Digital Media Activism and Nigeria's Public Sphere

By Oladepo, Tomi | Law, Social Justice and Global Development Journal, Annual 2016 | Go to article overview

Digital Media Activism and Nigeria's Public Sphere


Oladepo, Tomi, Law, Social Justice and Global Development Journal


Introduction

In 2013, the United Nations embarked on a crowdsourcing exercise to develop the next generation of anti-poverty goals. They employed digital media and mobile phone technologies to create an inclusive communication environment for people all over the world to have a say in shaping the new global development agenda. The web platforms for this global conversation were "The World We Want 2015" website, Short Message Service (SMS), and Interactive Voice Response (IVR). In Uganda, through a free SMS-based citizen reporting system, the UN was able to aggregate the views of over seventeen thousand young people on what the development priorities in their respective communities should be (Kjovern, 2013). This global conversation, enabled by digital media technologies, has led the United Nations to this conclusion: "people want to be a part of delivering this new agenda, and to hold governments and businesses accountable for their promises and commitments" UNDP, 2015).

The fast adoption of digital media in Africa (largely, it must be said, mobile phone telephony) delivers for the UN a ready-made platform for the advancement of the Post-2015 agenda. Where people seek to hold their governments accountable for their promises and commitments, digital media has so far been instrumental in meeting these needs (or appearing to meet them) through diverse group initiatives and individual innovative projects. In this article, I explore the idea of digital media activism in Africa (specifically, Nigeria) using three case studies, where through active digital media participation, interaction, and a display of democratic culture, the government is being held to account by a burgeoning public sphere that requests it 'legitimates' itself before the people. The aim of this paper is to examine the idea of social change via digital media in Nigeria, Africa, from the communication platforms employed, to the local-centric techniques and strategies discharged in meeting civic activism goals.

Digital media and public sphere theory

The 'public sphere' is a strong theoretical concept, famously set out by German social philosopher Jurgen Habermas (1962), and subject to revision and critique ever since. It essentially refers to the realm of interaction and communication where citizens deliberate and articulate their views on matters regarding political decision making or considered to be in "public" interest. How this happens, who populates, controls or dominates this 'sphere' (or indeed whether a unified or single or dominant sphere exists at all) is a matter of constant scholarly debate. The issues of concern in our context are not so much the classical matters that are associated with the relationship between the state and civil society, law, order, security, or internal issues regarding procedures in the administration the country. They concern the way that digital media technologies have very rapidly and effectively opened a space we can credibly refer to as a 'digital public sphere'.

Moreover, one of the features of this new public sphere is activism--its dynamism, lack of established protocols, fluidity, routine anonymity, rapid response mechanisms and mass mobilisation impacts, have generated unique opportunities. Of course, scholarly debate remains on the definition of 'activist' and, as Bobel (2007) argues, there is a lacunae between "doing activism" and "being activist". Many actors within new social movements reject the label "social activist", as indeed older concepts of citizenship have become outmoded given the social complexity and diversity of contemporary society. However, as contemporary forms of social protests continue to draw on more easily accessible new media technologies in the communication and amplification of "movement messages/agenda", we can expect a clear-cut identification of the social activist, as much as the occasion of their activism.

Habermas' original perceptions of the historical public sphere was arguably more abstract than empirical, and grounded on historical notions of collective representation as political communication, rather than actual institutions, organisations or related administration. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Digital Media Activism and Nigeria's Public Sphere
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.