The 17th Chinese Internet Research Conference “Digital Cultures: Chinese Internet and Beyond”
28 June 2019, Friday Singapore
Co-organized by National University of Singapore & Murdoch University, Singapore and Australia
Preamble The Department of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore, together with Murdoch University, Singapore and Australia, welcome scholars from all disciplinary backgrounds to the 17th annual Chinese Internet Research Conference (CIRC), to be held in Singapore on Friday, 28 June 2019. The theme for CIRC 2019 is “Digital Cultures: Chinese Internet and Beyond”. Papers or panel proposals that address the theme directly or broadly are welcome, as are presentations that are related to the economic, political, cultural, or social dimensions of internet use and digital cultures in China, as well as its reverberations beyond China. This means that presenters are encouraged to submit and share their research findings and ideas on the implications of digital cultures that are local, national, transnational, or global to China. The Conference Theme As the epitome of digital cultures, the Internet – and its concomitant technological spin-offs such as smartphones and other digital devices – is often attributed as the cause of rapid media, social, cultural and political developments in China. This is true not only in China, it is also true in every location that has embraced the Internet as a way of life. Amidst the speed of change in the world of Chinese Internet, there is consensus that there has not been sufficient nor sustained scholarly efforts to examine how digital cultures have been impacted, not just in China, but beyond. After all, the Internet is by its very design global, even though it will always seek to maintain at the very least a semblance of national specificity and sovereignty. To this end, CIRC 2019 proposes to interrogate questions around this theme – including inter alia: What is the state of the Chinese Internet vis-à-vis the global digital culture? What new forms of digital cultures have emerged in recent years? Do they replicate old cultural formations or are they new dynamics of communication? How do digital cultures shape our sense of ‘cultural imaginaries’ or ‘collective consciousness’? Have local and/or global Chinese identities been shored up or further contested with increased Internet engagement? Are Chinese diasporic communities challenged or empowered by new forms of digital cultural use? Do they extend and/or accelerate established logics of social interactions, group affiliations, and governance? How do national development policies on culture and digital innovation (e.g., China’s ‘Internet+’ policy) intersect with local/international efforts for digital collaboration? What are the manifestation, organization, and efficacy of digitally enabled participatory culture? How does popular culture interact with digital technologies to shape social relationship, value formation and changes, and collective actions? What regulatory structures have emerged or leveraged to govern the Internet and digital cultures or the related practices? How are traditional methods of Internet censorship and other gatekeeping functions relevant to regulating digital cultural use? There are many other discourses that are worthy of further analyses. We invite contributors to CIRC 2019 to put these issues to the test not only in the Chinese contexts, but also beyond China, and to explore the idea of ‘digital cultures’ through both critical, theoretically-minded research and innovative empirical methods. Paper and Panel Proposals Proposals are invited for paper presentations or panels that address one or more of the questions raised above, as well as proposals related more generally to questions concerning the internet in the culturally Chinese world. This may include (but not limited to) topics such as: The economic and financial aspects of Chinese Internet industry (including the online operation of news media) The organizational culture and practice of Chinese Internet companies (including the onlne operation of news organizations) The ethical challenges facing Chinese Internet Social and political participation in Chinese digital networks, as well as limitations to such participation (e.g. access, digital divides, etc.) Internet and digital media usage in different parts of the culturally Chinese world, e.g. mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, or overseas diasporic communities, Internet politics and policies in the culturally Chinese world, including e-governance and cyber-security Digitally-enabled political activism and its limits, Everyday use of networked technologies such as smartphones, tablets, Fitbits and other Geo-mobile devices in different social contexts, The interaction between work and leisure on the Internet, as well as issues related to digital commerce and commercialization (e.g. when play and labour fuse into ‘playbour’), China’s changing media environment in the face of microblogging and social chat (e.g. weibo and weixin), Media convergence of different digital media technologies, formats, and genres on digital platforms, Gaming and digital play, Digital discourse and communication power in Chinese network society, Media theory and digital methods in the Chinese context. Proposals should be written in English. Abstracts for individual or co-authored papers should not exceed 400 words; while Panel proposals are limited to 1,000 words. Deadlines Proposals should be submitted by 1 February 2019 by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Organizing Committee will inform applicants of its decision by April 2019. Full versions of the accepted papers are to be submitted by 1 June 2019. Papers should not exceed 8,000 words, including notes and references, and should be sent to the organising committee via email. Selected full papers will be included in a special issue for the “Global Media and China” journal. Additional Information (preliminary): Organising Committee: Assoc Prof Zhang Weiyu (NUS) Dr Tania Lim (Murdoch University, Singapore) Assoc Prof Terence Lee (Murdoch University, Australia)
Location: TBD, Singapore No registration fee for the conference will be required. Participants will register in advance for the conference dinner [Price TBA]. The language of the conference will be English. Open to the public, without fees, subject to registration in advance.
