Dr Alastair Fraser, Research Associate on Politics and Interactive Media in Africa (PiMA), presented some of the findings of the Zambian aspects of the project during a panel on ‘Crowdsourcing’ in social science research at the International Studies Association (ISA) conference in Toronto in March 2014.
Alastair’s paper, ‘Accountability versus Politics in Zambian interactive media’ was one of two papers on the panel discussing urban solid waste management in Africa. Alastair talked about the politics of reform of Lusaka’s solid waste management systems and how it can be understood through an analysis of calls coming in to an interactive radio show supported by Lusaka City Council.
The PIMA project’s understanding of ‘crowdsourcing’ involves analysing sources of mass data about public opinion that can be ‘extracted’ from already existing forms of social life. This approach contrasted interestingly with other papers on the ISA panel that involved ‘seeding’ participation in ‘experiments’ designed by academics to try and increase public participation, and with the hope that by doing so they might be able to contribute to improving governance and service provision, or predict popular unrest or violence.