I’m getting started on the second half of my dissertation research. This will comprise a series of semi-structured interviews with individuals who are knowledgeable about the impact of information and communication technologies in four countries under authoritarian rule. These countries include: Burma, Iran, Ukraine and Zimbabwe.
I’ll be looking to interview at least 10 individuals per country case study. That means a total of 40 interviews between now and December. I also want to interview an additional 10 individuals who are not necessarily experts in one country per se but are particularly well informed about the overall subject matter. These 50 individuals will represent a mix of political activists, digital activists, technologists and academics who are either from the countries in question or experts on these countries.
I’d be most grateful for suggestions on which 50 individuals you might recommend touching base with. I already have a list about of about 30 but would like to compare this with reader suggestions. Please email me at patrick @ irevolution dot net. Obviously, I’m aware of the sensitivities around interviewing those colleagues who may be based in the countries in question. I will of course take appropriate precautions based on guidance from digital security professionals. Interviewees will remain anonymous in my own notes and these notes will be destroyed following my write-up which will be devoid of specific details and personal identifiers. Obviously, anyone I approach (directly or indirectly) can turn down the interview request.
I’d also be very interested in getting feedback on the survey questions I propose to ask. The ultimate question I want to answer is whether access to new ICTs empowers coercive regimes at the expense of resistance movements or vice-versa? The associated set of questions below are based on a conceptual framework grounded on a comprehensive literature review. While these have already been approved by my dissertation chair, I’m keen to get a crowdsourced opinion. Feel free to add your thoughts on the comments section below or email them to me if you prefer. Note that I will use more conversational language when posing the questions below. Thank you very much.
1. Are more individuals participating in social resistance? Why/why not? If so, how and is this changing?
2. Is the resistance becoming more contentious? Why/why not?
3. Are resistance movements better organized? Why/why not?
4. Do social resistance groups have more or less access to the political system? Why/why not?
5. Is state control of information communication increasing opportunity costs? Why/why not?
6. How have resistance groups used ICTs to organize and mobilize? If so, how?
7. Have ICTs been critical to the success of social resistance activities? Why/why not?
8. How have state officials used ICTs to control resistance groups?
9. Have ICTs been critical to the success of controlling resistance activities? Why/why not? And if so, how?
10. Would you characterize the competition between coercive states and social movements as a game of cat-and-mouse? Why/why not? If so, who do you think is winning and why?