In the past few years, a growing gap between citizens and their governments has left more and more people feeling increasingly dissatisfied and unrepresented. Where polarised politics and legislative red tape has left people neutered, the internet and social media has empowered them to step over their governments to voice their opinions. #IceBucketChallenge, #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, and #UmbrellaRevolution all found mass audiences online. The Yellow Vest Movement, Arab Spring, and the Romanian anti-corruption protests are/were heavily facilitated via social media.
But are these online movements truly impactful? Are they effective at producing legal or social change in the real world or do they just promote slacktivism? Does everyone have access to this megaphone? Should they? And how do these movements influence formal political powerhouses, as Italy’s 5 Star Movement has done?
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Andor Admiraal (1976) is director of India-based internet marketing company Next Door Digital. On behalf of consultancy firm Audience Oriented Messaging he has trained politicians throughout Europe in political messaging and framing. In the last European elections Andor was on the ballot for the liberal D66 party. Before starting his own company, he worked in the European and the Dutch Parliament as press director of his party. Andor divides his time between India, Europe and Brazil.
Delia Dumitrica is an assistant professor in Political Comunication at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Her research interests focus on civil engagement through social media. She is a co-investigator in the project entitled: Social Media and Civic Culture: Investigating Emerging Practices of Democratic Participation in Canada. She is also doing research on the intersection between communication technology, nationalism and globalization. She has taught and lived in five countries. She holds a PhD in Communication from the University of Calgary in Canada, after completing her dissertation about the discursive construction of the Internet in Canadian policy and media, as compared to everyday understandings of this technology.
In the fourth LightBulb Chat, we explore democracy and activism in the digital age. Join the conversation.