Cyberprotest: New Media, Citizens, and Social Movements

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

10

Dis@bled people, ICTs and a new age of activism

A Portuguese accessibility special interest group study

Rita Cheta

The relationship between disability social movements (DSMs) 1 and new technologies is crucial to understanding the problems of DSM identity politics, its framing, transformation and evolution. Identity politics and framing analyses (discussed below) are interlinked within a social constructionist approach. We see identity politics as a mode of political activism typically, though not exclusively, initiated by groups excluded from traditional mainstream politics. Such marginalized groups generate a self-designated identity that is substantiated by both the individual and collective identities of its constituents. Social movement organizations (SMOs) lay claim to certain rights drawn from the inseparability of politics and collective and individual actors (Duyvendak 1995; Gergen 1995).

With the concept of framing, social movement (SM) theory problematizes the 'values', 'issues' and 'interests' that provide an entire SM common pattern of perception, interpretation and a sense of direction in action. Rather than assuming that SMOs pursue interests that are given, the values and preferences of collective actors are seen as resulting from a process that develops over time and which may seek to achieve goals such as challenging the dominant codes of society (Melucci 1989), broadening the arena of the political (Gamson 1996), (re)presenting the views of a particular constituency to a wide audience (Edwards and Hulme 1992), and raising the consciousness of the latent members of the social movement (Campbell and Oliver 1996).

An analysis of the Portuguese Accessibility Special Interest Group (GUIA) as a case study demonstrates the uniqueness of this disability SMO. At the level of information and communication technologies (ICTs), it shows the possibilities of reframing the master frame on

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