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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #94: April 17, 2003

Information, Communication & Society

Journal Name: Information, Communication & Society: Volume 5, Number 4, 2002


New media, new movement? The role of the internet in shaping the 'anti-globalization' movement
Peter Van Aelst and Stefaan Walgrave
Collective action and social movement protest has become commonplace in our 'demonstration-democracy' and no longer surprises the media or the public. However, as will be shown, this was not the case with the recent anti-globalization protests that attracted demonstrators from countries all over the world. The battles of Seattle, Washington, Prague and Genoa, with an unforeseen mixture of nationalities and movements, became world news. Interestingly, the new media seemed to play a crucial role in the organization of these global protests. This article maps this movement-in-progress via an analysis of the websites of anti-globalization, or more specifically anti-neo-liberal globalization organizations. It examines the contribution of these sites to three different conditions that establish movement formation; collective identity; actual mobilization and a network of organizations. This ongoing, explorative research indicates signs of an integration of different organizations involved and attributes an important role to the Internet. However, whilst both our methodology and subject are evolving rapidly, conclusions, as our initial results show, must be tempered.

In touch: young people, communication and technologies
Sheila Henderson, Rebecca Taylor and Rachel Thomson
This paper explores the place of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the everyday lives of young people with a focus on the emergence of new and transitory cultures of sociality associated with the use of the mobile phone. It explores how differences of class and culture shape the meaning and use of mobile telephones, distinguishing between the phone as a commodity within material culture and as a medium of social capital, most apparent at the moment of leaving school. The potential of the telephone for reworking the boundaries between public and private spheres is considered, including its role as a technology of romance and of parenting. The paper suggests that mobile telephones can be understood as an individualizing technology, placing young people in the centre of social networks, yet also making them available to reciprocal obligations. There are gendered dimensions to this process with young women appearing to make the most of freedoms offered by this technology and young men emphasizing constraints. This paper cautions against investing this technology with particular characteristics suggesting that distinct potentials are realized in relation to particularities of class, age, culture and circumstance. The paper is based on a qualitative longitudinal study of young people's transitions to adulthood conducted in contrasting locations in the UK between 1999 and 2001.

The mobile phone: towards new categories and social relations
Leopoldina Fortunati
The debate over the social use of the mobile phone has been enriched by a large amount of information and reflection as to how this instrument has modified interpersonal relations, changed roles in the family, re-defined the limits of communicative possibilities, rewritten the present functioning of institutions such as hospitals and schools, as well as the modus operandi of criminal organizations, intensified work rhythms, rationalized the organization of work relations, in a word, how the use of the mobile has profoundly changed society. On the contrary, less attention has been dedicated to the reconstruction and analysis of the impulse that its users have given the mobile (see its unexpected transformation, from the king of orality to a means of writing and reading). The main thesis of this article is that the mobile is changing not only society, but above all the framework in which society lives. This framework is made up of space and time as its primary determinations, which are able to integrate, stabilize and structure reality. The mobile changes reality in its widest sense, or rather its social representation. Let us remember with McLuhan (1964), Meyrowitz (1985) and many other scholars, that the medium is not only the message, but also a specific concept of time and space, that is, a specific dimension of existence. In the following sections, above all the changes that have been brought about to space and time will be dealt with, and then how the statute of the presence and absence of individuals in social space is modified will be analysed, how the relation between modern citizens changes radically with public space, and finally how the democratic process is enriched by further implementations.

'Feel like going online?' Internet mediated communication in Portugal
Gustavo Cardoso
Following the analysis presented by authors such as Manuel Castells and James Slevin, this paper intends to contribute towards the debate on the use of Internet mediated communication (IMC). This paper argues that the relational structure being built through IMC is the network. A network of relations, of weaker or intimate ties occurring in environments more structured virtual communities or less structured conversational spaces in a permanent interaction between the online and offline spaces. The paper begins by outline some contemporary debates about the use of IMC. It then presents data gathered through a national survey conducted in Portugal on internet users in the Next it argues that IMC seems to implement the creation of meeting places for socialization whose structure is the result of the social life dimensions more cherished by the users in a certain period of their lives be it professional interests, entertainment or the search for relationships (friendship, conviviality, love) and of their representations on the use of different kinds of IMC. In that way, forms of human association on the Internet are not jeopardizing those of the spaces not mediated by the Internet, since the communication does not confine itself to the Internet space, but it seems to be rather established beyond it.

