Internet and Society: Politics And Democracy 2009


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Lecture Slides for Internet and Society course and the University of Edinburgh on the topic of the the internet, mobiles, computing and practice and theorisation of politics and democracy

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Internet and Society: Politics And Democracy 2009

  1. 1. Politics and Democracy Internet and Society 2008
  2. 2. Outline <ul><li>Smart mobs, </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Organisation through ICTs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Popular revolution, emergent behaviour </li></ul></ul><ul><li>People power and TXT revolutions </li></ul><ul><li>Social Movements </li></ul><ul><li>Problem of democracy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ E-democracy” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Internet and democracy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Social capital, embeddedness and public sphere </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blogging </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bottom up participation - empowered citizen? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Common ideas <ul><li>Appropriation and social shaping of technology </li></ul><ul><li>Importance of existing context and identity </li></ul><ul><li>Unanticipated consequences </li></ul><ul><li>Technology amplifies actions and social tensions in and between institutions </li></ul><ul><li>Technology appropriated by/and amplifying existing changes and trends </li></ul><ul><li>Many2many communication </li></ul><ul><li>Network society: active wired </li></ul><ul><li>Emergent social organisation from ubiquitous use </li></ul><ul><li>Social networks, social capital, weak ties, communities of internet and personalised community.. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Power and Justice <ul><li>Citizens control of power of entrenched political institutions </li></ul><ul><li>How will the internet be appropriated in/by political processes? </li></ul><ul><li>Can the Internet and ICTs provide a platform for holding to account, and provide alternatives to established political order? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Empower individual citizens </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide information transparency </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Set alternative agendas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Coalesce and mobilise mass into political activity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Open up new forms of Governance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pluralism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In an age of managerial government, a few mainstream ideologies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How will end-to-end, mass access, many-to many, 2 way communications make a difference? </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Smart Mobs <ul><li>Many to many technologies and power to the people </li></ul><ul><li>Networks, word of mouth and collective action </li></ul><ul><li>Netwar </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Philippines, Indonesia revolutions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Petrol strike, WTO </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Terrorists, Criminals, Activists. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Smart Crowds </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reclaiming public spaces by collective action </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mobile Adhoc networking experiments </li></ul><ul><li>Swarming, emergence, social coordination </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Threshold levels for cooperation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Coordination problem </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Coordination knowledge - examples in Internet </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Autonomous agents closely connected can produce collective action - this action is not controlled or design - it emerges </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Popular revolutions <ul><li>Challenge totalitarianism or major failure of government and democracy institutions/mechanisms. </li></ul><ul><li>Technology in hands of masses </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Many to many </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>one-to-one and 6 degree effect </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Failure of democracy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Zapatistas - external influence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Philippines - Church and TXT </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(more recently “hello Garci”) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Indonesia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Spain </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Korea </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ukraine etc etc </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Challenge to Nation-State <ul><li>Power - violence reserved for the state </li></ul><ul><li>Nation state fosters/protects economic activity </li></ul><ul><li>Traditional realist accounts : nation-states acting as independent agents </li></ul><ul><li>New cross-boundary challenges </li></ul><ul><li>Economic activity increasingly international - ignores borders - challenges state’s existence </li></ul><ul><li>Environment, culture, technology </li></ul><ul><li>Idealist accounts: nation-state undermined </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Weakened from above - has to bend to international institutions (commercial and governmental) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>New international institutions un-democratic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Undermines national welfare state </li></ul></ul>
  8. 9. Internet in global social movements <ul><li>WTO - MAI Battle of Seattle </li></ul><ul><li>Environmentalism </li></ul><ul><li>Coordination mechanisms in planning, and action </li></ul><ul><li>Reinforce the very problem they challenge. </li></ul><ul><li>Extra-state people power - just as unaccountable </li></ul>
  9. 10. Internet and Social Movements <ul><li>Outside established political mechanism (v. interest groups) </li></ul><ul><li>Politics by unconventional means </li></ul><ul><li>Heterogenous </li></ul><ul><li>Loosely structured, fluid </li></ul><ul><li>New movements (environment,justice, women) not firmly fixed in social milieux </li></ul><ul><li>Diversity, grassroots, decentralisation, informality </li></ul><ul><li>Internet would appear to be just the thing! </li></ul>
  10. 11. Social Movements <ul><li>1 Coordination of resources </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. Time, money, Managerial interpretation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>2 Connection to political system </li></ul><ul><li>3 Ideology and beliefs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How one should act </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Framing ideas and debates v.established media. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Many different response to Internet and ICTs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Big, established orgs. V. global informal networks. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Marketing, professionalisation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Return to grassroots </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Media campaigns </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Global coordination </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Inter-group coordination </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increased fragmentation </li></ul></ul>
