Accepted Papers:

Disordered social movements: info-technologies, public emotions and the network swarm   

Author:

James Goodman (University of Technology, Sydney)

Paper Short Abstract:

Driven by expressive dynamics of public emotion, and mediated by interactive second-generation web info-technology, social movement politics today can be highly disordered. Attempts at coercive control heighten the resonance of the expressive affect and reveal the price of order, forcing new political orientations onto the agenda.

Paper long abstract:

Information technology is often said to have invited new players into the political process. Social movements are said to have taken a creatively subversive role in constituting virtual activisms, charting new communicative channels and hubs to challenge dominant power relations. Hierarchical representative structures are said to have given way to horizontal expressive forms. Where representation gives access through legitimation, expressive politics give access through an assault on the senses, creating a swarm effect. A paradoxical process of personalised mass disorganised political engagement can emerge. Driven by expressive dynamics of public emotion, and mediated by interactive second-generation web info-technology, social movement politics become highly episodic, disjunctive, unpredictable and destabilising. Rather than helpfully offering rational solutions to social disorders, such movements provoke mass public sentiment, figured by the powers-that-be as mass disorder. The effect can be to induce radical disorientation, for targets to lash out and reach for coercive controls, heightening the resonance of the expressive affect. In revealing the price of order, such movements pre-figure future transformations and radical possibilities, generating new political orientations and directions, from neo-communalist to neo-communist. The paper explores these themes through specific interventions channelled through info-technologies.

panel P37
World, chaos and disorder