Social Movements, Critical Web Practices and the Struggle Against Digital Capitalism

TitleSocial Movements, Critical Web Practices and the Struggle Against Digital Capitalism
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Barassi, V.
Affiliation (1st Author)Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths University of London
Section or WGPolitical Economy Section
DateFri 28 June
Slot CodePEF3a
Slot Code (Keyword)PEF3a
Time of Session14:00-15:30
Session TitleCommunications practices, experiences and struggles of social movements: Indignados, #OWS and #YoSoy132
Submission ID6355

With the rapid changes in web technologies and the restructuring of the online political economy, one of the crucial priorities of our times has become the investigation of the way in which social movements negotiate, criticise and resist to the corporate logic of Web platforms, especially at a time when capitalism is being challenged and questioned. However, despite we have seen a plethora of research on social movements and new technologies that has emerged in the last three years (Hands, 2011, Lievrouw, 2011, Gerbaudo, 2012, Catsells, 2012, Cammaerts et al., 2012) we have little data available on how political groups - who have fought for years against the neoliberal choices of governments and international institutions - understand the Internet simultaneously as a space of capitalist control and political critique. This paper presents the data of a comparative ethnographic research amongst three very different political groups in the UK, Spain and Italy and explores how the relationship between digital technologies and democratic processes is being critically understood and questioned by activists. In doing so, the paper demonstrates that scholars have much to gain if they turn their attention on activists’ critical web practices (De Certau, 1984; Orlikowski, 2000; Couldry, 2004; Brauchler and Postill, 2010), and investigate the way in which technological structures are internalised, and adapted to context specific political imaginations. By looking at activists critical web practices, it will be argued scholars can develop an approach that provides with keys of analysis in the complex dialectics between the political economy of the web and its lived critique.

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