On the poverty of apriorism: technology, surveillance in the workplace and employee responses
David Mason, Graham Button, Gloria Lankshear, Sally Coates and Wes Sharrock
Many debates about surveillance at work are framed by a set of a priori assumptions about the nature of the employment relationship that inhibits efforts to understand the complexity of employee responses to the spread of new technology at work. In particular, the debates about the prevalence of resistance is hamstrung from the outset by the assumption that all apparently non-compliant acts, whether intentional or not, are to be counted as acts of resistance. Against this background this paper seeks to redress the balance by reviewing results from an ethnographic study of surveillance-capable technologies in a number of British workplaces. It argues for greater attention to be paid to the empirical character of the social relations at work in and through which technologies are deployed and in the context of which employee responses are played out. In particular, it suggests that the resistance/compliance couple is too blunt an analytic instrument to capture the richness of those social relations. It argues, moreover, that there is an urgent need to reinstate the social in analyses of workplace relations just as respondents in the study frequently found themselves struggling to reinstate the social dimensions of work in the face of individualizing technologies. At the same time all parties to working social relations bring with them to the workplace understandings and definitions of legitimacy that have their origins at least partly outside the world of work. These definitions of legitimacy exercise a powerful influence on employee responses. Nowhere is this clearer than in the context of privacy where our respondent's expectations and understandings diverged significantly from those to be found in much academic literature and social commentary itself frequently framed in terms of a range of a priori assumptions about the priority attached to privacy at work.

Elements of surveillance: a new framework and future directions
Kirstie Ball
This article argues for a wider conceptualization of the meaning and significance of surveillance in contemporary social studies. It has been written in the context of recently published work by Lyon (2001, 2002) who establishes a powerful argument illuminating the social and technical interconnectedness of surveillance systems, and the invisibility of their social ordering effects, in everyday life. The article is divided into two parts. The first examines recent empirical work concerning two domains of surveillance practice, which are significant, and typical of the research findings in these areas of study. The first surveillance practice is that of CCTV in public space, and the second is that which occurs in the workplace. The second part, mindful of Lyon's (2001, 2002) arguments, analyses the recently published work to examine broader ways in which we might want to conceptualize surveillance. It argues that it comprises four elements: representation, meaning, manipulation and intermediation which interact to form 'surveillance domains', and, at a local level, are contested, politicized places. Highlighting the role of intermediation, it uses this framework as the basis of an applied research strategy into everyday surveillance practices.

Reading Walter Benjamin and Donna Haraway in the age of digital reproduction
M. I. Franklin
Walter Benjamin's 'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction' has much to offer contemporary analyses of the 'Information Age'. This article re-reads this famous essay in light of a later intervention by Donna Haraway, 'A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s'. There are strong parallels and overlaps between these two ground-breaking pieces, despite their many differences. Both deal with how their respective generations of 'new' information and communication technologies (ICTs) are intertwined with broader sociocultural and political economic change. Both apply controversial, Marxian, theoretical insights to changes in the mode of (re)production in their analyses of techno-economic change that herald both negative and positive political possibilities. This article takes Benjamin and Haraway in turn, their lives and their work in general and these two essays in particular. It concludes with a brief discussion on how Benjamin's and Haraway's optimistic takes on technological change as political opportunity, despite less than optimal tendencies in the political economic and technical apparatus of their respective ages can contribute to fleshing out theory and research on ICTs. And to do so without lurching between the positions of extreme pessimism or optimism that characterize the debates to date.

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