Revolution Stalled: The Political Limits of the Internet in the Post-Soviet Sphere (Oxford Studies in Digital Politics)

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9780199735952: Revolution Stalled: The Political Limits of the Internet in the Post-Soviet Sphere (Oxford Studies in Digital Politics)
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Can the internet fundamentally challenge non-free regimes?

The role that social networking has played in promoting political change in the Middle East and beyond raises important questions about the ability of authoritarian leaders to control the information sphere and their subjects. Revolution Stalled goes beyond the idea of "virtual" politics to study five key components in the relationship between the online sphere and society: content, community, catalysts, control, and co-optation.

This analysis of the contemporary Russian internet, written by a scholar with in-depth knowledge of both the post-Soviet media and media theory, illuminates key components to how and when the internet can spark political action. With its analysis of current internet-linked protests in Russia, this book posits that there are critical pre-conditions that must exist for the internet to be used successfully to challenge non-free states. In particular, Russian leaders have made themselves vulnerable to online protest movements and online social entrepreneurs through their failure to control the internet as effectively as they have controlled traditional media. At the same time, Russia has experienced explosive growth in the online audience, tipping the balance of control away from state-run television and toward the more open online sphere.

Oates incorporates studies of small-scale protests involving health issues and children with disabilities to demonstrate that Russians have started to translate individual grievances into rising political awareness and efficacy via the online sphere. Her cases show that the Russian state has struggled to change its information and control strategy in the face of new types of information dissemination, networking, and protest. This new environment has transformed a state strategy of co-opted elections into a powerful catalyst for protests and demands for rights. While the revolution remains stalled, this book provides compelling evidence that a new and changing generation of internet users is beginning to alter the balance of power in the public sphere in Russia.

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About the Author:


Sarah Oates has studied Russian politics and the media for the past twenty years. An expert in comparative political communication, she has published widely on the role of the media in relation to elections, terrorism, and democracy in general. A former journalist, she is Professor and Senior Scholar at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland, College Park.

Review:


"Revolution Stalled is a very thorough, balanced assessment of the impact of the internet on Russian politics. It is an important contribution to the fields of political communication, Russian area studies and internet studies more generally."--Bruce Etling, Director of the Internet & Democracy Project, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard Law School


"In Revolution Stalled Sarah Oates offers a unique and highly instructive insight into the world of Russian politics on the Web. Starting from the crucially important premise that 'context matters' in determining how political actors' make use of the Net, the book shows that nowhere is this perhaps more the case than in Russia. Stopping short of predicting a 'Russian Spring' to match that witnessed in the Middle East, Oates skillfully identifies the central tension that the growth of the internet brings to non-democratic states."--Rachel Gibson, Professor of Political Science and Director, Institute for Social Change, University of Manchester


"Oates, in her wonderfully thorough and multifaceted analysis leads us closer to unraveling the unique dynamics of the internet in the context of Russian political communication."--Digital Icons: Studies in Russian, Eurasian and Central European New Media


"Sarah Oates has written a much-needed book about the Russian Internet (RuNet) that captures the impact of online political trends in authoritarian states without losing sight of the legacies and particularities that set Russia apart... Oates deserves praise for a book that synthesizes extant work from both Internet optimists and pessimists and adds significant findings from two original case studies." --The Russian Review


"Sarah Oates has undertaken and achieved an ambitious agenda in this tightly written, wide-ranging, and important book." --Slavic Review


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