The Digital Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy

Information Technology and Political Islam

The Digital Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy

Around the developing world, political leaders face a dilemma: the very information and communication technologies that boost economic fortunes also undermine power structures. Globally, one in ten internet users is a Muslim living in a populous Muslim community. In these countries, young people are developing political identities online, and digital technologies are helping civil society build systems of political communication independent of the state and beyond easy manipulation by cultural or religious elites. With unique data on patterns of media ownership and technology use, The Digital Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy demonstrates how, since the mid-1990s, information technologies have had a role in political transformation. Democratic revolutions are not caused by new information technologies. But in the Muslim world, democratization is no longer possible without them.

Pax Technica

How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free Or Lock Us Up

Pax Technica

A technology expert describes a possible future, and its repercussions in the area of privacy, social control and political manipulation, of a world where more and more things, like eyeglasses, thermostats and home security systems are reliant on the Internet.

Theorien des Medienwandels

Theorien des Medienwandels

›Medienwandel‹ ist eines der bestimmenden Schlagwörter im medien- und kommunikationswissenschaftlichen Fachdiskurs geworden. Zugleich zeigt sich, dass dieses ›Totalphänomen‹ begrifflich schwer zu fassen ist. Auffällig häufig wird der Begriff ›Medienwandel‹ primär auf ›neue‹ Medien, Technologien und Innovationen bezogen. Dabei wird systematisch vernachlässigt, dass jeder Wandel ein Vorher und Nachher hat und dass aktuelle Phänomene erst durch eine diachrone Betrachtung und die Einordnung in größere historische Zusammenhänge zu verstehen sind. Der vorliegende Band will diese Lücke schließen und einen substanziellen Beitrag zur Theoriebildung wie auch zur Systematisierung zukünftiger Forschungen zum Medienwandel leisten. Dafür wird ›Medienwandel‹ in den einzelnen Beiträgen unter evolutions- und innovationstheoretischen, kultur- sowie geschichtstheoretischen Perspektiven betrachtet.

Affective Publics

Sentiment, Technology, and Politics

Affective Publics

Over the past few decades, we have witnessed the growth of movements using digital means to connect with broader interest groups and express their points of view. These movements emerge out of distinct contexts and yield different outcomes, but tend to share one thing in common: online and offline solidarity shaped around the public display of emotion. Social media facilitate feelings of engagement, in ways that frequently make people feel re-energized about politics. In doing so, media do not make or break revolutions but they do lend emerging, storytelling publics their own means for feeling their way into events, frequently by making those involved a part of the developing story. Technologies network us but it is our stories that connect us to each other, making us feel close to some and distancing us from others. Affective Publics explores how storytelling practices facilitate engagement among movements tuning into a current issue or event by employing three case studies: Arab Spring movements, various iterations of Occupy, and everyday casual political expressions as traced through the archives of trending topics on Twitter. It traces how affective publics materialize and disband around connective conduits of sentiment every day and find their voice through the soft structures of feeling sustained by societies. Using original quantitative and qualitative data, Affective Publics demonstrates, in this groundbreaking analysis, that it is through these soft structures that affective publics connect, disrupt, and feel their way into everyday politics.

Democracy's Fourth Wave?

Digital Media and the Arab Spring

Democracy's Fourth Wave?

Did digital media really "cause" the Arab Spring, or is it an important factor of the story behind what might become democracy's fourth wave? An unlikely network of citizens used digital media to start a cascade of social protest that ultimately toppled four of the world's most entrenched dictators. Howard and Hussain find that the complex causal recipe includes several economic, political and cultural factors, but that digital media is consistently one of the most important sufficient and necessary conditions for explaining both the fragility of regimes and the success of social movements. This book looks at not only the unexpected evolution of events during the Arab Spring, but the deeper history of creative digital activism throughout the region.

