The Governance Report 2017

Chapter 10: Innovations in Activism in the Digital Era Campaigning for Refugee Rights in 2015-16 

New digital technologies offer citizens, interest groups, and political parties innovative ways to communicate, mobilise, and organise. The internet has heralded many innovations in collective action, from online petitions to viral memes and Twitterstorms. Digital organising and campaigning can have far-reaching effects in a world with over 10 billion devices connected to the internet and where 1 billion people own smartphones (Kissinger 2014). However, commentators are divided over the significance and impact of digital communications on democracy. It is not clear whether the internet has enabled greater and more informed political awareness and participation or whether it degrades political culture by encouraging so-called slacktivism and clicktivism. These are particularly important questions given the loss in confidence in established political parties and the growing strength of populist parties and far-right movements in many western democracies, as Anheier’s introduction to this Report highlights.

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