Faculty in the Networked Public Sphere

ACADEME BLOG

BY KELLY HAND

“Can social media cause revolution?” Adeline Koh asks this question in her May–June Academe article, “Imagined Communities, Social Media, and the Faculty.” Countering critics who see online engagement with politics and social issues as a form of ineffectual “slacktivism,” she provides a theoretical framework for understanding the potential of social media to create new discourses and challenge the status quo.

networksblogMarkOlsenCCby2.0Building on German philosopher Jürgen Habermas’s notion of the public sphere—as a product of the medium of print and its contributions to the development of democracy—Koh calls the Internet a “networked public sphere.” She uses political scientist Benedict Anderson’s concept of imagined communities—political communities generated by particular forms of media—to argue that social media empower us to move beyond the passive consumption encouraged by traditional media.

Koh discusses the implications of social media for faculty, who can use the Internet to share and disseminate their…

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