(P06) Being Social 2020: Social media and social movements at the turn of the decade
Wed 11:00-12:30 K12 | 2.18
- Dayana Lengauer Austrian Academy of Sciences
- Timo Duile Bonn University
- Wolfram Schaffar University of Passau
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Cultivating an Intimate Experience of Peace : A Case Study of PeaceGeneration’s Digital Communication Strategy for Indonesian Youth
Dayana Lengauer Austrian Academy of Sciences
Lindawati Sumpena PeaceGeneration Indonesia
Young people in Indonesia are highly engaged with social media. Recent surveys show an average screen time on social media of about five hours. Social media are used for work, to interact socially, but also to enact and interact with the self. Particularly the last case has gained importance during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite the affordances social media and digital technologies provide, they have become just another room for social hostilities. In Indonesia’s context, this involves religious and ethnicity-related sentiments, amplified through algorithmic enclaves. This is a concern for PeaceGeneration Indonesia (PeaceGen). This organization focuses on social media to mainstream the concept of ‘peace’ into daily conversations and activities among young Indonesians. Based on online observations and in-depth interviews, this paper elaborates on ‘lessons learnt’ from PeaceGen’s digital communication strategy through its Instagram channel and through a collaborative content-creating project for Muslim communities, called Peace Sociopreneur Academy (PSA). PeaceGen seeks to create and promote an intimate character for its audiences through contents on issues such as well-being, self-development, or entertainment. The integration of peace concepts and specific audiences, like anime fans and K-drama lovers, can outwit algorithms and draw new audiences. The intimacy Peace Gen seeks to cultivate is not only related to the subject of the self but also to the ability of people to relate to other people who might be very different in terms of religious or ethnic background. Instead of providing narratives of theological moderation that are often regarded as inconsistent with young people’s religious convictions, PeaceGen focuses their strategies on collaborative digital products responding to more general issues, like environment conservation or identity-based violence. This is how they try to amplify the message of “being different with shared problems” (berbeda identitas dengan masalah yang sama) and implement ideals inherent to concepts such as Galtung’s “positive peace” and Seiple’s “covenantal pluralism”.
Facebook’s ultra-nationalist problem: anti-Muslim hate-speech in Myanmar
Esther Tenberg MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society
Although the acronym Ma Ba Tha (Amyo Batha Thathana Saung Shauk Hmu A Pwe, the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion) continues to be a shorthand used by Burmese and international voices to refer to (ultra-) nationalist anti-Muslim actors in the Burmese sangha (monastic community), the organization (officially rebranded Buddha Dhamma Parahita Foundation) no longer seems to be a strong visible actor in Burmese politics today.
Since June 2018, Facebook designated Ma Ba Tha and other key actors “hateful figures and organizations” and banned them from the platform, invested heavily in AI technology to detect hate-speech, and enacted special policies aimed at protecting the integrity of the 2020 general elections. Myanmar has become a showcase for Facebook’s commitment to curb hate-speech and incitements to violence on its platform. Despite these efforts, Burmese anti-Muslim hate-speech on Facebook continues to make negative headlines.
Ma Ba Tha’s place has been filled with ephemeral network that brings together militarist, nationalist, anti-Muslim and Buddhist protectionist voices in which monastic and lay actors engage in almost counter-hegemonic discourses. Based on non-participant observation in such spaces between October 2020 and March 2021, this paper gives an overview over the main nodes in this network, explains how users attempt to balance negative effects from content moderation, and introduces some key actors and organizations who continue to use Facebook to express anti-Muslim, Bamar supremacist ideologies.
Post-populist Moment in Thailand: From Protests to Redefining Political Legitimacy
Shenghua Zhang SOAS, University of London
Populism involves the use of anti-establishment appeals and the symbolic production of social identities, which together construct an ‘us versus them’, or ‘the people versus the elite’ divide in society. While many academic studies of populism in Thailand focus on the former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra - the archetypal populist of this country - this paper moves on to the aftermath of populism and suggests that we may be witnessing a post-populist moment rendered by the recently politicised young Thais. It analyses the political tensions in Thailand that escalated after the 2019 general election and were instantiated by a string of demonstrations, which culminated in August 2020, when a group of student protestors openly demanded reform of the monarchy.
