Elected as co-vice chair of the Digital Divide Working Group (IAMCR)

did-logo-optimalI am honoured and happy to be elected as co-vice chair of the Digital Divide Working Group of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR). The Digital Divide Working group was established in 1998. The main goal of this working group is to stimulate new theoretical approaches and empirical findings resulted from the research of digital inequality as a multi-dimensional phenomenon influencing various aspects of social life in different countries

The Digital Divide Working Group aims at providing a forum for scholars researching various aspects of digital inequality across the world.

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Call for Chapters. Blockchain and Web 3.0: Social, economic, and technological challenges

what-is-the-blockchainCall for Chapters.
Blockchain and Web 3.0: Social, economic, and technological challenges
Editors have been working with Emily Briggs (Commissioning Editor for Sociology, Routledge) to prepare this proposal.

Massimo Ragnedda, Northumbria University at Newcastle.

Giuseppe Destefanis, School of Computer Science, University of Hertfordshire.

Deadline for abstracts: 10 April 2018

Notification of acceptance: 20 April 2018

Submission Date: 20 September 2018
Blockchain is no longer just about bitcoin or cryptocurrencies in general, but it can be seen as a disruptive and revolutionary technology, which will have major impacts on multiple aspects of our lives. The revolutionary power of such technology can be compared with the revolution sparked by the world wide web and the Internet in general. As the Internet can be seen as a mean for sharing information, so blockchain technologies can be seen as a way to introduce the next level: blockchain allows the possibility of sharing value. This book seeks to underline the risks and opportunities offered by the advent of blockchain technologies and the rise of the web 3.0. Given the nature, the implications and consequences of this new technology, this book will proceed from an interdisciplinary perspective. The core analysis in the book is explaining how such technologies are disruptive and, further, to explain the concrete consequences of these disruptions, in terms of social, economic and technological consequences. We anticipate that the comparative examination of these features will be helpful to clarify the dynamics and consequences of the blockchain technologies in a variety of disciplines settings. Thus, the volume integrates a number of chapters examining disparate settings around the world, all unified around their focus on the phenomenon of blockchain in comparative and interdisciplinary perspective.
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UK General Election 2015: dealing with austerity

Banner_issue_1Massimo Ragnedda and Maria Laura Ruiu (2017), UK General Election 2015: dealing with austerity SACS-o Working Papers, Newcastle University.

Abstract: This article investigates the nature of the conversation around austerity on Twitter during the 2015 general election in the UK. Specifically, it explores the kinds of messages referring to austerity, as well as the kinds of accounts involved (whether they referred to a private or public role on Twitter and in society) and their affiliation to politically or non-politically oriented organizations/bodies. The search on Twitter concerning the austerity topic (for the 39-day time period from 3 March to 8 May 2015) resulted in 16,015 tweets, which generally referred to austerity, and 11,146 tweets, which contained at least one relevant hashtag. While austerity was rarely mentioned by mainstream media accounts in the Twittersphere, this topic was widely discussed during the election campaign by private users. This could be seen as a limitation of agenda setting, since there is no correlation between the agenda set by the media on Twitter and the public discussion about it. However, we found a relationship between the offline mainstream media agenda and the discussion led by private users on Twitter, thus confirming, to some extent, the validity of intra-agenda setting. In fact, offline media events (talk shows, news articles and question times) seemed to trigger peaks in tweet-based discussions or mentions about austerity, showing that the agenda set by the offline media influenced the discussion in the Twittersphere. Finally, we found that, while austerity has clear implications for citizens’ daily life, it seems to be more of an “elitist” topic, mainly addressed by those who are already politically oriented and well informed on the topic.

