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The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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Building from elsewhere. Platformization and the continuing struggle for political change – Keynote Speech, Prof. Nick Couldry (LSE)

In the framework of the Summer School on Media in Political Participation and Mobilization, Prof. Nick Couldry (LSE) will give a keynote speech on the paradoxes and challenges of political mobilization in commercial social media platforms.

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On the 29th of June 2017, from 5:30pm to 7:00pm, Prof. Nick Couldry (LSE) will give the closing keynote speech of the Summer School on Media in Political Participation and Mobilization. The keynote is open to the whole SNS community and COSMOS members.

Abstract

This lecture will reflect on the paradox that, in the era of social media, new forms of political mobilization are emerging with bewildering speed, yet one of the deepest, if least appreciated, political issues of our times is precisely the corporatization of social space itself, including many spaces of political mobilization. This paradox is driven by the dynamics of a commercial internet, whose core business model is the continuous extraction of value by harvesting data through surveillance of newly constructed spaces for social life itself. How to think through then the changing politics of struggles for social and economic change?

The lecture will propose a dialectical response. First, we must take as our starting-point the historically unprecedented corporate ambition to construct the very spaces of social life, which transforms the premises of all debate about political mobilization, including that aimed at social progress. Second, we must recognise the power of various false antitheses offered to that starting-point. There is the obfuscation provided by ‘the myth of us’ (Couldry 2014) which suggests that social media, whatever their corporate origins, literally provide the space where ‘we’, some politically meaningful ‘community’, come together (Mark Zuckerberg’s February 16 2017 manifesto being a classic example of that myth). There are also many over-literal readings of the ‘reality’ of political mobilization via social media (eg Castells and others).

Somehow, in response, a third move in the dialectic must be forged, but how? The lecture will conclude with a double suggestion: an insistence on a more deeply sociological reading of ‘what goes on’ on platforms, but contextualized within a reformulation of the underlying social and political values at stake in not accepting corporate-owned platforms as the necessary spaces of political life. The resulting attempt to defend the value, for example, of autonomy in the face of the corporate reconstruction of the social domain offers, perhaps, a first move towards building a model of social change ‘from elsewhere’, that is, from a different conception of the political ‘now’ and ‘here’.

News

08/06/2017

Call for Papers - Cosmos Conference "The Contentious Politics of Higher Education. Student Movements in Late Neoliberalism"

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The Centre on Social Movement Studies, directed by Professor Donatella Della Porta, calls for papers addressing the recent global wave of student protests for a two-days conference to bel held in Florence, at the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences of the Scuola Normale Superiore (SNS), on 15-16 November 2017.

19/05/2017

Video available for the International Conference – Beyond Borders: Refugees and Struggles in Europe Mobilization, Solidarity and Political Challenges in the Long Summer of Migration

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Watch the video of the International Conference – Beyond Borders, which was held at Palazzo Strozzi on May 12, 2017

19/05/2017

Marco Deseriis wins Best Paper Award at the Cedem17 Conference for e-Democracy & Open Government

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Dr. Marco Deseriis, Marie Curie Fellow and Research Fellow at Cosmos, has won the Best Paper Award at the Cedem17 Conference for e-Democracy & Open Government (Danube University, Krems Au Donau, Austria)

Publications

Journal Article - 2017

The Electoral Success of the Radical Left: Explaining the Least Likely Case of the Communist Party in Graz

Manès Weisskircher
Recently, scholars have shown a growing interest in radical left parties (RLPs). In terms of electoral success, the rise of the KPÖ Graz, the Communist Party in Austria’s second biggest city, represents perhaps the most counterintuitive case in Western Europe. This analysis shows how the party has managed to ‘own’ the issue of housing and to exploit local political opportunities in order to be electorally successful. The findings point to the importance of agency and the subnational level for RLPs, and highlight more general questions in the study of this party family.

Journal Article - 2017

Non-deliberative politics in deliberative democracy: distinct approaches for different actors

Andrea Felicetti
In this paper Andrea Felicetti first illustrates the main ideas of the systemic turn, explores the distinction between ‘deliberative’ and ‘non-deliberative’ politics and investigates the main arguments justifying non-deliberative politics. Then, he builds upon these arguments to shed new light on the relationship between deliberative and non-deliberative politics. He identifies three distinctive actors in deliberative systems (political institutions, empowered agents, and public space actors). Finally, he argues that deliberative democrats should adopt three different approaches (intensive, moderate, and free) in order to assess whether the use of non-deliberative politics by each of these actors is legitimate.