Erica Marat (National Defense University)
Edward Schatz (University of Toronto)
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- Room B17
- Saturday 12 October, 14:00-15:45 (UTC+0)
Author:Erica Marat (National Defense University)
Paper long abstract:
"Smart city" is the new buzzword in cities across Eurasia. Municipal officials across the area have joined the global trend of automating urban governance with a heavy emphasis on advanced video surveillance. This paper analyzes the rapid spread of technological surveillance systems in Kyiv, Almaty, and Bishkek as a manifestation of what Jasanoff (2015) calls "dreamscapes of modernity": a collective vision of technological advancement with measurable social outcomes - a more orderly society with fewer crimes. Smart city is a sociotechnological imaginary that simultaneously strives to obtain a modern society and avoid deeper political change. While the demand for modernization of crime control may originate locally, smart technologies built on a city level are increasingly part of global hegemonic forms of knowledge production led by cities like New York, London, Seoul, as well as an emerging arena for geopolitical competition between China and Russia. A new interconnectedness between the local and global is emerging in the meantime. But exactly who is watching? Is it the global and regional powers that furnish the equipment, the municipal authorities that purchase it or security agencies? I pursue answers to these questions by comparing the content of sociotechnological imaginaries and supply chain process in three cities. Each offers a different trajectory of how to introduce smart-city policies and how to manage new technology.
Author:Miras Tolepbergen (Shanghai University)
Paper long abstract:
Until the mid-2000, Kazakhstan had been lagging behind in "high-tech" with access to the internet about only 3% in 2005. However, liberalisation of the media market in larger scales led to rapid increase, figure reached 54% in 2013, and 77% in 2017. As a result, national-level digitisation has raised public awareness equipping activists with tools to raise their voice against the corrupt regime. The power of the online civic activism to mobilize masses and attract popular support was never clearer than in the nine-month oil worker's protests in Zhanazozen, Western Kazakhstan; while it showed its full potential in state's U-turn on passing the land reform amendments. However, the threat from this online movement has led to a set of amendments that put severe restrictions on internet and curbed press freedom. Independent press and websites were investigated, journalists and bloggers were arrested for alleged anti-regime sentiments. Popular online platforms (Twitter, Skype, Youtube, Instagram, WhatsApp) have been blocked on frequent occasions.
Meanwhile, state restrictions on online freedom were accompanied by increasing government presence in social media. State officials and government bodies have created accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get closer to ordinary individuals by responding to their concerns directly; while, activists are under threat of jail for using these same platforms. Moreover, the government has initiated funding of "chosen bloggers" to promote regime ideals. By these means, the state promotes an image of accountable and dependable government while damaging the online sources of civic empowerment. While authoritarian state's eagerness to deploy all its constitutional power to impose restrictions on anti-regime online activism should not be a surprise, the case study illustrates how Kazakh government has tried to manage the growing popularity of online platforms by exploring unprecedented ways to reach out the population. In doing so, it attempts to transform online social network into government channel so to ensure regime survival.
Author:Karlyga Myssayeva (Al-Farabi Kazakh National University)
Paper long abstract:
The purpose of this study is to determine the impact of media literacy in terms of the ability of students to interpret the problem of "fake news". The term of "fake news" includes misinformation, disinformation and propaganda, prompted a broad debate about the concepts of modern democracy especially, within the role of information in contemporary society and the ability of online consumers to verify the veracity of news. To better understand this phenomenon in the Kazakhstan context, Department of Journalism at al-Farabi Kazakh National University conducted a survey (January 2019) on a representative sample of students (N=307). The reader will be provided an insight into the issue of the Kazakhstan news ecosystem and consequently the news consumers perception over the problem of "fake news" well as the self-awareness of digital literacy skills. The study aims at measuring the level of trust toward the impact of media literacy on the students´ skills to analyze fake news as well as their civic attitudes. The research is conducted as a qualitative comparison of statements of the analytical abilities of students who took part in media literacy course with those who did not.
The survey results point out that 63% of respondents often encountered partially false news online; furthermore, the "fake news" phenomenon is perceived as a relevant problem with more than 93% of online user declaring that the phenomenon contributes to sow confusion among students. However, 49% of respondents shows confidence in being able to recognize unreliable information and claims they do not share false news online, neither deliberately nor by mistake. Also 74% of respondents tend to trust online sources more than traditional media.
In this study, we will get acquainted with the development of media literacy skills of students, find out what factors contribute to their development, what properties have the media literacy and influence of information technologies and digital literacy on fake news. This study will discuss greater implications for Media literacy education programs in Kazakhstan. Understanding impact of Media literacy-education on students' future carrier and the role of digital literacy plays in social development will help us decipher the complex entity, dynamics of media literacy-education development. This paper will utilize both quantitative and qualitative data collection tools, but is rooted in a qualitative epistemological position that recognizes the importance of locating the research within a particular social, cultural, and historical context.
Authors:Sholpan Kozhamkulova (University of Maryland)
Bobbie Foster (University of Maryland )
Paper long abstract:
This exploratory study will investigate and conceptualize the cultural seasoning of Internet memes in online digital space of Kazakhstan. While Kazakhstani news media do cover key events of Kazakhstan's political and social life by exposing "officially" approved agendas, the Internet memes offer additional layer of public agendas. We argue that the Internet memes are powerful weapons of public agenda setting: they crystallize key phrases of political discourse, highlight historical moments, expose "unspoken truths," and ironize many other challenges of living a Kazakhstani life. Using Framing as theory (Entman, 1993) and a Grounded Theory approach as a method, we aim to investigate the following research questions:
RQ 1: What key agendas of public discourse are reflected in Kazakhstani popular memes?
RQ2: How are these key agendas framed in those memes?
RQ3: What do these frames suggest?
Biologist Richard Dawkins (1976) originally coined the term "meme" and defined memes as small cultural units of transmission, similar to genes, which are spread by copying and imitation. That definition has narrowed over the years to include online content (Shifman, 2014) Today, we live in highly competitive era of the marketplace of attention (Webster, 2014). Thus, we argue that memes are a powerful digital medium to respond to political and social events within one cultural space. While communication scholars are still defining the concept of memes from diverse perspectives, three things stay central about memes: a) they are reflection of the culture in which they were created; b) they are digital units created or generated by users by copying or imitation; c) they are spreadable and viral online (Blackmore, 1999; Aunger, 2010; Shifman, 2014).
This exploratory study will investigate the framing patterns in top 20 Kazakhstani memes. The findings of the study might be potentially interesting to scholars interested in cross-cultural investigations of memes.
Key words: Kazakhstani memes, framing, public discourse, visual media
Aunger, R. (2010) The Electric Meme: A new theory of how we think. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
Blackmore, S. (1999). The meme machine. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Dawkins, R. (1976). The Selfish Gene. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Entman, R. M. (1993). Framing: Toward clarification of a fractured paradigm. Journal of Communication, 43(4), 51-58.
Shifman, L. (2014) Memes in Digital Culture. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
Webster, J. G. (2014). The marketplace of attention: How audiences take shape in a digital age. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.