Anastasia Kavada speaks at Digital Activism in times of pandemic event

On Thursday 7th May, Anastasia Kavada joined an expert panel on digital activism to discuss what forms activism might take during a pandemic. The webinar (a recording of which is available below) was organised by the International Sociological Association Research Committee on Social Classes & Social Movements (RC-47) & the Centre for Digital Culture, Kings College London.

Anastasia gave a talk on ‘COVID-19 Mutual Aid Groups & Hyperlocal Activist Organising’, looking at the coordination of such groups in the UK and how they compare with the NHS first responders volunteer service. The webinar also included talks by Marisa von Bulow (University of Brasilia) on such efforts in Brazil, while Mengyi Li focused on the use of Weibo to talk about Covid-19 in China.

Digital Activism has been an important trend in contemporary social movements, amid an era marked by rapid technological change. From the 2011 movements of the squares, to the Gilets Jaunes and the 2019 anti-government protests from Chile, to Ecuador and Lebanon have seen the use of new social media tactics, using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter for purposes of organization and mobilization. The 2020 coronavirus crisis makes digital activism even more important. Due to lockdown measures citizens cannot engage in traditional physical forms of protests, such as demonstrations, pickets, sit-ins, etc. However, the need to social action is not diminished, given the need for social solidarity amidst this crisis, and the emergence of new grievances, related to the economic effects of the crisis, which unveiling the enormous injustice at the heart of our societies. Thus, in the last weeks we have witnessed new forms of collective action organised online. These range from collective flashmobs such as #clapforourcarers in the UK and similar ones in other countries, which call citizens to express their solidarity towards doctors and nurses to all sorts of actual protest organised online such as ‘caceroladas’ (banging pots protests) called on social media, to the use of memes and other forms of online propaganda to express dissent at the way governments are managing the crisis. This webinar brought together activists and social movement scholars around the world, to discuss the new forms of online activism that are developing in this difficult period. It will ask how activists are using the Internet and social media to mobilise against the injustices revealed by the crisis, and how activists are using online organizing tool to cope with the isolation produced by lockdown measures.

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