How could social media transform racism?

by Miho Tanaka

Could internet communications change the structure of race? The revolution of media has changed how people communicate and connect with the others, and forms of media have been constantly changing as internet technology has been developed. Internet communications have enabled us to communicate each other without borders. In other words, people have gotten unrestricted tools to get to know the others having far different cultures and backgrounds.

In this post, I attempt to discover the relevance between media and race and how the emergence of social media could make changes, especially in the United States. Therefore this post looks first at the development of media from tangible products to intangible services, secondly how race awareness or consciousness has been transforming as the forms of media have been changing, and thirdly some expectations that could positively or negatively influence race structure in relevance to the changes of media.

Development of media: Imagined communities

Media is one of the strongest tools to foster and penetrate some ideas, biases and stereotypes to its viewers and construct their perception toward their world. Newspapers, magazines and printed advertisements were the major media for the last centuries, however new types of media such as online media, social media and so forth have appeared in the last decade and these dynamically influence people’s lives. Jessie Daniels (2013) posted on Racism Review that newspapers used to play a role to function for creating “imagined communities” among those who engage with the communities. However Joanne L. Rondilla (2009) argues that globalization and technological advances have changed the formation of imagined communities (p.64-65). Rondilla borrows Hall’s description of globalization and cites that globalization is:

the process by which relatively separate areas of the globe come to intersect in a single imaginary “space”; when their respective histories are convened in a time-zone or time-frame dominated by the time of the West; when the sharp boundaries reinforced by space and distance are bridged by connections (travel, trade, conquest, colonization, markets, capital and the flows of labor, goods and profits) which gradually eroded the clear-cut distinction between “inside” and “outside.” (p. 64-65)

Online media has enabled us to shorten our communication style and has released the West-dominated time-frame. An imaginary space platform, in the case of online media, works as an intersection of people in different areas. She concluded that “globalization involves the flow of ideas, products, images, and so forth, that, through technological advances in the media, closes the gap between perceived differences among people” (p. 65). Considering how media has been changing especially in the 21st century the range of imagined communities must have expanded. Now social media has started to function just like newspapers, as people go to online in order to affirm their racial identity and to seek community around that identity (Daniels, ibid).

Media’s objectives

Popukin, Kabashima, and Taniguchi (2008) point out that public media controlled by national institution and private media owned by private companies take different roles (p.71). Public media seeks societal objectives including political and national purposes, since it considers the viewers or listeners as voters for next elections, while private media seeks profit since it considers the customers as buyers (ibid). As Harris (2009, p. 1) insists, racism is constituted through “economies of difference.” In other words, “economies of color” have great power over market capitalism. Before the emergences of social media, the messages of media were always sent from companies or institutions to consumers based on the senders’ objectives, which are often “selling more products and increasing revenue” or from public organizations to the supporters to achieve some kinds of political goals.

However social media totally broke the previous rule and now the senders of message also include individuals or users on the internet. They do not have to seek certain outcomes because they can send any messages even if they are not tied from some groups, therefore their messages might be sometimes emotional. Racial minorities also got a chance to speak out their feelings and experiences on the internet.

Changes of race awareness

Daniels clarified the fact that “people go online to affirm their identity and to find community, often along racial lines.” In 2009 the chart of popular social network sites shows BlackPlanet.com was ranked in as 13th (Daniels, 2013). There are further more social networking sites focusing on the encouragement of African Americans and the other minority groups in the U.S. For instance, Atlanta Blackstar is one of the media which strives for becoming the central voice in black media. It applauds black peoples’ achievement and self-esteem, and simultaneously analyzes and reflects black culture or its representation in societies, which is often considered as a negative phenomenon.

Especially some media focusing on encouragement of isolated minorities such as BlackPlanet.com and Atlanta Blackstar are considered an enhancement of self-esteem among them. According to Verna Keith, self-esteem is defined as “the evaluative dimension of the self” (2009, p.33) and borrowing Porter and Washington’s definition, it is “feelings of intrinsic worth, competence and self-approval rather than self-rejection and self-contempt” (ibid). Among black people in the United States, media would be used for both sides, in negative and positive ways. In negative ways it is used for accelerating black culture and its representation, and the images are often applied to all black people without considering characteristics of the individuals. However in positive way it could be used for encouraging themselves and applauding black culture and its experiences. In this case the idea of “double consciousness” would be related.

