Digital action campaigns in the global public sphere
This research project undertakes a critical analysis of the use of new media technologies by community activists engaging in local and global communities. Increasingly, community organizations are using digital media to augment their various activities and conduct campaigns. I will consider this development with regard to WorldPulse.com, a global organization whose aim is to foster and facilitate civic engagement. More specifically, the website attempts to function and serve as a global public sphere and vehicle for the expression and discussion of political, social and cultural issues relevant to women. The analysis conducted in this thesis focuses on the website’s digital action campaigns on gender-based violence, girl child education, and women’s access to technology between 2012 and 2014, and its ‘Voices of Our Future’ citizen journalism training program. This project employs digital ethnographic methods using content and discourse analysis, participant observation, online web survey, semi-structured email interviews and a researcher’s journal to examine the potential of worldpulse.com to serve as a global public sphere for women. The research makes use of critical studies theories and data triangulation methodologies in order to identify and evaluate if, and to what extent, the site facilitates public sphere activity and activism. I have developed an inductive typology to assess levels and kinds of civic engagement that is enabled and augmented by the interconnection of online and offline advocacy. This thesis aims to contribute to the body of scholarly literature researching and evaluating the extent to which new media technologies enable and facilitate public sphere engagement.