2017 International Conference on Deliberation and Decision Making (DDM 2017) Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Civic Tech
June 23-24, 2017 Singapore
The 2017 International Conference on Deliberation and Decision Making (DDM 2017) will bring together researchers and practitioners who focus on deliberation and decision making – in individuals, groups, organizations, communities, governments, and machines. For historical, institutional, and other reasons, deliberation and decision making researchers have been separated into different academic enclaves, sometimes debating but often talking past each other across disciplinary divide, with different definitions, assumptions, and methodologies getting in the way of knowledge accumulation and mutual understanding. This has not served the world of practice very well, and DDM 2017 aims to address these divisions by calling together researchers and practitioners from interdisciplinary perspectives in one conference, to explore, analyze and reflect on these perspectives and to find common ground.
The conference aims to discuss specific theoretical and practical advances from a number of disciplinary perspectives (such as behaviour science, communication, computer science, decision science, human-computer interaction, information science, political science, policy studies, and more). It is organized by key experts in the field and is supported by an interdisciplinary programme committee.
The conference organizers hope to produce a series of DDM conferences in the coming years. For this first one, we have chosen to focus on Civic Tech, which is technology that opens up government and is used for community action. Online Deliberation was one of the earliest visions of using ICTs towards civic ends. As ICTs developed over years, efforts to promote civic engagement through technologies have been broadened to many other non-deliberation based activities, which can be grouped under the concept of Civic Tech. These developments challenge the presumptions of what online deliberation is about and contribute to innovations in the field.
DDM 2017 follows in a line of previous high-level scientific conferences that have focused on Online Deliberation, but with the intention of broadening the focus to explicitly include decision making, and specifically, Civic Tech that supports DDM. The DDM 2017 conference focuses on, but is not limited to, the following topics:
links between theories of collective decision making (such as deliberative democracy, behavior sciences, decision sciences) and technologies (such as crowdsourcing, argument visualization, and big data);
current research on civic techs that enable deliberation and decision making both online and face to face; research challenges posed for researchers, governments, communities and citizens in applying technologies for civic purposes;
civic tech interventions using novel settings, modes or approaches; and descriptions of tools and techniques that are already being tested or fielded; case studies in applying and evaluating civic tech in various formal and informal engagement domains
Guidelines for papers and other submissions The conference allows for four distinct types of submissions:
Exploratory papers on ongoing research and innovative projects
Panels on pertinent issues
Research papers These papers should have a strong focus on scientific rigour and may be a maximum of 20 pages (excluding references, tables/figures, and appendix). Papers in this track will be peer reviewed for rigour, relevance, originality and clarity of presentation. Abstracts or incomplete papers will not be accepted.
Exploratory papers These papers describe novel concepts, works-in-progress, reflections, manifestos or other ideas and issues that are not currently suitable for a complete research paper. They may be a maximum of 5 pages. Papers in this section will also be peer reviewed, but the focus is on relevance more than scientific rigour.
Technology demonstrators Proposals for technology demonstrators (two pages) should include a description of the demo, objectives, examples of testing and application and, if possible, a URL where the technology can be viewed.
Panels Proposals for panels (two pages) should include motivation, objectives, expected outcomes, approach to audience interaction and panel members. Panels are currently planned to be 1.5 hours long. Panels proposal will also be peer reviewed.
All submissions must be made via the conference submission system web site. Submissions should be written in English and non-English speakers are encouraged to have their submissions reviewed for language prior to submission. Submissions should be formatted using 12 point Times-Roman font on A4 sized paper. Accepted research and exploratory papers should be revised according to reviewer comments and resubmitted by the deadline.
