Changing Protest and Media Cultures

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= German research project



"The research project „Changing Protest and Media Cultures. Transnational Corporate Campaigns and Digital Communication” analyses the relation between changing media cultures and protest cultures. The main focus of research lies on computer-mediated political participation in the context of the mobilisation of transnational corporate campaigns. Having gained more and more importance since the nineteen-nineties, these campaigns aim at changing attitudes and behaviour patterns in terms of mobilizing citizens as consumer citizens. Protest action primarily targets single transnational corporations (e.g. Microsoft) resp. branches (e.g. garment industry or producers of sports wear).

As multinational corporations have gained more power in relation to national governments and international organisations due to accelerated processes of economic globalisation and neo-liberal reform policies, they are faced with numerous new and old forms of political protest action. Image-centred marketing strategies render global corporations more vulnerable to criticism of protest movements that benefit from new opportunity structures evoked by the media shift from analogue to digital technologies. While corporate PR and product advertising define the conditions for disseminating corporate images in mass media, the transition to a multimedia society - and above all the internet - provide technical possibilities to transform political protest in terms of transnational political consumerism campaigns.

The development of the internet gives rise to new technologies which allow the mobilization of spatially unbounded protest networks with low costs, high speed – beyond the selection of journalistic gatekeepers, and censoring intervention of state-institutions.

Apart from evaluating the effects of internet communication on the structure of protest organisations and the linking-up between the local, national, and transnational actors the project also analyses public arenas, programmes and frames of corporate campaigns as well as new forms of creating collective identity and new modes of aesthetic dramatization of political protest in the net." (