Double consciousness is presented by W. E. B. Du Bois and according to Craig (2009), the concept “provides a useful way to think about the interrelationships between white and black systems of representation” (p.84). Double consciousness is two dimensions of how black see their world from their view. One dimension is that blacks have to see themselves and judge themselves as whites see them, which describes the internalization of racist systems of representation. Another is an internalization of dominant views of oneself and a critical awareness of the structure of racism along with an ability to recognize the presence of racism (ibid, p.84-85).

Until the emergence of social media, only the former dimension had covered people’s viewd, but social media gave them an opportunity to share their second insight, a critical awareness of the structure of racism. If it might have been the great chance to recall black consciousness and lighten their self-esteem, what kind of positive aspects would appear?

Positive and negative aspects

Now this paper will look at whether the emergence of social media is positive or negative. Grasmuck, Martin, and Zhao (2009) explored racial issues which often come along with injustice frequently included by the African American, Latino, and Indian students on their Facebook wall. The authors theorize that these wall postings accelerate “a sense of group belonging, color consciousness, and identification with groups historically stigmatized by dominant society” (ibid). That means racism still occurs in social media.
However Daniels also examined that some dominant groups rarely signed up as their racial categorized group and they foster an idea of “racelessness” through it. In addition according to Popukin, Kabashima, and Kawaguchi, the internet doesn’t work for erasing racism and even ignorance is very dominant on the internet (p.64). Though the internet has been penetrated and larger number of people now have access to talk openly about issue of racism, the open network works not only to improve the issue but also to foster blindness toward racism and colorism.

Through this post, I have looked at the relationship between media and racism and how it has changed. As media has been developing, the racial awareness and consciousness has changed, however media could not only influence racism in positive way. In social networking sites and social media, people have started to get around with the others belonging in the same group but simultaneously race blindness and racelessness have gotten bigger power than before. Whether the feud between more powerful voices and encouragements which minorities got in social networking and racelessness that racial dominant group of people often foster would weaken or not will be the next challenge of racism we will face.

References

  1. Craig, Maxine Leeds. (2009). The color of an ideal negro beauty queen: miss bronze 1961-1968. In Glenn, E. N. (Ed.) (2009). Shades of difference: why skin color matters. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press (pp.81-94).
  2. Daniels, Jessie. (March 2nd, 2013). Race, Racism & Social Networking Sites: What the Research Tells Us. Retrieved on December 23, 2013 from http://www.racismreview.com/blog/category/social-networking-sites/
  3. Gordon, T., Jones, J. & Morris, S. (2014) Atlanta blackstar: about us. http://atlantablackstar.com/about-us/
  4. Glenn, Evelyn Nakano. (Ed.) (2009). Shades of difference: why skin color matters. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
  5. Harris, Angela P. (2009). Introduction. In Glenn, N. E. (Ed.) (2009). Shades of difference: why skin color matters. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
  6. Keith, Verna M. (2009). A colorstruck world: skin tone, achievement, and self-esteem among African American women. In Glenn, E. N. (Ed.) (2009). Shades of difference: why skin color matters. Stanford, CA : Stanford University Press.
  7. Popukin, L. S., Kabashima, I., & Taniguchi, M. (Eds.) (2008). Changing media, changing politics. Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press.
  8. Webb, L. S. (n.d.). How colorism affects light skinned girls and women. Retrieved on December 21, 2013 from http://www.npr.org/2012/09/13/161082306/william-julius-wilson-ending-poverty-is-possible
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Unfriended and Unfollowed – How social networking has changed relationship management

facebook

(Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

by Anastasia Maillot

Social networking has been the center of controversial discussions and criticism since the concept was born. In her review of Facebook, titled “Face Value”, Mary L. Gray mentions that Facebook users will create bonds on a very loose basis, such as one common interest, and will therefore assume they know the person well enough to “Friend” them. This brings up another rather problematic aspect of Facebook: defriending. Or, when talking about Twitter, unfollowing. This concept has, in my opinion, changed how people, especially younger generations, manage their relationships.