Publication options Option 1: Both research papers and exploratory papers are eligible for inclusion in a conference proceeding. Option 2: Research papers are eligible for inclusion in a journal special issue. A further selection process will be implemented. Sponsored by: Ministry of Education of Singapore through National University of Singapore
Local Chairs: Weiyu Zhang, Department of Communications and New Media, National University of Singapore Simon Perrault, Yale-NUS, National University of Singapore Research Papers and Panels Chairs: Anna Przybylska, Center for Deliberation, University of Warsaw, Poland Todd Davies, Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University, USA Exploratory Papers and Technology Demonstrators Chairs: Lu Xiao, School of Information Studies, Syracuse University, USA Tatsuro Sakano, Department of Social Engineering, Tokyo Technical University, Japan
1. To confirm, you graduated from the Annenberg School with your PhD in 2008? What topic is your PhD in? Yes, I graduated from Annenberg School in 2008 and my dissertation was titled “Deliberation and the Disempowered: Access, Experience and Influence”. My research area falls into civic engagement and new media. My advisor from Penn was Provost Vincent Price.
2. Can you summarize what your book is about, and what new research findings you include in it? This book looks at the various purposes of internet use among Chinese, and provides a study about how the entertainment-consuming users form into publics through the mediation of technologies in the era of network society. The book goes on to focus on how fans, including movie fans, fans of foreign reality TV shows and TV dramas, fans who took a step further to translate and disseminate such foreign language content, and fans whose fan objects are celebrities instead of cultural products, become publics in a society that follows the logic of network. The resources I have relied on in this book are mainly first-hand and longitudinal (15 years) data from the fans themselves, including both their discourses and their online/offline activities.
3. Was your book published by a U.S. company? Why did your publisher not just put out a Chinese translation? The book was published by Routledge, a multi-nation corporate. Most Routledge academic books are only in English and for market reasons, the cost is often too high for them to publish a first book of a scholar in languages other than English. But to be fair to Routledge, I was the one who requested to keep the copyright of the Chinese version of the book because I already wanted to try some new modes of academic publication at the time of preparing this book.
4. How did you know about CNPolitics? Were you a reader before meeting Kecheng Fang? I came across CNPolitics through Chinese Internet when they published brief and rather easy to understand summaries of China-related research in Chinese language. And around November 2013, one of the CNPolitics contributors approached me for getting the permission to translate an article I and my co-author Chengting Mao published in Chinese Journal of Communication. The article is about the online translation community in China and eventually became a chapter in this book. You can say that I am already a reader and a collaborator before meeting Kecheng in person.
5. Why did you decide that CNPolitics was a good partner for this type of translation project? Since the first contact in 2013, I started paying regular attention to CNPolitics’ updates. Their translation, although not always perfect, has this particular strength of capturing significant contemporary issues in China and introducing the research findings to Chinese netizens in approachable language. I did also contact some other Chinese online translation communities such as Yeeyan and considered working with commercial websites such as Douban. But Yeeyan did not get back to me about my proposal and Douban appeared to be too commercial after I studied their publication mechanism. I felt CNPolitics’ mechanism maintains the civic spirit I have seen during my research work on Chinese online translation communities and especially after meeting Kecheng in person, I believed that the team is capable of handling this task.
6. Did you approach Kecheng and CNPolitics with the crowdsourcing idea? Yes I approached Kecheng and CNPolitics in 2015 summer when I had the opportunity to visit Penn’s Beijing Center (thanks to the invitation from Prof. Delli Carpini and Prof. Yang Guobin!). It was actually my first time to know that Kecheng is the founder of CNPolitics and we started chatting about one of his most popular articles circulated online. To be honest, the chat was very informal and I don’t even remember at which exact moment, this crowdsourcing idea was brought up and agreed upon. A few nice meals in Beijing did the magic trick, I guess. :)
7. How exactly was the crowdsourcing approach different from the usual translation process? To borrow Yeeyan’s founder’s description, our approach is hierarchical crowdsourcing. This approach has a few features:
Yes the translation is crowdsourced to multiple translators (in our case, about 10 of them) instead of giving to one designated person.
However, there are quality control efforts being done at a higher level. This higher level is basically me and Kecheng as editors. Such higher level efforts included (1) recruitment and scrutiny of qualified translators through reviewing their CVs and translation samples; (2) providing a central file that contains a list of Chinese translation of key words; (3) setting up an instant chat group to communicate about doubts regarding the translation instantly; (4) and multiple rounds of proofreading and editing after the translation is turned in.
