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Working Title of PhD: A Cyber-Resilient Resistance? Exploring how activist communities conceptualise, organise, and resist contemporary digital state surveillance

Institution: Edinburgh Napier University

Full or part time: Full time

Year commenced PhD study: 2022

PhD Supervisors: Shane Horgan, Sarah Anderson, Liz Aston

Funding: Edinburgh Napier University

Synopsis:

The relationship between the state, the police, and activist movements has a long and complicated history, involving the use of violent and repressive policing tactics. Through the years, this has led to the significant diminishing of police legitimacy, as well as the reports of increased surveillance of activist groups. Most recently in the UK, the government has exhibited a hostility towards activist groups, manifested through various laws aiming to restrict the right to protest.

Additionally, online spaces, including social media, are increasingly becoming sites of protest, as well as means for activist groups to communicate and facilitate their activity. The use of the internet by activist groups has many benefits, but it can also increase threats of digital surveillance, especially in a current political climate where activist groups are increasingly portrayed as threats to internal security. The heightened targeting of activism by the state and the police, as well as the threats associated with the use of online technologies by the activist groups, all raise questions about how activist groups in Scotland perceive the threat of cyber surveillance, as well as what measures they have in place to respond to these threats.

Through a qualitative multiple case study, using methods such as interviews, focus groups and participant observation with environmental activist groups, this PhD project will explore the ways in which these activist groups in Scotland conceptualise and resist digital state and police surveillance.

Keywords: cyber surveillance, activism, digital surveillance

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Institution:

Edinburgh Napier University

Research Themes

New Media, Surveillance and Technology

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13th February 2024

SCCJR Funding Announcement