Citizen politics (VII): Round Table

Notes from the workshop Citizen Politics: Are the New Media Reshaping Political Engagement? held in Barcelona, Spain, on May 28-30th, 2009. More notes on this event: citizen_politics_2009.

Rachel Gibson

All politics is both personal and local… and national… and… Have to manage the way to connect the personal to the local.

Emergent e-campaign strategy: depends on infrastructure and the tools; and of the logic of networked communities, whether they are autonomous or not. A difference between building “real” communities, or populist platforms addressed to many in general (to the “herd”).

A major challenge: how to measure actions, people, quality, etc. A need to modelize “digital natives” and the way they interact between each other and through technology.

Main research approaches in Politics 2.0, all of them interrelated:

Foci, key factors /
Level of Analysis
Internal External
Elite (supply) Campaign change, tools, national/local power, adoption diffusion Inter-party comptetition, campaign site analysis
Mass (mass) Party membership, supporters, volunteers Electoral mobilization

Víctor Sampedro

We should not embrace the discourse and language of marketing or consultants, of populism, of counter-hegemonic collectives.

We have to assess the validity of our data, and collaborate both with the industry and the subjects of our studies.

We have to clarify what we understand by counter-power measures of ICTs and also, the concept of empowerment, and the concept of mobilization.

Is it a grassroots approach really a better system? Shouldn’t leaders lead? Is there still a role for leaders to “educate” the voter or to find “better” solutions and show them to the citizen?

Brian Krueger

Everything that’s great can be used against you: we should be thinking about Internet surveillance and monitoring. We know little about it and should be paying more attention to it. And this includes the sheer sensation of being monitored, as it has behavioural effects (e.g. self-censorship). Evidence shows that people feel monitored if they’d type “impeach Bush” or “assassinate Bush”. Open political criticism is tied to the feeling of being watched. And this sensation of being watched most probably changes your own behaviour, even if you’re not actually watched. And it’s likely to change how and how much you are participating.

Bruce Bimber

Motivation, attitudes, trust… the umbrella were to begin exploring participation. And then focus also on the changes that the new media are infringing to the landscape.

How would the landscape look like when “all” the people would have been socialized with these new media?

How different Web 2.0 tools differentiate one another? What different specific applications do they have?

We’re right to talk about choice, but we do still have not good models how to measure how choice happens and why.

More effort should be made in analysing how citizens can affect agenda-setting, on a decentralized and bottom-up communication scheme. And also how horizontal communication happens, how peer-to-peer can pass the message on.

Should focus more not on how people mobilize, but what the specific motivations and contexts are. What keeps people awake at night.

Andrew Chadwick

We need more appreciation of social network environments (i.e. tools), and balance technological determinism with social determinism, keeping in mind how technology did change some human behaviours.

How do we contextualize a campaign or social movement, specially when social movements increasingly look like parties and parties increasingly look like social movements, and borrow each one’s instruments and techniques.

Look at how citizens cognitively negotiate information overload in an age of information saturation (not scarcity).

Can we do politics in a space owned by the market and private interests? Can the citizens build their own forums, create their own network effects and avoid commoditized online spaces?

We do need to start looking in more sophisticated ways how people are exposed to online content, including accidental exposure.

There are many cross-section analyses, but few panel-data analysis, which are usually acknowledged to be more robust (though more difficult and expensive). And we should use more the “free range” data that people automatically create with their actions (e.g. logs) instead of “battery raised” surveys. And combine methods.

We should be aware of how mobile technologies might be changing the economy of attention and politics.

Discussion

Bruce Bimber: mobility is more about time, more about “always on” rather than physical space or ubiquity (Chadwick fully agrees).

Rachel Gibson & Bruce Bimber: there are places where the local factor really matters and shapes how the institutions work or are built and managed.

Citizen Politics workshop (2009)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2009) “Citizen politics (VII): Round Table” In ICTlogy, #68, May 2009. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=2264

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