Digital Activism: Real, Virtual or Surrogate Civic Engagement

Car, V., Benko, N. (2012). Digital Activism: Real, Virtual or Surrogate Civic Engagement. Zagreb conference: "New challenges and methodological innovations in European media audience research". 7-9 April 2011.

Abstract: If we define digital activism as the practice of using digital technology for political and social change, the question is: what is, or is there any difference between digital activism, online activism, cyberactivism, internet activism, digital campaigning or digital advocacy? This kind of activism, no matter how we call it, has become a normal, everyday reality in democracies where it attracts the attention of governments, corporations and citizens. Different communication theories try to explain this 21st century movement, like public sphere theory, social movement theory, the culture industry concept, cultural studies, etc. The aim of this paper is to question all these approaches and to try to give the answers on: How real digital activism is, and is it possible to measure its effects? Even when it stays within the virtual society (e.g. subversive digital activism) it can be effective. This paper introduces the notion of “surrogate civic engagement” as engagement hidden behind the “one-click”, but still helping to legitimate the actions.