Apple 8 Social Media and Political Action

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Apple 8 Social Media and Political Action

  1. 1. APPLE 8 Social Media & Political Action Luke Bretherton Senior Lecturer in Theology & Politics
  2. 2. Technology drives History? <ul><li>Stirrup = feudalism </li></ul><ul><li>Printing press = Reformation </li></ul><ul><li>Newspapers = the nation state </li></ul><ul><li>Industrialisation = socialism </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook = ? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Technology drives History?
  4. 4. Facebook: the opium of the people ‘ Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation.’
  5. 5. Facebook: the opium of the people ‘ Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers from the chain not so that man will wear the chain without any fantasy or consolation but so that he will shake off the chain and cull the living flower. The criticism of religion disillusions man to make him think and act and shape his reality, so that he will revolve round himself and therefore round his true sun.’
  6. 6. Social networking technologies: A critique Define politics : politics is the process through which to maintain commonality and recognise and conciliate conflict with others in pursuit of shared goods. And following Aristotle, politics properly relates to what pertains to the general, comprehensive or public order of a polity.
  7. 7. Social networking technologies: A critique <ul><li>Politics vs. Proceduralism : market based, bureaucratic, legal or technological. </li></ul><ul><li>Politics requires power : that is, the ability to act. </li></ul><ul><li>Democratic politics is premised on the notion that people have freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and a variety of other freedoms so that can come together to act to together in order to defend or build the goods in common that form the basis of their common life </li></ul>
  8. 8. Social networking technologies: A critique <ul><li>Social media enhance democracy: </li></ul><ul><li>Enhancing the ability to act together through scaling systems of mobilisation. </li></ul><ul><li>Enhancing freedom of speech: anyone can say anything they like and the internet is notoriously difficult to censor. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Social networking technologies: A critique <ul><li>Substitution of communication for action </li></ul><ul><li>The process of fetishization: valuing the wrong things in the wrong way </li></ul>
  10. 10. Social networking technologies: A critique <ul><li>Displacement of action by communication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>As Clay Shirky puts it: ‘We know well from past attempts to use social software to organize groups for political change that it is hard, very hard, because participation in online communities often provides a sense of satisfaction that actually dampens a willingness to interact with the real world. When you’re communing with like-minded souls, you feel [emphasis in original] like you’re accomplishing something by arguing out the smallest details of your perfect future world, while the imperfect and actual world takes no notice, as is its custom. There are many reasons for this, but the main one seems to be that the pleasures of life online are precisely the way they provide a respite from the vagaries of the real world. Both the way the online environment flattens interaction and the way everything gets arranged for the convenience of the user makes the threshold between talking about changing the world and changing the world even steeper than usual.’ </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Social networking technologies: A critique <ul><li>Depoliticisation of political communication by circulation </li></ul><ul><li>The action is in the reaction </li></ul>
  12. 12. Social networking technologies: A critique
  13. 13. Social networking technologies: A critique
  14. 14. Social networking technologies: A critique <ul><li>Depoliticisation of political communication by circulation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Jodi Dean: ‘Messages are contributions to circulating content - not actions to elicit responses. Differently put, the exchange value of messages overtakes their use value. So, a message is no longer primarily a message from a sender to a receiver. Uncoupled from contexts of action and application—as on the Web or in print and broadcast media—the message is simply part of a circulating data stream. Its particular content is irrelevant. Who sent it is irrelevant. Who receives it is irrelevant. That it need be responded to is irrelevant. The only thing that is relevant is circulation, the addition to the pool. Any particular contribution remains secondary to the fact of circulation. The value of any particular contribution is likewise inversely proportionate to the openness, inclusivity, or extent of a circulating data stream—the more opinions or comments that are out there, the less of an impact any one given one might make.’ </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Social networking technologies: A critique <ul><li>Switch from broad-based coalitions to narrow casting </li></ul>
  16. 16. Social networking technologies: A critique <ul><li>Switch from broad-based coalitions to narrow casting </li></ul>
  17. 17. Social networking technologies: A critique <ul><li>Switch from broad-based coalitions to narrow casting </li></ul>
  18. 18. Social networking technologies: A critique <ul><li>Confuse de-institutionalisation with political empowerment </li></ul>
  19. 19. So what can be done? <ul><li>Combine political organizing and on-line mobilization </li></ul>
  20. 20. So what can be done? <ul><li>Combine political organizing and on-line mobilization </li></ul>
  21. 21. So what can be done? <ul><li>De-fetishize technology by reconnecting face to face and people to place </li></ul>
  22. 22. So what can be done? ‘ a powerful new online communication and collaboration space designed specifically for the world’s top decision-makers.’
  23. 23. So what can be done? <ul><li>De-fetishize technology by reconnecting face to face and people to place </li></ul>Talk About Local ‘a project to give people in their communities a powerful online voice.  We want to help people communicate and campaign more effectively to influence events in the places in which they live, work or play.’
  24. 24. Conclusion For those without power and who cannot deploy either the resources of the state or the power of money to achieve their ends, democratic citizenship opens up the possibility of relational power: one can act together to defend or pursue mutual interests. To be effective, that is, for association to generate power, it demands discipline and loyalty (or what theologians call faithfulness). Faithfulness is vital for developing any kind of common life. Without it, trust cannot develop, promises are broken, commitments are not kept and so the possibility of long-term reciprocal relations is dissolved. Such faithful relations are the kind that can hold in check the over-concentration of either economic or political power and the monopolisation of resources by a narrow range of interests.   Where social media aid and build up this kind of faithful relationship they are a vital adjunct to political action. Where they don’t they are anti-democratic, contribute to our depoliticisation, and thereby pave the way for oppression.

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