James Dennis in openDemocracy: The myth of the keyboard warrior: public participation and 38 Degrees
NPCU PhD candidate James Dennis has published a new article in openDemocracy entitled 'The myth of the keyboard warrior: public participation and 38 Degrees'. Based on extensive ethnographic research with 38 Degrees over the past year, Dennis makes the case that they are a new kind of political organisation who use ICT to generate more agile and participatory forms of engagement that more traditional forms are currently achieving. 38 Degrees seem able to act as a conduit and vehicle: their 'soft leadership', digital and face-to-face platforms offer ongoing opportunities for ordinary people to step in and do something about an issue they care strongly about.
Dennis can be contacted at @dennisdcfc
2014-03-18 Thierry Giasson seminar: Open, Hybrid or Managed? Online political mobilization and electoral strategy in Québec
Department of Politics and IR Seminar
Tuesday 18 March 2014
5.15 pm in FW101
Open, Hybrid or Managed? Online political mobilization and electoral strategy in Québec
Thierry Giasson is Associate Professor in the Information and Communication Department at Université Laval, in Québec City, Canada. He is the director of the Research lab on Political Communication at the same Institution and the Canadian Principal Investigator of the webinpolitics.com project, a comparative study of online electoral campaigns in France and Quebec. Thierry’s work on web campaigning, digital citizenship, the mediatisation of politics and political marketing has been published in a number of leading journals such as the Canadian Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Public Affairs, the International Journal of Interactive Communication Systems and Technologies, and the Canadian Journal of Communication. Thierry is also co-editor of the new UBC Press series Communication, Strategy and Politics, where his upcoming edited volume entitled Meet the Press and Tweet the Rest will be published in the fall of 2014.
Thierry Giasson, from Université Laval in Québec City, is visiting the New Political Communication Unit (NPCU) from February-April 2014. Dr. Giasson is currently working on two research projects investigating online political campaigns and digital citizenship.
The first project looks at how political parties in Québec and France campaigned online during their last legislative and presidential elections (respectively) in 2012. During his stay at the NPCU, Dr. Giasson will be working on an article addressing strategic objectives of online campaigns. He will give a lecture on this research in the Department of Politics and International Relations Seminar series on March 18th. This comparative project will end next year with the production of a book dedicated to these two campaigns.
Dr. Giasson’s second project investigates online citizenship in Canada. In the vein of other national large scale studies such as those carried by the Pew’s Center Internet and American Life Project, this SSRHC funded research will address how Canadians use online technologies to engage politically and experience their citizenship. The study will be carried over the next 4 years (2013-2017). Initial results from the first wave survey currently in the field will be analyzed in April. A paper highlighting the data (the first of its kind produced in Canada) will be also be presented at next year’s IPSA conference in Montréal.
Over the course of his stay at Royal Holloway College, Dr. Giasson will also be giving guest lectures at Bournemouth University, the Oxford Internet Institute, Lund University and the Université de Paris-Est.
Thierry Giasson is Principal Investigator for the Groupe de recherche en communication politique and Member of the Center for the Study of Democratic Citizenship
Department of Politics and IR Seminar
Tuesday 11 February 2014
5.15 pm in FW101
‘Witnessing political upheaval: media, protest and the Arab spring’
(Birkbeck, University of London)
Tim Markham is Reader in Journalism and Media as well as Head of the Department of Media and Cultural Studies at Birkbeck, University of London. He is a political sociologist whose work has focused on war reporting and issues of authority, authenticity and morality in journalism. His most recent book ‘The Politics of War Reporting: Authority, Authenticity and Morality’ (Manchester University Press, 2011) draws on interviews with war correspondents and the political phenomenology of Pierre Bourdieu to explore journalistic identity, experience and instinct. Other work of his appears in Celebrity Studies, Journalism Practice, Review of Contemporary Philosophy, and The British Journal of Sociology. Tim’s ongoing research questions the democratising potential of new media practices, asks what audiences are doing when they participate in media, and assesses emerging discourses of journalism in the Middle East.
Mark Pope, a PhD student at the New Political Communication Unit, has published a peer-reviewed journal article entitled Public diplomacy, international news media and London 2012: cosmopolitanismTM in Sport & Society. To download a copy click here.