Since the birth of social networking, getting in touch with people has obviously become much easier. A Facebook user has nearly unlimited access to other profiles that can be friended or defriended. Creating ties with extended family or friends or even strangers around the globe has never been this simple. The frightening part is that cutting bonds with those you never want to be involved with again is also much easier. In fact, it is perhaps the most powerful and feared tool in social networking, as it provides no explanation to why you decided to unfriend or unfollow someone. The fact that it’s quick, easy, simple and doesn’t require you to come face to face with the person erases any guilt that might come along. It is also fundamentally different from deleting a person’s phone number, because some social networking sites will notify the user if someone decides to unfollow them. In short, it is a virtual slap on a person’s face, a wordless message that expresses disapproval or rejection.

Moreover, social networking and Internet in general tremendously helps us forget that on the other side of the computer screen is another human being just like us. In other words, Facebook helps us reduce one person into a name written on our computer screen, a pixel object that can be deleted at any time we wish. It is tempting to forget that each day we are dealing with real people, because it makes defriending morally much more acceptable.  But we forget far too often that the Internet is not a separate world, as Barry Wellman states in “Connecting Communities: Off and Online”, but is tightly connected with our real lives and the people around us and can greatly affect our future and our relationships. Whatever happens online will definitely have an impact on our daily lives outside social networks.

At the same time, as we are encouraged to forget we are dealing with real humans, we are also seduced by Facebook into thinking we have solved whatever problem we were having by deleting a friend. We refuse to look deeper inside and think about the real issue in a relationship, because it is too much hassle and requires too much of our energy. Hence, we are not providing other human beings the respect, devotion and honesty they deserve, that we would most likely give them should we communicate with them face to face. These days, however, hectic everyday lives have caused us to forget the importance of true communication in a relationship and has turned it into a “chore” that Facebook helps us take care of, either by ignoring, blocking or unfriending.

The 21st century has brought about many new interesting inventions. Information, friends, family and co-workers are closer than ever to us thanks to social networking. While the positive aspects have been tremendous, it can’t be ignored that the quickness and simplicity of Internet and Facebook have caused us to grow passive and impatient with our relationship management. Relationships are cut off and created on a whim without further thinking and consideration of what we are really doing, undermining the very meaning of friendship and family that once existed. This development is both frightening and alarming and it remains for us to see whether we can preserve our respect for other humans an our relationships even with the increasing development of social networks.

Globalization through Social Media, Any Dangers?

English: Infographic on how Social Media are b...

English: Infographic on how Social Media are being used, and how everything is changed by them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Ji Soo Kim

The time when globalization was done ‘one-way’ by television, radio, films and newspapers has passed. Social media, which refers to interaction among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks, has developed and extended to every part of our living. Through social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc., I can share, agree, or ‘like’ the news and ideas shared around all over the world and shape my own beliefs through the exercises. It became my daily routine to check the ‘Newsfeeds’ when I wake up in the morning, and ‘Like’ friends’ posts.

The advantages of globalization through social media are countless. We can participate creatively and actively to share our own opinions in media. Free communication discloses different information, and benefit from its speed and variety. Then, here comes the question. Did everyone benefit from the expansion of social media use? Can it be explained only as benefits to our society?

My criticism by answering this question is that globalization through social media leads to selected globalization. Globalization through Social Network Services (SNS) sets a barrier to the poor, the elderly, and is unilateral globalization from the West.

As Facebook is ranked as the most used SNS, I will explain my opinion with using Facebook statistics. Facebook users reached 1.11 billion in March 2013, which is a huge number. It seems like significant proportion of population is communicating through Facebook. Let’s look at the details. (The statistics are from Wikipedia and are based on the end of 2012.) Can we say social media is a true medium in which everyone can freely communicate? 52.9% of the US population utilizes Facebook, while 5.2% of Indian population uses it. In India, due to poverty, Internet users account for 11.37% out of the entire population. This means that the other 88.93% do not have any idea what is happening on the internet world, and thus are excluded from a world which only the rich can afford. Looking at other less developed countries, the situation is not different. Facebook users constitute 8.9% in Bangladesh, 3.9% in Nigeria and 4.2% in Pakistan. These countries are more isolated from the world because they do not have access to Facebook.

