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#digital_disruption @amnesty international: from digital to networked to hybrid activism - A case study of the meaning and adoption of digital activism in changing 20th century civil society organisations

Özkula, Suay Melisa (2017) #digital_disruption @amnesty international: from digital to networked to hybrid activism - A case study of the meaning and adoption of digital activism in changing 20th century civil society organisations. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Abstract

Like many organisations in the 21st century, longstanding civil society organisations are facing new challenges in adapting to the digital age. This thesis addresses those concerns through an exploration of the social meaning and contextualised effects of digital activism at case study Amnesty International. It provides a socio-cultural account of AI and a conceptual perspective on digital activism as part of Amnesty's digitalisation processes. It explores existing concerns around the tension between the potential of digital activism for more decentralised, grassroots movements through broadened political participation, and the more centralised and hierarchical structures developed by long-standing humanitarian organisations - a problem which has been described as the tension between networks and hierarchies (e.g. Lindgren 2013a: 24-25) or between sovereignty and networks (Galloway & Thacker 2007: 1).

The thesis further argues that humanitarian organisations are facing difficulties in conceptualising and adopting digital activism to the extent that digital activism has become disruptive to them. For that purpose, the thesis draws on Simon Lindgren's (2013a) work on the sociology of digital disruption. The thesis argues that digital disruption occurs as a result of digital activism challenging hierarchical organisational structures, practices, and cultures, leading to structural and cultural changes. It further argues that, in response to the cultural and structural challenges posed by digital activism, the organisation is moving away from an understanding of digital activism and culture as something that is digital towards something that is networked, which is reflected in participant views and the organisation' restructuring of its digital work from a centralised to a networked model. There are also tentative efforts at Amnesty International to move beyond a network model towards co-constructive (hybrid) working practices with its constituencies. As evidence for the disruptive potential of digital activism the thesis will provide staff members' differing views of digital media and digital activism, uncertainty surrounding the terminology for digital activism, and the organisation's continuously changing integration of digital work (digitalisation).

The findings draw on data from a multi-method quasi-ethnographic case study of digital activism conceptualisations and practices at Amnesty International. The methods include participant observation offline at the organisation's headquarters in London, online observation in the internal Amnesty International Social Media Managers' Facebook group, and 20 interviews with AI staff members.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Wilkinson, Iain
Uncontrolled keywords: digital activism, digital disruption, digital ethnography, digitalisation, civil society organisations, humanitarianism, digital sociology, , Amnesty International, social media
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 19 May 2017 15:00 UTC
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2020 04:16 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/61796 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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