Andrew Chadwick and Jennifer Stromer-Galley (Syracuse University) are running a workshop on Digital Media, Power, and Democracy in Election Campaigns next week in Washington DC.
The workshop has been nine months in the making and it is part of the preparation for a special issue of the International Journal of Press/Politics, to be edited by Andrew and Jennifer. This is not an open workshop; it is by invitation only.
The uprisings in Eastern Europe and the Middle East have focused attention on the question of digital media and political power. This has resulted in a wave of research on the relationships between technological change, mobilization, and revolutionary activism in authoritarian and semi-democratic political contexts.
While this research has generated important insights, we suggest that it should now be joined by fresh analysis of the role of digital media in election campaigns. We call for papers for a special issue of the International Journal of Press/Politics that are international or comparative in orientation, that present new evidence, and that connect the study of digital media explicitly with questions concerning power and democracy. We invite authors to examine established democracies both in and beyond the United States and Europe, and in emerging and what comparative regime theorists have termed “difficult democracies” across the world.
Central to the political life of all types of democracies are the organizations, practices, and media technologies of election campaigns, yet we know surprisingly little about the changes that have occurred in this field over recent years. We invite submissions that explore what we see as the increasingly contested issue of the balance of power between political elites, digital media actors, and citizens in election campaigning. Our aim is to orient this project around two classical and fruitfully contested concepts: power and democracy.
We seek submissions that explore continuity and change in the power relations that shape campaigns. We conceive of these power relations in three principal ways. First, we see a need to focus on the internal communication structures of party and campaign organizations. Second, scholars may focus on power relations in the communication flows between party and campaign organizations and the wider constellation of organizations within which citizen participation now occurs. Third, papers may examine the interactions between ordinary citizens and party and campaign organizations.
We primarily seek papers that advance empirical knowledge. Undergirding our interest in these themes, however, is intense normative curiosity about the potential democratizing effects of digital media, not only in relatively “settled” liberal-democratic contexts but also in the globally important difficult-democratic cases that increasingly inform thinking about real-world democracy, such as, for example, Brazil, India, Russia, Mexico, Singapore, Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia, the Balkan states, and parts of central and eastern Europe. Our concern with the difficult democracies emerges because it could be the case that in these political systems important power shifts are more likely.
We would like authors to directly address the question of whether the adoption of digital media is increasing citizens’ influence over the hierarchical organizational structures that have typically dominated parties and election campaigns since the rise of the mass broadcast era. We also want authors to think about conditionality: the balance of forces and causes that shape whether changes in mediated campaigning are democratizing or not democratizing in their effects.
We have no orthodoxy regarding data and methods. We foresee a range of approaches: single country and comparative studies; papers adopting methods of big data analysis; those adopting quantitative approaches; and those situated within qualitative and ethnographic traditions.
Participation in the workshop is not mandatory for consideration for the IJPP special issue. A call for papers for the special issue will follow shortly.
Tuesday 30th June 2015 sees the launch at NATO headquarters in Brussels of the edited volume Strategic Narratives, Public Opinion and War: Winning Domestic Support for the Afghan War. The book is edited by Beatrice de Graaf, George Dimitrui and Jens Ringsmose. One of its core opening chapters is by Alister Miskimmon, Ben O'Loughlin and Laura Roselle. They extend their argument from their book Strategic Narratives (2013) that narratives of war cannot be understood in isolation from narratives about the international system and the identity narratives each leading player tells about themselves and their rivals or allies. If NATO just tells a narrative about war, it won't have much success.
The event features as discussant Jamie Shea from NATO, who is a board member of the journal Media, War & Conflict.
For registration (compulsory for non-NATO staff) or for more information you can either send an email to email@example.com or tel. +32 (2) 707 5022.
Ben O'Loughlin and Federica Ferrari will present a joint paper this week at the conference Political Discourse: Multidisciplinary Approaches at UCL, 26-27 June 2015. The conference features keynotes from Ruth Wodak and Alan Finlayson. Both keynotes present analyses of Prime Minister David Cameron's January 2013 EU speech at Bloomberg.
For those in attendance, here are details of Ben's panel:
Time: Friday 26th June, 13:30 - 15:00
Place: South Wing G12, Council Room
Ferreiro: The Discursive Construction of Legitimation in the UN Mission in Haiti (2004-2014)
Friedman: Evasion Strategies in International Documents: Conflict Perpetuation or Resolution?
Ferrari, O'Loughlin: Red Lines and Rash Decisions: Syria, Narrative and Metaphor
Thanks to the conference organisers Geradline Horan and Michael Kranert.
