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'State' strikes back: Forgotten actor as an agent of intervention into online public sphere
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Centre for HumanIT. Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Geography, Media and Communication. (HumanIT)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8225-3447
2012 (English)Conference paper, (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The turbulent 'Arab Spring' happening during the course of the last year has caused all kinds of new insurgent oppositional movements all around the world to emerge. Turkish and Azerbaijani online opposition, inspired by the 'success' of revolutions in Middle East and organized mostly on social networking sites, thus adding more 'sense' to democratization effect of Internet, is not an exception within this scope. However, both Turkey and Azerbaijan are also best examples to clearly show that technically savvy state and its surveillative potential is also constantly developing itself.

Based on Evgeny Morozov's concept of net delusion, that is after starting with "flawed set of assumptions (cyber-utopianism)" acting on them using "flawed, even crippled, methodology (Internet-centrism)" (2011, p. xvii), this paper looks at Azerbaijan, one of the richest Post-Soviet states, and Turkey, one of the biggest and most powerful developing countries of the region determined to join European Union, and their new-media based oppositional movements, aiming to show how these efforts are crushed down by technologically developed advanced surveillative state apparatus. In the case of Turkey the main focus will be on the process of OperationTurkey, famous hacker collective Anonymous' hacking attempts, announced after Turkey revealed its intention to implement all encompassing online filter, interpreted by many as latent censorship act. However, after only few days of successful hacks, the whole group of hackers active within Turkish cyberspace were arrested. Response time of state was even faster in the case of Azerbaijan, where all oppositional protesters, calling through Facebook posts and Twitter tweets to turn Azadlig Square into "Baku's Tahrir", were arrested only in the course of few hours with charges of selling illegal substances.

Main discussion point developed on such 'failures' is in line with analysis of David Morley, that media and communication studies as academic field is heavily suffering from "drastically foreshortened historical perspective" (2007, p. 2), and much emphasis needs to be given to longer historicity of construction of technologies of everyday, how these technologies willingly or by force were introduced and entered into our lives, and how their symbolic dimensions have been largely neglected in previous studies, that is to engage into destruction of cyber-myths, attempts already tried to be done to some extent by studies such as Marvin, 1988; Standage, 1998; Winston, 1998 and Mosco, 2004. Paper insists that only-Internet based politics is not enough, and street-based political action have to be put back into existence for fully democratic development. Trying to further develop Maria Bakardjieva's concept of subactivism, that is "small-scale, often individual decisions and actions that have either a political or ethical frame of reference (or both) and remain submerged in everyday life" (2010, p. 134), paper argues that instead of expecting 'revolution' emerging from Internet, any oppositional movement within authoritative countries and regimes firstly needs to redevelop the aspects of civil society, essential to involve into protest otherwise contesting middle classes. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012.
Keyword [en]
Azerbaijan, Turkey, state surveillance, political protest, social networking sites
National Category
Media and Communications
Research subject
Media and Communication Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-13429OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-13429DiVA: diva2:529599
Conference
4th ICTs and Society 2012: "Critique, Democracy and Philosophy in 21st Century Information Society. Towards Critical Theories of Social Media". ICTs and Society, Uppsala, SWEDEN, 2-4 May 2012.
Available from: 2012-05-30 Created: 2012-05-30 Last updated: 2013-07-15Bibliographically approved

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