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Digital politics and social movements: shifting modes of representation and governance

Monday 8 July 2024, 9.00AM to 5:00 PM

The implications of new technologies are constantly at the forefront of political research, as scholars, policymakers and corporate actors grapple with the potentialities and the implications of each new tool or system. Today, AI and the need to regulate it are front of mind – reflected in countless new conferences, working papers, and funding opportunities. However, beyond questions of ownership and control, social and political researchers must consider how new
technologies might challenge or transform representation and governance, as fundamental principles of social and political theory.
Social movements offer a way to study these developments ‘from below’ – providing insights beyond just the stated intentions of a certain digital tool or system. Police have introduced widespread CCTV networks in cities across the world in the name of security, but movements have shown they are used to target the right to protest in democratic contexts (Ullrich & Wollinger, 2011). E-commerce supposedly makes people’s lives easier but trade unions have highlighted how labour rights are suppressed by “platform capitalism” (Srniceck, 2017; Vallas, 2019). Social media platforms such as Facebook seek to “bring people closer together” but activists report that uneven and opaque moderation practices have led to repression and paranoia (Crawford, forthcoming). Early literature focused on the possibilities of the digital:
divided along techno-optimist/ techno-pessimist lines (Morozov, 2011). Now, however, we have ample empirical evidence that allows for greater analytical nuance (Gerbaudo, 2012).

This 1-day workshop will engage with questions about how the digital transforms, challenges, and reproduces representation and governance from the perspective of activists and social movements.

More information to follow.

Location: Tbc

Admission: Free