PRIVACY, SURVEILLANCE, & CENSORSHIP

Nagua El Sabagh and Iris Bakkum

emerging markets

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4 thoughts on “PRIVACY, SURVEILLANCE, & CENSORSHIP

  1. Annabel & Rosa says:

    We really liked your casestudy ‘The Rich kids of Tehran’ because it focuses on a subgroup that behaves in a socially unaccepted (Western) manner in the society where they live. It is indeed interesting to think of this groups’ behaviour as a form of social protest, which you present as a form of social media activism. You mentioned the use of the body as an instrument of communication to violate social taboos, and you conclude that your casestudy exemplifies how social media is used to spread political and social messages. However, when watching your video, we had to think of the bodily activism, which we discussed in class. Kraidy (2013) discusses in his article the body as the ‘oldest medium’ for political action. Do you not think, like Kraidy argues, that it is still the body that forms the social protest, even in the digital age? So, in this case, social media is mostly a means of spreading the message that is created with the body, rather than social media itself.

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  2. Mick & Luna says:

    It was really interesting how Nagua and Iris showed the concepts and arguments of the literature by means of a case study. The case was well-introduced, the background on Iran and the effects of the Revolution were a nice introduction to understand the case and the protest it represents. Except for the inequality that exists within the country in economic terms, this case shows that the inequality goes even further by describing the paradox of surveillance. These kids seem to have nothing to worry about and though their account seems to be a sort of ‘show-off’ of all the material things they have, it is interesting how you focused on the inherent political message of the page. It would have been nice to have some additional information about the ways in which the bodies of the youngsters are used to represent their political message but overall we really liked the video and thought that it was clear and well-explained!

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  3. Matthijs and Thomas says:

    “Partying, alcohol, expensive cars, spoiled girls” — Quite a start! And indeed, the video shows an thought-provoking case about the use of social media and protest. Normally, we only hear about the combination of social media and protest in cases in which ‘the oppressed’ might benefit from new channels of communication (as, for instance, the example of Tania Bruguera in our video shows), but here we encounter the exact opposite. The example shows a case of what Mick and Luna also discuss in their video, namely, that those with access to the internet in ‘third world countries’ use the internet in ways similar to users in more prosperous countries. Prosperity, however, still seems to be the key in this case.

    Our reading of the phenomena of the “Rich Kids of Tehran” showing off through Instagram, seems to resonate more with Veblen’s theory of conspicuous consumption, wherein the financially well-endowed try to show off their status by consuming ‘useless’ goods. Instagram, as well as other social media, seems to be the perfect channel to do this. What we miss in this argumentation is the assumed linearity of development we discussed in several of our previous sessions together, meaning the idea that when emerging markets would develop, they would become more similar to the West. This would have been an interesting case, since the “Rich Kids of Tehran” ‘protest’ against the Iranian laws by acting “Western” or by doing things that are very normal in the West. To us it seems like a missed opportunity that you didn’t mention this linearity.

    The ‘protest’ aspects that the Rich Kids mention, about being against the government and conservative notions in Iran, to us sound like excuses to go on with what they’re doing, namely, enjoying themselves without thinking about others. Altogether, we couldn’t help but think about some scenes in the movie American Psycho (1999), in which Christian Bale stars as a unethical, no-good, rich boy, using his financial means to get away with almost everything he wants. We shouldn’t give away the ending of the story of the movie, but let’s suffice to say that large amounts money, indeed, can spoil humans perception of what is good and bad in the world.

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  4. Payal Arora says:

    I enjoyed this video and Iranian case study immensely as it does provoke us to stop viewing emerging market demographics as a whole and through a deprived, marginalized lens. In fact, social and economic disparities are often high, particularly in the developing context –the divide between the wealthy and the underclass is substantive in emerging economies, and more so in oppressive and authoritarian societies. I like the nuanced argument of how the rich kids use their bodies as instruments of protest, begging the question of whether this decadence is indeed social activism in this social context. I agree with the comment above that this could be pushed further, and contrasted with the perceptions of the body in diverse contexts and how this challenges the linearity of development agendas. What is considered “progress” in one setting maybe considered a decay of society in another. Check out the work – Alternative Modernities that actually works nicely as a framework for your argument : http://publicculture.org/books/view/alternative-modernities

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