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Cyberprotest: New Media, Citizens, and Social Movements

By Brian D. Loader; Paul G. Nixon et al. | Go to book overview

1

Introduction

Social movements and ICTs

Wim van de Donk, Brian D. Loader, Paul G. Nixon and Dieter Rucht

Internal and external communication of social movements was and is heavily based on direct interaction among physically present people. However, for at least two hundred years, direct interaction has been complemented by various media such as leaflets, brochures and newsletters to reach large numbers of people both within and outside the movements. Moreover, newspapers and, in later periods, radio and television covered major movement activities. By the late 1960s, probably for the first time in history, some movements conducted protest actions in the knowledge that, literally, 'The Whole World is Watching' (Gitlin 1980). Internal as well as external communication of social movements was facilitated-but certainly not revolutionized-by telephones, copy machines and fax machines. With the most recent information and communication technologies, hereafter called ICTs 1 (particularly portable computers, now morphing with mobile phones to give easy access information), and their links via the world wide web (internet), citizen groups and social movements, like many other organizations and institutions, are likely to reach a new level in the ways in which they mobilize, build coalitions, inform, lobby, communicate, and campaign (Hajnal 2002). Contemporary forms of protest seem to combine 'old-fashioned' technologies such as 'banners' with high-tech mobile tools of communication. Moreover, not only the use of ICTs within movements, but also the use of ICTs by some actors in the relevant environment of these movements (e.g. governmental organizations, political parties, citizens, corporations and media organizations) seems to present some threats as well as opportunities for social movements.

This volume seeks to contribute to the scholarly investigation of the use of ICTs by social movements. More specifically it seeks to critically explore, analyse and assess the implications of the use of ICTs (such as the internet) for citizen mobilization and the formation,

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