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

Authors:

Michael J. Day ,

Independent Scholar, GB
About Michael

Michael J. Day is a Sociologist and Web Scientist who focuses on research related to digital human rights in South-East Asia. As a researcher, he is interested in developing the pro-human Web. A former teacher, Michael Day is committed to the education of marginalised learners.

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Merisa Skulsuthavong

Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, CN
About Merisa

Merisa Skulsuthavong is an Assistant Professor at Department of Media and Communication, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China. As a researcher, she is interested in intercultural communication, gender and new media technology.

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Abstract

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.

How to Cite: Day, M.J. and Skulsuthavong, M., 2021. Newton’s Socio-technical Cradle? Web Science, the Weaponisation of Social Media, Hashtag Activism and Thailand's Postcolonial Pendulum. JOMEC Journal, (16), pp.100–129. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/jomec.207
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Published on 01 Jun 2021.
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