It is not only the poverty that restricts people from online communities. Since internet availability is more difficult compared to televisions or radio, and is harder to use, people aging 50 or more suffer from adopting it to daily life. I asked 13 friends, aged 21~23, whether their parents have Facebook accounts. Only 2 responded ‘yes,’ saying that one of their parents has an account. A father of my friend, Younghun Lee (51) answered, “It seems complicated. I have enough people to talk to in real life world. I get annoyed when my son stares into smartphone checking new stuff on Facebook on dinner table. If I want to check news, I turn on TV, If I want to chat with people, I do in face-to-face.” To many, SNS is complicated compared to what we have been using so far, TV, radio, and newspapers. Also, for teenagers, or young adults, social media could be a special zone where you could be free from parents, and express your feelings, but for the parents, it is a zone that sets them far apart from the children and the world.

Reaching my final point, social media was developed mostly in the US. Although Facebook now became a ‘global’ online community, Western citizens still consist the majority of Facebook users, and are the ones that lead online globalization. Developed Asian countries such as Japan show that only 13.5% of the population uses Facebook. South Korea’s Facebook users also remain 20.95%. Statistics support that Western countries use SNS more than other countries. The other countries in Asia and Africa are following the ‘trend’ slowly, trying to catch up with the rest of the Western world. Globalization occurs in Facebook, but unfairly. It is not an intercommunicating globalization, but rather globalization from the US and Europe to other countries.

Social media is considered to be one of the greatest benefits new technology had brought to humanity. That is why the dangers and disadvantages of it is underestimated and left ignored. Disadvantages must not be hidden under the shadow of the advantages because the bigger the dangers grow, the fiercer the dangers become. The online globalization through SNS draws a line between people who can freely use new technology, internet, and those who cannot. We are the young generation who are included in online community, but those excluded cannot have their voices heard to us because they do not have means to share their voice. Those who cannot afford to gain access to internet, find using SNS complicated feel isolated for being unable to participate in the new world. Also, while true globalization is resulted from multilateral interactions, currently, it is done unilaterally from West to the rest of the world. Such dangers SNS has brought to us must not be overlooked, but thought carefully to be examined thoroughly by us, the young generation.

Thoughts about the Internet and Morality

by Seiichiro Itoyama

The internet has, I believed, more or less crippled and degraded our sense of morality. Morality, I define as is our ability to predict and judge the outcomes of our actions either satisfying nor satisfying a predetermined or unseen result.

In the physical reality that we inhabit, actions (most of the time) come with consequences, however good or bad they may be. An example would be “theft.” If you go into a CD store and steal a whole bunch, the scanner would detect the bar code attached to your CD and will go off, setting the security guards, and possibly the police into action. What about listening to a unofficial music video (one of those with still images, only streaming music) not provided by the artist him or herself, but rather uploaded by someone on youtube. What if you go one step further and download the full album from Piratebay.

In all the examples, your essential outcome to be gained from the action is listening to the music. The wholly unique thing about the internet is that there are no consequences that come with your actions within the internet (yes the police can track your IP address and arrest you, but what are the chances). It is only action and result, nothing more, cut and dry.

Although our society has tried to reinforce physical morality into the information age, it has no doubt had little to no effect, when it comes to regulating behavior on the internet that can call into question our physical moral perspectives, such as online piracy. Why has it had little effect? Because it was and is too late. The notion that the internet, the technology which drives our information age bends our physical moral perspective has become justified by mostly the users (and creators) of the internet. Maybe this is because the internet hasn’t had much time to mature yet, since it’s only been 60 years since the concept has been around and implemented.

As the title of the post states, this is just a thought that has been in my mind for a while, and I do not have any resolution about this issue. However, I believe that both the creators and users of the technology must have absolute conviction, responsibility and belief to drive the moral standard of how the technology can be used.

 

Keep Having Friends

by Kensuke Ikeda

I saw a documentary movie about young boy as undocumented immigrants on TV called “Nihon de Kurashitai: Huhou Taizai Kazoku no Kizuna” (We want to live in Japan: the bounds of family who are undocumented and overstay). In the movie the young boy said “please leave me in Japan, I cannot speak other language and I don’t have any friends in another country”. I realized uneasiness of the undocumented immigrants because his speech is so honest and so direct.

In Japan there are many undocumented immigrants, and some of them are children. They don’t have decision to leave in Japan or to return to “home” country where they have never lived. They should return home country by legal steps. Also, they force to return the country instantly. Japanese government takes care of undocumented people because they will do terrorism and have relation to group of drug peddler. I understand the stance of the Japanese government, but the legal steps are too tactless to ignore other undocumented immigrants who are useful for improving the Japanese economy.