I think what differs the most from the usual translation process is the engagement from translators and the mutual learning it generates. Although I am the author of this book, it does not mean that I know everything related to this book. I did see quite a few times the so-called “wisdom of crowds”. Some translators detected errors and made great suggestions about how to improve some writings. Remember, all of these have been done with translators locating in Europe, North America, China, and other time zones. Some may question the quality of translation when a crowd is engaged. I feel that this is a misreading of “crowdsourcing”. Look at the profiles of our translators. Majority of them are graduate students and a few are currently studying at British or American universities. I do not see them as low-quality crowds. I feel that the essence of this translation process is to break the project into smaller tasks and assign them to multiple individuals. The challenge lies less in the quality of multiple individuals than in the assembly of tasks and the coordination among translators. Fortunately, technologies have made such coordination much easier than before.
8. Kecheng says that it took the translators 6 weeks to come up with a first draft of the book. Is that quicker than a typical translation? Yes I believe so. According to the quotations I got from professional translation services, translating the book of this length takes at least 3 months.
9. Kecheng also says that you obtained funding from the National University of Singapore, where you teach, in order to pay the translators for their services. Was this a grant? For how much money? Why did you feel it was important to pay the translators for their work? It was a book grant NUS has given me to support the publication of this particular book. I paid a lump sum of SGD8000 to the team, which, compared to the quotations I got from professional translation services, was the lowest. The translators were all doing this along with their busy schedule of working or studying. I did feel that if I have the resources, why not compensate them for the time and effort they put into this?
10. What research do you include in your book about crowdsourcing? How is that research relevant to the translation project? Chapter 5 in this book focuses on crowdsourced translation of foreign content found on Chinese Internet. This is also the chapter which elicited CNPolitics’ interest when it was first published in Chinese Journal of Communication. This research put the idea of crowdsourced translation in my mind and the process of hierarchical crowdsourcing is very much similar to some of the cases we described in that article. Even in terms of the civic spirit, this translation project is pretty much in line with many translation communities introduced in this article.
11. I know the Chinese-language e-book will be available to download for free from the CNPolitics website. Doesn’t that eliminate any money you might make from a Chinese translation? Why did you choose to let readers download this for free? I have never seen the purpose of publishing this book, regardless of English or Chinese versions, as making money. As a scholar, I have long been frustrated by the fact that my academic writing is only read by a few academic readers. As much as I appreciate the professionalism held by the academic circle, I felt that my research did not contribute much back to the environment that allowed it to happen. By providing this e-book for free, I wish firstly, more readers can access and benefit from this book; and secondly, the online fans communities I have spent years researching about would also obtain this text without any barriers. In addition, academic publication itself is in crisis. Universities libraries pay high prices to publishers to get works done by their employees who are fully paid by the university not the publisher. This made academic publications costly and inaccessible to majority of the public. Many open-source journals can be seen as attempts to address this problem. However, the credibility of such open-source venues is sometimes questionable. I want to try this self-publication mode to see whether it could balance the challenges of accessibility and credibility. In short, I am trying to do some “action research”, research that is not just academic but also helps with solving real problems.
[Selected full papers will be included in a special issue for International Communication Gazette, to be published in early-2018.]
Date and Venue June 9th 2016, ICA conference hotel Division Affiliations Communication Law and Policy Division Communication and Technology Division Media Industry Studies Interest Group The organizing committee Weiyu Zhang, Associate Professor, National University of Singapore Zhan Li, Associate Professor, Xiamen University, China Jing Wu, Professor, Peking University, China Bingchun Meng, Associate Professor, London School of Economics, UK Min Jiang, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, US Keynote Speaker Prof. Stephen Reese, School of Journalism, University of Texas at Austin Spotlight Presentation Selected best submission will be featured as a spotlight presentation. Conference Fee (lunch and two tea breaks included) · Free for presenters · 25 USD for general audiences Sponsors Xiamen University, China Peking University, China Aim and Scope Just like many other indicators of China’s development, digital media industries in China are constantly generating impressive figures. For example, Alibaba’s initial public offering in 2014 was ranked world’s biggest at $25 Billion; Wechat, the fastest rising social media app developed by Tencent, achieved a user base of 440 million within four years of its release. By February 2015, Chinese Internet users have reached 641 million, more than double the number of users in the U.S. Numbers aside, however, there have not been much academic research on the regulatory context, the political and economic dynamics, as well as the broader implications at both domestic and global levels of such fast-pace development. For instance, there are increasing efforts from the Chinese government and elites to articulate alternative frameworks over the global governance of the Internet and new media industries.
