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Cyberprotest: Environmental activism online

Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Uses case studies and voices of activists themselves to examine the role of the internet at all levels of environmental activism. Contemporary analysis of forms and processes of radical environmental activism. Contemporary analysis of forms and processes of radical environmental activism. Documents the negotiations and achievements of environmentalists both in dealing with the tensions of using environmentally damaging technology and in avoiding surveillance and counter-strategies. Will be of interest to students and academics of politics, sociology, environmental studies and anyone who has ever wondered if signing an email petition will make a difference.

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-383-6
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Jenny Pickerill
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    On 18 June 1999, in the City of London, a protest occurred which centred around a ‘Carnival Against Capitalism’. Linked to a global day of action aimed at the banking and financial centres of the world, the protest had no clear leaders, spokesperson or discernible plan. Despite the majority of participants remaining peaceful, violence erupted and caught the attention of Britain’s media.

    The mainstream media coverage over the ensuing days was dominated by images of riot police clashing with protesters, injured civilians and the trail of destruction left behind. However, newspapers also focused on the role of the internet. Headlines...

  6. 1 Politics, social movements and technology
    (pp. 15-35)

    According to Resnick (1998), the politics of cyberspace can be conceptualised in three distinct ways:politics within cyberspace– involving the internal operation of cyberspace and those who are online;politics which impacts upon cyberspace– the policies and legislation which affect cyberspace; andpolitical uses of cyberspace– how the technology is used to affect political life offline. All three aspects need to be taken into consideration for they are all intertwined and all of them impact upon environmentalists’ use of the technology.¹

    As Froehling (1997: 293) notes, cyberspace alters the nature of all politics: ‘Its very existence changes human relations inside...

  7. 2 Negotiating the tensions of techno-environmentalism
    (pp. 36-59)

    Technology has historically been viewed with scepticism by environmentalists. This scepticism can also manifest itself as a tensionbetweenenvironmentalists who advocate differing approaches to, and uses of, technology (Pepper 1996). Techno-environmentalism refers to those environmentalists who advocate the use of particular types of ‘appropriate’ technology, such as wind turbines, to overcome some resource issues in contemporary society, thus justifying the use of certain types of technology while still opposing others (Lewis 1992).¹ This is in contrast to those who argue for the dismantling of all complex technologies (Rifkin 1989; Glendinning 1990a; Tokar 1992).

    This debate has resonance historically, but...

  8. 3 Inclusivity and changing organisational forms
    (pp. 60-90)

    In addition to the paradox surrounding their use of computers, environmentalists face problems in gaining access to CMC. Access is obviously a prerequisite for the use of the technology, but the ways in which activists organise their access can reflect (or contradict) their broader organisational principles.

    There is a tendency among British environmental groups to promote the need for participatory democracy. There is an emphasis both on the need for inclusion – of themselves – in the political decision-making process and more broadly on participatory democracy as a model for an open and integrated society. Such models of inclusive, non-hierarchical or consensus...

  9. 4 Mobilisation, solidarity and network cohesion
    (pp. 91-117)

    Mobilising participation is a crucial function of many environmental groups. They aim to mobilise those already within the movement (those already integrated) to join in with the specific environmental activism of their campaign, or to motivate the general public (those who are not integrated) to become involved. The purpose of this mobilisation varies between groups, as do the ways in which they seek to mobilise participants and who they are aiming to mobilise. For example, FoE uses participants as a source of funding, to support their argument (appealing to their strength in numbers) and to encourage environmental awareness. Similarly, activists...

  10. 5 Electronic tactics and digital alternative media
    (pp. 118-141)

    One of the key potential uses of CMC, in addition to its use for mobilisation and co-ordination of activism, is as a tool of protest in itself. CMC could be used for more than the distribution of information, notably as a tool with which to lobby adversaries, undertake ‘hacktivism’ or as a conduit for alternative media.

    Environmental activists have utilised diverse tactics in the attempt to assert their influence upon the decision-making process and society. Such tactics have included lobbying politicians, using the judicial system, manipulating the media, encouraging local participation and taking direct action (Jordan and Maloney 1997; Doyle...

  11. 6 Online surveillance and counter-strategies
    (pp. 142-166)

    The threat of surveillance has led many environmentalists to fear that CMC is another temporary, rather than a long-standing, space for resistance. Fear of a totalitarian or corporate state, a dictatorial presence which limits any space within which resistance can develop, has led to activists zealously guarding what liberties they have and constantly searching for new tools with which to widen them.

    Environmentalists’ activities have been monitored and recorded for years by law enforcement agencies and, in some cases, public relations firms and corporations. Strategies have also been employed to counter environmentalists’ efforts and successes, hence the term ‘counter-strategy’. These...

  12. 7 Cyberprotest: a new politics of protest?
    (pp. 167-181)

    Protest movements are continually appropriating new technologies. The telephone, stills camera, video camera, mobile phone and fax machine have all been utilised (Harding 1997). In many ways CMC is simply one more addition to this list. The question at the heart of this book, however, is whether the ways in which CMC is being utilised enable fundamental changes in the way environmentalists organise themselves, the tactics they develop and even the influence and success they can achieve.

    InThe Internet Galaxy(2001: 137) Castells askswhetherthe internet has just an instrumental role for social movements or ‘is there a transformation of...

  13. Appendix: Case-study profiles
    (pp. 182-186)
  14. References
    (pp. 187-206)
  15. Index
    (pp. 207-214)