This article investigates the nature of cosmopolitanism in the production and reception of public diplomacy discourse surrounding London 2012. It focuses on three actors: the UK Government, the International Olympic Committee and the international news media. It finds that UK public diplomacy actors and their partners were focused more on the promotion of a competitive identity, albeit a cosmopolitan one, than engagement. It argues that the cosmopolitanism evident in the discourse was a form of branded cosmopolitanism, and, ultimately, this limited the success of UK public diplomacy in achieving its aims. This style of communication – that was evident across the discourse surrounding London 2012 – was exclusionary of key actors to UK public diplomacy objectives. Applying a form of critical discourse analysis, the ideology surrounding the Olympic ideal is revealed as significant to maintaining uncritical acceptance of exclusions and conspicuous contradictions.
Department of Politics and IR Seminar
Tuesday 21 January 2014
5.15 pm in FW101
‘What happens on Twitter… does not stay on Twitter: the role of social media in online and offline political engagement’
(Royal Holloway, University of London)
Cristian Vaccari joined Royal Holloway’s Department of Politics and International Relations in 2013 as a Lecturer in Politics. Cristian’s research explores political communication in comparative perspective, with a particular focus on digital media. He has taught at the University of Bologna and at New York University Florence, and is presently Principal Investigator of a three-year project investigating the role of social media by citizens and politicians in Germany, Italy and Britain. His most recent book is Digital Politics in Western Democracies: A Comparative Study (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), and his work has also been published in journals such as Political Communication, Party Politics, New Media and Society, French Politics and the Journal of Information Technology and Politics.
Entry: September 2014
Duration: 12 months full-time, 24 months part-time
For information on the course structure, assessments, and to apply click here
For further information contact Dr. Michael Bacon: Michael.Bacon@rhul.ac.uk
We are living through an era of tumultuous change in how politics is conducted and communicated. The great digital disruption of the early 21st century continues to work its way through media systems around the world, forcing change, adaptation, and renewal across a whole range of areas: political parties and campaigns, interest groups, social movements, activist organisations, news and journalism, the communication industries, governments, and international relations.
In the New Political Communication Unit at Royal Holloway, University of London, we believe the key to making sense of these chaotic developments is the idea of power—how it is generated, how it is used, and how it shapes the diverse information and communication flows that affect all our lives.
This unique new Masters degree, which replaces the MSc in New Political Communication, is for critically-minded, free-thinking individuals who want to engage with the exciting intellectual ferment that is being generated by these unprecedented times. The curriculum integrates rigorous study of the very best academic research with an emphasis on making sense of political communication as it is practiced in the real world, in both "old" and "new" media settings.
While not a practice-based course, the MSc Media, Power, and Public Affairs is perfect for those who wish to build a career in the growing range of professions that require deep and critical insight into the relationship between media and politics and public communication more generally. These include advocacy, campaign management, political communication consultancy, journalism, government communication, policy analysis, public opinion and semantic polling, and public diplomacy, to name but a few. Plus, due to its strong emphasis on scholarly rigour, the MSc in Media, Power, and Public Affairs is also the perfect foundation for a PhD in political communication.
You will study a mixture of core and elective units, including a generous choice of free options, and write a supervised dissertation over the summer. Teaching is conducted primarily in small group seminars that meet weekly for two hours, supplemented by individual tuition for the dissertation.
This course is also offered at Postgraduate Diploma level for those who do not have the academic background necessary to begin an advanced Masters degree. The structure of the Diploma is identical except that you will not write a dissertation. If you are successful on the Diploma you may transfer to the MSc, subject to academic approval.
Connectivity and Power: A Workshop
12 December 2013
Royal Holloway, University of London
We need to get a grip on what connectivity means and how we research it. In this workshop staff and PhD researchers from the New Political Communication Unit and the University of Glasgow will present very short pieces reflecting on what "connectivity and power" mean to them and how they are present in their research. Those participating share a number of overlapping research foci, methods and empirical cases. The day promises a series of fruitful exchanges that will help clarify these most difficult—and important—of terms.
Venue: International Building IN031 10am-1pm, IN032 1pm-3pm (we move halfway)
9am-10am Coffee/tea on arrival in IN031
10am-11am Andrew Hoskins (Glasgow) on Connectivity, Ben O'Loughlin (Royal Holloway) responds; discussion.
