Abstract to conference paper

Today I finished a conference paper with the title:

Social media mobilization in Arab nations during the uprising of 2011  – exploring the combination of interaction design and media- and communication studies in order to critically understand citizens’ interaction through social media platforms in relation to social change

Together with my co-writer and colleague Amanda Bergknut (M.Sc in Interaction Design) I will present the paper at Nordmedia Conference 2011 in Akureyri at Iceland in August. The abstract as follows:

During the first months of 2011 a wave of political restructuring, uprising and protests have spread over several Arab nations. The global attention of the events has been massive, much due to contemporary discussions on media- and information technology and the struggle between political leaders and citizens over stories and images of the events. Attempts to control the information flow, for example by shutting down the Internet and mobile communications, have encouraged people to use social media platforms to engage, mobilize, collaborate and carry out protests and actions that have had local as well as global impact.

A theoretical understanding of this can be asserted from horizons like late modernity individualization, media activism and civil disobedience. The latter is often conceptualized as, by definition, a form of violent neglecting of law without thoughts on consequences. This is far from a justified description and instead we can look at civil disobedience from new and more analytically productive perspectives in order to understand the recent developments in the Arab world as a foreseen chain of events in line with political and technological developments.

In this paper we explore the possibilities to theoretically enhance basic conceptions of media activism and social media as vital means for civic society and culture in the process of liberation and democratization for citizens in oppressed states. By combining interaction design (seeking to optimize the interaction between media and its user) and media- and communication studies (focusing on critical theory conceptualizing the relation between media technology and socio-political restructuring) we hope to provide new insights on the interplay between political contexts and citizens’ interaction through social media platforms in relation to social change.