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Political Action in Non-Political Online Fora

The next speakers at ECREA 2014 are Daniel Jackson and Todd Graham, who are interested in the use of online third spaces for political action. This is especially important at a time of austerity which tends to let citizens fend for themselves rather than providing government support. To what extent does political talk in these spaces lead to political action, then?

The study looked at the discussion fora of Money Saving Expert, Digital Spy, and Netmums to explore the presence of political talk in these otherwise non-political spaces and identify the presence of commitments or calls to further political action.

This identified personal actions in the first place, directed towards political institutions and businesses for personal gain rather than to influence broader policy. Much of this was about contacting government agencies in order to change a specific decision or outcome, or the bureaucratic process in general. Such personal actions are pre- or proto-political, and often ignited further political action.

Such political actions proper were common and widely spread across multiple themes, they included a number of types of protest or campaigning actions directed at government agencies, or boycotts of businesses. These spaces are thus conducive to forms of affective citizenship by forming affective relations through meaningful interactions with others. Connection to everyday life, culture of support, and the networked and interactive nature of the community are each important.

Recognition and activation moments often led to mobilisation and organisation; complementary agency emerged. Third spaces thus cultivate serial collectivities.