Social Movements in the Age of the Internet

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 11:45
Location: Hörsaal 34 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Christina SCHACHTNER, University of Klagenfurt, Austria

The following issues will be covered in this lecture:

-         What are the characteristics of new forms of political participation in the age of the internet?

-         What role does the internet itself play in generating these characteristics?

The leading questions focus on an analysis of the interplay between media structures and participatory action in the internet age, based on the results of the study "Communicative publics in cyberspace", which investigated the behaviour of network activists during the Arab Spring. This is supported by the results of other studies on the Occupy movement, the Bersih movement in Malaysia, the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul and the Spanish Indignadas. In more recent studies on social movements, researchers are interested in both virtual and physical representations of forms of protest because political participation in the internet age does not lend itself to being exiled to one or the other space.

Typical characteristics of new social movements include emotions and concern as a starting point, interconnected experiences, translocality and togetherness. Some of these are qualitatively new; others are very familiar but have been amplified in the context of digital media and/or have taken on specific forms due to their influence.

In the lecture, special attention will be paid to the role of the internet as a space for and instrument of political participation, as digital technology helps define the layers of meaning of new forms of protest, even though the internet itself is not intrinsically democratic. The theoretical concepts behind the empirical analysis include Michel Foucault's heterotopia (1992), the Rhizome concept developed by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (1977), Stuart Hall's approach to representation (1997) and Manuel Castells' (2012) views on new forms of political participation in the context of a mediatised society.