Communication Practices and Technologies

Part of the New Security Challenges Series book series (NSECH)


A focal concern of this study has been activist uses of technology rather than the properties of technologies. Nevertheless, where activists are making use of ICTs they show considerable awareness of ways in which the properties of those technologies affect their practices. ICT use occurs on a number of levels and, in particular, we find a difference between practical, day-to-day organization of activities, on the one hand, and political debate and the mobilization of new activists, on the other. In the former case, the more obvious benefits of ICTs (what we call their manifest functionality) are adopted by activists in a straightforward manner: the mobile phone offers ‘perpetual contact’, email offers quick communication that overcomes difficulties of distance and scheduling and the World Wide Web (henceforth simply Web) offers a vast, interconnected store of relevant information. However, at the more involved level of persuasion, debate and mobilization we find that activists are keenly aware of the limitations of text-based, on-screen, asynchronous properties of computer-mediated communication (CMC). Furthermore, we find activists’ interpretations of the potential and difficulties offered by ICTs with respect to these more involved movement processes are coloured by the political nature of the projects in which they are involved.


Mobile Phone Social Movement Text Message Communication Practice Email List 
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Copyright information

© Kevin Gillan, Jenny Pickerill and Frank Webster 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ManchesterUK
  2. 2.University of LeicesterUK
  3. 3.City UniversityLondonUK

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