Viral engagement : fast, cheap, and broad, but good for democracy ?
Title: Viral engagement : fast, cheap, and broad, but good for democracy ?
Series/Number: EUI MWP LS; 2013/04
In 2011 and 2012, several high profile campaigns spread with unexpected speed and potency. These “viral engagements” include the mobilization that scuttled the Stop Online Piracy Act, popular protest against the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood, 100 million views of the KONY 2012 video on YouTube and its subsequent criticism and defense, and on-line activism around the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. This paper examines three aspects of these viral campaigns as a form of political engagement. First, is there a common structure of mobilization and spread? Some have argued that these viral campaigns synthesize conventional social and political networks but amplify the messages that spread through those networks through the speed of digital communication. Second, what are the potential contributions of this fast, cheap, and thin mode of engagement to democracy? We examine the implications of viral engagement for four critical democratic values: inclusion, public deliberation, political equality, and civic education.
Subject: Viral engagement; Viral campaign; Popular protest; On-line activism; Social networks; Political networks; Digital communication
The lecture was delivered on 17 April 2013.
Type of Access: openAccess