INAF 361 MIDTERM1Elaina CohenINAF 361 – TECHNOLOGY AND POLITICS IN AFRICAFIRST MIDTERM, SPRING 2020
INAF 361 MIDTERM2Question 1: The advent of social media has vastly expanded the size and scope of virtual communities. In what ways has this expansion strengthened or weakened capacity for collective action? Thinking about the specific case of Kenya, to what extent has the spread of social media enhanced the emergence of virtual communities and possibilities for collective action? (40 points, 4 pages max) The last decade has been marked with several reports of protesters using social media to mobilize and organize revolution events. The impact of vast expansion of the scope of virtual communities and its effect on collective action is not limited to Africa, but globally. Key examples of these events include the 2011 Arab spring movements where social media, which started in Africa and spread to the Arab world. Therefore, social media has strengthened online virtual communities by increasing access to information, allowing those excluded from mainstream media to express their opinion.An excellent example to demonstrate social media impact on collective action is Twitter. The social media platform played an instrumental role in mobilizing protestors to overthrow dictatorial regimes in the Arab spring. Past research has shown a positive relationship between social media growth and political participation. The positive correlation is brought by the increased ability for users to make and share mobilizing information. In Africa, the growing influence of social media is evident from the increasing number of social movements that utilize online platforms to mobilize support. In the present era of digital activism, civil societies have demonstrated that social media is a useful tool for both dissenters and protestors. Similarly, state agencies have turned to social media as a valuable tool for mobilizing people towards a specific objective. The theory of collective action describes the primary reason why people collaborate or cooperate with their efforts is to achieve a specific outcome. Consequently, social media
INAF 361 MIDTERM3has provided a platform to effectively organize and coordinate such collective action by allowing users to share and generate content. In addition to being an efficient mobilization, the ability of social media to facilitate effective communication has seen people share resources to achieve a specific objective of the collective action. Hence, social media offers the appropriate tools for network buildings where participants can discuss and share issues of potential interests. The ease of communication available through social media gives users a sense of participation, enhancing a collective ability to achieve a common goal.