I was yesterday at a nice, small symposium organised by my Humanities and Social Science colleagues at the University of Greenwich on “Rethinking Resistance“. The symposium asked a simple, but crucial question: do we need new tools or new paradigms to understand the recent riots in Britain and Europe, the Arab spring, the Occupy movement? Have forms of resistance changed? And, what about their effects on social and political developments?
I retain two key things from the highly stimulating discussions. First and very generally, a tension between continuity and change: on the one hand, historical memory still informs action today, as the Summer 2011 English riots clearly demonstrated with, according to some witnesses, older generations who had experienced unrest in the 1980s actively supporting the younger rioters of today. On the other hand, there is definitely something different going on now, most prominently a much more sophisticated use of powerful technologies, both on the side of the authorities (ubiquitous CCTV cameras allowing for an unprecedented number of arrests) and on the side of the rioters (the much-blamed use of social media to coordinate action).
This introduces my second point -the effects of social media. Do they introduce a new mode of coordination, that reorganizes crowds in ways not seen before? Do they introduce new ways to mediate between structure and agency -the eternal tension in sociology? Or do they simply reinforce, or speed up, communication that would occur anyway -and that did in fact occur through radios in 1981 Brixton, and through text messages in 2005 France?
To contribute to this debate, I presented the latest version of a paper co-authored with Antonio A. Casilli on the effects of Internet censorship -started as a blog post and then evolved into a paper, now forthcoming in Bulletin of Sociological Methodology. This initially minimal project is evolving into something more wide-ranging and organised -a project that we have labelled ICCU (Internet Censorship and Civil Unrest) and that we plan to develop in the near future. Just while I was presenting at Greenwich, Antonio was conducting fieldwork in Athens to develop an application to the Greek case -so more is to come from both of us.
For now, you can just find my presentation here.
Filed under: Agent-based models, Social networks, Sociology | Leave a Comment
Tags: 2011 UK riots, Agent-based models, Civil violence, Social simulation, social theory, Sociology, Web-based social networks
I am an economic sociologist with interest in social networks and their impact on markets, organisations, consumer choice and health.
My research also includes work in social science methodology and data.
- Get to know the new UK Data Service for social & economic sciences: esrc.ac.uk/funding-and-gu… #data @UKDataService 2 weeks ago
- @philmikejones good, see you tomorrow! 1 month ago
- @brainthingsmr with pleasure! I'll be around tomorrow until the plenary #britsoc13 1 month ago
- Good questions for our presentation on social support in online communities on eating disorders: thanks to all! #britsoc13 @anamia 1 month ago
- Just about to present results of our social network study of eating disorder online communities at #britsoc13 @anamia anamia.fr/en 1 month ago
Creative Commons Licence
Paola Tubaro's Blog by Paola Tubaro is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at paolatubaro.wordpress.com.