legitimacy, and the internet configuration for a viable public sphere. He claims that a rethinking of the architecture of global politics is necessary for the inclusion of citizen networks into the world operating system. He also studies the role of the internet in the success of the citizen networks and the alternative results of the campaign without the internet. Deibert continues to look at the global public policy implications, elaborating on issues regarding domestic and international forum actors, the multiplicity and diversity of citizen networks and their issues of classification, inclusion of citizen networks, and internet governance public policy. He concludes that the MAI exemplifies how the internet is responsible for boosting the reach of citizen networks and refutes arguments suggesting that the internet is an unsustainable platform, thereby legitimizing civil society networks in world politics.

Filipacchi, Amanda. 2013. “Wikipedia’s Sexism Toward Female Novelists.” New York Times, April 24, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/28/opinion/sunday/wikipedias-sexism-toward-female-novelists.html?_r=0.

Filipacchi addresses an important gender-related activity on Wikipedia that occurred in April 2013: namely, that female authors listed on the “American Novelists” Wikipedia page were being moved to the category “American Women Novelists,” whereas male authors listed on the same page remained. Wikipedia editors justified this migration by stating that there are too many entries under the “American Novelists” category. But what Filipacchi finds most troubling is that the original page was not then renamed to “American Male Novelists,” which implies that American novelists are de facto male. The entries were moved by alphabetical order, and after some investigation, the author also noticed that the same is true for Haitian novelists. Filipacchi notified the Word of Mouth (WOM) published female writer listserv about this problem, which responded with outrage and immediate action to remediate the issue. She concludes by highlighting the need for Wikipedia editors and users to acknowledge the weight of such decisions.

Ghobadi, Shahla, and Stewart Clegg. 2015. “‘These Days Will Never Be Forgotten …’: A Critical Mass Approach to Online Activism.” Information and Organization 25 (1): 52–71. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.infoandorg.2014.12.002.

Ghobadi and Clegg explore the phenomenon of social activism by studying its dynamics in a web environment. They present an overview of the literature available on online activism, the theoretical perspectives of political systems, and their vulnerability to change. Their research methodology consists of three complementary cases, including data collection and data analysis. The results of the study allow an understanding of the progress of online activism over time in terms of the role in shaping collective action and social movements. They read initial conditions, interventions, and subsequent conditions. Ghobadi and Clegg conclude that their study shows how two opposing forces of encouraging and inhibiting interventions are initiated and what societal outcomes their interplay would create.

Häyhtiö, Tapio, and Jarmo Rinne. 2007. “Hard Rock Hallelujah! Empowering Reflexive Political Action on the Internet.” Journal for Cultural Research 11 (4): 337–58. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14797580802038702.

Häyhtiö and Rinne study individualized political participation and activity on the internet by looking into the Finnish internet protest campaigning against gossip journalism (May 2006). They claim that this study provides insight into the dynamics, patterns of change, and variety of political activity on the internet. The authors set the case study in the context of reflexive politics, referring to the politicization of private worries and issue-specific questions, and also focus on the motivations of the protest from the perspective of political consumerism. Häyhtiö and Rinne explore how the repertoire and forms of citizen-oriented politics are transformed into individualized politics through a complex multi-spatial environment. The authors discuss the phenomenon of reflexive politics, explaining that reflexivity proposes active interaction between the individual and the surrounding world, and claiming that politicized issues are enhanced by personal interests and aims. They discuss reflexive politics emerging from an incident at the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest, where a Finnish hard-rock band, Lordi, performed in monster costumes and won the contest that year. This incident triggered a debate since it was frowned upon by conservatives, who associated the band with sacrilege, but also enduced a sense of national cultural identity for the general population, elicited by the symbolic Finnish attire of the band. Häyhtiö and Rinne address the political consumerism that motivates the internet campaign by studying the political aftermath of the Lordi incident and the de-medialisation (the circulation of unfiltered and unedited communication) and self-made publicness as an arena of politics (347). The authors conclude that access to the internet makes it possible for any individual to participate in public discussions and shape their agenda in online forums. They also assert that self-made publicness emphasizes anti-hierarchical free spaces.

Howard, Philip N., Sheetal D. Agarwal, and Muzammil M. Hussain. 2011. “When Do States Disconnect Their Digital Networks? Regime Responses to the Political Uses of Social Media.” The Communication Review 14 (3): 216–32. https://doi.org/10.1080/10714421.2011.597254.

