Workshop 14: Together we are stronger – International perspectives on the power of social movements and media education

Workshop 14: Together we are stronger – International perspectives on the power of social movements and media education

21.11.2020 webcal
14:30 - 15:30

Deutsche Fassung weiter unten!

Summary:

Social movements have always relied heavily on the mainstream media for the dissemination of information, which, especially abroad, was often unavailable or controlled by governments. Now social media platforms enable movements to use the mainstream media to publish and circulate their agenda. The examples of Minbar Chat, a women’s rights movement in Sudan (presented by Maha Bashri) and an environmental movement in Pakistan (questions to Ingrid Volkmer) showed how digital media can strengthen the cohesion of those affected and reinforce political and social movements. Both researchers also presented their theoretical frame of reference and discussed questions such as “How can media educators help to ensure that children and young people are not interested in groups that undermine democracy?”

Feminine Online Social Networks and the Diffusion of Information: The Case of Minbar Chat and the Sudanese Revolution (Dr. Maha Bashri)

The following research examined Minbar Chat’s effect/s on mobilization, validation and scope enlargement of a popular citizen uprising in the Sudan. The study analyzed the role played by online and offline social networks in relation to engagement in civic activities and enhancement of citizen communication networks especially among Sudanese females.

Social media platforms have enabled rapid communications by citizen movements and delivery of the local information to a large audience (Sandoval-Almazan & Gil-Garcia, 2014 p. 367). They amplify message delivery and resonance in existing online and offline social networks. This has been particularly helpful for social movements and collective action by individuals.

The December 2019 Revolution in Sudan, that successfully ousted Omar al-Bashir’s thirty-year regime, was strongly propelled by online activists, especially women’s groups on social media platforms. Minbar Chat (The Chat Forum), a leading women’s group on Facebook, used this alternative space to document police brutality on demonstrators and to identify undercover intelligence officers.

Scholars have long argued that media is of critical importance to social movements (see Wright, 2001; Butsch, 2007; Lim, 2012). The new media ecology and its participatory nature further enhance the role of media in collective action. Gamson and Wolfsfeld (1993) described three major purposes of media in social movements: mobilization, validation and scope enlargement.

Mobilization is the mainstreaming of information to reach non-members of a movement or cause. Traditionally mainstream media served as the main conduit for information. Now social media platforms provide that reach and act as amplifiers of the message, bypassing traditional channels. Internet-based social networks have allowed different groups to communicate, share tactical information and to collaborate on overlapping issues.

Validation is when the general public views movements and activists as legitimate players in the public sphere. Previously, this validation was granted through news frames deployed by mainstream media regarding a given group or set of activists. Activists and social movements no longer need the media’s blessing to be seen as legitimate. They can and have achieved this internally within their own online networks and in turn force mainstream media to frame them as legitimate (Carney, 2016). Minbar Chat became a credible source of information for activists and demonstrators. While the group maintained a female only membership, its messages were shared freely across other Facebook groups and Twitter.

Scope enlargement is the broadening of an issue base and/or a social movement’s number of supporters. Historically, social movements relied heavily on mainstream media to disseminate information to existing and potential supporters. Now social media platforms enable movements to bypass traditional media when disseminating information. Minbar Chat’s Facebook posts went viral among Sudanese netizens widening the base of supporters for the Revolution.

Speakers’ report:

Social media facilitates movements by contributing to the dissemination of uncensored information. Both the speakers and the audience discussed the advantages and disadvantages of these new ways of communication. Maha Bashri underlined the simplicity of access, the possibility to express needs and complaints and to feel like a group. Ingrid Volkmer stressed the positive impact of transnational movements due to the different perspectives. But both speakers criticised the dependence on American platforms and their lack of protection of privacy, which can result in shutdowns by national governments and arrests. Media educators argued that groups often remain in their bubble and use social media for non-democratic influence. The result was that social media are not a panacea for movements towards more peace and freedom.

Beschreibung:

Soziale Bewegungen waren bei der Verbreitung von Informationen immer stark auf Mainstream-Medien angewiesen, die gerade im Ausland oft nicht verfügbar oder von Regierungen kontrolliert wurden. Jetzt ermöglichen soziale Medienplattformen den Bewegungen, vor allem unzensierte Inhalte zu verbreiten. Am Beispiel von Minbar Chat, einer Frauenrechtsbewegung im Sudan (vorgestellt von Maha Bashri) und einer Umweltbewegung in Pakistan (Fragen an Ingrid Volkmer), zeigte sich, wie digitale Medien den Zusammenhalt der Betroffenen stärken und politische und soziale Bewegungen untermauern können. Dazu stellten beide Forscherinnen auch ihren theoretischen Bezugsrahmen dar.

Bericht der Referent*innen:

Sowohl die Rednerinnen als auch das Publikum diskutierten über die Vor- und Nachteile dieser neuen Kommunikationsmöglichkeiten. Maha Bashri nannte u.a. den einfachen Zugang, die Möglichkeit, Bedürfnisse und Klagen äußern zu können und sich als Gruppe zu fühlen. Ingrid Volkmer betonte die positive Wirkung von transnationalen Bewegungen aufgrund der unterschiedlichen Perspektiven. Aber beide Referentinnen kritisierten auch die Abhängigkeit von amerikanischen Plattformen und deren Mangel an Schutz der Privatsphäre, was in einer Abschaltung durch nationale Regierungen und Verhaftungen enden kann. Medienpädagog*innen wandten ein, dass Gruppen oft in ihrer Blase bleiben und soziale Medien auch für nichtdemokratischen Einfluss nutzen. Das Ergebnis war, dass soziale Medien kein Allheilmittel für Bewegungen zu mehr Frieden und Freiheit sind.

Der Workshop wurde gefördert durch die EU-Initiative Klicksafe und findet in Kooperation mit der International Association for Media Education (IAME) statt.

Durchführende:

  • Dr. Maha Bashri, University of South Carolina in the US. /United Arab Emirates University, Abu Dhabi
  • Prof. Dr. Ingrid Volkmer, University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Moderation:
    Dr. Ida Pöttinger, GMK Fachgruppe Global Media Education
    Dr. Daniela Cornelia Stix, Universität zu Köln

Eine Kurz-Vita zu allen Beteiligten finden Sie auf der Personen-Seite.

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