Conference Agenda

RN18_02b: Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Internet Culture
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Eran Fisher, The Open University of Israel
Location: UP.4.210
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Fourth Floor Oxford Road


The Uses Of Internet And The Social Media By The Teachers’ Unions In The Context Of The Actual Protest Against The Devaluation Of The Profession

Paulo Jorge Marques Alves

ISCTE - University Institute of Lisbon, Portugal

Employment relations in the Portuguese public administration have changed profoundly in recent years, firstly under the “New Public Management” ideology and later with the austerity policies. This hit hard the education sector, particularly teachers’ wages and careers.

Much of this transformation was led by the previous right-wing government. With the change of the political situation after 2015, teachers thought that the process of devaluation of the profession will stop. Despite the replacement of the cuts in the wages, the actual government of the Socialist Party continues to refuse the full recovery of the length of service frozen (9 years, 4 months and 2 days) only accepting to recover slightly over two years. This situation led to a deep protest, which takes place both in the real and digital worlds.

In this paper we intend to analyze how the teachers’ unions are using the Internet and the social media in the context of this protest. Our findings show that they are being used intensively, but with different purposes. Some unions used them mainly for mobilizing; others used them basically for information. However, there is a convergence in the fact that the use that it is made do not allow us to assert that unions have fundamentally changed the way they act in the Internet, namely in what concerns the enhancement of participation. A relative exception is STOP, a newly founded union. In this case, it takes advantage of the potential of the new media through the promotion of participation, for instance, by answering the questions or comments that are posed in Facebook.

Digital Identity Construction Of Environmental Movements Through Media Access: The Anti-Nuclear Movement In Belgium And The Anti-Pipeline Movement In Canada

Grégoire Lits1, Nadège Broustau2

1Université Libre de Bruxelles, Université Catholique de Louvain; 2Université Libre de Bruxelles

Drawing on fieldwork (interviews and web site content analysis) realized in Belgium and in Canada about two contrasted environmental controversies, this paper analyzes the different ways environmental activists exploit digital technologies and interact with journalists and communication professionals in order to build their image in the public sphere so as to gain and to keep access to the public sphere.

Our theoretical frame combines insights from social movements (Gamson 1991, Polletta and Jasper 2001, Treré 2012) and digital communication studies (Broustau 2014, Yates 2015) in order to investigate the link between communication strategies in the digital era and processes of identity construction among social movements. This frame led us to build analytical tools, an interviews grid and a grid of Web content analysis, in order to study two cases: the nuclear phasing-out controversies in Belgium (from 2013 to 2019) and the controversies surrounding the Energie-Est pipeline project in Canada (from 2014 to 2018).

Interviews with activists, journalists and communication professionals in the environmental field were confronted with the analysis of the websites and social medias of environmental activists and institutions. The results of this comparative empirical work point out the dilemma of anti-system communication strategies versus the search for media legitimacy and authority. We discuss these results in light of the controversies that oppose social movement experts (Harlow 2012, Diani 2013) and media sociologists (Gerbaudo and Treré 2015) stating that the use of social network tools by social movement organizations (SMO) transform the very nature of social movements.

Social Media’s Role In Fostering Online Activism In A Country With Weak Formal Civil Society Structures: The Case Of Greece

Michael Nevradakis

Deree-The American College of Greece, Greece

The years of the economic crisis in Greece saw a marked increase in activist and grassroots activity, including the formation of large-scale organized protest movements, non-governmental organizations, volunteer initiatives, activist movements, and neighborhood groups. The proliferation of such organizations and movements was especially notable in a national context where the civil society sector has, in the view of many scholars, historically been underdeveloped, highly politicized, beset by clientelism, and lacking in independence from the state and from political parties. Many of these fledgling organizations, lacking resources and access to mainstream media outlets to raise awareness about their cause, utilized social media for outreach and to publicize “unfiltered” news and information about their activities and causes, bypassing mass media "gatekeepers." To what extent, however, was social media a vital part of the day-to-day operations of such organizations and groups? More broadly, have social media contributed to a rebirth or rejuvenation of civil society in Greece? Have the organizations and movements which were formed during the economic crisis demonstrated longevity? Does social media remain as important for the operations of these organizations and groups today as it was when they were first established? Based on multi-year research performed in Greece and encompassing interviews and surveys conducted with representatives of several civil society organizations and movements, including a case study of the “Boroume” (“We Can”) NGO, this research argues that social media initially did assist such organizations and movements in attaining public visibility and attracting volunteers and activists, contributing to the overall growth of civil society, but that social media’s overall importance to their efforts declined over time and did not prevent many such initiatives from ultimately dissolving.