Expect Us

Online Communities and Political Mobilization

Expect Us

People use online social forums for all sorts of reasons, including political conversations, regardless of the site's main purpose. But what leads some of these people to take their online political activity into the offline world of activism? In Expect Us, Jessica L. Beyer looks at political consciousness and action in four communities, each born out of chaotic online social spaces that millions of individuals enter, spend time in, and exit moment by moment: Anonymous (4chan), IGN, World of Warcraft, and The Pirate Bay. None of these sites began as places for political organization per se, but visitors to each have used them as places for political engagement to one degree or another. Beyer explains the puzzling emergence of political engagement in these disparate social spaces and offers reasons for their varied capacity to generate political activism. Her comparative ethnography of these four online communities demonstrates that the technological organization of space itself has a strong role in determining the possibility of political mobilization. Overall, she shows that political mobilization rises when a site provides high levels of anonymity, low levels of formal regulation, and minimal access to small-group interaction. Furthermore, her findings reveal that young people are more politically involved than much of the civic engagement literature suggests. Expect Us offers surprising and compelling insights for anyone interested in understanding which factors and online environments lead to the greatest amount of impact offline.

Who Is Allah?

Who Is Allah?

This vivid introduction to the heart of Islam offers a unique approach to understanding Allah, the central focus of Muslim religious expression. Drawing on history, culture, theology, politics, and the media, Bruce B. Lawrence identifies key religious practices by which Allah is revered and remembered, illuminating how the very name of Allah is interwoven into the everyday experience of millions of Muslims. For Muslims, as for adherents of other religions, intentions as well as practices are paramount in one's religious life. Lawrence elucidates how public utterances, together with private pursuits, reflect the emotive, sensory, and intellectual aspirations of the devout. Ranging from the practice of the tongue (speaking) to practices in cyberspace (online religious activities), Lawrence explores how Allah is invoked, defined, remembered, and also debated. While the practice of the heart demonstrates how Allah is remembered in Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam, the practice of the mind examines how theologians and philosophers have defined Allah in numerous contexts, often with conflicting aims. The practice of the ear marks the contemporary period, in which Lawrence locates and then assesses competing calls for jihad, or religious struggle, within the cacophony of an immensely diverse umma, the worldwide Muslim community.

Tweeting to Power

The Social Media Revolution in American Politics

Tweeting to Power

Online social media are changing the face of politics in the United States. Beginning with a strong theoretical foundation grounded in political, communications and psychology literature, Tweeting to Power examines the effect of online social media on how people come to learn, understand and engage in politics. Gainous and Wagner propose that platforms such as Facebook and Twitter offer the opportunity for a new information flow that is no longer being structured and limited by the popular media. Television and newspapers, which were traditionally the sole or primary gatekeeper, can no longer limit or govern what information is exchanged. By lowering the cost of both supplying the information and obtaining it, social networking applications have recreated how, when and where people are informed. To establish this premise, Gainous and Wagner analyze multiple datasets, quantitative and qualitative, exploring and measuring the use of social media by voters and citizens as well as the strategies and approaches adopted by politicians and elected officials. They illustrate how these new and growing online communities are new forums for the exchange of information that is governed by relationships formed and maintained outside traditional media. Using empirical measures, they prove both how candidates utilize Twitter to shape the information voters rely upon and how effective this effort was at garnering votes in the 2010 congressional elections. With both theory and data, Gainous and Wagner show how the social media revolution is creating a new paradigm for political communication and shifting the very foundation of the political process.

Internet and Emotions

Internet and Emotions

Nothing seems more far removed from the visceral, bodily experience of emotions than the cold, rational technology of the Internet. But as this collection shows, the internet and emotions intersect in interesting and surprising ways. Internet and Emotions is the fruit of an interdisciplinary collaboration of scholars from the sociology of emotions and communication and media studies. It features theoretical and empirical chapters from international researchers who investigate a wide range of issues concerning the sociology of emotions in the context of new media. The book fills a substantial gap in the social research of digital technology, and examines whether the internet invokes emotional states differently from other media and unmediated situations, how emotions are mobilized and internalized into online practices, and how the social definitions of emotions are changing with the emergence of the internet. It explores a wide range of behaviors and emotions from love to mourning, anger, resentment and sadness. What happens to our emotional life in a mediated, disembodied environment, without the bodily element of physical co-presence to set off emotional exchanges? Are there qualitatively new kinds of emotional exchanges taking place on the internet? These are only some of the questions explored in the chapters of this book, with quite surprising answers.

Media in Egypt and Tunisia: From Control to Transition?

Media in Egypt and Tunisia: From Control to Transition?

This book examines the mass media systems of Egypt and Tunisia under the pre-uprising regimes, with a focus on the last decade of the Mubarak and Ben Ali periods, as well as on how media are adapting to the political transitions underway. Findings are based on extensive interviews with journalists.