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Literature List on Social Media and Politics

13 Aug

I’ve decided to add a literature list to the blog, with some of the most interesting academic books and articles I’ve read over the last year or so. The list includes full bibliographical details and my own keywords for each entry, as well as, in a lot of cases, a quotation or two from the book or article that I found particularly interesting or representative.

I’ll be adding to the list over time, perhaps weekly, as my research goes on. If you think there’s anything missing, please do let me know about it and I’ll add it. Hopefully the list will be a resource to others doing similar research. At the very least it’s proof that I have actually read something and that I’m not just talking out of my arse, which I am as well, but not exclusively.


Unlike Us #3 conference in Amsterdam, 22nd and 23rd of March

26 Mar

I was lucky enough to attend the Institute of Network Cultures’ Unlike Us #3 conference on Social Media: Design or Decline on Friday and Saturday of last week. I somehow only found out about the conference a couple of days before it took place and so I was very happy that I was able to make it along.

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Tweets, streets, strategy and tactics

28 Jan

A couple of weeks ago I received the good news that a review I wrote of Paolo Gerbaudo‘s Tweets and the Streets: Social Media and Contemporary Activism had been accepted for publication in Organization. At present I’m not sure whether the review will remain behind a paywall once it’s finally published. Only today I heard that Sage, who publish Organization, have decided to make all their content free for the time being, an obvious response to the tragic and scandalous death of Aaron Swartz. In any case, I’m including the full text of the last but final version of the review (the one I submitted) below. This is almost identical to the review that will be published and only a few phrases and wordings were changed by the editors for readability.

The most interesting thing about Gerbaudo’s book, so far as it relates to my own research on social media and activism, is his account of tactics and strategy. While he doesn’t explicitly develop either concept, the way he uses both is, in my opinion, spot on and gets right to the heart of the distinction and how it relates to organising. Authors such as Marianne Maeckelbergh (in her The Will of the Many) also include discussions of tactics and strategy, but seem to frame the distinction as one of ‘good’ practise which doesn’t reduce political actions to their ends versus ‘bad’ practise which does just that and potentially sacrifices any current concerns to some future goal.

Gerbaudo, instead, is correct to note that the distinction between tactics and strategy comes down more to the immediacy of the practice in question. Political activity that is spread over a long period, such as mobilising people for a demonstration, would be described as strategic, while activity that is concerned with minute to minute organisation, such as during a riot or when a demonstration turns into a running confrontation with the police,  would be described as tactical. The difference is a matter of degree, not quality. As I mention in the review, the clearest statement of this comes from a perhaps unlikely source: Carl Von Clausewitz, who writes: ‘tactics teaches the use of armed forces in the engagement; strategy the use of engagements for the object of the war‘. Here the distinction is clear; strategy is involved in, for example, getting people to the demonstration, tactics is about what you do when you’re there.


אם אין אני לי, מי לי? וכשאני לעצמי, מה אני? ואם לא עכשיו, אימתי - ancom jewitch, sad poet

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