The Materiality of Clouds. Beyond a Platform-Specific Critique of Contemporary Activism

In Social Media Materialities and Protest: Critical Reflections, edited by Mette Mortensen, Christina Neumayer, and Thomas Poell (Routledge, 2018)

12 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2018

Date Written: February 20, 2018

Abstract

Contemporary mobilizations are largely enabled by and modeled after commercial social media platforms. The materiality of the communication infrastructure thus plays an important role in determining how people mobilize, organize and strategize. This chapter explores the tension between activist agency and the structure and political economy of platforms through the lenses of the cloud. The cloud is a) a metaphor for a particular way of connecting individuals in an instance of collective action, and b) the virtual imagined space hosting and shaping individual and collective interactions and meaning-making activities, constituting the repository of soft resources (e.g., identities, frames…) critical to collective action. Talking about the cloud allows us to move beyond the specifics of individual platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, addressing social media as a whole rather than separate services. Disentangling the materiality of the cloud will help us understand how infrastructures shape tactics, identities and networking strategies.

Keywords: cloud protesting, social media materialities, infrastructure, collective action, metaphor

Suggested Citation

Milan, Stefania, The Materiality of Clouds. Beyond a Platform-Specific Critique of Contemporary Activism (February 20, 2018). In Social Media Materialities and Protest: Critical Reflections, edited by Mette Mortensen, Christina Neumayer, and Thomas Poell (Routledge, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3127028 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3127028

Stefania Milan (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Department of Media Studies
Turfdraagsterpad 9
Amsterdam, 1012 XT
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://mediastudies.nl

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