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The Social Life of Issues 6: the Network Effects of Civil Society (Politics)

A workshop organised by govcom.org

15-21 May 2002, Budapest

In this workshop, Social Life of Issues 6, we will be mapping the lives led by civil society issues on the Web and look to discover and describe new forms of the political in evidence in issue-networks configuring in this medium. The issues to be mapped will be brought in by the workshop participants, mainly representatives of civil society organisations with a presence on the Web.

Reading, one finds that little is known about forms of the political assumed in new media through its purposive use by civil society organizations, apart from campaigning (outreach and word-spreading) and (protest) meeting logistics. One of the questions we may pursue is the extent to which civil society organizations contribute to socio-political globalization by participating in processes of 'issue-fication'. Watching civil society network activity on the Web, we ask to what extent such actors engage in 'issue-networking' efforts, configuring into debate-networks, protest-networks, programme-networks and scandal-networks, and in so doing, (re)define issues on (inter)governmental and media agenda's. One of the critical questions to be asked is whether, in these efforts, civil society actors are following principally inter-governmental agendas, or whether, conversely, they may also be seen to set in motion and redirect processes of issuefication, staking out issue trajectories that are particular to civil society. Querying issue-networks on the Web in this way, the question may arise what type of information interventions can be made by civil society actors on the Web. We believe there may be a case for undertaking such interventions, that are currently identifiable after employing techniques and analysis of the current network effects of civil society as well as intergovernmental politics, in manners to be explored at the workshop.

Some of the clues for such interventions have been gathered previously, in past social life meetings. In particular, we were able to suggest information format considerations for achieving a 'network effect' (in the case of the issue of media freedom). Another example is highlighted in the Web Issue Index.

The Network Effects of IGOs and Donors: The Case of the Women's Network Internet Governance Map Enron
Corporate Responsibility The Development Gateway Issue

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