Resisting Technology: Issues and Effects
• Technological determinists view technology
– as an autonomous force,
– beyond direct human control, and
– as the prime cause of social change (Chandler, 1995).
• Determinists view the expansion of technology as
– technological growth not as a gradual, evolutionary process, but as a
series of revolutionary leaps forward (McCormack, 1994).
• Determinists commonly have either a radically utopian or
radically dystopian opinion on technology (Kaplan, 1996).
Utopia vs. Dystopia
• Utopian determinists believe that technology is
– a positive and uplifting force that will, over time, mitigate or eliminate
most or all of the ills that afflict humanity.
– That technology is leading society towards an ever more utopian
• Dystopian determinists believe
– that technology is an inherently evil, or dehumanizing, force that will lead,
inevitably, to the moral, intellectual, or physical destruction of humankind
• Ned Ludd Ted Kaczynski
• Neo Luddites (collective)
Green Peace (collective)
Open source movement (collective)
• A hacker is ”a person who enjoys exploring the
details of programmable systems and how to stretch
their capabilities" and one who is capable of
"creatively overcoming or circumventing limitations”.
The Hacker Ethic
q The hacker ethic formulated by Steven Levy in his 1984 book
"Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution" outlines the
1. Access to computers should be unlimited and Total.
2. All information should be free.
3. Mistrust authority - promote decentralization.
4. Hackers should be judged by their hacking not bogus
criteria such as degrees, age, race, or position.
5. You create art and beauty on a computer.
6. Computers can change your life for the better.
Trespass, Unauthorized Access
q Dorothy Denning.
q Access to computers – and anything which might teach you
something about the way the world works – should be unlimited
and total (1996).
q Neil Patrick and six Milwaukee teenagers (1983)
q Convicted of computer trespassing
q Claimed “we were just playing a game.”
q The “Game” involved hacking into Los Alamos National
Laboratory and the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NY
q Many people do not see an exact parallel between
trespassing on a computer system and physical
q A fusion of politics and activism.
q A policy of hacking, phreaking or creating technology to
achieve a political or social goal.
q “Forges conscience with technology and girds us against
the disagreeable nature of conflict. It allows us to mount
better arguments, rally unseen allies, and take on any
tyranny” (by Oxblood Ruffin of the Cult of the Dead Cow).
§ How much do we know about the rhetorical dynamics of
§ Do mass Web protests campaigns make a difference?
§ Do the speed and reach of online communication bring the
same features to electronic protests?
§ Web based or Web enabled?
What is CyberActivism?
• Use of ICTs, e.g. e-mail, list-serv, and the Web, by individuals
and groups to
– Communicate with large audiences,
– Galvanizing individuals around a specific issue or set of
– And attempt to build solidarity towards meaningful
• Changes in patterns of information, knowledge, and cultural
production are changing
– and that the way information and knowledge are made
available can either limit or enlarge the ways people can
create and express themselves.
• Successful outcomes transform existing structures of
– Economic, and
– Political power
Success or Failure
• Success is not measured in terms of the
achievement of absolute concrete goals or
concessions from those in power, but rather
a transformation of consciousness and a
source of moral vision and voice.
§ The Web is capacious enough to accommodate protests with
more elongated timelines.
§ The Web intensifies the Internet’s non-hierarchical structure.
§ Can mobilize globally.
§ Web protests are more efficient than text and e-mail based
New Social Movements
• Accompanying the emergence of “post-industrial” societies,
in which advanced technology and service-based economies
are centrifugal, has been the rise of “new” social movements
– based on identity-issues and operate at the grassroots
– consist of networks of relations between a plurality of
actors, a sense of collective identity, and shared
New Social Movements
• Because the ties between new social movement actors are
flexible, participants are able to reach wide and
heterogeneous audiences that can organize from different
angles to form broad coalitions across various movement
New Social Movements
• Groups that are marginal and blocked by the prevailing
institutions can link together and cooperate in ways that
transcend these institutions.
• Such movements create “subversive invisible connections
across state boundaries and the established channels
between them…these interstitial networks translate human
goals into organizational means”.
• Frames are ways of packaging and presenting ideas and are
used as a source of persuasive communication to convince
others to join a particular struggle (McAdam, 1996).
• To mobilize support, organizers must create simple and
concise yet broad movement goals to attract diverse
constituencies – an organizing strategy characterized by a
“master frame” (Snow and Benford, 1992; Benford, 1993).
• Gamson, (1992): for a frame to go from
understanding to motivating action it must have the
elements of injustice, identity and agency.
– Framing helps explain the articulation of grievances,
– the dynamics of recruitment and mobilization, and
– the maintenance of solidarity and collective identity.
• Acting collectively requires the development of solidarity and
an oppositional consciousness that allows a challenging
group to identify common injustices, to oppose those
injustices, and to define a shared interest in opposing the
dominant group or resisting the system of authority
responsible for those injustices (Taylor and Van Dyke, 2003)
Social Movement Theory
• Social movement theory is an interdisciplinary study
within the social sciences that generally seeks to
explain why social mobilization occurs, the forms
under which it manifests, as well as potential social,
cultural, and political consequences.
– More recently, the study of social movements has been
subsumed under the study of contentious politics (e.g.
environment, new technology, political economy).
Social Movement Theory
• Social movement theory recognizes the implications of
globalizing trends and how they affect collective action.
– One defining feature of the growing number of transnational
movements is that they tend to frame, interpret, and attribute their
grievances to global issues, including global standards of justice.