Anonymous, 19 Apr 2019
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Networked Palestine. Exploring Power in Online Palestinian Networks

Networked Palestine. Exploring Power in Online Palestinian Networks

This article is concerned with the question of power in Web 2.0 networks. It focuses on the issue of Palestine, and seeks to show the new power configurations in these kinds of network. Implied in the rhetoric of Web 2.0 is that power and hierarchy are somehow diffused, decentralized, and to an extent also disabled. Within this often celebratory language, there is a tendency to dismiss power structures and hierarchies as no longer relevant in the days of network organisation. This paper poses therefore the question of power in an explicit way, seeking to trace its new configurations within Web 2.0 applications. In empirical terms, the question of power will be discussed in a case study looking at ‘Palestine’ in the context of Web 2.0. The choice of Palestine is significant: in a global geopolitical environment which has turned Palestine into an underdog, fighting an uneven fight, considerably disadvantaged and impoverished, the blogosphere offers an apparently more egalitarian space within which it can voice its concerns. But are the networks developed really egalitarian? Where is power located within these networks, and what are its accomplishments for Palestine? This paper will address these questions through studying a Palestinian issue network and a blogging network. In both cases, three main questions will be asked: Who (or what) has power over the network? What is the power of the network? What are the power dynamics within the network? The findings suggest that offline power structures and hierarchies both enable and limit Palestinian networks. Secondly, that the actual efficacy of the networks under study is limited, and finally, that while the blogging network appears to be egalitarian this is probably because it is a network of similar blogs operated by people of very similar educational and cultural background.

article
eng