Drawing on the author’s fieldwork data collected in Thailand during the 2019 election period, this paper argues that the recent protest movements signify a spontaneous attempt to challenge and redefine the political legitimacy of the Thai state. Such an attempt is mainly prompted by the novel social identity of the younger generation, which emerged from social media campaigning during the latest populist moment - the 2019 election period - and crystallised in the struggle against issues of injustice, such as the dissolution of the opposition Future Forward Party. These events reveal the transformative potential of populism. Therefore, instead of positing a simple dichotomy between populism and democracy, this paper suggests that the dynamics of populist politics are fundamentally complex and that, in the Thai context, populism could actually pave the way towards democratisation
Young, Marginalized - and Online. Urban Poor Youth in Jakarta and their Aspirations through “Social” Media
Mark Philip Stadler University of Copenhagen
Young people in the urban poor areas of Jakarta experience a “collision” of virtual and non-virtual realities which have a huge potential for a new social movement based on class considerations. Whereas their lives are dominated by economic struggles which encompass (but are not limited to) daily food supply, housing, school/university fees, spending on lifestyle (especially on mobile phones and data subscriptions), mobility and health care (especially during the Covid-19 pandemic) as well as the mental effects deriving from the lockdowns and social-distancing measures, the virtual realities they can escape to are providing with relief, disconnection from marginality and new forms of community. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snap Chat, WeChat and other social media are virtual platforms where, at least in theory, marginalization and economic precarity do not exist – or do they?
The problematic of accessing these “social” media frequently already provides urban poor youth with a dilemma of either “buying pulsa” in order to use mobile phone data or paying for their daily needs. For many urban poor youth, their own economic activity (from selling ice cream, instant foods and drinks, working in motorcycle or other workshops, collecting and selling trash etc.) is geared towards the expenditure on pulsa and in-app purchases (very popular are still grab and gojek apps but others have entered the low-cost realm as well). Others have gained track on opening up Facebook-/social-media-based businesses, such as selling of second-hand clothes or providing their services through the aforementioned apps (workshop, motorcycle taxi, massage, personal shopper etc.).
While being online, many urban poor youth merge with a huge uncritical crowd, however to some it has become obvious that there are youth of the same age, who have constant access to the internet, are continuously online (can afford it and do not need to work for it) or produce posts featuring the very latest fashion trends and high-level purchases (cars, luxury goods, vacations, jewelry, apartments/houses/property etc.) which cannot be afforded by peers from their own economic background.
Departing from initial admiration, some urban poor youth have created critical positions and thinking and have commenced to voice it on social media. Also, and more interestingly, there are new embryonic formations of a community of the “discontent” which join their anger about social injustices and themselves being at the fringes of society. From voices for (free) access to the internet as a human right to aspirations for a better economic wellbeing, (democratic) participation for all, lower/waiver for school/tuition fees and the overall precarity of the marginalized – there is a huge potential and platform on social media for this discontent. This paper tries to map these online aspirations and produce perspectives for the formation of offline activism.
Southeast Asia’s large and still growing online publics evince a great variety of youth cultures. Distinct ways of being among Southeast Asia’s youth, including their hopes, aspirations as well as their affective expressions, are constituted on, in, and through social media. Especially during the lockdowns of the Corona Crisis at the turn of the decade, new local platforms, like TikTok, gained popularity and were integrated into the evolvement of far-reaching social movements. While we can observe the emergence of fragmented trends like the online and offline contestations of what it means to be Muslim among young people in the metropoles of Indonesia, we also witness more encompassing trends such as the emergence of transnational K-pop fandoms. On this basis, social media have also increasingly proved to be a means for bringing together actors from very different backgrounds, for instance, in the course of organizing protests among students in the streets of Bangkok and Hong Kong in July 2020. In this panel, we seek to discuss how youth cultures in Southeast Asia are constituted, politicized, and/or depoliticized on, in, and through social media. Beyond this topical focus, we are particularly interested in research that explicitly brings together online and offline approaches to the field. We thus encourage theoretical and methodological reflections on bridging onlineand offline perspectives. In a similar vein, we also welcome contributions dealing with ethical questions related to research in, on, and of social media platforms in Southeast Asia.