Mr Alexandre Fleck1
1University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Debates today no longer take place exclusively in public squares, as Habermas writes, but rather increasingly occur on social media (Habermas, 1996; Isin, 2000). Our network society has shifted its democratic battleground from the public sphere to the virtual world.
Mason (2013) and Castells (2015) have investigated about the impacts that the internet and social media have had in connecting protesters and activists. Social media is enabled people to connect, organize themselves and promote their agenda by sharing information and campaigning. However, Sunstein claims Facebook has created echo chambers, enabling populism and assisting in the confusion between fact and opinion (2017). Howard (2017) argues it has enabled elective affinity and encouraged selective exposure, threatening to impoverish the political debate.
This research analyses the interactions between social media and social movements seeking legal changes to critically evaluate the possibilities and limitations of social media as a novel communicative space and tool to shape legal activism. This research examines by way of case study the dynamics of the #NeverAgain movement (#NA) which is in turn located predominately within the scholarship of the Law and social movements. Specifically it will build on the work of Galanter, McCann and others, taking the literature into new arenas, that is, beyond the study of activism that seeks to enforce rights through litigation to non-lawyers seeking legal change beyond courts. The answers to the case specific sub-questions will then be utilized to draw broader indicative claims on the relationship between social movements, social media and legal change.
PhD Candidate at UNSW