At the dawn of the decade 2010, movements around the world, from the Arab Spring to the election of Barack Obama in the United States, gave birth to the idea that social networks were a political tool that could be used to mobilize the masses and progressives.
Dr. Jen Scradie, professor and researcher at Sciences Po, methodically challenges this certitude in The Revolution That Wasn't: How Digital Activism Favors Conservatives (Harvard University Press, 2019). Plunging into the heart of collective bargaining groups and unions in North Carolina between 2011 and 2016, she analyzes the challenges the working classes faced when using digital tools to pursue socially progressive political objectives.
Au contraire, she finds that conservative political forces are far more successful: they are better equipped, better organized and better financed. Does the relative ease of communication, along with the digital skills of the upper social classes, put the uninitiated out of business? By their very nature, social networks are focused on the dissemination of information and opinions. However, this means that they are also more conducive to political ideals based on freedom of opinion - dear to conservatives - than they are to ideals based on justice - theorized by the progressive camp, and which require complex collective organization and changes in social behavior.
This contradictory analysis begs the question: what if instead of repairing our democracies and balancing power, social networks played the opposite role?
This event was held on Friday, January 24 at 8:30 am at the Tank (22 bis rue des Taillandiers, Paris 11e arrondissement), and was the 32nd edition of our series, Aux sources du numérique.