From digital activism to algorithmic resistance

Authored by: Emiliano Treré

The Routledge Companion To Media And Activism

Print publication date:  March  2018
Online publication date:  March  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138202030
eBook ISBN: 9781315475059
Adobe ISBN:


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Discourses on algorithms are increasingly populating the media and pervading public conversations. Newspapers are filled with stories on how algorithmic power is impacting our choices in the realms of politics, journalism, music, sport, research and healthcare. The recent inclusion of the term in the influential Digital Keywords volume (Peters 2016) also signals a growing interest in the concept and its consequences within various fields and strands of research in the ­academia, and especially within media studies. As Gillespie (2016) has pointed out, the term appears in recent scholarship not only as a noun but also increasingly as an adjective, in relation to issues of identity, culture, ideology, accountability, governance, imaginary and regulation. In this chapter, I focus on the changes that algorithmic power is bringing to the realm of politics and the transformations of digital activism. The chapter begins with a brief outline of the significance of algorithms in digital politics. Then, it focuses on two diverse conceptions and manifestations of algorithmic power in politics (algorithm as propaganda/repression and algorithm as appropriation/resistance) that emerge from the explorations of two case studies.

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