Frictions that slow, frictions that spark

January 19, 2016 § Leave a comment

I’m delighted that the latest article from Tim and my Mapping Movements project is out, Harbouring Dissent: Greek Independent and Social Media and the Antifascist Movement. It’s been a long wait, and there are a few sections which I’m sure need updating, but I’m still very glad that it’s finally public:

Abstract: This article examines Greek activists’ use of a range of communication technologies, including social media, blogs, citizen journalism sites, Web radio, and anonymous networks. Drawing on Anna Tsing’s theoretical model, the article examines key frictions around digital technologies that emerged within a case study of the antifascist movement in Athens, focusing on the period around the 2013 shutdown of Athens Indymedia. Drawing on interviews with activists and analysis of online communications, including issue networks and social media activity, we find that the antifascist movement itself is created and recreated through a process of productive friction, as different groups and individuals with varying ideologies and experiences work together.

Keep reading…

#SMSociety14: Greek independent media and the antifascist movement

July 11, 2014 § 1 Comment

I’ll be presenting the first analysis from the next case study of the Mapping Movements project that Tim Highfield and I have been working on at the Social Media & Society conference in September: the abstract is included here and we welcome comments, particularly from those involved in the Greek antifascist and independent media movements.

I must particularly acknowledge the assistance provided to this project by Maria Sidiropoulou, who has provided invaluable research support.

Title: Greek independent media and the antifascist movement

Background:

As social and political movements around the world attempt to deal with complex challenges, social media plays a key role in movement-building, organising events and campaigns, and communicating movement messages. This research focuses on the role of social media in facilitating the restructuring and growth of the antifascist movement in Athens following the 2010 protests in Syntagma Square. As Makrygianni and Tsavdaroglou (2011) note, Greek urban space has played a significant role in shaping protest during and after the junta, with the Exarcheia neighbourhood being a central base for activist organising. After Syntagma, activists moved from Exarcheia into neighbourhoods throughout Athens, establishing communities which form the basis of antifascist organising and which remain connected through both commercial and independent social media platforms.

Objective: This paper aims to demonstrate the complexity of links between social media and offline communities, including the ways in which each are mutually constitutive, and to provide a deep and nuanced analysis of how a particular community uses social media. Using the Greek case study, it addresses broader questions about the limitations and affordances of different social media platforms in building social movements (see also Gerbaudo, 2012; Juris, 2012).

Methods: This work uses a grounded mixed-methods approach to investigate the ways in which the particular histories and geographies of Athens affect activists’ use of social media, and the ways in which activists are reshaping networking technologies in order to build systems which are more supportive of activist interests (as opposed to the interests of corporations or governments). The research combines quantitative analysis of Twitter accounts associated with the Athens antifascist movement; analysis of issue-oriented hyperlink networks of independent media platforms such as the Indymedia forums and neighbourhood anti-fascist blogs (see also Bennett & Segerberg, 2013; Marres & Rogers, 2005); and 34 in-depth semi-structured interviews with activists, carried out in April and May 2013. The combination of quantitative and qualitative methods allows us to avoid some of the biases present in social movement research which focuses purely on online data (see Tufekci, 2014).

Results: This research highlights the interrelationship between social media and the physical configuration of protest, demonstrating how supposedly ‘placeless’ media is built on, and supports, physical communities of resistance. For example, activists’ decisions to use particular social media platforms are strongly influenced by the offline communities which they are a part of, while these platforms also serve a vital role in sustaining and mobilising those communities. This research also shows some of the tensions involved in activists’ choices to eschew the use of commercial social media platforms, including the risk of growing insularity within movements. More generally, this work provides important lessons about the ways in which activists are responding to the crises caused by neoliberalism and building new possibilities for community solidarity.

Conclusions: The combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis allows us to build a nuanced picture of social media use in a particular activist community, demonstrating the value of this research method. It also highlights important trends frequently overlooked in related research, such as strategic non-use or covert use of social media.

References:

Bennett, W. L., & Segerberg, A. (2013). The Logic of Connective Action: Digital media and the personalization of contentious politics. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Gerbaudo, P. (2012). Tweets and the streets: Social media and contemporary activism. London: Pluto Press.

Juris, J. S. (2012). Reflections on #Occupy Everywhere: Social media, public space, and emerging logics of aggregation. American Ethnologist, 39(2), 259–279. doi:10.1111/j.1548-1425.2012.01362.x

Makrygianni, V., & Tsavdaroglou, H. (2011). Urban planning and revolt: a spatial analysis of the December 2008 uprising in Athens. In A. Vradis & D. Dalakoglou (Eds.), Revolt and crisis in Greece: between a present yet to pass and a future still to come (pp. 29 – 57). Oakland, Baltimore, Edinburgh, London & Athens: AK Press and Occupied London.

Marres, N., & Rogers, R. (2005). Recipe for tracing the fate of issues and their publics on the web. In B. Latour & P. Weibel (Eds.), Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy (pp. 922–935). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Tufekci, Z. (2014). Big Questions for Social Media Big Data: Representativeness, Validity and Other Methodological Pitfalls. In ICWSM ’14: Proceedings of the 8th International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media. Ann Arbor, MI. http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1403/1403.7400.pdf

Upcoming talk at Bfest

May 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

bfestB-Fest, run by the Babylonia media collective, is a three-day event bringing together music and discussions. There are some amazing acts and speakers lined up, and I’m happy to say that I’ve been invited by the Digital Liberation Network to run a discussion about my work. I’ll talk in English, but Greek translation will be provided. It will be on at 19:00 on Friday, 24th May, at Panepistemiopoli in Zougrafou.

I’ll give an overview of some of the important developments in the struggle to control digital technologies, as well as talking a bit about how this is connected to other movements. After that there’ll be time for questions and discussion, including about how this might apply in the context of Greece.

From the program:

«Χακευοντας το Μελλον: Το Παγκοσμιο Κινημα για τα Ψηφιακα Δικαιωματα & οι Προοπτικες του» με την Sky Croeser (Curtin University) Διοργάνωση : Δίκτυο για την Ψηφιακή Απελευθέρωση

Έχει ασχοληθεί ερευνητικά για τον ακτιβισμό υπέρ της ανταλλαγής ηλεκτρονικών αρχείων (filesharing), το κίνημα ελεύθερου και ανοιχτού λογισμικού αλλά και με άλλες μορφές αυτού που αντιλαμβάνεται ως παγκοσμιοποίηση από τα κάτω (όπως τα κινήματα ενάντια στις γενετικά τροποποιημένες σοδειές στην Ινδία , ενάντια στις πατέντες και τα πνευματικά δικαιώματα), ερευνώντας τη σχέση όλων αυτών μεταξύ τους.

For more details and to see the full program, check out the Bfest website.

Into the Fire: the Hidden Victims of Austerity in Greece

April 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

Into the Fire came out yesterday, and the creators are asking people to embed it and distribute it widely. The documentary looks at the impacts of austerity on migrants in Greece, who are facing not only dire economic circumstances but also widespread racism.

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