Rethinking Revolutionary Processes: What is the Digital Difference?

24 November 2011, 12:00 - 15:00

Coslett 406, Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, Cambridge

Network Power - Identity and Class: A Roundtable

Do the events of the 'Arab Spring' and the associated global wave of protest confirm the dominant paradigm of the 'network society' proposed by Manuel Castells? The idea that these are 'networked revolutions', is a powerful one, which is foregrounded by the visible role of digital social media in both transmitting symbols of protest across space and time, and connecting activists in a way which appears very different to the experience of pre-digital revolutionary moments. However, the development of classic revolutionary processes in countries such as Tunisia and Egypt also suggests that other analytical frameworks may be more effective lenses through which to understand both the revolutions themselves and the role of digital social media within them. In particular the role of strikes and workers' protests in both the Egyptian and Tunisian cases poses the question of whether we need to return to ideas of class and other conceptualisations of the collective to capture the dynamics of these processes?

Similarly, while many see digital social media has playing a crucial role in the revolutionary processes currently unfolding, this is an important moment to ask exactly what is the 'digital difference' compared to previous waves of regional and global protest?

This roundtable will connect these two questions, initially via interventions by a range of speakers with distinct backgrounds and perspectives, who will explore the relationship between social media and protest in an era shaped by crisis and revolution, followed by an opportunity to fully explore these issues in a roundtable discussion.

Speakers so far confirmed include:

  • Anne Alexander (CRASSH, University of Cambridge)
  • Miriyam Aouragh (Oxford Internet Institute)
  • Joss Hands (Anglia Ruskin University)
  • Jonny Jones (Deputy Editor, International Socialism Journal)
  • Tim Jordan (King's College London)
  • John Postill (Sheffield Hallam University)
More detail and further speakers to follow.

Organised by ARCDigital in collaboration with CRASSH (Centre for Research in Arts Social Sciences and Humanities). Supported by the Cultures of the Digital Economy Research Institute (CoDE).

For more information please email Joss Hands or Anne Alexander.