Howard, Agarwal, and Hussain study various cases during which governments have censored and interfered in internet networks. They claim that democratization movements preceded technologies like the mobile phone and the internet, but that these technologies have allowed individuals to build networks, create social capital, and organize political action. The authors suggest that digital media and online social networking applications have affected the organization of dissent around the world. They explain that authoritarian regimes were able to control broadcast media easily during political crises before the age of digital media. This new media has complicated the task and occasionally forces regimes to disable their national information infrastructures. Howard, Agarwal, and Hussain claim that by collecting known incidents during which the state intervenes in information networks, one can map out contours of crisis situations, political risks, and civic innovations for the purpose of understanding the relationship between state power and civil society. They conduct a comparative case analysis of instances where regimes disconnected portions of their national digital infrastructures. In doing so, Howard, Agarwal, and Hussain can define the range of situations in which states have hindered substantial segments of their national information infrastructure. They reveal that democracies also disconnect their communication networks, not just authoritarian regimes. The authors claim that the internet is an information infrastructure independent of the state for the most part, making it an incubator for social movements. Howard, Agarwal, and Hussain discuss states’ tactics, explaining that two themes govern the states’ interference: the first theme includes protecting political leaders and state institutions, and the second theme is about preserving the public good. They conclude that information infrastructure is in itself politics, as its disconnection creates stop-gap measures that reinforce public expectations for global connectivity.

Lam, Shyong K., Anuradha Uduwage, Zhenhua Dong, Shilad Sen, David R. Musicant, Loren Terveen, and John Riedl. 2011. “WP: Clubhouse? An Exploration of Wikipedia’s Gender Imbalance.” WikiSym 2011. http://files.grouplens.org/papers/wp-gender-wikisym2011.pdf.

Lam, Uduwage, Dong, Sen, Musicant, Terveen, and Riedl recognize the role of Wikipedia as a central public venue of knowledge in contemporary scholarship populated by thousands of volunteer editors. However, an important imbalance in the structure of Wikipedia is that the number of male editors vastly outweighs those of female editors. Lam et al. explore possible explanations for such a radical imbalance, and whether this affects the types of topics that are covered more thoroughly in the online encyclopedia. Lam et al. apply quantitative statistical analysis to the English data available on Wikipedia. The results show that the gender gap is substantial and that it does indeed skew the coverage quality on certain topics in Wikipedia, which affects its goal of being a high quality, comprehensive, open encyclopedia. Results also show that female editors are more likely to leave Wikipedia sooner than males; that the gender gap has not been closing over time; that articles with a high female editor involvement are often more highly disputed; that female editors face more reversion than males; and that female editors have a higher chance of being indefinitely blocked. All of these findings point to a Wikipedia culture that is resistant to female participation. Lam et al. conclude that more research needs to be done and concrete steps taken to address this gender imbalance and its underlying reasons.

Losh, Elisabeth. 2012. “Hacktivism and the Humanities: Programming Protest in the Era of the Digital University.” In Debates in the Digital Humanities, edited by Matthew Gold, 161–86. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. http://dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/debates/text/32.

Losh argues that examining theories of hacking and hacktivism (hacking computer systems for political and social purposes), as well as the nonviolent political investment in digital tools, is becoming of greater importance. She supports this claim by pointing to the relationship with political protests in educational institutions and in the realms of coding and programming. Starting with the issue of digital dissent, Losh explains that not everyone using software for political dissent thinks that hacktivism and research go together naturally. The author uses the example of HyperCities (Presner, Shepard, and Kawano 2014) to show how GIS-based digital humanities practices have adopted digital mapping technologies originally used in human rights work of NGOs. She argues that this potentially positions digital humanities scholars as agents of change. Losh continues to discuss electronic civil disobedience, describing it as a form of political resistance in the field of digital humanities—one that is recently becoming more prominent in professional associations. She also addresses critical information studies, tackling digital ephemera, political coding, and performative hacking. When talking about hacking the academy, the author suggests that change in the university is necessary, and partnerships between social actors and political interests are encouraged. Losh asks whether or not hacktivism is relevant to the field and claims that the answer depends on the context. She concludes that systems may need to be broken in order to understand how the relationship between symbolic representation humanists and political representation activists is formed.

