research links w 38-39, 17

New Media and Society has a special issue coming up on digital activism. It looks like a collection of cases, with little synthetic analysis or commentary. See the intro article in post print here. There’s also a special issue of the Qualitative Research journal focused on how qualitative methods should respond to the onslaught of new social data, including ethnographic methods for on/offline digital activism in oppressive contexts.

@wayan_vota ‏ explores data on how African governments track and surveil social media . On a brighter side, 2-wave panel survey (n=850, 572, 9 mos apart) in Chile suggests that Facebook strengthens collective political efficacy, Twitter strengthens individual efficacy, and Swiss survey data suggests that experiencing negative environmental conditions stimulates environmental activism (but personal predispositions and ideology are more important). Continue reading “research links w 38-39, 17”

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research links w8-17

Findings

#participationwashing? Participatory mechanisms promise to empower the marginalized, and can provide the illusion of power, but an ethnographic study on development processes in Boston shows how participation can simply reinforce existing power dynamics: “residents appear empowered, while officials retain ultimate decision-making authority.” Worse than that, a (peer reviewed but unpublished?) article on Vietnam demonstrates how  e-government is not e-democracy, and authoritarian states can digitize just as well as anyone else, while G20 countries are  breaking promises to release anti-corruption data, according to a report from the Web Foundation, which notes the quality of what they do release isn’t that great either.

So how to make government more responsive? Put the mayor on Twitter says  a social network analysis of citizen-state social media interaction in Seoul, Korea. Meanwhile, a new research report from MAVC supports the common assumption that crowdsourced information is inherently political, due in no small part to the behavior and interaction of crowdsourcing infomediaries, which is itself messy, while a survey of 57 Swiss legislators suggests that making lawmakers argue on the basis actual performance evidence changes the way they budget, but also increases polarization. Continue reading “research links w8-17”