‘Click Here to Protest’ Electronic Civil Disobedience and the Imaginaire of Virtual Activism

In: Cybercultures
Author: Fidele Vlavo

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For more than a decade, the praxis of electronic civil disobedience has developed to represent a potential redefinition of contemporary socio-political activism. This chapter considers the concept of electronic civil disobedience as a new form of protest derived from cyber-imaginaires. The term defines a range of shared conceptions that promote the redemptive role of digital technology. One of these imaginaires sees cyberspace as a new public sphere and the stage for radical social change. In this chapter, I examine the problematic repositioning of Habermas’s model of civic engagement with the virtual world. I also outline the challenges posed by online activism through an analysis of electronic civil disobedience and a reassessment of Henri David Thoreau’s original formulation of civil disobedience. Raising questions related to the legitimacy of digital resistance, I illustrate how the proposition for radical virtual protest discursively reinforces social domination and inequality in its attempt to assert cyberspace as the exclusive place for socio-political activism.