Mako Hill, Benjamin, and Aaron Shaw. 2013. “The Wikipedia Gender Gap Revisited: Characterizing Survey Response Bias with Propensity Score Estimation.” PLOS ONE. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0065782.

Mako Hill and Shaw demonstrate a novel approach to calculate the demographics of Wikipedia contributors. They design their calculation as a response to the Wikimedia Foundation and United Nations University at Maastricht (WMF/UNU-Merit) survey of 2008 that sought to calculate the demographics of contributors to Wikipedia and flagged the gender imbalance—less than 13% female contribution—that resulted in Wikimedia Foundation’s initiative to raise the number of female contributors to Wikipedia by 25%. According to the authors, this estimate is inaccurate since it fails to take into account the numerous complexities that are involved in calculating the number of contributors. This has resulted in a discrepancy of the actual number of women contributors to Wikipedia, which, according to Mako Hill’s and Shaw’s calculations, are 26.8% higher than the WMF/UNU-Merit estimates, with a total of 16.1% instead of 12.7%. They also found that married people and parents are also underestimated, and that students’ and immigrants’ contribution to Wikipedia has been overestimated. Although they acknowledge that there is no ultimate formula to calculate the exact ratio, they claim that the study described in this article has a more sound approach than the one in the original study of the WMF/UNU-Merit estimates.

McDonald, Kevin. 2015. “From Indymedia to Anonymous: Rethinking Action and Identity in Digital Cultures.” Information, Communication & Society 18 (8): 968–82. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1369118X.2015.1039561.

McDonald explores Anonymous, an international collaboration of hacktivists and activists, particularly its emergence and role in the campaign against Scientology (2008) and in the Occupy Wall Street movement (2011). According to Macdonald, Anonymous emphasizes dimensions of digital culture, including the ephemeral, the grotesque, and memes. He argues that the analysis of contemporary conflicts and political mobilizations (such as the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, and the Indignados movement in Spain) need to encompass new forms of communication in the digital realm. McDonald looks beyond collective identity and networks to focus on movements, information, and communication. The author also addresses the legacy of Indymedia and its networking practices. In addition, he addresses the use of masking as a social practice, stating it is done primary for symbolizing the transformation from one state to another, or accessing a form of power, rather than merely as a means of concealing an identity. He explains that microblogs like “I am the 99%” and Anonymous cannot be classified as networking practices, as they construct singularity through the relationship between what is visible and what is not. He concludes that this article is the beginning of an exploration of practices framed around masking, the ephemeral, contingency, creativity, temporality, and refusal of a fixed identity in the realm of collective action, power, and conflict in online spaces.

Merry, Melissa K. 2011. “Interest Group Activism on the Web: The Case of Environmental Organization.” Journal of Information Technology & Politics 8 (1): 110–28. http://www-tandfonline-com.ezproxy.library.uvic.ca/doi/abs/10.1080/19331681.2010.508003.

Merry analyzes the content of 200 environmental group websites in order to answer two questions: “to what extent has the internet disrupted patterns of resource accumulation and voice among interest groups?” and “how do groups use the internet to connect citizens to government, and to what extent do group characteristics explain those uses?”(110). Merry attempts to assess the effects of the internet on interest groups by reviewing the nature of interest group politics before the internet, suggesting that the internet disrupts the uneven distribution of resources and political influence. She explains that the internet allows groups to have stronger links between citizen and government by enhancing political participation. The author argues that popularity of groups’ websites is tied to their financial resources. Merry explains that there are two criteria for the inclusion of groups: that these groups work on national or regional level environmental issues and that they have websites. According to the study, political participation is encouraged by campaigns that include action alerts and requests for donation. She concludes that the internet has helped smaller and lesser-known organizations and suggests that groups use their websites for purposes of information dissemination and political participation.

Merry, Melissa K. 2013. “Tweeting for a Cause: Microblogging and Environmental Advocacy.” Policy and Internet 5 (3): 304–27. https://doi.org/10.1002/1944-2866.POI335.

