International Handbooks on Gender series
Edited by Jill Steans and Daniela Tepe
Chapter 38: New media and communications
New media and communications represent one of the most transformative dimensions of gender and international relations in the latter part of the last century through to current times and into the future. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have brought all media together and provided ever richer and faster data-based online environments with global reach. The use of ICTs has dramatically changed what it means to talk about international relations in critical terms in relation to the communicative power of men and women (Sarikakis and Shade, 2007; Youngs, 2009). Digital public spheres enabled in particular by the arrival of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s have transformed the informational and communicative patterns of the previous analogue era. Women’s activism and advocacy have contributed to creating many new patterns. These include, for example, powerful combinations of online/offline activities that allow marginal politics to be conducted and strengthened, as it were, away from the glare and constraining influences of mainstream politics. This has further facilitated interventions from the margins to the mainstream at strategic times and in strategic ways. As well as having implications for theory as much as practice, these changed public sphere conditions also impact on identity, whether we are thinking about identity at group or individual levels (Hafkin and Huyer, 2006). In basic ways, ICTs mean that, for the places and people connected to them, the material nature of society has transformed to a dual context of physical geographical settings combined with virtual technologically mediated ones.
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