Policy Brief No 45 - July, 2019
This is the second of two policy briefs on polarisation in relation to digital media. It describes interventions currently being attempted by NGOs and other peacebuilders using digital platforms as their medium, and interventions that the platforms themselves have tested and/or put into action, including in some cases how the impacts are measured. Many organisations and individuals are working on digital peacebuilding, while a larger number explore broad societal impacts of digital media and the research questions identified in the first brief. The conclusion of this brief categorises interventions according to the degree of invasiveness felt by their subjects, discusses their costs and benefits, and provides recommendations for digital media platforms.
Policy Brief No 44 - July, 2019
This policy brief is one of two which examines the issue of polarisation and the extent to which it is driven by digital media. Even if polarisation is not driven by digital media, severe conflicts playing out on the digital stage are in themselves an urgent problem. It is plausible that some forms of digital media drive polarisation and others do not, and also possible that digital media impacts vary by culture. No matter “who is to blame,” new opportunities to build peace are blossoming on digital media. Many people are working hard to build peace using the Internet, and we can learn a lot from their approaches. This first brief is a research overview about polarisation and policy issues related to digital media. After summarising a range of studies in this area, the policy brief closes with a series of questions highlighting where further research is most needed.
Policy Brief No 42 - June, 2019
Throughout this policy brief, we vet the use of social media in a major Middle Eastern country - Egypt - where the youth took to the streets to express frustrations that lasted almost a lifetime. While social media helped topple autocratic dictator, Hosni Mubarak, it played the role of Pandora’s box, unwittingly showing the strengths and weaknesses of the society’s fabric. The brief follows a string of events that changed the face of the Egyptian state and with it came conflict. We also discuss how extremism infiltrated potentially every home with access to internet and offer solutions that can aid this creeping disease that lures sympathisers. Finally we list a number of recommendations that could help civil society groups sustain a dialogue and a have a strong impact on the general public.
Policy Brief No 40 - May, 2019
From 2008 to 2010, 3.6 million Brazilians took part in the “Ficha Limpa” movement which aimed to impact political corruption by ensuring that anyone who runs for office has a “clean record.” The combination of a grassroots social movement paired with the Avaaz global web movement’s use of social media as discussed in this case study holds important lessons for civil society. Nonviolent “digital resistance” in Brazil shifted power relations and translated into real-world actions and outcomes. The case study examines the background to the Ficha Limpa movement in Brazil, the way in which the Avaaz campaign unfolded and the results that were realised. The policy brief concludes with nine policy recommendations for civil society regarding digital resistance which emerged out of the Ficha Limpa case.
Policy Brief No 39 - May, 2019
How do peacebuilding organisations communicate about peace online and offline? Narrative competency must be a fundamental aspect of our work as peacebuilders in the modern age, as we confront the challenges posed by social media, divided on-line communities, growing political polarisation globally and more easily-ready manipulation tactics within public discourse. The term narrative is ubiquitous today and commonly used interchangeably with story. However, within the peacebuilding field there is currently a lack of understanding of the concept of narrative fundamentally as a cognitive framework that resides at the level of our unconscious minds, which allows human beings to make meaning of the world. While much has been written about how activists can address narrative change, peacebuilders have a special calling to engage with narratives in a way that is self-reflective, curious, seeks complexity and constructs meaning with others. This policy brief argues that narrative engagement should be a top priority and concludes with policy recommendations for those in the peacemaking field.