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Online social movements and networked activism. Trends around research

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Research seminar at Lund University, Department of Communication and Media. March 13, 2013.

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Online social movements and networked activism. Trends around research

  1. 1. Online political movements and networkedactivism in Spain. Trends around research (Work in progress) José-Manuel Noguera Vivo Lund, March 13, 2013
  2. 2. Proposal: A framework for OSM Media studies / New media Social Media / citizen media / participatory journalism User-Generated Content Internet studies Online Social Movements & Media PoliticalYouth studies communication Participation Find your Disintermediation Engagement Research Question eDemocracy Uses and gratifications eGovernment
  3. 3. 1. To re-connect young people with politics, understanding their own media “the internet is (…) a medium that is more readily associated with young people [and] young people are increasingly associated with disengagement from mainstream politics” (Fenton, 2010)
  4. 4. 2. To understand that within youth, internet is everything but revolutionary “…young people operating within them consistently downplay and disassociate themselves from their revolutionary or transformative dimensions. Instead, blogs and social networks sites are described [by young people] simply as mediums of the everyday” (Bakardjieva, 2010)
  5. 5. 2. To understand that within youth, internet is everything but revolutionary “Some of the uses are, I argue, a manifestation of citizenship in everyday life” (Tufte, 2012: 25)
  6. 6. 3. Then, we have to understand political engagement in terms of their everyday “Understanding this lived reality of young people is (…) the key to facilitating their political engagement” (Robards, 2010)
  7. 7. 4. Political disappointment and the internet: a transnational topic to connectyoung people with new media “The new technologies of voice” (Couldry, 2010: 139) “The disgust becomes a network” (Castells, 2011) “Enthusiastic uses of media are (…) the top of an iceberg full of unemployment, dissatisfaction, frustration, poverty and subdued human right” (Tufte, 2012: 25)
  8. 8. Find your research question Fenton, 2010Bakardjieva, 2010 Robards, 2010Tufte, 2012 RQ (from media perspective): The journalistic dimension of media strategies within online social movements. - How are the internet-based media platforms created by young people? - What are their main goals? - How are their relations with traditional media and official political platforms?
  9. 9. Online Social Movements in Spain: 2004 and 2011• Background: “Pásalo” (2004), by SMS March 11, 2004 (3 days before of General Elections). 10 near-simultaneous explosions on four trains in Madrid during rush hour in the morning. 191 dead people, and 1.858 injured.
  10. 10. The Indignados 15-M (2011)• Not spontaneous movement, but the consequence of a set of events (Durgan and Sans, 2011):- General strike in September 29, 2010- The Sinde Law –against internet downloads-- Unemployment- Political corruption- Cuts on social services- Publication of Indignez-vous!, by Stéphane Hessel- The Precarious Youth movement in Portugal… etc.• 15M was (is) claiming a fairer political system in Spain, not against Government but political parties in general. But mainstream media translated the messages according their editorial ideology.
  11. 11. The ecosystem of OSM• 15M is paradigmatic of contemporary social movements within a society under a model of “networked communication” (Cardoso, 2008):•  Scenario where are not central nodes of communication, but networks of people spreading collective messages•  Mainstream media are not the starting point for the dissemination, but social and participatory media•  This decentralized and non-hierarchical structure has its own flows of communication and rules, redefining concepts such as participation and the idea of politics itself•  From media and journalistic perspective. Also concepts like gatekeeping is modified: in social networks the ideas and proposals are received no matter where they come from
  12. 12. 15M and the networked scenario• 1) Social networks not just for dissemination, even to have a livestream of the demonstrations:• “Attempts by the police to forcefully remove the protestors on 17 May backfired when thousands of supporters descended on the square after messages describing the police action were posted on social networking sites such as Twitter and eyewitness videos were uploaded to YouTube or shown in the mainstream media” (Hughes, 2011: 408).• This observance through social networks let the people know the breaking news with a different Agenda than the one offered by the mainstream media.
  13. 13. 15M and the networked scenario• 2) Structural and dynamical patterns in social networks such as Twitter, which shows a lack of hierarchy:• Borge-Holthoefer J., Rivero A., García I., Cauhé E., Ferrer A., et al. (2011), “Structural and Dynamical Patterns on Online Social Networks: The Spanish May 15th Movement as a Case Study”. PLoS ONE 6(8).• “…opinion leaders emerge spontaneously and minor actants devote much energy to communicate with them … This proclivity is coherent with economy of attention” (2011: 8).
  14. 14. 15M and the networked scenario• 3) These online social movements as the first demonstration of “a new generation of citizens” (Fuster Morell, 2012: 386)• Under the influence of contemporary movements such as Free Culture, open software, copyleft licenses and an intensive use of open and collaborative platforms of commmunications• According Fuster Morell, 15M have links with Free Culture in terms of “its composition, agenda, framing, and organizational logic” (2012: 386).
  15. 15. Specific flows of 15M• 1) The role of mainstream media during the coverage of first days of 15M was clearly disappointing: Info related to the 15M at the frontpage of main spanish newspapers: (Source: numeroteca.org)
  16. 16. Specific flows of 15M • 2) If someone wanted to know what was happening at the squares the first days, the mentioned graphic shows clearly that newspapers were not the best way to do it.But the conversation wasgrowing at the socialnetworks. Map of relationsabout 15M on Twitter:(Borge-Holthoefer, 2011)
  17. 17. Specific flows of 15M• 3) Who are the main actors driving content and creating relations about the 15M on Twitter?• Six categories to analyze the actors: professional media, individual influencers, politicians-political, journalists (as individuals), 15M related sites, platforms (providers of third party content: photo, video…)
  18. 18. Specific flows of 15M • 4) Low presence of professional journalistic discourse on social mediaNon-professional media (15M related sites) and individual influencers not related tojournalism are representing more than a half of the content (53%).Low presence of the official political discourse (7%) within a social movement thatparadoxically is demanding to politicians more engagement with the people.The (still) low presence of personal accounts of journalists (7%), within a platform likeTwitter, which is drawing “its own media logic” (Hermida, 2010), where journalistshave important roles and individual challenges related to their personal branding.
  19. 19. Open research questions• Contemporary social movements and online activism have their own media rules and it is a challenge for the professional media, which still do not find their place and their role.• Reactions of mainstream media can be described as a simple eco of citizen coverages, coverages we could label the most whatever (the most viewed, the most shared, the most linked…).• We need more research related to the media logic of social networks and how (and why) the messages of these online movements are spread it on Facebook, Twitter, blogs…
  20. 20. Open research questions (II)• Are you going to explain “the politics” in terms of something that happens once every four years to a generation of young people who is commenting, voting, publishing, sharing and linking everyday? (Adapted from Dolors-Reig, 2012) They understand politics and participation under their own media, so we need a better and deeper understanding of these media. Online social movements is a perfect scenario to analyze the new media used by the young people who still is engaged with politics.

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