Media, Culture & Society have published Ben O'Loughlin's review of the book In the Meantime: Temporality and Cultural Politics by Sarah Sharma, Associate Professor of Media and Technology Studies at UNC Chapel Hill. He writes:
Sarah Sharma’s new volume demolishes the vanity and conceit of those who argue that a properly political response to an accelerating culture is to slow down. Life is already slow for most people. It is slow for the mass of cleaners, taxi drivers and security guards whose repetitive labour is the very condition upon which a sped-up life can be lived. Those with a platform to talk publicly about speed – critical theorists who attack 24/7 living and business leaders who celebrate it – barely register how their experience of an always-on culture is dependent upon an infrastructure of labour made up of varied intersecting and interdependent temporalities of waiting and rushing, serving and cajoling, supporting and de-stressing. Sharma brings this world to life through ethnographic studies of frequent flyers, taxi drivers, yoga instructors and slow-food lifestylists. Sharma’s thesis is that ‘differential relationships to time organize and perpetuate inequalities’ (p. 137). Claims about a blanket speeding up or need to slow down miss how power works through the synchronising of some people’s patience and others’ haste ... [read on here]
Awan to present at the British Academy on 'The Rise of Open Source Jihad: Autodidactic Lone Wolves or Bumbling Ideological Illiterates'
Akil Awan will be speaking at the British Academy conference on:
How Terrorist Groups Learn: Innovation and Adaptation in Political Violence
Thursday 18 & Friday 19 June 2015, 9.30am – 5.00pm; The British Academy, London
His paper is titled: The Rise of Open Source Jihad: Autodidactic Lone Wolves or Bumbling Ideological Illiterates.
Over the last decade, the Internet has become the principal platform for the dissemination and mediation of jihadist culture and ideology, with Jihadist online spaces serving key functions including: news circulation, propaganda dissemination, communication, training provision, and cathartic expression (Awan, 2006). The advent of a newer generation of “web 2.0” spaces, including social networking sites and file-sharing portals, has not only helped to consolidate the ascendancy of jihadist media, but has simultaneously raised the spectre of virtually-mediated self-radicalisation of potential lone-wolf terrorists.
Individuals, with no previous or existing affiliations to terrorist organisations, have to some extent been able to autonomously appropriate both ideology and tradecraft of terrorist groups, through the use of online fora, new media and open source data.
However, this shift in terrorist learning has not been without consequences for the terrorist groups themselves. The lack of planning, discipline, field-experience, and basic competency displayed by these inept open-source Jihadists, means they often fumble their plans and fall afoul of security and intelligence services. A point made brilliantly by Chris Morris' satirical film Four Lions.
However, in addition to the impact on terrorist learning with respect to tradecraft, there have been even more significant changes on terrorist learning with respect to ideology.
Although Jihadism has spread unimpeded across new media platforms, it has been forced to do so in a somewhat attenuated form; the message itself has been forced to sacrifice some of its coherency and cogency along the way. Indeed, the new-media environment has fundamentally recast the jihadi ideology in the twenty-first century, producing a feeble caricature in its stead in order to retain its relevance to this newer tech-savvy yet ideologically less sophisticated generation of autodidact ‘digital natives’.
O'Loughlin & Awan to speak at Open University's Forum on 'Social Media, Religion and Political Violence'
Ben O'Loughlin and Akil Awan will be participating in The Open University's forum on:
Social Media, Religion and Political Violence, on 15 June 0930-1700.
The event is organised by the Mediating Religion International Network at the Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change at The Open University For further details about the event contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
"This forum will examine the role of social media in the online circulation and mobilisation of violent images, narratives and texts by religious groups. It will bring together researchers, policy-makers, religious leaders, activists, NGO workers media analysts and journalists to discuss the relationship between social media, religion, and political violence. We will address issues that are often deemed so highly sensitive that, in themselves, they provoke political and social conflict. We aim to expose common myths and assumptions about the causes of religious violence today. In so doing, we will stress the importance of drawing on historical and comparative perspectives in order to grasp a more accurate picture of contemporary realities.
This forum is timely. The cyclical reproduction and augmentation of insecurities, particularly around Islamist religious violence, and the narrow framing of public and media debate means that core problems are misunderstood or marginalised. The enduring spotlight on Muslim citizens is part of the problem. Our research suggests that there is a lack of understanding between policy-makers, researchers, journalists, religious and community organisations. Joined up thinking and inter-faith co-operation is required if we are to unlock the key to conflict resolution in contemporary multi-faith societies and glean a better understanding of the attractions and motivations underlying religious violence.
The forum will address these issues in a highly interactive way. Researchers and other interested parties will share the latest findings of their research, consider the state of knowledge in the field, identify gaps, exchange knowledge and make recommendations for political, policy and practical action. Researchers, specialists and practitioners of diverse religious or spiritual traditions, as well as those opposed to religion, are invited. A report on the day’s proceedings will be produced with your recommendations and will be circulated to relevant government departments, religious and academic organisations.