11am-1pm Glasgow presentations: Stevie Docherty, Dounia Mahlouly, Matthew Wheavil
1pm-2pm Royal Holloway presentations: Billur Aslan, James Dennis, over a working lunch
2pm-3pm Andrew Chadwick (Royal Holloway): provocative thoughts, open discussion, next steps.
Stevie Docherty Power, Control and Connectivity in the 2011 English Riots
This paper explores aspects of connectivity and power in relation to the 2011 riots in English cities. Drawing on work around new communications media in crisis communications and disaster response (Palen 2008, Bruns et al. 2012), I ask how knowledge (as in information about unfolding events or emergencies) might be seen as a form of control. How might the constant potential or actual connection implied by connectivity affect this? Secondly, I consider the machine-computational meanings of power that have been largely ignored in studies of the riots so far. Many new communications media are computational media. Bringing the computational dimension back in may offer different and valuable perspectives on power and media.
Dounia Mahlouly No identity, no responsibility: redefining power in the connective age.
The relationship between power and connectivity is highly antithetic. Whereas a Foucauldian conception of power involves institutional structure, hierarchy, regulations and social cohesion; connective action is meant to be diffuse, unpredictable, unconstrained and driven by a hidden leadership. At this stage of the digital revolution, political action goes along with many forms of paradoxical behaviours. Activist organisations prove to have a significant political impact, while denying any form of political affiliation, and prosumers (Merrin:2008) sink into connective addiction, while protesting against the rise of the digital industry.
In this context, rethinking power from the perspective of connectivity involves determining whether the contradictions of connective societies are temporarily induced by the paradigmatic transition from traditional to connective socio-cultural patterns. Alternatively, this implies evaluating to what extent such inconsistencies are permanent and inherent to the new connective age.
Matthew Wheavil Connectivity and Power: The many faces of war memory
In this paper, I explore the relationship between cyber-commemoration and power in an age of connectivity, where multiple users communicate via multiple devices anywhere, any time. This increasing enmeshment of consumer and producer has arguably decreased the relevance of Jan and Aleida Assmann’s (2006, p.138) cultural memory. Once a coherent tool of the powerful elite, the use and re-use of war memory now appears more disorganised, diffuse and diverse in an environment subsumed by social media which is “messy and filled with flaws, bottom-up… in a state of becoming and ‘dissensual by definition.’” (Knudsen and Stage 2012, p.14) In light of this, I pinpoint a dichotomy between a harmonised old media ecology where communication of war memory is linear and predictable and a dissonant new media ecology where an “ongoing revolution” continually remakes and remoulds the dominant discourse of war. (Merrin 2008, [online]) I consider whether this dichotomy is overly rigid and simplistic and suggest that the context of any war commemoration is instrumental to its narrative, whether or not the media it is presented on is old or new.
Billur Aslan The Frontiers of the Internet: Can connective power bring a political change to authoritarian regimes?
The rise of networked movements in our era triggers debates about “power” that appear via the interactive communication on the Internet. According to Castells, these “Networked movements” or as Bennett and Segelberg refer “personalised action on the Internet” gave way to an emotional mobilisation among people triggered by outrage against blatant injustice and hope of a possible change. This hope that was raised by the connection of people helped them to involve in decision-making process of their own destiny. Hence, with the use of communication technologies such as texts, tweets, social network sharing, a connective power emerged and it enabled them to be part of the decision-making process. My research examines to what extent the connective power of the Internet users assists a political change. The interviews with Syrian and Egyptian activists denote that, while the connective power can entrench the solidarity in the movements and give way to a political change, the absence of political culture and experienced activists obstruct the connective power of the users and limit the capacities of digital technologies.
James Dennis The Power of Connectedness: Slacktivism, Social Media and Networked Participation
Slacktivism has become synonymous with a negative perception of the political value of social media. However, the critique is flawed by an overtly narrow focus; low-threshold interactions conducted online are not ineffective and narcissistic acts of slacktivism, but integral components within a scaled continuum of participation. In order to critically analyse the relationship between social media and political participation we must first develop a comprehensive understanding of the environment in which these new forms of social and political self-expression take place, what Jose van Djick describes as the “ecosystem of connective media”. By drawing upon in-depth ethnographic data, collected through a participant-observation of the UK-based hybrid mobilization movement 38 Degrees and diary research, this paper will argue that connectivity underpins these new forms of individualized political participation.
