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Critical Perspectives on Social Media and Protest

Between Control and Emancipation

Edited by Lina Dencik and Oliver Leistert

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Commercial social media platforms have become integral to contemporary forms of protests. They are intensely used by advocacy groups, non-governmental organisations, social movements and other political actors who increasingly integrate social media platforms into broader practices of organizing and campaigning. But, aside from the many advantages of extensive mobilization opportunities at low cost, what are the implications of social media corporations being involved in these grassroots movements?

This book takes a much-needed critical approach to the relationship between social media and protest. Highlighting key issues and concerns in contemporary forms of social media activism, including questions of censorship, surveillance, individualism, and temporality, the book combines contributions from some of the most active scholars in the field today. Advancing both conceptual and empirical work on social media and protest, and with a range of different angles, the book provides a fresh and challenging outlook on a very topical debate.
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Rowman & Littlefield International
Pages: 248Size: 6 x 9
978-1-78348-335-8 • Hardback • October 2015 • $100.00 • (£70.00)
978-1-78348-336-5 • Paperback • October 2015 • $32.95 • (£22.95)
978-1-78348-337-2 • eBook • October 2015 • $30.95 • (£21.95)
Lina Dencik is Lecturer in the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University, UK.

Oliver Leistert is a postdoctoral researcher at the DFG Research Training Group “Automatisms” at University Paderborn, Germany.
Lina Dencik and Oliver Leistert / 1. Promise and Practice in Studies of Social Media and Movements. Sebastian Haunss / Part I: Algorithmic Control and Visibility / 2. The Revolution Will Not Be Liked: On the Systemic Constraints of Corporate Social Media Platforms for Protests, Oliver Leistert / 3. Mobilizing in Times of Social Media: From a Politics of Identity to a Politics of Visibility, Stefania Milan / Part II: Temporal Alienation and Redefining Spaces / 4. Social Media, Immediacy and the Time for Democracy: Critical Reflections on Social Media as ‘Temporalising Practices’, Veronica Barassi / 5. “This Space Belongs to Us!”: Protest Spaces in Times of Accelerating Capitalism, Anne Kaun / Part III: Surveillance, Censorship and Political Economy / 6. Social Media Censorship, Privatised Regulation, and New Restrictions to Protest and Dissent, Arne Hintz / 7. Social Media Protest in Context: Surveillance, Information / Management, and Neoliberal Governance in Canada, Joanna Redden / 8. Preempting Dissent: From Participatory Policing to Collaborative Filmmaking, Greg Elmer / Part IV: Dissent and Fragmentation From Within / 9. The Struggle Within: Discord, Conflict and Paranoia in Social Media Protest, Emiliano Treré / 10. Social Media and the 2013 Protests in Brazil: The Contradictory Nature of Political Mobilization in the Digital Era, Mauro P. Porto and João Brant / Part V: Myths and Organisational Trajectories / 11. Social Media and the ‘New Authenticity’ of Protest. Lina Dencik / 12. Network Cultures and the Architecture of Decision. Geert Lovink and Ned Rossiter / Notes on Contributors
At last, a collection on social media and protest that is genuinely critical, spanning both the nature of the technological tools the political-economic environment they are part of, the organisational responses these formations then lend themselves to and the political consequences they reap. Rich in detail, broad in remit, interrogatory by design this will be my 'turn to' book on this subject for years to come.

Natalie Fenton, Professor of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths University of London


Refusing simple explanations and traversing protest movements from around the globe, this collection is essential reading for academics and activists alike. The volume interrogates the power and systemic shortcomings of corporate-based social media as deployed during moments of revolution, rupture, and dissent. Operating simultaneously as an authoritative force that regiments social relations and a fetishistic object that congeals desires, these media are shot through with a series of contradictions.
Gabriella Coleman, Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy Department of Art History & Communication Studies, McGill University


This collection provides a much-needed antidote to the ready equation of social media and political empowerment. It counters the cyber-hype with a truly critical collection of readings that explore the political limits and potentials of social media. This is a crucial volume for anyone interested in the key political question of our time: the relationship between media technology and activism.
Mark Andrejevic, Associate Professor of Media Studies, Pomona College


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