This preconference intends to serve as a platform to facilitate dialogues around the political, the economic, the institutional and the policy aspects of media industries in China, in view of the rapid development of digital media. But this is not just about having ‘China experts’ analyzing Chinese companies or Chinese policies. We are keen to move beyond the ‘China exceptionalism” by taking an explicitly global and comparative perspective. For one thing, the ownership structure and the business practices of Chinese digital media companies are intricately related to global capitalism in general. For another, Chinese information technology companies, such as Baidu, Alibaba, ZTE and Huawei, are aggressively expanding their businesses overseas, especially in Africa and South East Asia, with varied degrees of success. Last but not the least, through platforms like the National Office for Internet and Information, and channels like the Sino-US Internet Forum, the Chinese authorities are actively participating in the construction of international and global policy frames concerning the future development of digital media industries.
With the global reach of Chinese IT companies and the international ambition of Chinese government, it is imperative to understand how the new developments in Chinese digital media industries, are reconfiguring the politics and the economics of information and communication technologies (ICTs). Moreover, it is important to understand how traditional media such as mainstream newspapers respond to such changes and incorporate digitalization into their own industry plans. This preconference aims to invite scholars from all over the world to tackle the issue, primarily using China as a context in which innovative research questions and methods can be applied.
We are particularly interested in papers that address the following themes: · The globalization and internationalization of Chinese media industries, including both Internet and other traditional media · The roles of international regulatory bodies and international non-governmental organizations in shaping the landscape of new media in China · The roles of Chinese authorities in shaping global policies regarding information and communication technologies (ICTs) · The economics of Chinese new ICT companies, including foreign and local venture capitalists, shareholders, business models, sources of profits, consumer strategy, etc. · The evolving political parallelism in Chinese media industry · Comparisons of Chinese new media industry with other countries’ media industry Abstract Submissions Please submit a 500-words abstract in word or pdf format to email@example.com. All submissions will be subject to a double-blind review by at least 2 reviewers. To facilitate the review process, please write a separate cover sheet with the paper title and affiliation/s and omit the affiliations in the actual abstract. Deadlines · Submission of abstracts: Jan 15th 2016 · Notification of acceptance: March 1st 2016 · Final paper submission: June 1st 2016
It was my great honor to be invited to make a spotlight presentation for the Chinese Internet Research Conference held at Hong Kong Polytech University this year! Thanks to David Herold, the organizers, and the steering committee for the flattering and daunting task! I still vividly remember that in 2007, I was also very fortunate to be given the top student paper when CIRC was held in Texas A&M hosted by Randy Kluver. Now seven years later, I ask myself what better I can offer to the community. I am not sure whether I have become a better researcher but at least, I am no longer alone. This time I have two fabulous collaborators, Dai Jia and Yang Tian, both from Tsinghua University. Their diligent working attitude and generous support have been the most critical reason why the paper is all possible.
I opened the presentation with an example of China's current first lady, Peng Liyuan. While the international society sees Peng as the first ever Chinese first lady who can rival Obama's Michelle, many Chinese know Peng as a popular star. She has appeared in the first ever Spring Festival Gala and since then, her songs have been hits in China. Some media reports praise her for enhancing the national image by smiling and posing to the cameras. And for many Chinese, the fact that we know her, or her voice, so well has brought a sense of familiarity to the new leadership. Both the internal and external roles Peng has played in China's political life have every thing to do with her life of being a popular singer.
I continued saying that this is definitely not just a Chinese case. The blurring boundary between popular culture and politics has been witnessed around the world. This observation has brought some scholars a great deal of uneasiness. Popular culture turns people from rational citizens to passive spectators, who watch their favorite stars preform but make no actions themselves. They may also become fanatic followers, who blindly do whatever their idols ask them to do. The fascination with celebrities makes citizens pay more attention to superficial qualities such as how one looks or how one speaks, and ignore the substantial criteria of being a politician such as experience, policy ideas, and visions.
