On October 5th and 6th, Annett Heft (Freie University of Berlin/Weizenbaum Institute) participated in the Conference “Value Conflicts in a Differentiated Europe: the impact of digital media on value polarization in Europe (ValCon)” in Florence hosted by the research group Media and political communication.
The conference addressed transnational and domestic dimensions of the independence of the judiciary in value conflicts in Europe, drivers and actors of European value conflicts, populist mobilization on social media as well as gender equality and social media. On the second day of the event, Annett Heft (Free University of Berlin/Weizenbaum Institute) presented her work on affordances as a theoretical approach to analyzing social movements’ appropriation of digital platforms in the talk “Differential Affordances for Social Movements. Theoretical Concept and the Case of the Querdenken Mobilization on Telegram”. Based on the significant change caused by digital platforms on communication infrastructures, action repertoire, and opportunity structures of social movements, Heft presented affordances as an analytical framework that allows to disentangle how applications are appropriated differently by diverse actors in distinct contexts.
As an example, Annett Heft presented findings from the study “Pandemic Protesters on Telegram: How Platform Affordances and Information Ecosystems Shape Digital Counterpublics” by Kilian Buehling (Free University of Berlin/Weizenbaum Institute) and herself. The case study analyzes how the appropriation of platform features by actors of the Querdenken movement and their leveraging of information ecosystems—in combination—helped form a digital counterpublic during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research illustrates how Telegram facilitated both connective and collective action in unique ways, aligning with the organizational structure and goals of the movement. It also highlights the influence of individual information-sharing on the movement-building process.
The full paper is available as an open access publication. The paper, “Pandemic Protesters on Telegram: How Platform Affordances and Information Ecosystems Shape Digital Counterpublics” was published in the Sage Journals and can be found here: https://doi.org/10.1177/20563051231199430