These ineffective legal steps have the room to improve. I suggest that these legal steps are used by the Internet. If undocumented immigrants get approval of stay, they can stay in Japan as have been the way until now. However, they need long process to take the approval because the official apply is tiresome. If they can get temporary approval by the internet apply, they may need not to immediately return home county and they can submit their official document for immigrants. Also, if they cannot stay in Japan, they have some time for preparing to live other country, for example children can learn other language and adult can find the job in other country. The internet gives undocumented immigrants time to pass the legal steps.

However, the use of the internet for apply is dangerous because the apply may be not appropriate on legal. For instance, terrorist can make the stay time in Japan long, and then they can plan the terrorism without haste. In short, the crime people also have time to prepare next crime and escape. For this problem, the governments should strict for immigration by passport. To begin with, these crime people should not come in Japan. It is important that people who come in Japan are terrorist or not and drug peddler or not. Young undocumented immigrants deliberately make crime as overstay. I think the Japanese government should give them the room to think next life. They don’t need to lose their friends and their country.

References

“Nihon de Kurashitai: Huhou Taizai Kazoku no Kizuna” (We want to live in Japan: the bounds of family who are undocumented and overstay).2000. Fuji TVstation. http://www.fujitv.co.jp/b_hp/fnsaward/backnumber/back/00-167.html

HP of Kayamori Office. http://www.geocities.jp/a_kayamori/index.html

Bridging the digital divide

by Yurino Kawamura

The digital divide is creating a huge loss of opportunities for those without Internet access. As we have learned in class, or in fact, as we have been currently enjoying benefits from our PCs and mobile phones, access to the Internet enables people to stay in touch with the latest information throughout the world. Exposure to cultures from other countries would affect peoples’ lives and ways of living.

As we have learned, Internet access tends to be available only for residents of affluent countries, or to limited rich people in developing countries. The average citizen would be located on “the lower side” of the digital divide, unable to reach for latest news or cultures. To ensure all citizens high-speed Internet access, countries must possess enough budgets for investment. However, data indicate that the countries with a high percentage of Internet popularity tend to be affluent.

graph

Figure 1. Relationship between percentage of individuals using the Internet and Gross Domestic Product per capita

Figures 1 shows the relationship between the percentage of individuals using the Internet (ICT, 2009) and the gross domestic product per capita (World Bank, 2009) of 204 countries worldwide. As seen in the figure, the more residents have access to the Internet, the higher GDP per capita a country holds. The correlation factor between them, which shows the relationship between the two factors, was 70.8%. This means that there is a strong relationship between the Internet access and GDP per capita. It is said that same kind of link exists between the literacy rate and GDP per capita, but according to a calculation, its correlation factor is only 36.6%. This indicated that the effect of the digital divide is stronger than that of illiteracy.

Establishing high-speed Internet access throughout a country is not an easy task. Developed skills and much investment would be required, which would be a tough burden for developing countries. What I am concerned about is that would lead to an even larger gap between the affluent countries and poor countries. Difference in economic power of the countries would enlarge the digital divide, which would make rich countries even richer.

It is easy to predict that this relationship will lead to very unfair opportunity for people within developing countries. Supports to build high-speed Internet infrastructure and teaching Internet literacy would be very important. The data indicates that its importance is equal to or even higher than that of elementary education. Although relatively high cost will be required for technology investments, strong support is required to maintain equal opportunity for people on the other side of the digital divide.

References:

ICT (2009). Free Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/statistics/

World Bank (2009). World Databank. Retrieved from http://databank.worldbank.org/ddp/home.do?Step=12&id=4&CNO=2

The Internet: Ideological Anti-state Apparatus

by Shinsaku Hayashida

In this blog post, I’d like to talk about the Internet as an ideological apparatus, beyond a technology. My conclusion is that the Internet is an ideological anti-state apparatus which may disorder existing political system, out of the category of Louis Althusser’s ideological state apparatus. Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, the technology of the Internet has started to spread, especially in developed countries. Wellman describes positively that realization of “glocalisation” and “networked individualism” are fostered by such spread of the Internet. However, we also shouldn’t neglect an ideological aspect that internet has.

First, I’d like to explain about a concept of French philosopher Louis Althusser’s ideological state apparatus. Althusser’s theory of ideological state apparatus is based on Marxian presupposition that society is composed of two classes or superstructure and understructure. As Marx remarks, “any society can’t continue to exist without practicing reproduction of various conditions of production.”