However, this worry is nothing new. As early as in the Ancient years in China, poets (popular singers at that time) already used poems (popular songs at that time) to mock and criticize the emperors and their empires. I argue that what we should worry about isn't whether popular culture is good or bad for politics (because politics is never simply good or bad). What we should worry about is why we still know so little about popular culture and politics, the endless seeking for pleasure, the strong desire for emotions, the structures of feeling! I argue that it is because our theoretical perspectives to examine politics are limited. One idealistic perspective sees everyday politics as deviant cases from the ideal model of democracy, such as rational debate indicated in Habermasian public sphere. Another realistic but a bit cynical perspective sees politics as power competition. It is all about exchange of interests (e.g., Bourdieu's theory of capitals). It is my argument that we should look at politics as performance. If we take this perspective, our focus is no longer on what is right and what is wrong. Politics is a matter of aesthetics and taste. We should ask, what is preferred, what is enjoyed, what is appreciated. We also would not see politics as a battle between the powerful and the powerless. How does the powerful repress the powerless, how does the powerless fight against the powerful. Instead, we talk about a relationship of performers vs. audiences. The dynamics of this relationship is much more subtle and complicated than simply being a competition among powers. Think about it: A show is not a show without audiences.
If we see politics as performance, we may ask why celebrities want to perform politics. An obvious reason is to say celebrities use these political issues to keep their names in news. But why news? Why not the list of parliament members? It is because the importance of mediation is unprecedented nowadays. Although popular culture has always been a part of political communication, what marks our age is the extreme importance of mediation. We now have celebrities who are famous for being famous. They have no distinctive background, they have no outstanding achievement, they are not even pretty. Think about Furong Jiejie. What has made them so well known is the repeated exposure in media coverage.
I concluded the theoretical part of this presentation with a research agenda, dictated by the perspective of politics as performance. I ask:
To what extent, such performance of politics is made by celebrities?
Which kind of style is displayed during the performance?
How does the mediation process (for Weibo, it is its networking mechanism) influence the performance and its style?
How do the audiences respond to the performance or even become part of the performance?
Although there is another methodological point I made about network analysis, I hope readers can stop at the theoretical points and think about how a perspective of politics as performance could inform our inquiry about Chinese Internet. A digital copy of the presentation is not posted in response to the conference audiences' concern of leaking privacy information of the celebrities and their followers. You are always welcome to write to me for the slides!
文章摘要： Henry Jenkins在《融合文化》一书中论述，流行文化也许为更有意义的公民文化提供了准备。这篇文章利用中国的网上翻译社群来考察这个论断。这些网上翻译社群源于外国漫画、游戏、电影和电视节目的粉丝群体。本文使用了参与者观察法和23个深度访谈来收集证据。首先，本文回顾了网上翻译社群的历史发展和目前的结构形态。接着，本文着眼于社群成员参与翻译任务的动机。这些成员告诉我们，个人兴趣比起集体目标来说是更重要的动机。最后，本文分析合作结构、合作精神、技能以及主体性如何从翻译娱乐内容传递到翻译公民教育的内容（公开课）。本文发现，这些粉丝活动中产生的参与文化传递到了公民参与中，但尚未传递到政治参与中。
This meta-review has been published by Chinese Journal of Communication. See the link HERE. THe following would be some highlights of the books I found highly interesting to share.
"Although Castells depicts the states as either oppressive or corrupt (under the influence of financial capital) in most instances, he rightly points out that "the outcome of the conflict (between the state and civil society, added by author) depends on the interplay between political interests in the country and geopolitical interests related to the country" (p. 97). When social activism reaches its most radical level as regime-overthrowing revolutions, states respond with most radical measures such as switching off the Internet in Egypt or extreme violence in Tunisia. However, the effects of such state responses vary across countries depending on the particular state's internal politics and its position in geopolitics. This analysis makes it clear that states are not independent powers and they have to exist in relation to global powers. Social activism, therefore, does not exist in relation to just a single government but to a network of powers."
"Hoofd makes a compelling etymological analysis (pp. 6-8), showing that activism was originally coined by Rudolf Eucken as the ideology of energetic action to overcome the non-spiritual nature of human kind. This ideology was later applied to economic theories by Walter Eucken (son of Rudolf), who is deemed as “the predecessor of current neo-liberalism” (p. 7). According to Walter’s theory, the active attitude to life is essential for economies to counter depression. “Activism was an economic strategy originally employed for the benefit of the nation-state in which its citizens could supposedly enjoy the largest amount of ‘spiritual freedom’ through actively encouraged but closely monitored economic competition” (p. 7). The collusion between activism and neo-liberalism highlights the entangled relationship among civil society, state, and global capitalism. Hoofd suggests that social activism, despite its confrontational appearance, may have deep ideological connections with the network of powers."
