@ is for Activism, published by Pluto Press represents a remarkable and valuable contribution to media, communication and politics studies, The author, Joss Hands, is Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at the Newcastle University and with this text he provides a critical overview about the reshaping of the political landscape by new media and digital communication tools through a multidisciplinary approach.
In particular, the notions of dissent, resistance and rebellion are investigated, in their relationship with technology and political power. This study aims at showing how political and power dynamics are (re)shaped by new digital media, social networking and mobile computing, affecting also social practices of participation and cooperation.
Specific attention is dedicated to the relationship between Activism and technology since: “the history of technology is the history of human development. It is no accident that we define epochs by the substance of their dominant technologies. It is through technology that our material, social, cultural, political and economic life is constructed”. So the technological environment embraced the political praxis, opening up alternative modalities of participation, consensus and deliberation.
Technology, on the other hand, switched from an analogic mode (charactering traditional media like TV, newspaper, radio etc) to digital ones (Internet, social media, weblogs etc), where the concept of audience lost its passive connotation to assume a more active role as content producer. In this sense the potential of digital technology allows its users to be ‘mobile active subjects’.
Digital networks not only constitute the inner structure of media and communication landscapes, but also affect the society as a whole under all aspects, locally and globally, but also on a political, social and economic level. The main consequence is an empowerment of democracy and participation practices, from mere forms of dissent expressions to more constructive discourses (anti-globalisation movements, alternative cooperation and representation political models etc).
This book shows how rebellion and resistance have been empowered by new functionalities of digital technology, engendering radical change opportunities for our society and culture.
Joss Hands literally “guides the reader, approaching sometimes complex theories in an informative and clear way, accessible for any kind of audiences”.
The concept of activism, together with technology and power, is significantly explored through discourse theories and case studies. As the author states: “the covering term ‘activism’ used in the title of this book thus contains all of these elements (…) and it is thus directed against prevailing authority as domination and exploitation, whether in personal relations pf micro-power, or in form of institutional domination.”
The study is conducted through critical reviews of existing literature and of the main contributors of socio-political thinking (Camus, Habermas, Marx, Arendt etc), combined with an original perspective in analysing technologies and how they offer a challenge to traditional practices of representative democracy, exploring new forms of collectivism and participation.