A. Title of the activity:
“Politics and Social Media : Commons in the Space Online”.
B. Background including details of past events organised on the proposed
The internet, arguably the single most important communication break through the latter half of the last century, has revolutionised the way people, communicate, access information including the mass media reportage, and even how they respond to and comment on social and political issues. In this context ,it has been argued the internet has facilitated a phenomenon what philosopher Jurgen Habermas has defined as the ‘public sphere’- a forum where public opinion is shaped.Both the theory of the public sphere and the utopian rhetoric surrounding the Internet have been the focus of scholars for some time. Given the ability of people to connect with others around the globe through the Internet, could the Internet give rise to online public spheres? If so, how would such spaces work? This proposal proposes that public spheres do exist on the Internet, and details how it functions with making reference to online social networking in India taking as a case in focus.
The net generation, growing up with the internet and other online media, is widely assumed to consist of more responsible citizens, using their technological expertise to campaign on social and political issues, exercise closer scrutiny over their governments, genuinely being more politically engaged. Citizens of the so-called ‘global village’, ‘virtual democracy’, ‘electronic agora’ or ‘blogosphere’ are said to fulfil the dream of a unified and interconnected world. The unprecedented expansion of Online Social Networks (OSN) such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter offers vast opportunities for communication, entertainment & chatting. These online forums differ from traditional media, such as Public Service Media (PSM), in that they allow more interactivity and many-to-many communication. But they have some similarities to Habermas’ concept of the public sphere: net spheres are public places that are outside of control by the state; they allow individuals to exchange views and knowledge as well as critical points of view; they are spaces where public-minded rational consensus can be developed.
The advantages of cyber-media are that they are not confined to frequency bandwidth; anyone can be a ‘publisher’ (ability to voice one’s opinion; collective action); they provide access (to all with internet account); they are self-generating social networks, allowing networks to form from participation, rather than structuring relationships from the top. However, the net can turn to be a noisy, uncontrolled environment; the open participation may turn chaotic, so there can be no model rules of behaviour or structured conversation; texts and voices may result in anarchic, rather than democratic forms of participation. What is more, there are linguistic barriers and blogging sites are typically dominated by male voices and polarized opinion. The very notion of openness is at stake as there is limited competition among providers. Inclusiveness can be an issue too – not all people use the Net due to cost considerations or lack of skills, especially in the developing world. Most crucially, critical discussion – the very notion of the Public Sphere – is often absent on the Net, whose content is highly partisan.
So, is it a myth that the Internet can revamp the Public Sphere, tackle political apathy and mobilize citizens? Not entirely, for there are plenty of good examples to show the opposite, as evidenced by Barack Obama’s online campaign to activism on Facebook and Twitter and the Twitter-aided demonstrators in Moldova and Iran against the fraudulent parliamentary election results and the Iranian authoritarian government respectively. Groups in Facebook can choose to support the liberalisation of Tibet; Twitter often has real-time updates on events like the Mumbai terrorist attacks. These examples highlight the Net’s informative and mobilising power.
C. Aims/ Objectives (in at least 500 words):
As the topic is relatively an explorative area of study,not much programmes have been found being organized.The area is found to be professional and in vogue in western academic world. Political process has undergone dramatic shifts in recent years with the coming in of internet and internet enabled political process.Internet and cyber age have made phantom changes in the way people think and act on political life. Twitter,facebook,orkut ,blogs etc are recent technological advancement, ofcourse ,has some political ramification. Public sphere,civil society,and social capital being recent theoretical advancements in political theory little awareness has been created among academia and students community.There are definitely some connection between such theories and the internet,which if exposed to students and teachers would be of immense help for improvement of both the discipline as well as to the proficiency of teachers.
D. Target audience/ participants with expected number:
We plan to invite renowned scholars from Central Universties, IIT’s, IIM’s, Deemed Universities,Professional Institutions,Government representatives and bureaucracy,media,social activist groups and professionals abroad.The academicians in Kerala and all over India can participate in the programme. The seminar is useful for scholars recently interested in online politics and e-governance.Teachers from all over India can participate in the programme.Students who are interested in the online politics can also attend the programme.
We expect 200 participants
E. Details of Sessions:
Please mention themes/ topics to be covered under each Business/
Technical Session and names of Resource Persons:
- Internet and democracy
- Public sphere online
- Online social movements
- Protest politics online
- Civil society online
- Social capital online
- Digital divide
- Social media
F. Expected outcome:
The seminar will be of immense help for professionals as well as people interested in the online politics.The topic is recently originated and found to be of recent in academic pursuit.The seminar will be useful for policy makers to redefine priorities.It makes a question that whether we have to depend the “Net” unnecessarily?Activist groups will get enough resource for their future action and priorities from the seminar.More over the seminar will be highly useful for students and teachers to improve their knowledge domain.