James Dennis at PSA: Welcome to the Afterparty

The NPCU’s James Dennis will present this week at the Political Studies Association (PSA) Annual International Conference, ‘The Party’s Over?’, in Cardiff. Full details of his paper below. 

Tuesday 26th Match, 14:00-15:30

Panel title: Media and Politics 2: Technology and Development

Function Room B

Welcome to the Afterparty: 38 Degrees, Social Media and the Rise of New Repertoires of Political Engagement

This paper will examine the role of emerging, digitally-focused organisations in facilitating political engagement through their use of social media. A case study has been conducted of the British advocacy group 38 Degrees and their national campaign against corporate sponsors for the London 2012 Olympics benefitting from a tax-break, and local campaigns lobbying Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) to adopt constitutional amendments. 

Building on the theoretical contributions of Bennett and Segerberg, Chadwick, and Papacharissi, this paper will argue that low-threshold interactions conducted online are not ineffective and narcissistic acts of slacktivism, but integral components within a scaled continuum of participation. The paper will illustrate the evolving perception of what constitutes political involvement, formed as a result of the convergence of the public and private, and decline of a static, collective political consciousness. This has been replaced by a more reflexive, individually-defined notion of political identity. Maximising personal efficacy has become a priority and subsequently individuals are being driven from traditional structures of participation to new territories. The digitally-networked platforms employed by 38 Degrees provide the optimum space for engagement with these personalised political issues.