TILT Seminar: Dr. Saif Shahin (Tilburg School of Humanities & Digital Sciences, Tilburg University)
Social Movements and the Affordances of Social Media: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Social media have become closely intertwined with the dynamics of contemporary political mobilisation. This study distinguishes an array of social media ‘affordances’ for social movements and classifies them into the heuristic framework of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. It is based on a normative view of social movements as collective action taken by marginalised classes and communities against institutionalised asymmetries of power. The Good refers to affordances that enable the underprivileged to unite for social action against institutionalised forms of oppression. The Bad, on the contrary, includes platform affordances that hobble action for social justice. Finally, Ugly affordances are offline practices that directly inhibit emancipatory mobilisation through social media. More broadly, I argue that even as social media enable mobilisation against the elite, they can also (re)produce power from without and within movements and ultimately leave them more vulnerable to elite control. The framework of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly draws attention to how different affordances interact with and mould each other, allowing for more nuanced analyses of particular platforms or comparisons across platforms in terms of how they might help or hinder social movements.
Saif Shahin is an Assistant Professor of Digital Culture in the Department of Culture Studies, Tilburg University and previously taught at American University in Washington DC. His research takes a critical look at data and technology as sociocultural phenomena, the production of power in digital discourses, and the politics of identity construction online. He also serves as an associate editor of the Journal of Information Technology & Politics.
Moderator: Dr. Tineke Broer
Attendance is free.
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