These various conditions of production are mainly classified into two types. One is material productive forces such as capital and labour, and the other one is existing productive relations. Classic Marxism treats state as repressive state apparatus which is to guarantee these reproductions. This originates in the Marxian tradition that “state is repressive institution, that is to say, institution which enables the ruling class to guarantee its governance against the working class, in order to practice process of seizure of surplus-value from them”. Althusser summarises such Marxian state theory in Classic Marxism into four characters as below, through The Class Struggles in France (1848 – 1850)and The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon (1851 – 1852). First, “State is repressive state apparatus.” Second, “State power is different from state apparatus”. Third, “object of class conflict is related to state power, and therefore, as a result, to utilisation of state apparatus by the ruling class.” Finally, the proletariat must take back state power in order to break the existing bourgeois state apparatus, and in the first process replace them to proletariat state apparatus, and the next various stages realize devastating state (state power and all state apparatus)”.

In Marxian state theory, state is a single state apparatus characterized into four points as mentioned before. However, according to Althusser, state apparatus includes two aggregations, that is, an aggregation of various institutions which represent repressive state apparatus and an aggregation of various institutions which represent ideological state apparatus.  We mustn’t put them in the same category.

Here are differences between them. Repressive state apparatus is very similar to sate apparatus on Marxian state theory. Repression in repressive state apparatus means “this state apparatus functions violently -at least at the point of limitation (because, for example, administrative repression may take an unphysical form)-”. Repressive state apparatus, thus, functions mainly violently and secondly ideologically, and its violent function is overwhelmingly superior. In reality, repressive state apparatus is composed of government, administrative institution, military, police, court, prison etc. There is an example where repressive state apparatus functions secondly as ideological state apparatus. For example, police and military function ideologically by showing their values externally in order to guarantee their own union and reproduction.

In contrast, ideological state apparatus functions mainly ideologically and secondly violently and its ideological function is overwhelmingly superior. Ideological state apparatus includes various institutions in reality as repressive state apparatus does so. These institutions are church, school, political party, media, literature, art, sports etc. It’s them which are ideological state apparatus composed by “religious ideological state apparatus”, “educational ideological state apparatus”, “familial ideological state apparatus”, “legal ideological state apparatus”, “political ideological state apparatus”, “informational ideological state apparatus”, “cultural ideological state apparatus”. School and church is examples where ideological state apparatus functions secondly violently. School and church exercise their students and believers by the means of praise, exclusion, selection etc.

These various ideological state apparatus are various institutions, each realized under a single particular ideology.

Ideological state apparatus plays a critical role on reproduction of various productive relations. Grasping of ideological state apparatus, that is to say, infiltration of the ruling class’s ideology into various institution composing of ideological state apparatus, means guarantee of reproduction of various productive relations. Repression of repressive state apparatus is used for guarantee of various political conditions which makes ideological state apparatus work correctly.

Each institution of ideological state apparatus has the same goal, that is, reproduction of various productive relations – relations of capitalism seizure-. Each of them aims at the same goal with each particular ways. For example, informational ideological state apparatus sends certain amount of nationalism, liberalism etc to the working class everyday.

Ideological state apparatus is very national. This is because each institution of ideological state apparatus reflects the ruling class’s ideology.

Now, I would like to discuss whether the Internet is in the category of ideological state apparatus or not. I think the Internet is not in that but ideological anti-state apparatus. To prove this, we must compare the Internet’s characteristics and those of ideological state apparatus. I try to find their similarities and differences from three points of views.

First, I wonder if internet functions ideologically or not. I think internet does so as an informational ideological apparatus since it is a source of information. However, its way to function is different from that of ideological state apparatus. There is a single ideology in each institution composing of ideological state apparatus. In contrast, in internet, there are diverse ideologies which lie scattered or which are unevenly distributed because mainstream media which might be connected to the ruling class is positively putting much ideological information on internet while each individuals of the working class also does the same thing.

