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Article: Social media – power & politics

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Udupa, S., & Budka, P. (2021). Social media: Power and politics. In H. Callan & S. Coleman (Eds.), The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Hoboken: Wiley.


By centering and unpacking the “social” in social media, anthropological scholarship has drawn on its disciplinary strengths in excavating the social, cultural, and everyday dimensions of mediated milieus, offering, in turn, some unique contributions toward understanding the political cultures and sociocultural ramifications of internet-enabled social media.

While social media have been the subject of intense scrutiny in other disciplines, anthropological scholarship distinguishes itself with its focus on embodied contexts of use and situated meanings surrounding social media.

Anthropological studies have examined progressive activism and everyday experience, as well as violent movements enabled by social media in the context of longer histories of racialization and colonialism. However, ethnographic research on difficult topics such as populism, extreme speech, and surveillance confronts several challenges in terms of data access, safety, and data confidentiality.

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