Subactivism and Slacktivism:

Bakardjieva, Maria. “Subactivism: Lifeworld and Politics in the Age of the Internet.” The Information Society: An International Journal 25.2 (2009): 91-104. Print.

In this article, Bakardjieva explains subactivism–the everyday, subjective experience of political action in counter-public spaces; in this case, the Internet. Current theories only consider civic participation  in objectively experienced  public sphere while neglecting subactivism as a form of civic participation. The author does not challenge these theories but rather expands notions of civic engagement by including subactivism. Politics has more meaning for citizens when political activities disrupt their daily routine, unlike official political activities, such as voting. Bakardjieva wants to bring political theories on civic engagement in the public sphere with subactivism as a way to engage the seemingly apolitical citizens on the Internet.

Gladwell, Malcolm. “Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted.” New Yorker 4 Oct. 2010. Web.

Gladwell argues that social media activism isn’t an effective method for bringing about political change. Social media posts about political revolution does not mean social media is responsible for change; people participate in activism based on strong ties to other people while social media gathers people based on weak ties and ask them to do very little in supporting whatever movement they join. Activism in real life require sacrifice and that tends to motivate people to participate, but social media requires very little motivation or sacrifice. Finally, you need hierarchy to take on an institution, and social media is a network–a series of loosely connected identities, making consensus difficult or impossible.


I’m not entirely sure how I might tie in these two article  to my research. Yes We Code and Black Girls Code are operating in a hybrid space–using social to advertisement, recruit new students, and gain investors. I think that’s the weight I won’t to bring on Gladwell’s piece: this was written in 2010 and I wonder how well his argument stakes up now in 2016. Can we find examples now that shows revolutions can happen through social media? I was also thinking about revolutions online that impact digital spaces. If it can’t happen in the real world (as Gladwell says), can it happen on social media? In other words, the actions we take online impact how the Internet is run?

I enjoyed Bakardjieva’s article for  her bringing identity and politics together. The media during our current political campaigns supports academic studies of collective political action: here’s how Millennials vote and how they are different Baby Boomers and so on. I’m skeptical of broad paint strokes so I dig considering the everyday thought of a citizen. Maybe in class we can think about our everyday civic engagement? I hope revealing our political leanings won’t cause a rift in the class!


Published by aabyrd

I'm the instructor for WCATY's Media Studies in a Digital Age course for Summer 2015.

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