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Digital Media, Voice and Power

The digital transformations taking place across the African continent pose an urgent need for fresh thinking about the nature and distribution of power. The world appears to be in the midst of a rapid and profound transformation with the growing scale and speed of data production and information circulation that comes with digital media. More people can contribute to and access more information through personalised communication devices. Equally these same technologies also invoke apprehension with the apparent ease with which they can be employed by the economically and politically powerful for mass surveillance, and voter and consumer manipulation. 

We are faced with a dizzying array of contradictory possibilities about the implications for voice and power within an increasingly digital age. Are we seeing the realization of an increasingly open and unpredictable public sphere, with greater opportunities for people to protest and engage in political decision-making? Is this growth in communications and data conversely fostering greater political apathy? Does the growing amount of information accessible, and the ease of communication, represent new loci of political power and control, tied to control over the development and use of networked communication and digital data?

To address these fundamental and challenging questions about power and voice in a digital age, CGHR’s research approach in Digital Media, Voice and Poweris threefold:

  1. Historical, interrogating the relationship between communication, communication media and the distribution of power under the colonial and postcolonial state in Africa.
  2. Empirical, examining digital media and politics in everyday life, with a focus on the political implications of digitally-mediated publics
  3. Practical, looking at the application of digital media to development and practice, specifically in the design and evaluation of the sustainable development goals

The research is currently being headed up by CGHR Research Associate Dr Stephanie Diepeveen, in close collaboration with the Centre’s Co-Director, Dr Sharath Srinivasan. More information on Stephanie, and ongoing research and publications under the theme of DMVP can be found here.

Stephanie

Dr Stephanie Diepeveen, CGHR research associate