[Air-L] CfP: Social Web: Towards Networked Protest Politics?

Ralf Bendrath bendrath at zedat.fu-berlin.de
Mon Oct 8 08:35:05 PDT 2007


PDF version: <http://www.fk615.uni-siegen.de/dokumente/CfP_SocialWeb.pdf>

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Call for Papers:

Social Web – Towards Networked Protest Politics?

7-8 November 2008
University of Siegen, Artur-Woll-Haus, Am Eichenhang 50, D-57076 Siegen.

Organised by the Research Project ‘Changing Protest and Media Cultures’.
Funded by the German Research Foundation.

Theorists drawing on different concepts of democracy such as
associative, deliberative or participatory democracy perceive the
internet as providing new opportunities to revitalise classical notions
of democracy through widening the scope for active public debates. Civil
society actors are attributed a crucial role in new notions of web based
public spheres. Social movements, it is argued, benefit more than
established political actors from online media since their social
network structure corresponds well with the technological structure of
the internet. The internet provides new opportunities to intensify as
well as territorially expand social networks and enables the formation
of public sphere(s) beyond the borders of the nation states. Connected
to the communicative dimension of democracy some authors even see the
possibility of a global “community of communication” (Delanty).

The conference addresses issues of online communication of political
protest actors by particularly focussing on the so-called social web,
‘Web 2.0’ as it is called after Tim O’Reilly, and its impact on
political campaigning, community formation, transnationalising politics,
and overall on the contribution of virtualised protest politics on the
formation of a transnational ‘public of publics’ (Bohman).

The analysis of the interrelation between campaigning and networking
deals with new forms of political mobilisation and highlights options
and problems of online-offline-connectivities by giving particular
relevance to mass media resonance. Apart from that questions of internal
organisation and communication among protest actors and groups come into
foreground. As protest networks and campaigns play important functions
within new governance structures questions of democratic legitimacy of
political protest actors in general as well as aspects of internal
democratic decision making in particular have to be discussed.

Looking inside virtualised networks of social movements also raises
questions of community building and collective identity. While some
studies question the potential of internet technologies to provide a
platform for the emergence of (online) collective identities and put
emphasis on common experiences in physical social space, the
proliferation of social techniques and their use on the net raises
questions of an appropriation of these techniques by civil society
actors for identity-building practices.
In early stages of internet research many scholars assumed that the new
network technology would be able to decrease social inequalities but
current studies of network research show that well-established social
structures continue to exist on the net. For instance, the
centre-periphery paradigm seems to persist within transnational online
networks with regard to the gap between North and South. Furthermore,
transnational protest actors tend to use the net rather for framing
processes than for public interaction and exchange between individual
protest actors and other relevant groups.


Overall, the conference aims at shedding some light on the
interrelations of social movements and digital networks. It will address
such questions as:
Panel #1: Virtualised Networks & Campaigns
·       Which aspects of internal communication, decision making,
organisation, and coordination of protest actions are facilitated within
virtualised networks?
·       With regard to external communication how do campaigns organised
by virtualised networks and coalitions manage to speak with ‘one voice’?
·       Are network technologies changing campaign strategies of
establishing public spheres?

Panel #2: Virtualised Networks & Community
·       To what extent do civil society actors use technologies of Web
2.0 in order to build up social relationships and to foster or
anticipate processes of community building and collective identity?
·       Do Web 2.0 technologies form another milestone on the way
towards a ‘networked individualism’ (Wellman)?
·       How are cognitive and affective elements connected within
virtualized communities?
·       May we characterise them as social networks, as issue networks,
or as ‘epistemic communities’?

Panel #3: Virtualised Networks & Transnationalism
·       How are claims of virtualised networks asserted across boarders?
·       To what extent and how does virtualised protest bridge the
North-South gap?
·       Do social network techniques generally enable mobilisation of
spatially separated supporters and thus contribute to the development
of a ‘global civil society’?

Panel #4: Virtualised Networks & Democracy
·       How can we conceptualise public sphere(s) in the age of network
communication on the internet beyond the nation state?
·       May Web 2.0 be regarded as ‘magic formula’ for online
deliberation, participation and direct democracy?
·       What conclusions may be drawn for conceptions like
‘transnational democracy’ or ‘global governance’?


Keynote speakers include:
Panel #1:Dieter Rucht, Social Science Research Center Berlin, D
Panel #2: Richard Rogers, University of Amsterdam, NL
Panel #3: Peter J. Smith/Elizabeth Smythe, Athabasca University
/University College of
                Alberta, CDN
Panel #4: James Bohman, Saint Louis University, USA

Theoretical and empirical works focusing on political and sociological
aspects of online communication of political protest networks actors
such as participation, mobilisation, organisation, identity,
transnationalism, public sphere(s), global governance, and democracy are
welcome. The deadline for receipt of the abstracts is 14 April 2008.
Abstracts, between 500-1000 words, together with an author biography,
must be sent electronically to Johanna Niesyto
(johanna.niesyto at uni-siegen.de).
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Dipl. Pol. Ralf Bendrath
University of Bremen
Collaborative Research Center "Transformations of the State"
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