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DRAFT PAPER: Digitally-mediated Organisation, Communicative Hybridity and Dataveillance in Contemporary Social Movements - A Media Practice Approach To The Gezi Park Protests

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  Conference Paper: Digitally-mediated Organisation, Communicative Hybridity and Dataveillance in Contemporary Social Movements - A Media Practice Approach To The Gezi Park Protests Author: Mark Bergfeld Affiliation: Queen Mary School of Business and Management Contact:  mdbergfeldATgmailDOTcom Web:  www.mdbergfeld.com Table of Contents 1.   Introduction 2.   Theoretical Background 2.1. Digital Organisations? 2.2. The shock of the new? 2.3. Toward Communicative Hybridity 2.4. A media practice approach for social movements 3.   Beyond the Hashtags? A Reading of the Gezi Park Protests 3.1. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised 3.2. Will the Revolution be Tweeted? 3.3. Different Medias, Different Messages 3.4. Dataveillance Considered 4.   Conclusion 4.1. Alternatives from Below and from Within the Mainstream 4.2. Some considerations on the Regime Crisis 5.   Bibliography DO NOT QUOTE WITHOUT THE AUTHOR‘S PERMISSION      1.   Introduction Erdogan has been ruling the Turkish state for the last decade. His rule is ‗hegemonic‘ in the true sense of the word. His use of Islamic-conservative values has successfully tied in sections of the popular classes. His alliances with business men and capitalist entrepreneurs have helped to finance the party. In turn, high levels of economic growth have left some crumbs for those at the bottom of Turkish society. When a group of environmental activists sought to defend one of the only green areas in downtown Istanbul from being turned into a shopping mall on May 30, 2013, little did they know that their protest would spiral into the most serious popular uprising in modern Turkish history. Peoples from all ethnic, religious and political background articulated themselves and their demands through the social movement in an unprecedented way. Activists used social media like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr as the mainstream media failed to report their actions and the violent police crackdown. Activists and supporters went beyond the use of hashtags in order to undermine Erdoğan‘s AKP and create radical alternatives from below. Unfortunately they were not able to break Erdogan‘s hegemony. In many ways, Erdogan was able to continue to rule in the same way. Even his remarks that the Gezi protests were ―a foreign plot‖ did not necessarily harm  him or the AKP. By December 2013, t he corruption scandal surrounding Turkey‘s AKP government and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan had developed into a full-fledged regime crisis. In one week alone, more than 24 people had been arrested including the CEO of Halk Bank who had kept more than $4.5million in laundered money in shoe boxes. Erdogan might have replaced ten (out of 26) government ministers but the crisis neared him with rapid pace. The current state of research into social movements and their media is characterized by an over-emphasis on the novel aspects of digital communications technologies such as Twitter and Facebook (Castells 2012; Mason 2011; Penny 2010; Juris et al 2013). The debates have focused on how these technologies have rendered organisations obsolete (Mason 2011, Penny 2010), or changed their form (Chadwick 2007). In the existing literature I identify a network-organisation dichotomy. This has arisen in the analyses of the more recent 'Facebook and Twitter revolutions' and social movements of the Arab world, the indignad@s in the Spanish state and the Occupy movement in the US (Graeber 2013, Juris 2013, Mason 2011). This paper seeks to address the continuities, linkages, and tensions between so- called ‗old‘ and ‗new‘ repertoires of comm unication arising in contemporary activism and social movements and their media in the Turkish context. It seeks to do so through using the media practice approach (Hobart 2010, Barassi (forthcoming); Trevé 2012, McCurdy 2011, Cummaerts 2013, Couldry 2004, Postill & Bräuchler 2010) as a theoretical and analytical tool to understand activists‘ use of media, and whether these practices facilitate new organisational paradigms.  The literature and debates reveal that the forms of digitally-mediated collective (formal or informal) organisation which activists adopt in social movements remains a black box. Theorisations such as ―organisational hybridity (Chadwick 2007) or ―networked web of organisation‖ (Sitrin 2012) do not reveal the extent to which contemporary social movements have become laboratories of different forms of digitally-mediated organisations and organisational practices and perhaps even new organisational paradigms. One facet which is completely absent from any discussion on digitally-mediated forms of organisation and the use of new communication technologies such as Facebook and Twitter in contemporary social movements is the question of online surveillance vis-à-vis Dataveillance. This is of particular importance when discussing activist media practices in the Turkish context given Erdogan‘s repeated attempts to curtail Internet freedom. At time of writing, Erdogan had just banned Twitter 2.   