Movement for Fair Elections in Saint Petersburg: From Connective to Collective Action
Galina Selivanova, National Research University Higher School of Economics
Dmitry Goncharov, National Research University Higher School of Economics
Over more than two decades researchers from various fields explore how the new information and communication technologies (ICTs) influence politics of the modern societies, how they contribute into democratization and increase in political participation. Latest advancements in ICTs have had a considerable impact on society ad especially on the development of civil society. In his classical book, Sidney Tarrow claims that “new forms of communication and new forms of association endowed challengers with resources”. Social movements, as a special dimension within a broader sphere of civil society, have been particularly affected by latest advancements in ICTs.
The role of ICTs for social mobilization has been analyzed from various perspectives. Some argue that new information and communication technologies help to overcome such obstacles of participation as decentralization and distance costs, time constraints, low income and lack of skills (Rohlinger & Bunnage, 2012). The most prominent social movements and citizens’ political campaigns of the past decade were born digital. Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, los indignados, to mention few of them, make the best examples here. On-line groups can be effective in different ways: they spread ‘uncensored messages’ and alternative views (Della Porta &Mosca, 2005), teach their supporters new political skills and create new forms of contentious politics to surprise their powerful opponents (Stein, 2009). ICTs revealed themselves as a powerful tool, which can endow even comparatively loose social networks with significant resources to challenge structure of dominant political settings, which has important social and political implications for those countries with tight press regulations and suppression of the independent mass media. John Reuter and David Szakonyi argue that “social media usage can, under certain conditions, increase political awareness in authoritarian regimes <…> Public awareness of fraud is uniquely important in electoral authoritarian regimes because of its potential to ignite anti-regime mobilization” (2013).