Mobile applications as a tool of public participation in the context of political crisis in contemporary Russia

TitleMobile applications as a tool of public participation in the context of political crisis in contemporary Russia
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Ermoshina, K.
Affiliation (1st Author)Centre de Sociologie de l'Innovation, Ecole des Mines de Paris
Section or WGEmerging Scholars Network Section
DateWed 26 June
Slot CodeESNW3a
Slot Code (Keyword)ESNW3a
Time of Session14:00-15:30
Session TitleMedia and Collective Action
Submission ID6052

"The research I would like to present at the IAMCR conference is a work in progress which I am doing as a part of my PhD thesis in the Center of Sociology of Innovation at the Mines ParisTech, France. I focus on the analysis of the new practices of using mobile technologies in contemporary Russia. Since the beginning of the movement against the falsification of elections in 2011, the efficacy of public services in Russia seems to be discredited. A need of “direct democracy” and of a “desintermediated” participation in the political and social life is reclaimed by citizens. It is in this context of crisis of democratic institutions that a number of mobile applications have been developed by young engineers that are designed to facilitate the citizen control over the governmental institutions, to furnish a “counter-expertise” and to find collective solutions of public problems. My research is based on a fieldwork that I've been doing in Russia since 2011 which consists of interviews with the developers of these “social” mobile applications, young entrepreneurs engaged in different “digital social projects”, and active users. I've also used the method of non-participant observation during the “hackathons” (2-day “social coding marathons” that take place in different regions of Russia and bring together local populations concerned by a problem, the developers and the local government). According to my hypothesis, the engaged developers are “translating” public demands into a technical language finding an immediate technical solution based on the capacity of users to create and share content and stay vigilant. Inspired by the concept of technical democracy of Michel Callon and influenced by the pragmatist tradition of John Dewey, I am trying to understand how these new technical devices transform the traditional forms of public participation and restructure official public services."

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