Merry discusses the implications of social media in public policy and government issues. She approaches Twitter as a microblogging site and evaluates how environmental interest groups use it for purposes of public outreach. Merry focuses on features of Twitter and how they shape interest group advocacy, exploring the implications of the activities of Twitter groups and the role they play in defining the problems, specifically those related to the government. She claims that the content analysis she conducts on the communications about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (2010) shows that Twitter was a quicker and more sustainable medium for interest groups during the disaster. In a section on cyberactivism and the policy process, the author explains that the internet is integral to advocacy strategies as it is a low-cost medium for activists and a platform that supports information dissemination. She also addresses Twitter’s unique features and implications for advocacy, highlighting its transformative potential for interest groups. Merry follows the event-centered approach to conduct the study at hand, focusing on environmental groups and their responses to the disaster. The results of the study consider the speed of communication, patterns of issue attention over time, policy-relevant content, hyperlinks, and hashtags. She concludes that the medium used by interest groups plays a role in framing events and speeding up dissemination.

Mihailidis, Paul. 2014. “The Civic-Social Media Disconnect: Exploring Perceptions of Social Media for Engagement in the Daily Life of College Students.” Information, Communication & Society 17 (9): 1059–71. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2013.877054.

Mihailidis studies the perception of young adults in terms of social media habits and dispositions. He explores how young people’s perception of social media influences the ways they use these tools to engage in daily social and civic life. He also studies how they use social networks to engage in conversations around public issues. Mihailidis asks, “how do college students use social media for daily information and communication needs?” and “how do college students perceive social media’s role in daily life?”(1061). He conducts a study on 873 college students from nine universities by asking them to complete a 57-question survey. From these, the author selected a sample of 71 participants. The study results in findings that the author discusses according to the following separate sections: peer-content drives news consumption and political expression, extending relationships through public networks, social learning, and leisure. Several findings emerged, including the resistance to using popular social networks in professional settings, which suggests that the tools in question are not the best tools for serious matters. Furthermore, the article suggests that the tools are social amplifiers that lack real context for concrete civic uses. The third implication is that the tools integrate various forms of content, disrupt the typical information flow, and facilitate peer-to-peer communication. Mihailidis concludes that social media enhances expression, sharing, creation, consumption, and collaboration, and that a full recognition of the opportunities provided by social media is essential in order to preserve the value of social media tools in daily civic life.

**Milberry, Kate. 2006. “Reconstructing the Internet: How Social Justice Activists Contest Technical Design in Cyberspace.” Media Culture Journal 9 (1): n.p. http://journal.media-culture.org.au/0603/10-milberry.php.

Milberry explores how activists have shaped the internet to fit technical needs and movement goals. She begins by exploring geeks and global justice, namely how tech activism joins the free software ethos and concerns for social justice, explaining that the novelty of tech activism is in the incorporation of democratic goals of the global justice movement (GJM) into the technology itself. Milberry elaborates on the concept of politicizing technology, arguing that tech activists in global justice return to computer technology development for their political action. She addresses movements such as Indymedia, Free Software, and Wild Wild Wikis. The author concludes that since the internet is socially constructed, users are able to contribute to its development by shaping its future direction, allowing it to bridge the gap between geek and activist communities, and supporting a digital infrastructure for progressive worldwide activism.

Oostveen, Anne-Marie. 2010. “Citizens and Activists: Analysing the Reasons, Impact, and Benefits of Civic Emails Directed at a Grassroots Campaign.” Information, Communication & Society 13 (6): 793–819. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691180903277637.

Oostveen studies the exchange of emails between citizens and campaigners, specifically how such interactions can inform campaign tactics. She refers to Ennis and Schreuers’s (1987) notion of weak supporters who claim to be neglected in the social movement literature. She studies whether individuals are engaged in political writing in the internet age by reviewing emails sent by citizens to the general email addresses of a campaign. She also investigates reasons for which citizens used emails as their means of communication with activists, particularly whether or not these emails influenced the tactics of the activists and contributed to the outcomes of the campaign. She introduces the Dutch campaign she is working with, “Wij vertrouwen stemcomputers niet,” which translates to “We do not trust voting computers.” The content of the emails studied varied between the following categories: proponents vs. opponents, complaints, off topic, information provision, volunteering, discussion and alternative solutions, and strategic input. She concludes that those emailing received personal replies and that getting serious feedback is a positive experience that increases the sense of political efficacy and commitment for citizens in addition to making the activists more aware of their own strategies.

Pickerill, Jenny. 2009. “Symbolic Production, Representation, and Contested Identities: Anti-War Activism Online.” Information, Communication & Society 12 (7): 969–93. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691180802524469.

