Understanding and Examining the Digital Pioneers — Workshop


Dates: Thursday, 6 September — Friday, 7 September 2018

Location: University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom

Convenors: Dr James Dennis (University of Portsmouth) and Dr Nina Hall (Johns Hopkins University)

Sponsored by the Transnational Civil Society Project at the University of Portsmouth and the Political Studies Association Media and Politics Group.

Description and Objective

A new generation of digital advocacy organisations have emerged around the world including: 38 Degrees in the UK, MoveOn in the US; GetUp! in Australia and Amandla.Mobi in South Africa. These organisations all share the same basic organisational form: they are progressive, multi-issue, and membership-driven. These organisations are at the forefront of digital campaigning. They are pioneering the use of new technologies — be it WhatsApp, analytics, or Facebook — to rapidly mobilise people online and offline. The activism fostered by these groups has fundamentally changed how groups mobilise and organise citizens for political engagement.

While research has been conducted on these campaigning groups independently within a national context (Chadwick and Dennis, 2017; Karpf, 2012; Vromen, 2017), there has been no research on the global network within which they operate: the Online Progressive Engagement Network (OPEN). Spanning six continents and mobilising over 17 million citizens, this workshop will bring together scholars researching these groups at the forefront of innovations in online campaigning. From established netroots organisations like Campact (Germany) and Leadnow (Canada), to newer groups such as Uplift (Ireland), amandla.mobi (South Africa), ActionStation (New Zealand), Skiftet (Sweden), #aufstehn (Austria), and Campax (Switzerland), this workshop documented the evolution of online organising and digital campaigning across the world. This workshop marked the first gathering of scholars working in this area.

Special Issue

A special issue from this workshop will be published in 2019.