Newton’s Socio-technical Cradle? Web Science, the Weaponisation of Social Media, Hashtag Activism and Thailand's Postcolonial Pendulum



Throughout 2020 and into 2021, set against a global pandemic, Thai emancipatory activism unfolded. This paper offers a postmodernist theoretical discourse about such activism, built around the emergent discipline of Web Science. Drawing on a review of surveillance culture insights from Michel Foucault, Manuel Castells, Bruno Latour, Hans Kelsen and David Hume, and textual analysis insights from media studies, we frame acts of internalised colonisation by a powerful government. We suggest these are contested by ‘emergent postcolonialism’ via hashtag activism. As a basis for future research, we offer the theoretical model of a socio-technical political pendulum. Across it, digitally native Thais challenge internal colonialism, through counter-power drawn from the Internet as a postcolonial structure. In doing so, they propel or attract other actors. This momentum creates an emergent emancipatory society where many are still caught in the middle of shifting opinion, which is problematic to mediation. We conclude that Web Science offers a basis for educational reform in Thailand.


privacyweb sciencehuman rightshashtag activismThailand
  • Issue: 16
  • Page/Article: 100-129
  • DOI: 10.18573/jomec.207
  • Published on 1 Jun 2021
  • Peer Reviewed