The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and the Networked Public Sphere : How to avoid a Convergent Crisis
Communications scholarship faces a convergent crisis. Research on networks includes the role of information networks in supporting social movements, networked civil society, the information society, and new forms of communication. But while communications literature utilizes a variety of approaches to describe the impact of networked communications, a dearth of technical expertise permeates scholarship. Despite the discourse on networks potentially bridging previously distinct disciplines, the lack of a fundamental understanding of communications networks and relationships between technical and socio-political networks remains a consistent gap. This thesis will investigate the extent that opposition to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in Europe constitute a networked public sphere. Through studying the role of civl society and the networked public in the European ACTA debate, the horizontal and vertical dimensions of socio-political and communications technology networks are not only illuminated, but the importance of analyzing the mechanisms through which vertical hierarchies enclose the public sphere become abundantly clear. This research provides the foundation for an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the relationship between information technology and socio-political networks and offers lessons for information policy makers, communications scholars, and networked civil society within the context of European democracy.
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