Friday, August 27, 2010

How useful is "Clicktivism" or online activism?

image courtsey of Stone/Getty, The Guardian UK

Just been reading this important and provocative article from the UK Guardian which critiques the growing trend towards online citizen activism, what it calls clicktivism. 

I have considerable sympathy with the thrust of the article, particularly its critique of the ideology of "market"models of activism and of the need to challenge corporate power (which is purpose of the Nemesis Project which I coordinate).
"A battle is raging for the soul of activism. It is a struggle between digital activists, who have adopted the logic of the marketplace, and those organisers who vehemently oppose the marketisation of social change. At stake is the possibility of an emancipatory revolution in our lifetimes................................

The trouble is that this model of activism uncritically embraces the ideology of marketing. It accepts that the tactics of advertising and market research used to sell toilet paper can also build social movements. This manifests itself in an inordinate faith in the power of metrics to quantify success. Thus, everything digital activists do is meticulously monitored and analysed. The obsession with tracking clicks turns digital activism into clicktivism...........................

Against the progressive technocracy of clicktivism, a new breed of activists will arise. In place of measurements and focus groups will be a return to the very thing that marketers most fear: the passionate, ideological and total critique of consumer society. Resuscitating the emancipatory project the left was once known for, these activists will attack the deadening commercialisation of life. And, uniting a global population against the megacorporations who unduly influence our democracies, they will jettison the consumerist ideology of marketing that has for too long constrained the possibility of social revolution. "

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