Topics for debate include: How can we explain why some people are attracted to religious extremism and violence? How are public and media debates about religion and violence framed? What role does gender play in these debates? Why are debates about religious violence prone to collapse? How are social media used to motivate or oppose extremist ideologies and religious violence? Do social media help sustain strong extremist political networks or are such affiliations more fragile than is often presumed? What role do sacred texts and images play in decisions to join and remain affiliated to extremist religious groups? How are sacred texts circulated and used in online debates to justify acts of religious violence? How do images of religious violence and of ‘modern martyrdom’ feed extreme forms of religion? In what ways do social media contribute to the branding of religious, political or extremist groups? How could social media and sacred text be used to encourage peace-building, interfaith dialogue or peaceful social change?
This event is invitation only and will be conducted under the Chatham House Rule.
For further details about the event contact: email@example.com
A newly born party in Turkey made history in last week's elections. But what is the story behind the HDP? And what brought a pro-Kurdish party this far? Billur Aslan - a PhD student here at the New Political Communication unit - has published a new article for Al-Araby Al-Jadeed answering these questions and more. Read it here.
Akil Awan will be speaking at the 3rd ReSHAPE Workshop on Insecurity Complexes: The Response of the EU and Member States, held at the University of Catania, Sicily, 11-12th June, and organised by the Dept. of Political and Social Science.
Last year, the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 2178 on Foreign Terrorist Fighters establishing an international legal framework to help prevent the recruitment and transport of would-be foreign fighters from joining terrorist groups. Unsurprising, considering the alarming growth of IS, which has attracted around 22,000 foreign fighters from every corner of the globe, willing to fight and die for its nascent Caliphate.
Many EU countries have scrambled to instate strategies for dealing with not just the recruitment of fighters - both over social media and in the 'real' world, as well as the inevitable influx of returnees once the conflict is over. Fighters returning from the front lines, brutalized by the ravages of war and potentially suffering from PTSD, may prove incapable of easily slipping back into normal society. With the rise of terrorist attacks in France and Belgium by returnee fighters, they may also pose a grave and sustained threat to their own host countries.
Awan's paper will focus on how EU member states might deal with their errant sons, who choose to return home, particularly as the policy options, ranging from removing citizenship to imprisonment, or deradicalization, are unlikely to catch every potential threat. Awan will delineate the contours of the problem and gauges the effectiveness of some of the policy responses on the table, addressing how we might best respond, as it appears the EU will be living with the insecurity complex generated by the 'Returnee Foreign Fighter' phenomenon for many years to come.
The full programme can be seen here
On June 12, Andrew Chadwick will be speaking at a debate event, Admirável Mundo Novo/Brave New World, in Porto, Portgual.
Organized by the Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos the debate will take place at Porto's Casa da Música and features features speakers Evgeny Morozov, Francesca Bria, Mário Campolargo, Tyler Cowen, Ellen Jorgensen, Ana Paiva, David Brin, and Bruce Sterling.
The title of Andrew's talk is "The Digital Republic Didn’t Happen, But the News Isn’t All Bad: New Communicative Resources for Citizen Engagement."
Please visit the event website for further details.
Update, June 23: English language videos of the talks at this event, which had over 1,000 participants, are now online here. Andrew Chadwick's talk was in the session, República Digital. Full slides are here. Portugese versions can be found on the Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos website here.
Following their major project with BBC World Service during the London 2012 Olympic Games, Marie Gillespie and Ben O'Loughlin have published a set of research articles in the open-access audience research journal Participations. The special section is entitled, 'Tweeting the Olympics: International broadcasting soft power and social media'. It began when Gillespie and O'Loughlin coordinated a team to design Twitter research to evalute how the BBC was engaging audiences during the 2012 Games in Arabic, Russian, Persian and English language services. This evolved into a broader set of studies of television and digital media, of soft power and public diplomacy, and stretched to cover the Sochi 2014 Winter Games. We hope the research will encourage others to think about how they study global media events.
We are delighted that a range of young scholars have published research papers below, including the New Political Communication Unit's Billur Aslan and James Dennis. Thanks to the editor Martin Barker and to Anne Barnsdale, Jemma Ahmed and Mohammad Ziyadah at the BBC. We hope you enjoy the articles.
Gillespie, Marie & Ben O’Loughlin:
Burchell, Kenzie & Ben O’Loughlin, Marie Gillespie & Eva Nieto McAvoy:
Dennis, James, Marie Gillespie & Ben O’Loughlin:
Procter, Rob, Alex Voss & Ilia Lvov:
Willis, Alistair, Ali Fisher & Ilia Lvov:
Voss, Alex & Marzieh Asgari-Targhi:
Aslan, Billur, James Dennis & Ben O’Loughlin:
Aslanyan, Anna & Marie Gillespie:
Hutchings, Stephen Marie Gillespie, Ilya Yablokov, Ilia Lvov & Alexander Voss: