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.
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 This has been replaced by a more reflexive, individually-defined notion of political identity.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.