Monday, 20 February 2017

Dr Paul Reilly presenting at International Studies Association Convention in Baltimore

Senior Lecturer in Social Media & Digital Society Dr Paul Reilly is presenting two papers at the International Studies Association annual convention in Baltimore this week. Paul will be presenting at the panel entitled 'Social Media and Activism: Power and Resistance in the 21st Century' on Thursday 23rd of February.

The first paper, authored by Paul, is entitled 'Twitter, affective publics and public demonstrations in divided societies: The 2014 and 2015 Ardoyne parade disputes in Northern Ireland.'

Abstract:
Can social media help facilitate peacebuilding in divided societies such as Northern Ireland? Are they safe spaces in which antagonistic groups are able to reconcile their differences and agree to work together for mutual benefit? This paper adds to this debate by examining how citizens used Twitter in response to the contentious Orange Order parade in the Ardoyne district of North Belfast. Twitter provided a platform for ‘affective publics’ who expressed a myriad of sentiments towards the Orange Order, in addition to the residents who opposed the loyalist parade passing the predominantly nationalist area. This study focused on the extent to which these tweeters appeared to use the site to prevent a recurrence of the sectarian violence that followed the parade in previous years. A critical thematic analysis of 7388 #Ardoyne tweets, collected in July 2014 and July 2015, was conducted in order to investigate these issues. Results indicate that Twitter’s greatest contribution to peacebuilding may lie in its empowerment of citizens to correct rumours and disinformation that have the potential to generate sectarian violence. However, the site does not appear to function as a shared space in which cross-community consensus on contentious issues such as Ardoyne parade can be fostered.

Paul also co-authored a paper entitled 'Telling it like it is: A comparative perspective on the use of personal stories in online grassroots advocacy', along with Filippo Trevisan and Mariana Leyton Escobar of American University.

Abstract:
Storytelling transcends cultures. It can speak to global audiences, change public attitudes, serve as policy evidence, and challenge dominant media narratives on sensitive social issues. Thus, advocacy organizations and activist networks increasingly use social media to crowd-source, co-create, and distribute personal stories, which originate in the private sphere and become public narratives online. Yet, story-based advocacy is also controversial as sharing the intimate accounts of groups that have been discriminated against may foster further stigmatization. Communication scholars have yet to discuss the implications of this global advocacy trend for digital citizenship. Whose voices do we really hear in online stories? How are they collected, edited, and re-mediated? Ultimately, who is empowered by this approach? To address these questions, this paper compares the use of personal stories in online disability rights campaigns in the UK and the United States. By combining the analysis of blog posts and YouTube videos featuring stories of disability with interviews with leading advocates in both countries, different digital storytelling practices are revealed. In particular, a trade-off between maintaining spontaneity and editing personal accounts to achieve policy effectiveness is identified and discussed in the context of different political cultures, media systems, ethical principles, and policy-making traditions.

No comments: