Minorities and the online mediation of dissent: A historical-dialectical-structurational analysis

TitleMinorities and the online mediation of dissent: A historical-dialectical-structurational analysis
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Soriano, C. R. R.
Affiliation (1st Author)De La Salle University
Section or WGParticipatory Communication Research Section
DateWed 26 June
Slot CodePCRW3b
Slot Code (Keyword)PCRW3b
Time of Session14:00-15:30
Session TitleParticipatory communication strategies influencing local and geo-political orders -2
Submission ID5814

This paper discusses the relationship between minority online political mobilization and the local, national, and global enabling and constraining structures that surround cultural politics and new technology mediation. Engaging three case studies of ethnic, ethno-religious, and sexual minorities in the Philippines, the paper analyzes how power and counter-power are distributed and interplay in this relationship. The recent expansion of the reach of the Internet to previously underrepresented sectors in the Global South, and the accompanying emancipatory promises, inspires an examination of the place of online media in these movements and in turn the role of these new actors, in shaping the future of media. Over the recent years, minority groups have developed online narratives, discursive spaces, and productions in websites, blogs, and social networking sites. These make reference to their historical oppressions, challenge the present, and imagine possible futures for them. Their online presentations contribute to narratives of their social reality and also serve as a space for generating debate, negotiation and disagreement from within the group and from other actors in society. Such online engagements seem to constitute alternative sites for political mobilization as they articulate claims on the state. In order to challenge political, economic, and social structures and express demands for transformation of such structures, their online performance weaves together spaces of culture with broader agendas of transformative politics. These productions bypass traditional distribution systems and therefore can serve as a promising vector for minority groups as they insert their own stories and struggles into national narratives (Ginsburg, et.sl, 2002; Landzelius, 2006). This possibility for self-production of political expressions is particularly salient for minority groups who have long suffered as objects of others’ image-making and issue-framing practices. This political activism happening at the margins has been largely unnoticed and understudied, and yet minority groups’ use of online media for political mobilization raises several important practical and theoretical issues and debates. The Internet’s availability for geographically disadvantaged and relatively under and misrepresented minorities carries potentials for effecting change in conditions of minoritization, and yet with these opportunities come threats and dilemmas. The pertinent question is how online political mobilization can be understood in the context of local, national, and global enabling and constraining structures that surround minority activism and online media engagement. The paper argues that minority groups' online political mobilization strategies is influenced by the politics of the technology, history and nature of respective struggle, relations with the state and broader civil society, and global power dynamics. A situated analysis of the interdependence of media practices with the local, national, and transnational circumstances that surround them surfaces the complex ways in which minority groups are engaged in the process of using the Internet in relation to their historical, cultural, and social circumstances, and how these circumstances help them work through the limits and possibilities that the Internet as a communications medium serves for them.
References cited: Ginsburg, et.al. (eds).(2002). Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain. Berkeley: University of California Press. Landzelius, K. (Ed). (2006). Native on the Net Indigenous and Diasporic Peoples in the Virtual Age. NY: Routledge.

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