CeDEM Asia 2016, Discussion: Enthusiasm for Political Topics

How to fill people with enthusiasm for political topics via social media (discussion hosted by KAS, Singapore)


The discussion was led by Sayasat Nurbek (Institute of Public Policy, Kazakhstan).
Astik Sinha (Bharita Janata Party,  India) told us about the masses of Indian youth voters who are engaged on Facebook.
Ben Guerin (New Zealand National Party, New Zealand) was active in political campaigning and started a consulting company. He looks at how politicians engage on social media and the value of these activities.
Rajit Hewagama (United National Party, Sri Lanka) runs a consulting compagny for digital communications and strategic communications. In Sri Lanka some journalists disappeared and have been murdered, so they are scared of publishing anti government data. Social media allowed to bypass the mainstream media without relying on forms of media that could be censored. Now some ministers complain that media freedom came to far (sometimes those who have been in the oppostition before).
Pheaktra Neth (Spokesman of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Cambodia). The special body is set up between the UN and Cambodia to investigate the war crimes in the region. There is a young cohort of Facebook users in Cambodia. Sometimes there are postings about plans to kill someone, f.i. an officer, in a ceremony. The government has, however, no plans to control the social media or the internet. Campaigns are now focusing on social media and see it as a chance for the next 2017 and 2018 elections.

Truth vs. visibility?

We are now entering the second phase of social media, with a general phobia in many governments in Asia towards counter-revolutions. F.i. in the Hong Kong Umbrella revolution case, many protesteres used now Firechat as police switched off the mobile networks. In the West there was the worry that the liberal are dominating the social media. However, with view to dominating views, social media rather promotes echo chambers and oxygen might be provided to political movements that thrive on anger etc. These network effects are only going to be a better problem in the future. There is the fake news phenomenon plus people taking on extreme or simplified views: the information that gets the most views is not necessarily the most truthful. However, social media literacy is also changing, and people might do more fact-checking.

The discussion also revolved around the rise of Facebook and its power regarding the definition of truth and manipulation. Trust filters are now established within our friends (reputation networks). Also it was discusses how much censorship was done in social media by the government. India, for instance, has one of the highest rates of requesting Facebook for user data. Regarding the prediction of elections via social media data, so far many cases might have been luck, also due to problems of representativeness.



Theorizing Society A. S. Krossa ©Palgrave Macmillan

Review: Theorizing Society in a Global Context – A.S. Krossa

Theorizing Society A. S. Krossa ©Palgrave Macmillan

Theorizing Society A. S. Krossa ©Palgrave Macmillan

Anne Sophie Krossa’s book on the evolution of globalization and societal developments is a welcome contribution to the ongoing debate on what actually constitutes society in a (supposedly) ever-globalizing world. In this text, Krossa challenges us to rethink the relationship between society and community and the dynamics of heterogeneity and homogeneity that are driven by it.

Offering a concise reading of the works of Tönnies, Simmel, Coser, and Dubiel, the author puts her own thoughts neatly into the broader tradition, without being excessively bound by it.

Contrary to many other works in the field Krossa does not argue normatively for either unity or diversity, but understands society itself as being constituted by the tensions between homogeneity and heterogeneity. In order to successfully conceptualize society, these two elements cannot be treated as separate entities but as core elements of social interaction, thereby becoming an integral part of society as such. Krossa explicitly avoids falling into polarized positions and makes clear that the poles (e.g. nation state and world society) are important points of reference, but that society has to be seen as a moving object between these poles. Describing society as a dynamic concept based on communication, Krossa shows that globalization is not necessarily a qualitatively new phenomenon, but that modernity has accelerated its quantitative characteristics. While she leaves the questions of the novelty of globalization somewhat open, she addresses the relation between modernization and the speed of globalization. Most importantly, Krossa convincingly argues that modernization should not be misunderstood as Westernization.

What comes as a surprise, however, is that the book is not referencing authors like Charles Taylor and Michael Mann, who have dedicated a majority of their research to similar questions like Krossa. Especially the treatment of globalization as modernity in the first part of the book could have profited from including a review of Taylor’s work – which Krossa is undoubtly familiar with.
The strongest part of the book deals with the idea of Europe and European society, outlining how difficult it is to actually define European society beyond pure rhetoric. The interaction of supranational institutions and nation-states with their national identities and unique cultural backgrounds makes the European situation an ideal case for the study of the complex relationship between homogeneity and heterogeneity. As Krossa succinctly points out, it is precisely the unfinished character of European society that makes it an ideal case study for the theoretical claims of the book.

At times when the political aspect of European society seems to be in a fundamental crisis, re-thinking the relationship between society and nation states on the one hand and society and supra-national entities on the other hand is a necessary task that is met by Krossa’s work.

