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Exploring Russian Cyberspace: Digitally-Mediated Collective Action and the Networked Public Sphere

16 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2012  

Karina Alexanyan

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Vladimir Barash

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Bruce Etling

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Robert Faris

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Urs Gasser

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

John Kelly

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

John G. Palfrey Jr.

Harvard Law School

Hal Roberts

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Date Written: March 2, 2012

Abstract

This paper summarizes the major findings of a three-year research project to investigate the Internet’s impact on Russian politics, media and society. We employed multiple methods to study online activity: the mapping and study of the structure, communities and content of the blogosphere; an analogous mapping and study of Twitter; content analysis of different media sources using automated and human-based evaluation approaches; and a survey of bloggers; augmented by infrastructure mapping, interviews and background research.

We find the emergence of a vibrant and diverse networked public sphere that constitutes an independent alternative to the more tightly controlled offline media and political space, as well as the growing use of digital platforms in social mobilization and civic action. Despite various indirect efforts to shape cyberspace into an environment that is friendlier towards the government, we find that the Russian Internet remains generally open and free, although the current degree of Internet freedom is in no way a prediction of the future of this contested space.

Keywords: social media, internet, blogosphere, blogging

Suggested Citation

Alexanyan, Karina and Barash, Vladimir and Etling, Bruce and Faris, Robert and Gasser, Urs and Kelly, John and Palfrey, John G. and Roberts, Hal, Exploring Russian Cyberspace: Digitally-Mediated Collective Action and the Networked Public Sphere (March 2, 2012). Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2012-2. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2014998

Karina Alexanyan (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Vladimir Barash

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Bruce Etling

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Robert Faris

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Urs Gasser

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/people/ugasser.html

John Kelly

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

John G. Palfrey Jr.

Harvard Law School ( email )

1545 Massachusetts Avenue
Areeda Hall 511
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Hal Roberts

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/hroberts

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