Theoretical Background In this section I will give an overview of the context and theoretical debates which inform our current understanding of how social movements make use digital technologies, and social media. This will involve a discussion on the extent to which new organizational paradigms are facilitated, and why an activist media practice approach can enhance our understanding of the Gezi Protests and perhaps reconfigure pre-established narratives on the Facebook and Twitter revolutions of 2011. 2.1. Digital organisations? I identify the prevalence of a new organisational paradigm in the debates on contemporary movements. In their popular book Multitude, Michael Hardt and Toni Negri propose the notion of the ―multitude‖ and ―the appearance/disappearance of swarms‖ to describe the alter-globalisation movement and its participants (2005). While the latter concept grappled with a temporal-delineated form of organisation inside these movements, Hardt and Negri did not have any empirical evidence to back up their claims; or how these actors related to different technological objects, and/or the mainstream media. This can only be achieved by focussing on individuals and collectives; and an analysis of how their daily lives and social movement practices intertwine with digital technologies. The anthropologist Jeffery Juris accounted for the use of different online media and the ‗horizontal‘ relationships it created between activists. Dispersed activists from diverse ideological background would use the newest digital technologies such as e-mail lists and alternative networks of communication. Juris based his insig hts on what he labels ―the cultural logic of networking‖ and ―decentralized organisational forms‖ (2008:15). This was highlighted by the anti-WTO protests in Seattle which had no centre or command-structure. His anthropological sensitivities and research method of militant ethnography focus on  participants' actions, events and moments within these movements as he was part of the discussions and coordination on the e-mail lists (Juris 2008, Juris 2013). Juris only accounts for the novel aspects within these movements rather than seeking to draw out the ways in which activists negotiate tensions between old and new ―repertoires of communication‖  (Mattoni, 2013) within social movements; and how digital mediation might facilitate changes the way that activists consciously adopt different media strategies and change organisational  practices in front of different audiences in order to render themselves visible. 2.2. The shock of the new? More recently communications scholar Manuel Castells has written in a very similar vein: ―the networked social movements of the digital age represent a new species of social movement‖ (2012: 5) Juris‘s emphasis on the novel aspects of contemporary social movements thus reflects a wider trend within cross-disciplinary writings on transnational social movements (della Porta 2007; Tarrow 2005). The labels attached to the dominant  practices within social movements range from ―horizontal‖ (Sitrin 2006, Sitrin & Azellini 2012, Mason 2011, Blumenfeld 2012), ―decentralised‖ (Juris et al 2013), ―leaderless‖ (Penny 2010, Castells 2012), ―demandless‖ (Dean 2012; Graeber 2009, 2013), and ―networked‖ (Juris 2008, Chadwick 2007, Castells 2012). The current state of research does not disclose the linkages and tensions between the old and the new, and to what extent new and old  practices intertwine and overlap through the use of technological objects such as mobile  phones from which one can send photos to one‘s followers on Twitter. Moreover, the tensions that activists experience can only be accomplished through engaging in case studies (in this case the Occupy Gezi protests in Turkey) which seek to understand the tension  between activists‘ everyday use of digital technologies , how they seek to use these technologies in the process of contention and organisation, and the media environment they embed themselves in. The debates and discussions have centred on how digital and even corporate-owned networks have replaced so called ―old‖ organisations altogether (Shirky 2008, Mason 2011, Penny 2010). These theorisations pay little to no attention to the continuities between the past and  present and cannot explain to what extent organisations and their practices are constantly in flux, arenas of contestation. They also do not explain how individual activists are part of networks, groups of activists and even pre-existing organisations (both formal and informal)  beyond the quest for collective action. New uses of communication technologies, the Internet and social media have yet to replace organisations which also act offline, or even through organising structures such as spokes councils or general assemblies, working groups, tightly-knit affinity groups which rose to prominence in the social movements like the indignad@s and Occupy Wall Street. The promise of these writers is yet to be fulfilled. 2.3. Toward “communicative hybridity”?   A distinct strand of literature has developed inside academia. This has sought to analyse activists' use of social media as situated activity, or in a more functional manner (Aouragh and Alexander, 2011; Gerbaudo 2012). Aouragh and Alexander show that Egyptian activists used social networks such as Twitter and Facebook as ―tools of mobilisation‖ and ―spaces of dissidence‖ (2011). Through the use of semi -structured interviews with Egyptian, Spanish, and American activists Gerbaudo identifies Twitter as a prime ―means for internal coordination‖ between activists and Facebook as a ―recruitment platform‖ where activists
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