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Cultures of Participation

Media Practices, Politics and Literacy

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Edited By Hajo Greif, Larissa Hjorth, Amparo Lasén and Claire Lobet-Maris

To speak of participation today raises a series of questions on how the presence and use of new media affect modes of social participation. From a variety of theoretical, empirical and methodological perspectives, the contributions in this volume explore participation in different social realms – from everyday life, interpersonal relationships, work and leisure activities to collective and political action. This collection demonstrates that participation is a localised notion, assuming a multitude of shapes under a variety of technological, political, socio-economic, linguistic and cultural conditions.

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Part III: Redefining Political Participation

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Amparo Lasén and Iñaki Martínez de Albeniz ‘An Original Protest, at Least.’ Mediality and Participation Introduction ‘An original protest, at least’ … said the Spanish public television newsreader, after a report about a zombie parade – organised by an artists association – gather a crowd of young people dressed as zombies to denounce consumerism. An ori- ginal protest, at least… ‘Though not very effective’, she lacked to say. Thus originality and efficacy are not always found together. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have largely contributed to widening the gap between two ways of understanding social mobilisation. One focuses on its efficacy, understood in terms of influence on the political sys- tem. The other approach does not grasp mobilisation in reference to the a posteriori effects, but as what is happening here and now. Our question here is whether media can be considered as merely tactical factors for collective actions or whether their presence modifies the means/ends relationship of political partici- pation and social mobilisation. What happens if, in the heat of the mobilisation, activists are unable to differentiate, in experiential terms, between mediation and the mobilisation goals? Marshall McLuhan’s infamous slogan ‘media is the mes- sage’ could be read as mediality prevailing over any other consideration, such as political mobilisation goals, following Scott Lash’s thesis (Lash, 2002) about con- temporary societies. Before describing the way in which ICTs are taking part in contemporary social movements and analysing some of the empirical and theoretical conse- quences of such participation, some aspects...

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