As a means of facilitating the creation of cross-national, 'dis-organized' networks for collective action on the basis of negotiated common concerns, the internet might almost have been purpose-built for social movements (SMs). A growing body of literature during the last decades of the twentieth century attests to the significant impact SMs have had upon the restructuring of the political landscape. Recently some attention has turned to the potential synergy between the transforming qualities of emerging information and communications technologies (ICTs) and the social movement-driven new cultural politics (Castells 1997, 2001; Webster 2001). What has particularly stimulated this interest is the perceived ascendancy of this cyber-cultural politics against a backdrop of the declining salience of traditional political organization and discourse. The cyber organizing of global protests and campaigns is making a strong contrast to declining party membership and falling electoral turnouts in many countries. Drawing upon a series of case studies from various countries, this book provides a critical analysis of the politics of cyberprotest by exploring the way the internet and related applications of modern ICTs are actually changing the internal and external organization of SMs.
The introduction of new ICTs into the political domain has been studied extensively in the past decade. Often these studies have tended to explore how such new applications might fuel new possibilities for traditional political institutions (politicians, parliaments, political parties) rather than their possible consequences for SMs. Many of these publications have also contributed to all kinds of digital idealism, which often simply (and even naively) project technological possibilities into social 'realities'. In contrast, in a recent anthology of the social and political implications of new media (1740-1915), Gitelman and Pingree have suggested that initially, 'the place of these new media tends to be ill-defined and that their ultimate meanings and functions