Note: participation in this workshop is by invitation only.
Religion, Conflict, and Digital Communication in the Greater Muslim World:
Dialogue Among Policy Makers and Researchers
To register for the daytime workshop please email Billur Aslan on Billur.Aslan.firstname.lastname@example.org
The evening debate in Parliament is SOLD OUT.
Monday 16th December 2013, London
While an excess amount of media attention and government resources are regularly expended on acts of violence and terrorism emanating from Muslim populations, less focus is given to the critical role Muslims institutions play in facilitating conflict resolution, peace-building, and social reconciliation. In Bosnia, Rwanda, Egypt, and Pakistan, it is often the case that Muslim religious authorities take lead roles in mitigating violence. Because they regularly confront perpetuators of violence on theological and moral grounds, they often put themselves, their families, and associates at high-risk. What are the experiences of policy makers working with Muslim religious authorities in these vulnerable and dangerous contexts?
These historically important yet paradoxical roles of religious networks have been amplified by the near universal spread of digital communications technology in the twenty-first century. As so much of the day-to-day work of governance and social change move online, so do religious organizations, using the World Wide Web to build coalitions or “manufacture constituencies” to pursue social change. Growing concerns over online radicalization by radical Muslim groups, as well growing use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for development and security in unstable and transitioning communities demonstrate the potential significance these trends will have for the future of international conflict.
Our key questions are:
- Can Muslim religious authorities, institutions and local networks provide solutions to the shared global challenges of social conflict and political violence?
- What, if any, role do digital communications technologies play in this process?
Senate House, University of London
Seminar Room 264
10:30-11:00 Arrivals, tea/coffee
11:00-11:15 Introductions, Akil Awan and Shawn Powers
11.15-13:00 Panel 1: The British context
Chair: Lord Nazir Ahmed
Speaker: Daud Abdullah, Muslim Council of Britain
Speaker: Robert Lambert, University of St. Andrews
Speaker: Jonathan Githens-Mazer, University of Exeter
13:45-15:30 Panel 2: The international context
Chair: Ben O’Loughlin
Speaker: Abbas Barzegar, Georgia State University
Speaker: Sara Silvestri, City University London
Speaker: David Herbert, University of Agder, Norway
Respondent: Faisal Devji, University of Oxford
15:40-16:30 Open roundtable, Chair: Akil Awan
Can religious media bring peace?
Houses of Parliament, Committee Room 4
Keynote: Khaled Hroub
Followed by open discussion.
Dr. Khaled Al-Hroub is professor in residence of the faculty of liberal arts at Northwestern University in Qatar. He is Director of the Cambridge Arab Media Project (CAMP), University of Cambridge. He authored Hamas: A Beginners Guide (2006/2010), Hamas: Political Thought and Practice (2000), and edited Political Islam: Context versus Ideology (2011) and Religious Broadcasting in the Middle East (2012). In Arabic he published Fragility of Ideology and Might of Politics (2010), In Praise of Revolution (2012), Tattoo of Cities (literary collection, 2008) and Enchantress of Poetry (poems, 2008). He is currently writing a book on a Critique of the Arab Renaissance Project.
This is the first of two workshop-based dialogues between policymakers and academics on the nuanced role of Muslim institutions in international affairs in the age of ubiquitous digital media. The workshops are funded by the British Council USA. The conveners are Shawn Powers and Abbas Barzegar (Georgia State University), Ben O’Loughlin and Akil N. Awan (Royal Holloway, University of London).
The UK Parliament's select committee on Soft Power and UK Influence has published the written evidence submitted by experts and organisations who are part of the UK's presence in the world, including the BBC, British Council, BP and all of the arms of the British state. These submssions are available in a pdf here.
For those interested in political communication there is a lot of material concerning how states communicate with each other, with home and overseas audiences, and the role of media in boosting or diminishing a country's image and reputation. Political communication scholars like Philip Seib, Robin Brown, and Laura Roselle have contributed their thoughts.
The committee is still taking verbal evidence. It will publish a report in March 2014. The NPCU's Ben O'Loughlin is advising the committee. The soft power committee's work has been picked up by the press including, rather unexpectedly, in Marie Claire magazine.