Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN15_08a_H: Part I Belonging and Online Participation; Part II Distributed Papers
Thursday, 31/Aug/2017:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Pierluca Birindelli, University of Helsinki
Location: HA.1.2
HAROKOPIO University 70 El. Venizelou Street 17671 Athens, Greece Building: A, Level: 1.

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Connected Sahrawi migrants in Spain: New technologies, migratory experiences and social relations.

Silvia Almenara Niebla, Carmen Ascanio Sánchez

Universidad de La Laguna, Spain

The Sahrawi conflict is one of the most prolonged refugee crises, the result of the unfinished colonization of Western Sahara by Spain and the subsequent invasion of Western Sahara by Morocco. Since 1975 the Sahrawi community live in the refugee camps in Tinduf due to the invasion and the ensuing war. Through the years, Sahrawi people have started their own migratory displacement to their previous colonial power, Spain, in order to achieve a better future and improve life conditions for their families in the camps. The migratory experience in Spain and the importance of keeping in touch with their relatives and friends inside the camps have created a new subject, “the connected migrant” (Diminescu, 2004) who maintains his/her relations with their home-camp due to the possibilities that new technologies offer. This reflection proposes the importance of examining the impact of new technologies on migratory processes. In this sense, I argue that the Internet reduces the anxiety of separation that Sahrawi migrants experience in Spain due to the instant communications services, such as WhatsApp, Messenger or Imo. It explores how Sahrawi people, living in Spain, have generated their own virtual activity related to their home-camp and the Sahrawi cause in order to maintain their family tie and their collective identity as Sahrawi. To conclude, this reflection addresses the social implication of online spaces to generate a constellation of agencies to reduce the impact of migratory experience and generate their own life plans.

"One 'leader' to rule them all"? Social, political and psychological reflections on leadership and hegemony in cyberspase

Georgios Vagias, Konstantinos Koskinas

Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, Greece

The ways we talk about the internet, the web and especially cyberspace, the ways we behave in these “areas” are mostly characterized and driven by a direct or indirect inference to a notion of singularity. Theoretical and empirical research usually approaches and perceives these areas as a “single” space, e.g. “one” internet, “one” web, “one” cyberspace. On the one hand, this makes presentation and analysis of research findings much more accessible and conceivable. Yet, on the other hand, it seems to complicate our attempt to fully understand what is truly virtual about cyberspace: the textures, the interconnections, the form and the content of all kinds of online social relations. And also, the source, the pathways and the procedures through which relations of power, of control, and of authority emerge, unfold, and are enforced. One possible way to resolve this is to approach cyberspace on a global level as a multi-layered, multi-dimensional and multi-fragmented space, which is formulated as a dynamic terrain of ongoing contest. Building on the theoretical grounds of virtual reality as a philosophy of culture, cyberspace and online networks, allows us to think about the potential and the actual realities. Moreover, to reflect on them and to raise questions over leadership and hegemony in cyberspace: who is in control of the multiple cyberspaces? where do the virtually numerous cyberspaces intersect and how do they intertwine with each other? which groups (government agencies, corporations, hackers, etc.) prevail each time and what are the social, political and psychological processes that define sovereignty as legal and legitimate respectively?

Diaspora engagement online: communication technologies, governments, and their skilled emigrants

Tingyu Kang

National Chengchi University, Taiwan

This paper examines the ways in which governments manage its skilled emigrants using communication technologies. A growing literature on diaspora engagement has demonstrated that the management of diasporas increasingly serves as a development strategy for many governments around the globe. Skilled emigrants are among the main targets in diaspora engagement policies as they are often portrayed as key actors for development in the policy discourse of brain drain. However, current studies on diaspora engagement rarely examine the role of communication technologies in forming state-diaspora relationships. Diaspora engagement policies are embodied through a series of social-material processes, such as transnational visits, monetary exchange, and cross-border flows of knowledge, where various new communication technologies function as a key material environment due to the transnational nature of these exchanges. Based on documentary analysis of both print and online government publications of mainland China, Singapore, Taiwan, the UK, and the US, this paper demonstrates and compares the different rationales and techniques with which governments engage its extraterritorial talent using communication technologies. The findings identify various models of online diaspora engagement. While Web 1.0 technologies are adopted to publicize policy information for skilled diasporic individuals, Web 2.0 technologies are utilized to personalize and privatize transnational exchanges among skilled emigrants, government officials, and business figures in the homeland. Algorithms function as a central governing technology which develops policy categories and priorities based on digitally collected human capital information of skilled emigrant while this process of digital categorization is largely masked to the emigrants.

