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Subcultures on the Net: Resistance and engagement in knowledge practices

Information technology plays a prominent and in many ways new, part in an accelerating process of empowerment and democracy. Recent experience from the series of protests and demonstrations across the Middle East and North Africa known as the "Arab Spring" illustrates how net-activists collaborated in using social media to assist in the swift political processes. During the course of events, activists were struggling to learn as fast as possible advanced hardware and software solutions to encrypt messages, manage restrictions and possible government Internet shutdowns. Their goals were to make the current state of affairs in a repressive regime visible (using for example YouTube and mobile phones) on a global level and thereby create world opinion and international intervention. In fact, this relationship between technologies, learning, political activism and democracy has been successful in the sense that European and US development agencies recognize it as highly important. Currently large resources are being channelled from western governments into democracy development projects in settings like the above.

The aim of this investigation is focused on understanding the following questions more thoroughly:

  1. What role do new social media play in circumscribing traditional media-logic in the context of political turmoil? What types of horizontal channels and points of connectivity between people emerge to meet the specific needs of rapid political change?
  2. In what way do learning processes take place and develop when communication obstacles (such as censorship, shutdowns or surveillance) emerge? More specifically, how are advanced technologies like encryption and traffic routing being mastered as activists from different parts of the world collaborate?
  3. What are the role of social media technologies on democratization, citizenship and community building?

More about the project

For more information contact:
Christopher Kullenberg, Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science, University of Gothenburg, E-mail

Page Manager: Elin Johansson|Last update: 10/19/2012

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