This book examines how citizens use digital social media to engage in public discontent and offers a critical examination of the hybrid reality of protest where bodies, spaces and technologies resonate. It argues that the augmented reality of protest goes beyond the bodies, the tents, and the cobblestones in the protest square, incorporating live streams, different time zones, encrypted conversations, and simultaneous translation of protest updates into different languages. Based on more than 60 interviews with protest participants and ethnographic analysis of online content in Ukraine and Russia, it examines how citizens in countries with limited media freedom and corrupt authorities perceive the affordances of digital media for protest and how these enable or limit protest action.
The book provides a nuanced contribution to debates about the role of digital media in contentious politics and protest events, both in Eastern Europe and beyond.
Tetyana Lokot is an Associate Professor in Digital Media and Society in the School of Communications at Dublin City University.
Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. Digital Media and Society in Ukraine and Russia
Chapter 3. Euromaidan Protesters: A Snapshot
Chapter 4. Space, Distance and Digital Media
Chapter 5. Socially Mediated Visibility and Protest Witnessing
Chapter 6. Protest Organising and Networked Communities
Chapter 7. Information Sharing and Protest Frames
Chapter 8. Russia: Protest in the Age of Networked Authoritarianism
Chapter 9. Conclusion: Beyond the Protest Square
How online protest bleeds into street demonstrations is one of the critical questions of our time. In this path-breaking book, Tetyana Lokot presents a theory of augmented dissent to map and analyze the relationship between digital and physical protest. Through her study of the Euromaidan revolution and Russian street protests, Dr. Lokot demonstrates how to identify and assess key intersections between online calls to action and activity on protest squares. Her research enables a better understanding of both the opportunities and limits of how digitally augmented protests can effectively challenge authoritarian leaders. Beyond the Protest Square informs broader theories about political participation and rights activism online, making it a must-read in the field of political communication, social movements, and beyond.
Tetyana Lokot has a journalist's eye for detail and a scholar's gift for connections as she examines how technology shapes protest and dissent in Ukraine and Russia over the past decade. Lokot's idea of "augmented dissent", in which protest unfolds in a "hybrid reality" of online and offline spaces provides key conceptual tools for understanding dissent that's been transformative to Eastern Europe, though less visible than comparable waves of protest like the Arab Spring. Lokot's deep knowledge of Ukraine and Russia gives case studies in Russia and Ukraine critical context and insight and provides key insights about the power and limitations of dissent online and off.
In this must-read book, Lokot provides us with a highly nuanced and rigorously researched understanding of how activists (and active but ordinary citizens) who engage in acts of protest view and employ digital technologies. Most refreshingly, Lokot’s research goes above and beyond the often-fetishized explorations that focus on the singularity of social media and ICTs and instead, this highly readable book provides us with a critical look discerning exactly what social media and ICTs “do" and "do not do” for protest engagement. Conceptually innovative, the focus on augmented dissent helps us understand how and why social media and ICTs augment and enhance contentious activity in the hybrid spaces where material and digital elements of social, political, and economic rights are entangled. Anyone interested in detailed and deliberate research on the role of digital media in contentious politics, be it in Eastern Europe or beyond, will be well served by reading this book.
In Beyond the Protest Square, Lokot gives us more than an authoritative study of how protest has changed the face of Ukrainian and Russian politics. She forces us to come to terms with the inseparability of the network and the street, and thus to understand citizens and protesters as whole human beings. It is a rare achievement, and one that should help redefine the field.