Participatory Democracy in the Digital Age. Value Orientation, Collective Mobilization and New Forms of Citizens' Engagement through Social Media

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
John McIntyre - Room 201 (University of Glasgow)
Hans-Joerg Trenz , University of Copenhagen
This article explores how solidarity among citizens can be built through participatory practices of online democracy that involve citizens in transnational debates and exchanges. New and social media are increasingly used to raise issues of global justice and to mobilize solidarity beyond the community of national democracy. Information and images that confront us with distant suffering reach us through social media in an emotionally charged way. Such content often involves citizens in controversial debates about ethical standards and about moral responsibility in a world of global interdependency. Many citizens further engage in activities of sharing, commenting and re-contextualizing such content. The question is how citizens’ involvement in discourses of global justice enhances new practices of civic engagement and redefine the boundaries of solidarity? My point of departure is the so-called “refugee crisis” in Europe in the fall of 2015, which raised questions of global justice and transnational (European) solidarity with renewed urgency and immediacy. As an empirical case, I refer to the performance of online social media discussion groups in confronting the salient images of Alan Kurdi, the drowned boy from Syria found at the beach in Turkey in September 2015. I further draw on empirical examples of participatory democracy through civil society support group mobilization in Denmark.