Video Activism 2.0 - Disseminating Images of Contention and Community
A great deal has been voiced on the subject of popular political resistance towards global capitalism and neo-liberal globalisation, often under the umbrella terms of alter-globalisation or the global justice movement. Critiques have on several occasions pronounced the global justice movement as ‘dead in the water’, while others have proclaimed the movement capable of ending the spread global capitalism and neoliberal governance. The latter suggest that new media technology enables the renewal of political engagement within the context of global civil society, which is often argued as the only means capable of solving the crisis into which democracy and left wing thinking and practice has plunged. My contribution to this academic debate is an audiovisual slant on this subject. I focus on the concept of online video activism, moving images and audiovisual imagery in the realm of web-based political activism against neo-liberal globalization. The study uses qualitative discourse analysis of a number of selected videos and their orbits of circulation to examine the nature and affordances of moving image used as a political tool to make a social critique. Discourse analysis also raises issues of how the normative exigency and demand for action in this critique is constructed in the process of mediation. This allows me to identify and discuss new sites of tension and transition shaping the networked media environment surrounding contemporary forms of activism as well as exploring the dialectical relationship between capitalism and social critique in the 21 st century. The media texts are viewed as the footprints of a larger social movement offering an alternative discourse in public debate. They challenge the power structures within visual media by questioning who decides what images and truths of the world are publicly presented. Activist videos, increasingly circulated in popular and commercialised spaces of social communities, are not among the channels that media scholars have traditionally characterized as social movement media. Activist videos are labelled as radical, alternative, counter-hegemonic or counter cultural. In the context of increasingly corporate-led and mainstream online cultures, the issues of how the communicative spaces of political activism are changing the dynamics of political practice need to be questioned. Society should also be made aware of the potential pitfalls the development of ‘activist videos’ may pose to the ‘free’ spaces of radical voices in civil society.