Internet Technology & Nonviolent Struggle : Serbia#4 (final)


In sum, to answer the second question of the article on dynamic of structural condition, it’s quite clear that in the Serbian case, the pattern of technological development is different from the explanation of SCOT or LTS. There was no diverse social group entering to the competition of internet technological design. The decision on what direction the internet technological system in general should be built was only in the state side. One reason certainly is because of they were under the repressive regime for ten years. Another reason might be because internet technology was not yet in the Serbian state and public’s eyes. As quote in Tunnard’s footnote that the state’s awareness of the power of internet was almost zero. (2003:109, footnote b.)

Therefore, the struggle over the technological structure in this case was about picking up some kind of suitable and available technology and setting up a particular system—or ‘solution’ as borrowing the computer business’s term—to pursue their purpose, as obviously in Radio B-92 case. In the case of Otpor, it seems that they did nothing about changing, developing or setting up some small scale technological system. They just acted as the good and active users that use the technological system that the state (in this case is AMREJ) provided for their goal. The state’s response by legal measures seem had not much effects to the resistant groups as they still keep using the internet to undermine Milosevic’s regime. This is different from China’s case that the state tends to has more capacity so that Shanthi and Taylor argue that the internet become increases the state’s capability rather than weaken it (2003: 42), which will be discussed later in this article.

Then, let’s step forward to the connection between the first and the second question of the article, how the structure of power affected the people’s consent— which is the key point of Sharp’s theory of nonviolent action and the critiques of Martin and Burrowes. In this case, the telecommunication control was in Telecom Serbia’s hand, and the Serbian internet structure seems to be centralized at University of Belgrade as shown in the above picture. Despite of these facts, both Radio B92 and Otpor can effectively employed the internet’s power to mobilized people and withdraw the consent from the state. This might be because of two factors. Firstly, unlike the traditional media (newspaper, radio and TV), the nature of internet is interactive and non-hierarchical so that even in some degree of centralized national structure and control, the manipulating of power still can be negotiable and highly fluid. Secondly, there were alternatives of internet technological option (or ‘solutions’), e.g. leased line and satellite, that allowed the resistant groups to escape from state controls.

Then, the first question of this article can be answered by concerning the using of internet technology as communication tool to campaign nonviolent action—in five frameworks of ‘communication as nonviolent action’ of Brian and Wendy (2003). In this case, except demanding Milosevic to step down, there was no attempt to open the dialogue with him or enforce him into the dialogue. The main functions of internet in nonviolent movement is to mobilize the internal third party, the Serbian majority, against the regime by protesting, non-cooperating, and intervention; to mobilize the external third party outside country, the foreign news agencies; and to maintain the common strategies within the resistant groups.

The nonviolent struggle using internet technology came up from the general constraints of the other traditional media. Almost all of presses, radios, and TVs in Serbia were extensively taken over, censored, centralized controlled by the repressive regime. Various methods were drawn, including passing laws, controlling the broadcasting agencies or individual broadcasters, and embedded in the communication infrastructure. So that the internet is the only remaining tool that available.

There are some strategies of the resistant movement in this case that should be noted here in order to compare with other cases . [First two point was from Tunnard (2003: 115-6)] Firstly, as all other communication channels were blocked, the alternative information was continuously disseminated to the public in a variety of form of explanation: maps, images, etc. Secondly, cross-media and cross-platform technologies can be employed both for escaping from the state’s control and for increasing the comprehensiveness of communication. Thirdly, locating server or web host outside the country. Fourthly, using distributive and independent structure but collaborative network of actions, such as e-mail, SMS, website, small ISP, etc. Fifthly, sometime accessing to the network by anonymous login name or nodes like internet café or public internet is useful to hide the movement from the state monitoring. Sixthly, the foreign coalition, both in term of media and international (government or non-government) agencies is the crucial strategic factor.

Martin, Brian and Wendy Varney. (2003) “Nonviolence and communication,” Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 40, No. 2, March 2003, pp. 213-232.

Shanthi Kalathil and Taylor C. Boas (2003), Open Network, Closed Regimes: the impact of the Internet on authoritarian rule. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Tunnard, Christopher R. (2003), “From State-Controlled Media to the ‘Anarchy’ of the Internet: the Changing Influence of Communications and Information in Serbia in the 1990s”, in Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, Vol.3 No.2, May. pp.97-120. London : Frank Cass.


2 Responses to Internet Technology & Nonviolent Struggle : Serbia#4 (final)

  1. soraj says:

    This looks really interesting. But the focus of your dissertation is on Thailand isn’t it? Could you give me a pointer to a post where you talk about internet in Thailand?

  2. chaisuk says:

    Dear Aj.Soraj,

    These series posts about Internet in Serbia were written when I was in University of Wollongong last year for a research internship. At that time, I just tried to study this topic in other countries for giving me the idea about what I should collect for Thai case. (I also study about China internet, too, but not yet post on this blog.)

    Anyway, for Thai case, now the study is on going. I’m collecting the data & information. Not yet have elaborated article to post in this blog. And actually, I decide not to post any piece/part of my dissertation on this blog until I finished the dissertation, because the precised topic is about Anti-thaksin Movement which involve political/polar conflict.

    Anyway, if you’d like to know about Thai case, perhaps we can meet to discuss about it.

    Thanks a lot for your kindness to put attention to my work.

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