Available from all good booksellers or online at http://www.palgrave.com
Hampshire, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, ISBN 9781137003171

About the author:
Anne Sophie Krossa

Chair in Sociological Theory at the University of Siegen, Germany
Lecturer at Lancaster University, UK
Contact: http://goo.gl/X189us

Reviewed by:
Ralph Schöllhammer

Researcher at Danube University Krems, Centre for E-Governance, Austria
Contact: http://goo.gl/qbilnu

Internet, Politics, Policy Conference – Day 1

16. & 17. September 2010, St. Anne’s College, Oxford
– Blog Post about Day 2:
click here

Opening by Helen Margretts & Arthur Lupia

Arthur Lupia

Online participation has high goals, but most attempts concerning online participation have failed; presently failure seems to be the norm. The main reasons for failure are that people are ignorant, lazy and apathetic. It is a common believe that good intentions are sufficent. Motivation is influenced by biologal factors such as a working memory, which is very constraint and has limited capacity and a high decay rate. Lupia stated that pre-conditions for persuasion are attention, elaboration, and credibility. According to him, the core question is: How do we get people to memorize things? People have to set words into the context of what is important to them. If they do not see it essential for their own goals, it is neccessary to talk about things that are relevant to them. Chunks of information leave a legacy if the recipient perceives them as unique and highly relevant.

Arthur Lupia outlined how to win battles for attention. One should make participation projects on a local level as consequences of such projects are concrete and immediate for the people involved, and the desired outcome has to be possible to achieve. He presented a study showing that threats are weak motivations for participation. He then underlined the study’s results by analysing wordings concerning monetary support by Obama and H. Clinton. Clinton’s wordings were much more frightening than those of Obama, and Obama raised much more money that Clinton did. Lupia finished his presentation with popular differences between online & offline debates. While traditional communication is marked by interruption (white interrupt more often that non-white persons, men interrupt more often than women) and an order of who speaks first (the first contribution ist far more likely to be picked up for further discussion), internet based deliberation doesn’t have these effects and merely the abscence of these effects will have an impact on society.

Political Participation and Petitioning

Andreas Jungherr from Otto-Friedrich-Universität, Bamberg Germany on the topic: The political click: political participation through e-petitions in Germany.


Workshop: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on eParticipation

Am 3. Juli 2009 fand im ICT&S Center der Universität Salzburg der Workshop “Interdisciplinary Perspectives on eParticipation” statt. Conference Chair war Dr. Ursula Maier-Rabler.

Der Workshop war eine Tagesveranstaltung des ICT&S Centers in Kooperation mit dem Demokratiezentrum Wien. Der Workshop gab den TeilnehmerInnen Raum für Austausch, Diskussion und Vernetzung zum Thema eParticipation. Ziel der Veranstaltung war es, eine Plattform für die österreichische eParticipation-Gemeinschaft zu konsolidieren und zu erweitern, und sich im Bereich der eParticipation-Forschung in Österreich um eine verstärkte Interdisziplinarität zu bemühen.



Online-Tool hilft bei EU-Wahlentscheidung

EU flag at the European Parliament von European Parliament

Online-Tools wie “Wahlkabine” helfen unentschlossenen Wählern sich in der Parteienlandschaft zurecht zu finden. Für die Europawahl am 7. Juni 2009 entwickelte das European University Institute (EUI) in Florenz das Online-Tool “EU-Profiler“, um insbesondere BürgerInnen der EU eine Entscheidungshilfe bei der kommenden Wahl für das Europaparlament zu bieten. Bemerkenswert ist der Umfang des EU-Profilers, da dieses Tool ca. 300 Parteien aus 30 Nationen umfasst.

Ein ähnliches Ziel verfolgt die Plattform Votematch.eu.

(Quelle: http://derstandard.at; am 29.04.2009)

Ähnliches Tool in der Schweiz

Flag Switzerland, Suisse, Schweiz, Svizzera von erjkprunczykUnabhängig von der Europawahl wurde in der Schweiz bereits ein ähnliches Tool entwickelt: Smartvote.ch. Diese Onlinewahlhilfe wurde beim Internationalen Rechtsinformatik Symposion vom 26.-28. Februar 2009 in Salzburg analysiert. Die Rechtswissenschaftliche Fakultät der Universtät Salzburg lud Gabriela Felder, Andreas Ladner und Jan Fivaz zur Diskussion.

Zusammenfassend wurde festgestellt, dass Smartvote von rund 16% der WählerInnen verwendet wird. Obwohl es große soziodemographische Unterschiede unter den BenutzerInnen gibt, ist eine Verringerung der “Digitalen Spaltung” merkbar. So hat sich die Ungleichverteilung zwischen Männern und Frauen  beinahe ausgeglichen und zwischen den Generationen ebenfalls verbessert.
96-100% der Smartvoteuser gehen tatsächlich auch wählen, auch wenn hier kein kausaler Zusammenhang abzuleiten ist. Das Tool wird als Serviceeinrichtung wahrgenommen und wirdals Unterstützung bei der Entscheidungsfindung verwendet.