Define:New Media Activism

by Dannia Murslin on March 1, 2013 · 1 comment

in Activism,New Media

What exactly do we mean by new media activism?

New media activism is essentially the rejuvenation and the replacement of traditional forms of media that is incorporated with activism. In order to get a better understanding of the term, we can divide it into two separate words. Firstly, I will start by defining what is meant by new media. Then, I will explain the usage of the term activism, within new media.

What do we understand by the term ‘media’? According to Cammaerts & Carpentier, ‘media can be understood both as a medium to communicate, propagate and interact’ (2007: 220). In the context of communication, there is no set definition of the term new media. There are, however, various ‘approaches’ that has helped many scholars in defining new media. According to several scholars, one universal approach that defines media is its ‘technical features and capabilities’, an example would be whether it is a still image or a moving image. Another approach could be ‘the content they produce’, so, for example, it is a television programme or book? (Lievrouw 2011:6). This is one way of defining the term.

New media can also be defined as ‘information and communication technologies’ that constitutes of three important factors: a) devices – such as mobile phones, b) activities – in simpler terms ‘how people use them’ and c) organisations – for example ‘the ways the system and users are organised’ (Lievrouw 2011:7). Participation and interactivity is vital in new media according to Lievrouw. New media is never really ‘new’ in a sense that how we communicate with the use of ‘new media’ keeps updating with time. What might be new yesterday may not be tomorrow or it could have advanced even more. For example, a mobile phone is an artefact of new media. Ten years ago, it was merely used for communication purposes, such as a quick phone call or text message. Nowadays, a mobile phone has a lot of functions that enables a person or a group of people to communicate globally, that too simultaneously, i.e. with apps such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Activism is, simply put, anything that ‘makes or changes history’ (Cammaerts & Carpentier 2007: 217). With the use of new media, one is able to communicate or protest beyond just a close circle of people. When new media and activism merge, it noticeably becomes new media activism, which has five main genres. These are culture jamming, alternative computing, participatory journalism, mediated mobilisation and common knowledge.



  • Cammaerts, B. and Carpentier, N. (eds) (2007) Reclaiming the media: communication rights and democratic media roles. Intellect: Bristol, UK.
  • Lievrouw, Leah (2011) Alternative and Activist New Media. Oxford: Polity Press

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Fredrik Sjösten Björn March 10, 2013 at 6:46 pm

Social Movements, New Media Activism and it’s effectiveness

The use of new media by social movements (such as internet) can be seen as a balancing act between the virtual connection/exchange and the actualization/enacting of that politics. How effective the use of the internet becomes (as virtual activism) depends on the ability to connect with the real world (real world activism). It is only through the embodiment of solidarity offline (real world activism) that social movements gain public legitimacy and political force. New forms of mediation have revealed new forms of protest – but mediated solidarity is far more than signing an online petition or clicking on protest websites while alone in your own home. Solidarity is about engaging beyond the click of a mouse and much more than mediation.

Fenton, Natalie (2007) “Contesting global capital, new media, solidarity, and the role of a social imaginary”, in Cammaerts, B. and Carpentier, N. (eds) (2007) Reclaiming the media: communication rights and democratic media roles. Intellect: Bristol, UK. p. 233-35


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