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Accepted Paper:

Online regulators and ‘digital citizenship’ in East Africa  
Stephanie Postar (London School of Economics and Political Science)

Paper Short Abstract:

Through a digital ethnography of an East African government agency’s online work, this paper examines how online practices socialise ‘offline’ regulatory responsibilities.

Paper Abstract:

This paper engages with the digital social life of regulation. Government agencies have increasing responsibilities toward meeting regulatory requirements through online presences. Focusing on digital engagements in the public sphere, this paper considers how a government agency enacts regulations on social media platforms including YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. This paper considers the new types of civic engagement and political participation made possible through ‘digital citizenship’ in Africa, as regulators and ordinary citizens interact online. While African innovation in the form of ‘digital authoritarianism’ may be a more familiar narrative in the Global North, this paper places everyday digital governance and its ramifications in the larger landscape of African social and political life. Through a digital ethnography of an East African government agency’s online work, this paper examines how online practices relate to offline regulatory responsibilities. It considers the modalities, processes, and relationship management strategies of government officials’ online regulatory work. This work largely focuses on communicating scientific knowledge and agency activities, through a range of social media platforms. When communicating scientific knowledge is a regulatory requirement, what kinds of political participation are potentially afforded, created, and/or mediated through online work? When this online work aims to build trust in science and build trust in government regulatory capacity, what kinds of affect emerge?

Panel P146
Doing and undoing regulation
  Session 2 Tuesday 23 July, 2024, -