Next, I wonder if grasp of the Internet guarantees reproduction of various productive relations. Grasp of the Internet for the ruling class is censorship and sending only their favoured ideological information. Though I don’t have much proof for that, it might be positive. This is because some governments have been actually practicing censorship of the Internet, such as China. This might demonstrates that Chinese government notices free expression on the Internet with no censorship is likely to jeopardize reproduction of their productive relations. However, in reality it’s difficult for the ruling class to practice censorship and actually there is no censorship practiced in most developed countries for the respect of freedom of expression. Therefore, it is also difficult to guarantee reproduction of various productive relations for the ruling class via grasp of internet.

Finally, I put on myself a question if internet is national or not. I think internet is not national. This is because it is hard to put censorship in developed countries and every individual can find chances to express their ideological information without being controlled by government. Andrew Keen, author of The Cult of the Amateur, treats the Internet as ideology but not as technology as below. “One of the mistakes we make about the Internet is that it’s technology. It isn’t; it’s ideology. The Internet was built by people who questioned authority. The internet is bound up in a fundamental assault on the notion of expertise, on what Jimmy Whales (a founder of wikipedia) calls ‘the mainstream media,’ which includes shows like this, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal.” (Keen, 2010) As he says, internet contributes to create revolutionary ideology which might knock out existing authority.

As a conclusion, these three points make me think that internet is not ideological state apparatus but rather ideological anti-state apparatus, especially in where there is no censorship. We see one example which happened in Arabic world:  Arab spring, a revolutionary disturbance caused in Arabic world from 2010 to 2011. In this revolution, social network played an important role. There were activists who used cell phones, twitter, facebook etc to call out other activist and civilians for further development of their social and political movements.

References

Althusser, L (1974). Ideology and Ideological State Apparatus (Nishikawa, N. Trans.), Tokyo: Fukumura Shuppan, (Original work published 1971).

Policymic. Twitter Revolution: How the Arab Spring Was Helped By Social Media, retrieved 2012/12/22 from http://www.policymic.com/articles/10642/twitter-revolution-how-the-arab-spring-was-helped-by-social-media

Wellman, B. (2004). “Connecting Communities on and offline,” Contexts.

Nieman Journalism Lab, Andrew Keen on why “the Internet is ideology”, retrieved 2012/12/22 from http://www.niemanlab.org/2010/05/andrew-keen-on-why-the-internet-is-ideology/

Social network service and social movements

by Kaori Isobe

Throughout 2010 to2011, many people in Arabic countries gathered up and did social movements. This is called Arab Spring. Since long time ago, social movements were occurred a lot by protesters. However, Arab Spring was a bit different from former ones. Want was a difference is that many protesters uses social network service to get and spread information by using social network service such as Facebook and Twitter.

Social network service is an online service and site that focuses on facilitating the building of social networks or social relations, real life connections, activities and so on. As spreading the Internet environment, the number of SNS users is increased. For instance, Facebook is strongly growing and reached over 1,000,000,000 users in October of 2012, compering to 600,000,000 users of January, 2011. Including me, users are able to write and post about what they think, pictures, links from other site and so on. Also users are able to share posts so that their friends are able to see my pots. If suppose am I post something like ‘Let’s do protest!’ or something like this on my Facebook page. If my friends like my post, push ‘Like’ to my post, and my friends’ friends will be able to see this. Then my post will spread to other people easily.

In a case of Arab spring, according to statistics, about 80percent of Facebook users in Egypt and the republic of Tunisia used Facebook to get and spread information about social movements. As social movements getting extreme, the number of Facebook users was increased. Furthermore, this social network connected to networks in real-life, which mean people who didn’t use Facebook, also could get information rapidly from real life connections with Thor friends who used Facebook. Social network service is related to social movement deeply because it’s easy to spread information and emphasize. This situation makes people get involve in social movement much easier. This is one of reasons why many people could involve in Arab Spring.

Social network service is working through the Internet, so sometimes it’s dangerous. There is a possibility that someone attacks your page with specific skills, or some information might be wrong. Thus, we have to be careful. However, as I mentioned in above paragraph, social network service has power. Young people are likely to use social network service than elderly people are. It’s getting much easier to make young people participate in social movements, and they may be going to be interested in society much more. Then the society will become much better.

Moreover, in recent years, young people tend not to be involved in society very much. This is because young people don’t have interests in society even their generation will be coming soon.  Or some of them try to change society with complaint. However, their voice is still small. I have many things to ask the government but people around me do not have interests.  I hope young people, especially in Japan, will have much more power to change society like Arab Spring.  And social network service is a good way to do it.