Assessing the prelude to revolution Castells compares the Tunisian and Icelandic Kitchenware revolution. Accordingly, he writes “both movements became role models for the social movements that, inspired by them, emerged thereafter in the landscape of a world in crisis of searching for new forms of living together” (46). This influence he attributes to “—feelings of outrage [that were] often induced by humiliation—and these feelings prompted spontaneous protests initiated by individuals: by young people using their networks” (27). Castells attributes the significance of these and ensued social movements to “the existence of an Internet culture, made up of bloggers, social networks and cyberactivsm” (27). It is in this vein that Castells merges theories of counter-networks of power with his theory of mass self-communication and the mobilizing human emotions of outrage and hope.
One of the things that stuck out when reading Networks of Outrage and Hope is its analysis into the reciprocal relationship between cyberspace and physical space. For example, in his account of the Egyptian Revolution, Castells observes:
“The Internet provided the safe space where networks of outrage and hope connected. Networks formed in cyberspace extended their reach to urban space, and the revolutionary community formed in public squares this time successfully resisted police repression, and connected through multimedia networks with the Egyptian people and with the world.” (81)
Reading this really provided me with a much better understanding to the significance of social media for political means. It also made me reflect on my own privilege—having daily access to the Internet’s immense capabilities. As such, my questions for this week fall along this line of thought.
1) Castells brings awareness to the Indignada movement that has undergone in various big cities of Spain, such as Madrid and Barcelona: “They were unanimously opposed to the government’s budget cuts, and asked instead for taxation of the rich and of the corporations.” (122) However Castells brings little attention between the urban-rural complexities of Spain. Specifically, I am thinking about the independence movements and repressions that have undergone in Basque Country. Does Castells, in seeking to find commonalities in a variety of global phenomenon’s, privilege metropolitan cyber-activism over “other” projects rooted in self-determination?
2) Social media remains a vital tool for bridging various forms of inequities. However, as learned a few weeks ago in class discussion, humanities access and knowledge to use and navigate the Internet remains highly disproportionate. What, if any, problematics does this bring to Castells’ argument?