Pickerill explores the value of the symbolic dimension of collective action. She conducts three cumulative forms of analysis, which aim to explain how the symbolic domain is used. The author explains the strategic choices behind this use, and links these representational choices to the subjective experience of the individual and to their processes of political identity construction. This is done through five case studies of British anti-war and peace organizations – the Stop the War Coalition, Faslane 365, the Society of Friends, Justice Not Vengeance, and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. She starts by studying online representations and collective identities, and claims that considering collective action as cognitive praxis is essential for an understanding of the operations and achievements of social movements. Pickerill continues to unpack how groups represent themselves, focusing on multiple online interventions, the use of iconic and confirmatory material, and the use of representation as projection. She also explains representational strategies that include organizational principle and ideological frameworks, diversity and frame bridging, and information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the enduring importance of face-to-face communication. The last section investigates the change of the politics of identity through the case of Muslim anti-war activists. The author concludes that groups have used ICT in three common ways: in multifarious formats and interventions, in confirmatory ways, and as means of symbolizing power and alliance with other groups.

Presner, Todd, David Shepard, and Yoh Kawano. 2014. HyperCities: Thick Mapping in Digital Humanities. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/3mh5t455.

In this monograph, Presner, Shepard, and Kawano explore digital humanities mapping. They begin by emphasizing the multiplicity implied by the prefix “hyper” and draw on the multiple spaces, media, records, and participants in hypertexts and HyperCities. They define HyperCities evolving maps of real cities overlaid with thick information documenting the place’s past, present, and future. The authors first introduce their audience to the theories and ideas of HyperCities, thick mapping, and digital humanities before turning to the specifics of the HyperCities project. Presner, Shepard, and Kawano highlight the collaborative authorship of the book and use different fonts to signal each of their authorial voices. They argue that by including multiple voices (themselves and other project leaders) they are able to open up “windows” into the HyperCities project as well as showcase the texture and variety of digital mapping projects more generally. Overall, Presner, Shepard, and Kawano make clear how digital mapping initiatives endeavour to recreate representations of place by bringing together the methods, content, and values of humanities research.

Ritzer, George, and Nathan Jurgenson. 2010. “Production, Consumption, Prosumption: The Nature of Capitalism in the Age of the Digital ‘Prosumer.’” Journal of Consumer Culture 10 (1): 13–36.

Ritzer and Jurgenson discuss the rise of prosumer capitalism, where they explain that prosumption involves production and consumption. The authors present an overview of production, consumption, and presumption. They investigate prosumer society and capitalism in the age of the prosumer. Ritzer and Jurgenson address “the inability of capitalists to control contemporary prosumers and their greater resistance to the incursions of capitalism” (22). They explain that one “cannot ignore the gains for individuals as reasons for the rise of presumption” (25). The authors explore the possibility of the emergence of a new economic form through Web 2.0 and investigate elements of abundance and effectiveness. They conclude with the notion that prosumer capitalist companies stand back from prosumers rather than attempt to control them.

Sandoval-Almazan, Rodrigo, and J. Ramon Gil-Garcia. 2014. “Towards Cyberactivism 2.0? Understanding the Use of Social Media and Other Information Technologies for Political Activism and Social Movements.” Government Information Quarterly 31 (3): 365–78. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.giq.2013.10.016.

Sandoval-Almazan and Gil-Garcia present a model for analyzing the use of social media tools in social and political activism and apply this model to three protests in Mexico. They also investigate the effects of these tools on political activism. The authors aim to understand the process and the various stages of the development of the new form of activism known as Cyberactivism 2.0. Dividing their article into five different sections, Sandoval-Almazan and Gil-Garcia present a literature review on social movements, cyberactivism, and internet technologies, and propose a stage-based model of cyberactivism and social media. They delineate their research design and methods, emphasizing the idea that their work aims to analyze the evolution of activism using technology, and to combine traditional and online data collection. The authors also read into the evolution of cyberactivism by studying three cases in Mexico that include Cyberactivism 1.0, Twitter activism, and Cyberactivism 2.0. When discussing the results and implications, Sandoval-Almazan and Gil-Garcia identify differences and similarities across the three cases. They conclude that the use of online tools in social protest has had significant impact on promoting political activism, mobilizing certain portions of the society, and enhancing dissemination potentials for activist causes.