A sociological comparison of decisions related to diversity by the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany and the South African Constitutional Court.

Johan Zaaiman

North-West University, South Africa

Germany and South Africa are both societies experiencing diversity challenges. The dimensions of diversity are quite different between the two societies and make comparisons a complex matter. However both societies have highly regarded constitutional courts that determine the interpretation of the constitutions of those societies. The German Court (established 1951) has a long standing tradition of decisions whilst the South African Court (established 1994) is still viewed in South Africa as a novel institution and its role in society debated. Both the courts have been confronted with cases related to diversity issues. This paper compares specific decisions of these courts that relates to aspects of diversity – especially decisions that focus on social and economic views. From this comparison it is clear that the grounds for decisions between the two courts overlap but also differ. The analysis thereof presents concepts and theoretical inputs that talk to the discourse on diversity in sociology. This can assist sociology in its comparative theorising on diversity issues among different societies.

The Global Public Space

Svetlana Hristoforova Hristova

South-West University, Bulgaria

The global crisis in 2008 just exhibited the fact that the world hegemony reached this point when it brought about global counter-hegemonic responds by a newly born majority of the impoverished middle class. The development of global discontent and resistance is exemplified in the prolifretaion of transnational social and political networks and informal movements, but also in various largely unnoticeable everyday local practices of disagreement looking for cosmopolitan re-imagination and validation (Theodossopoulos 2013). The reclaimed and regained (even temporarily) public spaces as a product of ‘power-filled social relations’ (Massey 1999, 21) give evidence of these trends connected with globalization of protest. While Kevin Cox drew attention to the interplay between different local interests in globalizing environment, and the emerging broader social networks with porous boundaries through which ‘spaces of resistance’ occur even in the most totalitarian states (Cox 1998, 3), Sasskia Sassen was the first to conceptualize the emergence of the Global Street, employing ‘fragments of various national and global territories’: a new spatial way of protesting and addressing political issues in search for social justice (2012). Now these spaces multiply and ‘move’ throughout the continents: Tahrir and Taxim Squares, Puerta del Sol, Wall Street and Sintagma – they all became landmarks of radicalisation of public space and dissemination of new spatial approach of contestation throughout the globe. At the beginning of the 21st century, the transnational public space was born – with transnational actors, globally disseminated practices and self-organized networks. But the trend of transnationalisation of public space can be thought also through the lens of touristification and terroristification, acquiring different forms, instruments of expression and intensity.

Toward global citizenship

Emilia Ferone1, Sara Petroccia2, Andrea Pitasi3

1University Gabriele d'Annunzio, Chieti-Pescara, Italy; 2University Gabriele d'Annunzio, Chieti-Pescara, Italy; 3University Gabriele d'Annunzio, Chieti-Pescara, Italy

This work analyzes some social changes derivatives on globalization process, their interdependence and global consequences.

More in details, the focus of this paper is the concept of citizenship and its evolution. The processes of definition of citizens are always more dependent from models, relationships and situations that occur in distant places with respect to the physical space within which their biography is materially lived.

The privileged audience of our citizenship narratives is not necessarily placed in the contexts of our material life and it nor constitute part of networks of our direct relations. Instead, it can be reached in mediated ways and can be part of a virtual or a spatially imaginative context of reference.

The growing interdependence and the contemporary erosion and multiplication of boundaries make it possible to think of oneself as freed from local ties, in constant motion, immersed in global flows that enable remote relationships, the rapid transition from one context to another and the ability to overcome and establish distinctions. They allow individuals to recognize themselves within a cosmopolitan outlook, which could mean: “Global sense, a sense of boundarylessness. An everyday, historically alert, reflexive awareness of ambivalence in a milieu of blurring differentiations and cultural contradictions. It reveals not just the ‘anguish’ but also the possibility of shaping one’s life and social relations under conditions of cultural mixture. It is simultaneously a skeptical, disillusioned, self-critical outlook” (Beck U., 2000).

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