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Empowering local communities through collective grassroots actions: The case of “No Al Progetto Eleonora” in the Arborea District (OR, Sardinia)

Maria Lgcrvaura Ruiu & Massimo Ragnedda (2017) Empowering local communities
Abstract. This article explores both how local social committees may contribute toward generating collective actions, leading local communities to empower their environment, and how new information communication technologies (ICTs) may alter the collective action. It focuses on a case study, represented by the “No al Progetto Eleonora” local committee that operates in the Arborea district of Oristano, in Sardinia, Italy. Here, the community has become progressively cohesive in the face of an external environmental threat represented by the proposal for a drilling project. In this context, the role played by the Internet has been marginal in promoting community cohesion, even if it has indirectly enhanced it. In other words, the Internet played a marginal role in promoting the protest and reinforcing community cohesion, but it played a primary role in attracting external solidarity and support, thus indirectly reinforcing the sense of community against an external threat.

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The third Digital Divide. A Weberian approach to digital inequalities

third-digital-divide Coming soon. The third Digital Divide. A Weberian approach to digital inequalities, Routledge, 2017

Drawing on the thought of Max Weber, in particular his theory of stratification, this book engages with the question of whether the digital divide simply extends traditional forms of inequality, or whether it also includes new forms of social exclusion, or perhaps manifests counter-trends that alleviate traditional inequalities whilst constituting new modalities of inequality. With attention to the manner in which social stratification in the digital age is reproduced and transformed online, the author develops an account of stratification as it exists in the digital sphere, advancing the position that, just as in the social sphere, inequalities in the online world go beyond the economic elements of inequality. As such, study of the digital divide should focus not simply on class dynamics or economic matters, but cultural aspects – such as status or prestige – and political aspects – such as group affiliations. Continue reading “The third Digital Divide. A Weberian approach to digital inequalities”

Digital Inequalities: are social inequalities already existing in the society reproduced and reinforced online?

oxfOxford Internet Institute, Oxford University, 02/06/2015

Abstract: Social inequalities present in the social structures are not disconnected with the digital inequalities presents in the digital sphere. Digital inequalities, seen as the different skills at using information sources and opportunities, are embedded in social structures. Previous social inequalities not only affect digital divides but reinforce and exacerbate pre-existing social inequalities. Furthermore, several patterns which characterize and shape the social structure such as education, skills, income, occupation and gender influence the access and the use of the Internet. Analysed from this perspective it seems that social inequalities already existing in the society are reproduced and reinforced online. It might be argued that there exists a kind of recurring cycle between social and digital inequalities. Namely, social inequalities are the root of digital inequalities, and at the same time digital divides increase and reinforce social inequalities already present in a stratified social sphere. However, it is unclear whether the digital divide simply exacerbates traditional inequalities, or whether it also includes counter-trends that might mitigate traditional inequalities while forming new modalities of stratification.  Similarly, do traditional forms of inequality simply replicate themselves in the digital sphere, or does the digital divide operate under its own dynamics?

Vecchi media vs nuovi media: una lotta dove le forze rimangono pur sempre sproporzionate

 Massimo Ragnedda (Tiscali)

Malgrado evoluzioni complesse e multidimensionali, il processo decisivo nella formazione della società corrisponde alle dinamiche dei rapporti di potere in essa insiti. In altre parole: le norme e i valori che guidano una società sono il frutto di un processo di negoziazione tra le diverse forze in una società. I media sono lo spazio sociale dove il potere viene deliberato e, al contempo, sono anche lo spazio della battaglia al potere: ovvero lo “spazio” del contropotere. Quando la sproporzione delle forze in campo è enorme, passano i valori imposti dal più forte. Sino a qualche lustro fa, i valori che diventavano le norme che governavano la società erano fondamentalmente quelli della Tv e dei vecchi media, o meglio quelli imposti dalla piccolissima èlite che li gestisce. Ora potere e contropotere, Istituzioni e movimenti, forze reazionarie e forze progressiste, si muovono e operano in una nuova cornice tecnologica. Questa nuova cornice ha delle ripercussioni sui significati, sulle modalità e sulle politiche di tali pratiche conflittuali. Con l’avvento delle nuove tecnologie della comunicazione e dell’informazione, si ha un leggero riequilibrio delle forze in campo, ma questo non deve trarci in inganno: le forze rimangono pur sempre sproporzionate. Continue reading “Vecchi media vs nuovi media: una lotta dove le forze rimangono pur sempre sproporzionate”