About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 3078-3087
Publication year: 2012
ISBN: 978-84-615-5563-5
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2012
Location: Valencia, Spain

THE ROLE OF THE INTERNET AND SOCIAL MEDIA IN SOCIAL MOVEMENTS

I. Wanca

New York University (UNITED STATES)
The Internet users have dramatically increased their numbers in the recent years. With 800 million active users as of September 2011, Facebook has become the largest, most popular social network in the world. As Facebook spreads around the globe, it is creating unexpected effects. One of these effects is enabling groups previously incapable of political action to find their voices. Social movements, which have characterized most social, political, religious, and cultural struggles in world history, are taking place on Facebook. It is ten years into the 21st century, and it is clear that, as a cultural tool, technology is at the epicenter of an emerging sociocultural struggle, with Facebook as a major player. Important examples of these propositions are the National March against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2008 and the Arab movements that took place earlier this year. The Orange Revolution in Ukraine was the ancestor of these events, which set the tone for next that follows. Ukraine’s digital revolution marked an important crossroad where the emergence of open networks and rapid political change converge. The current paper holds that social media and the Internet in particular, have played a pivotal role in the formation and functioning of the demonstration against FARC, and also had a crucial role in fueling the Arab events this past spring. The Internet and Facebook allowed people to experience what others were feeling by reading simple posts, becoming the virtual home of the new “rooted cosmopolitans.” While there is no geographical connection between the uprisings in Ukraine, Columbia and the Arab states, these movements constitute a political modular phenomenon, focusing on the trade-offs between the influence of example, structural facilitation and institutional constraints.

The Internet cyber space is an emerging international actor with its own sovereignty, divided on a non-geographical basis. It is the only one “sacred place” where there are no limits to political, military, economic, and other forms of power. It is an absolute domain to which no state power can claim rights. The Internet and Facebook does not replace the power of “human agency” and the cases examined in this paper show that social media cannot organize or mobilize mass people solely by virtue of sharing information in the cyber space. There must be collective action and cooperation with external factors such as the national media and domestic or international institutions. Another issue is that Facebook and the Internet may not be accessible to some groups of people. There are still regions in the world where the Internet penetration is low, which can limit social networks’ capability of connecting people. The Internet and social media are not replacing people’s role in the formation of social movements, but they are empowering people’s action by creating complex social dynamics within the social space that profoundly change the social interaction among people. Social interaction is embedded in the roots of any social movements. Transnational activism builds on resources and opportunities that are particular to every social era. The Internet and Facebook by increasing connections across borders and capacities of citizens to mobilize both within and outside of human’s society play the role of a rooted cosmopolitan in the new social movements.
@InProceedings{WANCA2012ROL,
author = {Wanca, I.},
title = {THE ROLE OF THE INTERNET AND SOCIAL MEDIA IN SOCIAL MOVEMENTS},
series = {6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2012 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-615-5563-5},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {5-7 March, 2012},
year = {2012},
pages = {3078-3087}}
TY - CONF
AU - I. Wanca
TI - THE ROLE OF THE INTERNET AND SOCIAL MEDIA IN SOCIAL MOVEMENTS
SN - 978-84-615-5563-5/2340-1079
PY - 2012
Y1 - 5-7 March, 2012
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2012 Proceedings
SP - 3078
EP - 3087
ER -
I. Wanca (2012) THE ROLE OF THE INTERNET AND SOCIAL MEDIA IN SOCIAL MOVEMENTS, INTED2012 Proceedings, pp. 3078-3087.
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