"A few chapters in Ford’s book highlight the problematic role of international NGOs and other global forces. Financial aid can lead to financial dependence, which allows international organizations’ peace-building programme to dictate the limits of local activists’ engagement in the peace movement in post-conflict Timor-Leste (Dibley, 2013). Appealing to international norms of human rights helps sexuality right activists in Malaysia to establish an alternative source of authority but invites heavy state sanction (Lee, 2013). Conflicts within the agendas of multiple international forces are made explicit in framing sex work as work vs. sex workers as victims of human trafficking in Cambodia (Sandy, 2013). Illustrating the entangled relationship between local and global politics, an important case is that a reprimand by the US Department of State on the Cambodian government was reported as an achievement of the Cambodian sex worker rights campaign. "
Some of my ideas
A network approach to examining social activism, I think, is appropriate, especially after knowing of the ideological connection between activism and capitalism that Hoofd argues. Instead of treating activism and capitalism as two separate processes, we should examine how social activism emerges, evolves, and diminishes in relation to the network of powers.
Instead of seeing social activism single-directionally determined by neo-liberal capitalism, I would like to borrow the concept of “seduction” (Baudrillard, 1990) to describe the relationship between the two. I hereby use one example to illustrate the seducing relationship: Google is a company that makes profits based on searching through free and open content provided by Internet users and this profit-driven practice coincides with many activist appeals for freedom of expression or freedom of information flow. When Google exploits these causes and activists behind them, activists also try to demand moral or material support from Google to fulfill their goals, such as fighting against the state. It is hard to say who is in control and who is winning over whom. It is indeed a complicity suggested by Hoofd but the complicity goes both ways. What makes our research on social activism exciting is to make visible the rules, charms, snares, and lures involved in such seduction.
Our special issue on "Youth, ICTs and Civic Engagement in Asia" is published in International Communication Gazette!!! Thanks to my co-editor and project head Emmanuel Lallana, and dear collaborators Clarissa David, Mohammad Sahid Ullah, P. Vigneswara Ilavarasan, and Joanne Lim! Speical thanks to the editor, manager, and proofreader of this journal too. They are all so professional that this issue gets published smoothly and timely. Highly recommend my colleagues to submit to this journal!
You can download the entire issue HERE! A table of content is found here.
The “Youth, ICTs, and Political Engagement in Asia” project spanned over three years from 2009 to 2012 and officially closed on November 15, 2012. The five-country (Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, India, Bangladesh) comparative study was funded by International Development Research Center, Canada through ideacorp, the Philippines, after a competitive review process. A grant of SGD 170,000 was utilized to conduct 143 in-depth interviews and 41 focus group discussions. About 35 researchers were recruited, trained, and organized to contribute to this project. The project has been presented as a panel at the 19th Asian Media Information and Communication (AMIC) conference and the 2012 conference of International Association of Media and Communication Research (IAMCR).
Colombo, Sri Lanka
We have completed an administrative report on this three-year journey we have taken part in. The process has been anything but comfortable, expected, or business as usual. We took great pain in detailedly documenting this process and hope that our experience would add into the practical wisdom about working in this region. For example, one sad loss is that we were unable to sustain a research partnership in Sri Lanka, a country that I set my own feet in and has inspired me tremendously. Although this administrative report would not be counted in any research institutes as academic publications, it nevertheless provides a rare account of doing research in developing countries and its various challenges. If you are wondering how tough a researcher's job could be, please click here.
When the project started, Noynoy was still the son of Corazon and had little interest in contesting for the president. He was still free enough to participate in the anniversory event held by one of our Philippine partners. One blogger journalist asked a question about his hairstyle and he was not annoyed at all. Now the then fresh face in the Philippines politics became the 15th President. It is hard not to think that the young activists we have interviewed would become someone important enough to reset the trend and open up a new era of Asian history. One of our responsibilities is to articulate such potential based on what young activists themselves have told us and envisioned their future. Our Filipino collaborator, Dr. Clarissa David and I co-authored a short piece on the significant trends of digital activism among Asian youth and presented the findings at the CeDem Asia conference held in Singapore last year. Our presentation slides can be viewed here. The short reflection is now available online here.
Last but not the least, our academic outputs are forthcoming as a special issue in International Communication Gazette. Each of the five countries produced a focused paper on the most salient aspects of youth activism through ICTs found in their country. You will expect to see them out in March/April this year. But we have done much more than the five papers. Each of the five countries also compiled a background report of the very basic information of the country, including youth population, ICT penetration rates, participation policies, media policies, youth policies, development of new media, and political culture and climate. These reports can be found here.