- Subsuming the ground: how local realities of the Ferghana valley, the Narmada dams and the BTC pipeline are put to use on the web
- Economy and Society
- Volume | Issue number
- 37 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
Studies of the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) seek to come to terms with a particular problem of political globalization. While global forums are widely attributed the capacity to put in place the conditions for the resolution of local issues, at the same time these sites are seen to place unacceptable restrictions on the articulation of the issues from localist perspectives. ICTs occupy a special position with respect to this dilemma, as they are both seen to be part of the problem, a factor in the enrolment of NGOs in global governance networks, and part of the solution, as instruments of alternative, translocal forms of political organization. This piece shows how a particular style of Web analysis, informed by actor-network theory, demonstrates the need to complicate certain assumptions that inform both these critical and these constructive perspectives. In a series of exercises of network analysis on the Web, we open up for questioning the assumption of the 'primacy of the local' on which these perspectives tend to rely. We suggest that the role of ICTs in the globalization of NGO practices should rather be understood in terms of the reformatting of issues for transnational networks. In our interpretations of issue networks on the Web, we argue for the importance of taking more seriously the ways in which the Web highlights the practical constraints on issue articulation faced by NGOs. By way of conclusion, this paper draws attention to the fact that Web studies present a notable extension to the sites studied by actor-network theory and related approaches in assemblages studies, as it compels consideration of the media circulations characteristic of publicity.
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