  11. 12. Democracy <ul><li>Failure of western democracy? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Low turnout </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Low party membership (&trade unions etc) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Support of single interest groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>End of mainstream ideological parties </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mass marketing and mangerialism in politics </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Disconnection with voters/politicians </li></ul><ul><li>=low participation </li></ul><ul><li>Retreat to the domestic/private - reduction in social capital(Putnam) </li></ul><ul><li>Privatised social networks (Wellman, Castells etc) </li></ul>
  12. 13. Internet/IT fix <ul><li>Athenean model </li></ul><ul><li>Habermas - Public Sphere </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Historical analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rational discourse </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Internet: create new ‘public spheres’ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>E-democracy experiments </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tools for rational deliberation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Desire to increase participation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Networks, place-centred experiments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unconvincing except in a few cases. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>E-government: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Consultation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Managerialism (efficiency, service delivery) </li></ul></ul>
  13. 15. Agre: Internet and the Political Process <ul><li>Appropriation perspective </li></ul><ul><li>Amplification model </li></ul><ul><li>Institutional and social network approaches </li></ul><ul><li>Approaches to Internet and Democracy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Online discussion fora </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unmediated political community </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Intermediaries redundant/changed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Information use of Internet </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Voting Process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Decentralised power </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Global market decentralisation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Centralisation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social equality via anonymity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Open/transparent information </li></ul></ul>
  14. 16. Institutions of politics (Agre) <ul><li>Rules, identities, roles, strategies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Legislators </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Laws and Legal system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Parties </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Forms of Debate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>News Management (Spin) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organisation of interest groups </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Internet/Technology amplifies existing forces, institutions in short -medium term. </li></ul><ul><li>Intensify conflict </li></ul>
  15. 17. Agre 3 <ul><li>Reinforcement model - failure to produce change, just reinforcement of existing institutions - therefore conservative </li></ul><ul><li>Amplification model: Internet appropriated by many change elements. Amplification effects not only conservative. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Amplification of trends and emerging insitutions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Stand alone projects not the way , need to understand ‘Digital Embedding’ </li></ul>
  16. 18. Agre 4 <ul><li>Need to reconceptualise the category of person by political and other institutions of society. </li></ul><ul><li>Internet mediated communities of interest anchored in institutional structures. </li></ul><ul><li>Reduced costs allow emergence of collective cognition. </li></ul><ul><li>No line between political and non-political communication. </li></ul><ul><li>But problem of being too connected - bad ideas can diffuse as quickly as good ones. </li></ul>
  17. 19. Agre 5 <ul><li>Effect of ‘Spacing’ : we are in institutional networks as well as individual ones </li></ul><ul><li>ICTs map and amplify those institutional spaces, make them clearer. </li></ul><ul><li>Political process based around individual voter - can be targeted though datamining </li></ul><ul><li>Everyone separated into individual human-data political subject by political intermediaries -> Political surveillance </li></ul><ul><li>Increasing number of intermediaries linked to individuals: private media and political spheres </li></ul>
  18. 20. Agre 6 <ul><li>Internet allows strengthening of established and new institutions and organisations </li></ul><ul><li>But strengthens “steady background hum of information sharing within communities of practice” </li></ul><ul><li>Not a straightforward relationship. </li></ul><ul><li>The stresses and tensions lead to social change. </li></ul>
  19. 21. Political Parties <ul><li>How do they use the Internet? </li></ul>
  20. 23. Old and New Media: Political Blog <ul><li>Media: set agendas, filter news. </li></ul><ul><li>Why Blogs have such high impact? </li></ul><ul><li>Very few popular political blogs </li></ul><ul><li>Low readership </li></ul><ul><li>Log distribution of links to blogs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A Few blogs concentrate, filter information from blogsphere </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>These blogs have credibility with established media </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Polarised </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Information outside mainstream </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reading a political act by politically engaged </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Platform for political mobilisation </li></ul>
  21. 24. Bottom up participation <ul><li>Social capital and social network approach </li></ul><ul><li>Recreate public spheres </li></ul><ul><li>Problem or benefit of anonymity </li></ul><ul><li>What do people do in/with civic networks? </li></ul><ul><li>Existing political institutions don’t connect well with civic networking </li></ul><ul><li>Move to co-governance or network governance </li></ul><ul><li>Mob rule or better democracy? </li></ul>
  22. 25. Conclusions <ul><li>Few people politically active </li></ul><ul><li>Tools for engaging mass participation </li></ul><ul><li>Tools for coordinating distant like-minded people </li></ul><ul><li>Unforeseen emergent behaviour - faster than without technology due to network effect and ubiquitous use </li></ul><ul><li>Emerge from everyday civic engagement and communities of internet, facilitated by Internet use. </li></ul><ul><li>Existing governance structures not attuned to new ways of political communication and action. </li></ul><ul><li>Can the internet reinvigorate democracy or is it just reinforcement? </li></ul><ul><li>Change depends particular a society’s and culture’s ability to cope and adapt. </li></ul><ul><li>Internet too new - all to happen . </li></ul>
  23. 26. Next Week <ul><li>Surveillance and Privacy </li></ul><ul><li>Read recommended papers </li></ul><ul><li>Assignments </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Read news reports on Info Commissioners report </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Think about Surveillance - what sorts are there </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Your own personal data: what is personal data? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Privacy and consent to use: what do you accept? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How you might be classified? </li></ul></ul>