Thursday 2 December 2010

New publication: Mainstreaming the Alternative

I have co-written an article with Tina Askanius, also a part of the Wahlgren Foundation Doctoral Programme, that has now been published in the latest issue of Interface: a journal for and about social movements. Article here (Creative Common). Abstract below.

The article argues that contemporary protest movements are facing a convergence of what has traditionally been coined as mainstream and alternative media. Traditionally, the broad term ‘alternative media’ has been employed to embrace a wide range of oppositional media channels that can be considered to carry on the tradition of the early radical and party press: micro-media operating at the grassroots level, discontinuous, non-professional, persecuted or illegal. Today, heavily commercialised media and online communities such as Facebook, YouTube and MySpace constitute a common part of the repertoire of communication channels for activists engaged in alterative politics and protest movements. Are these new media channels a necessary means in order to reach beyond the circles of the likeminded? Or, do the use of these media point towards a mainstreaming process of political cultures of resistance to the establishment, eroding their very raison d’être? Combining a theoretical discussion of the inherent paradoxes in the celebration of new media technology as a source of democratisation and empowerment of civic cultures with an empirical focus aimed at exploring the changing repertoire of communicative tools used by social movement actors, this paper analyses two cases of online media practices in contemporary Scandinavian protest movements: 1) A series of civil disobedience actions and mobilisations of mass demonstrations before and after the eviction and destruction of the Youth House (Ungdomshuset) in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2007-2008; 2) The popular demonstrations in connection with the European Social Forum in Malmö, Sweden in September 2008.

Update: The article has been included in the syllabi of a few courses, among them this course in Political Communication at the Central European University

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