A little bit about information and society

Power and Networked Social Movements

I presented a paper with Manuel Castells in  the 13th annual meeting of AOIR (Association of Internet Researchers) from a study we are conducting regarding networked social movements. In April we presented some of the findings at the USC Annenberg School for the ANN-SONIC Fourth International Seminar. You can watch the video by clicking here, or you can read below for further explanation about the work and the dynamics of power among stakeholders.

The goal of this study is to analyse the dynamics of power among stakeholders, which play a role in events of political unrest (e.g., political systems, social movements, media), in order to better assess the role of new media and information technologies in that social change.  This is the theoretical framework that we developed for that purpose.

The theoretical framework integrates Network Gatekeeping Theory (Nahon, 2008, 2009, 2011) with Communication Power Theory (Castells, 2009). This integration is based on few basic components to describe power relations in society and, in our case, the attempts of the movements to reprogram political representations.

Finally, the study empirically examines the theoretical framework by analyzing two social movements in democratic regimes: the tents movement in Israel and the Indignants movement in Spain.  The two movements share some characteristics in common while differing in others. Both operate in democratic regimes with a party system; the context of both movements was the unbearable cost of living and the economic situation; and both used ICTs extensively to mobilize people to participate in this movement and the movements did not carry any political identity. However, therewere some crucial differences between these two movements. First, in Israel, the media, police, and many in the political system were supportive of the movement, even with its ambiguous demand of ‘social justice’.In contrast, these forces were against the movement in Spain. In Israel, the movement started with ambiguous demands, refusing to talk to formal representatives of the government. As time passed, and with the help of experts, protestors started discussing more concrete demands with the government; whereas in Spain, no discussions took place between the protesters and the government. Finally, in Israel, some of the protesters demands were translated into the allocation of resources and governmental decisions.  Needless to say, in Spain this did not occur, as there was no contact between the parties.

Stay tuned for the full paper!

Listen to the presentation (from the ANN-SONIC Seminar) –





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