Tambini, Damian. 1999. “New Media and Democracy: The Civic Networking Movement.” New Media & Society 1 (3): 305–29. https://doi.org/10.1177/14614449922225609.

Tambini examines the use of computer-mediated communication (CMC) by civic networks and how it encourages democratic citizenship by studying the general implications of new media and democratic communication. He argues that CMC has implications for the formation and organization of political identity, and that the realization of the CMC’s democratic potential requires that access to digital media is non-redistricted. Tambini explores the civic networking movement and how it became a trend due to the interplay of different strategies in political contexts; the author also explores various network designs. He explains that new civic networking occurs while institutions of democratic communication are at stake due to migration and multiculturalism. Tambini also claims that mass access and user-friendliness are new phenomena and constitute a turning point in public spheres. The author aims to understand the problem of regulating media in relation to the broader realm of social, political, and technological change. The author also discusses computer-mediated communication and democracy and investigates ways of using CMC to rejuvenate active citizenship, including information provision/access to information, preference measurement (referenda, polls and representation), deliberation, and will formation/organization. On issues in network design, he lists bias, regulation, and access. Tambini concludes that civic networking is still in its early stages and emphasizes the value of the future of civic networking.

Van Aelst, Peter, and Stefaan Walgrave. 2002. “New Media, New Movements? The Role of the Internet in Shaping the ‘Anti-Globalization’ Movement.” Information, Communication & Society 5 (4): 465–93. doi:10.1080/13691180208538801.

Van Aelst and Walgrave discuss the impact of the growth of the internet on political processes. They argue that information and communication technologies facilitate participation in politics, which is thus made easier, faster, and more universal. The authors focus on anti-globalization protests and the formation of new social movements that are affected by these new media. Van Aelst and Walgrave study three conditions that establish movement formation, which are a shared definition of the problem as a basis for collective identity, actual mobilization of participants, and a network of different organizations. They provide an overview of transnational protest actions against globalization, and investigate the limitations and opportunities of the internet. They select 17 websites for their data, choosing sites of organizations mentioned in news reports on major anti-globalization protests. The websites were divided into three different groups: sites devoted to single events, social organizations or action groups fully or partly engaged in anti-globalization, and supportive organizations. The study aims to find whether the mentioned sites define anti-globalization in a similar manner, what mobilization function they fulfill, and the links between the organizations. They conclude that globalization is framed as an economic problem that has negative consequences on human beings and the environment, that politically there is lack of democratic legitimacy, and that the websites analyzed are hyperlinked to each other, which creates a network of related organizations.

Van Laer, Jeroen, and Peter Van Aelst. 2010. “Internet and Social Movement Action Repertoires: Opportunities and Limitations.” Information, Communication & Society 13 (8): 1146–71. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691181003628307.

Van Laer and Van Aelst explain how the internet contributes to the shaping of the collective action repertoire of social movements that are involved in social and political change. They explain that the internet allows new forms of online protest activities and enhances offline forms of social movements. The authors define social movements as networks of informal interaction engaged in causes based on shared collective identity, and their action repertoire as a means available for collective use to make claims on individuals and groups. They particularly focus on unorthodox and unconventional political behavior. Discussing a typology of new digitalized action repertoire, Van Laer and Van Aelst study the actual possibilities the internet provides. They present four quadrants of the digital action repertoire: internet-supported action with low threshold, internet-supported action with high threshold, internet-based action with low threshold, and internet-based action with high threshold. The authors explore the limitations of the internet and the action repertoire of social movements, arguing that digital media are fundamentally unable to create stable ties between activists to help maintain collective action. They conclude that the internet has changed the action repertoire of social movements by allowing existing action forms to reach more people in faster and easier ways, and by creating new tools for activism.

References[edit]

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  • Oostveen, Anne-Marie. 2010. “Citizens and Activists: Analysing the Reasons, Impact, and Benefits of Civic Emails Directed at a Grassroots Campaign.” Information, Communication & Society 13 (6): 793–819. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691180903277637.
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  • Van Aelst, Peter, and Stefaan Walgrave. 2002. “New Media, New Movements? The Role of the Internet in Shaping the ‘Anti-Globalization’ Movement.” Information, Communication & Society 5 (4): 465–93. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691180208538801.
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Open Social Scholarship Annotated Bibliography
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