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Digital Media, Voice and Power

Watch CGHR Director, Dr Sharath Srinivasan, introduce the research theme Politics, Digital Technologies and the Media. 

From its inception phase, the Centre of Governance and Human Rights’ research agenda has included examining the impact of digital communications on processes of social and political change.

As part of the exploratory research project New Communication Technologies and Citizen-led Governance in Africa (March 2011 – September 2013), Centre associates carried out evidence-based research on interactive radio’s significance for social and political change in Africa. The Centre also supported the development of and research on a new open-source software tool for use by African media houses in interactive radio programming - our collaboration with FrontlineSMS aided them in the design of a popular Radio version and their acclaimed core software.

During the final year of the initial exploratory project, CGHR launched an applied pilot project led by Dr Claudia Abreu Lopes – Africa’s Voices – to gather public opinion in hard-to-reach communities using interactive radio. Read more about Africa's Voices here.

CGHR's Politics and Interactive Media in Africa (PiMA) project (2012-2014) was an 18-month international collaborative research project with a focus on the expressions of 'public opinion' in broadcast media via new information and communication technologies (ICT), such as mobile phones, in Kenya and Zambia. It also examined the political implications of such interactions in the two African countries, with a view to draw conclusions of wider significance to practitioners and policymakers. Read more about PiMA here.

Going forward, the Centre will explore new directions of research identified from our work thus far that captures three inter-related vectors of the digital communications revolution in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world: the critical importance of valuing voices in broadcast media spaces in an era of governance through ‘big data’; the nature of emergent practices of public consultation and deliberation being fostered by the growing digitally-mediated public sphere; opportunities to conceptualise and build meaningful knowledge from ‘organic’ expressions of public opinion in interactive media within the frame of social representations and using computational analysis. This new research agenda seeks to capture the opportunity for innovative research that reconnects public opinion with its public context in order to understand its role in processes of social and political change.

PiMA

Africa's Voices

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PiMA (Politics and Interactive Media in Africa) was an 18-month collaborative research project funded by the ESRC and DFID, with a focus on the expressions of 'public opinion' in broadcast media via new information and communication technologies (ICT) such as mobile phones in Kenya and Zambia. It also examined the political implications of such interactions in the two African countries, with a view to draw conclusions of wider significance to practitioners and policymakers.

 

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Africa's Voices started as a twelve-month pilot project harnessing the reach of radio and the spread of mobile phone use to gather citizens' opinion on governance and development issues. A ground tested collaborative platform sustained by local radio stations,Africa's Voices aims to inform African leaders, NGOs and the wider policy and research communities, strengthening citizen participation in public affairs across the continent.

 

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New communications technologies and citizen-led governance in Africa

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CGHR's two-year research collaboration (2011-13) with the team behind FrontlineSMS examined whether and how innovations in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) are enriching citizen-led governance in Africa.

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'Can you hear me?' Mobile-radio interactions and governance in Africa

This paper by CGHR affiliated researcher Dr Iginio Gagliardone offers a picture of mobile–radio interactions and their repercussions on governance, through an ethnography of two local radio stations in Kenya. The paper is an output from the CGHR New Communications Technologies and Citizen-led Governance in Africa project on which Dr Gagliardone worked as a post-doctoral Research Associate. Read the paper.

Bits and Atoms: Information and Communication Technology in Areas of Limited Statehood

This volume, published in December 2013 by Oxford University Press, includes Dr. Sharath Srinivasan's piece, 'FrontlineSMS, Mobile-for-Development and the 'long tail' of governance', detailing the Centre's work with the open source software Frontline:SMS. The book is available to buy online here.

Online Journalism in Africa: Trends, Practices and Emerging Cultures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Routledge have just published the volume of essays, Online Journalism in Africa:Trends, Practices and Emerging Cultures - co-edited by PiMA Associate Dr. Fred Mudhai. The collection also features the article 'Immediacy and Openness in a Digital Africa: Networked-Convergent Journalisms in Kenya' by Dr Mudhai, which originally appeared in Journalism, available here.

Civic Engagement, Digital Networks, and Political Reform in Africa

PiMA Associate Dr. Fred Mudhai has published a monograph on new media and democracy. Civic Engagement, Digital Networks, and Political Reform in Africa (2013) is available to buy online here.