Narrative Power Shifts: Exploring the Role of ICTs and Informational Politics in Transnational Advocacy

By Steven Livingston and Kristina Klinkforth.

Published by The Technology Collection

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

The authors argue that new information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as the Internet and social media, cellular telephony, commercially available remote sensing satellites, and satellite-enhanced mapping technologies empower nascent forms of non-governmental global governance. Our central contention is that ICT-sponsored information environments, which are highly flexible, networked, and transboundary in nature, represent a new kind of political opportunity structure for transnational advocacy. In this context, new forms of collective action are pursued by means of informational politics. The article is conceptual in nature. First, we present our argument on the basis of a critical literature review by taking up a recent debate about the role of information and informational politics in transnational advocacy. On this basis, we argue that the role of information and information environments needs to be understood as an essential independent variable in inquiring into processes of transnational advocacy. Subsequently we discuss implications for further research.

Keywords: Global Governance, Transnational Advocacy, Information and Communication Technologies, Information Environment, Political Information, Networks, NGOs, Epistemic Communities, Social Media, Remote Sensing Satellite Technology, International Relations, Political Communication

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 6, Issue 5, pp.43-64. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 784.908KB).

Steven Livingston

Professor of Media and Public Affairs and International Affairs, School of Media and Public Affairs, Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA

Steven Livingston is Professor of Media and Public Affairs and International Affairs at The George Washington University. He has served as director of the Political Communication Program (1996 – 2002; 2004 – 2006) and of the School of Media and Public Affairs (2004 – 2006) and was the founding chair of the Public Diplomacy Institute at GW (2000 – 2008). Livingston's research and teaching focus on media/information technology, national security, and international affairs. He has a particular interest in the role of advanced information technology and media in national security policymaking, governance, and public opinion. Following service in the United States Army (1975 – 1981), Livingston completed a Ph.D. in political science at the University of Washington in 1990 and joined the faculty of The George Washington University in 1991. In the 1992 – 93 academic year, Livingston held a Social Science Research Council Senior Research Fellowship in Foreign Policy Studies (funded by the Ford Foundation). In 1995, the Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation sponsored his investigation into the role of the military and the media in humanitarian crises. In 1996, he was a Research Fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Livingston also received a Goldsmith Award while at Harvard University. In April 2004, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship. Livingston has lectured at the National Defense University, the Army War College, the Strategic Studies Group at the Naval War College, the Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the U.S. Institute for Peace, European Institute of Diplomacy in Austria, the U.S. Foreign Service Institute, the U.S. Department of State, and at universities and think tanks in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. His research and consulting activities have led to extended stays in Northern Ireland, Russia, Eastern and Central Europe, the Middle East, and East and Central Africa. In 2008 he traveled to Iraq twice, both visits at the invitation of the United States government. He has also advised a wide range of USG and foreign government clients on matters relating to governance capacity building, media, technology, and strategic communication. Besides many articles published in peer‐reviewed journals, Livingston has written The Terrorism Spectacle (Westview Press, 1994) and When the Press Fails: Political Power and the News Media from Iraq to Katrina (W. Lance Bennett and Regina Lawrence, co‐authors)(University of Chicago Press, 2007).

Kristina Klinkforth

Research Fellow and Program Manager, Center for Global Politics, Department of Political Science, Free University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Kristina Klinkforth studied Political Science and International Relations in Hamburg, Galway, and Berlin. In 2005, she joined the Center for Global Politics at Free University of Berlin and has been responsible for the development and coordination of the distance learning M.A. program “International Relations Online” as well as for the coordination of workshops and summer schools with partner universities in the Gulf region and Syria. Furthermore, Kristina has worked for different governmental and civil society organizations including the Aspen Institute Berlin, the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the UN Headquarters in New York. Kristina is a doctoral candidate with Free University of Berlin and is currently a visiting research scholar with the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University. Her research focus rests on the role of media and information technologies in international affairs and global governance. She also focuses on the role of new media in education and development.


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