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Book review: Karatzogianni, A. (2006) The Politics of Cyberconflict

May 27, 2008

By Andrew Robinson

 

In The Politics of Cyberconflict, Athina Karatzogianni’s central thesis is that the possibilities offered by internet technologies are used differently by different kinds of social movements, depending on how easily they take to the network form. Socio-political movements such as peace, pro-democracy, anti-capitalist, ecological, and single-issue groups take enthusiastically to the new media, constructing networks of activism which themselves operate rhizomatically. In contrast, ethno-religious movements such as American and Chinese nationalists, political Islamists, and Israeli and Palestinian hackers are trapped within a differential model of identity which precludes the adoption of network forms, and instead end up deploying new technologies in ways compatible with their identity-structure, imitating models of hierarchical political organisation and warfare. They also make use of the new technologies, but are constrained by their ideological structures, and therefore use them in a more instrumental way. As Karatzogianni notes, “The structure of the internet is ideal for network groups … However, in ethnoreligious cyberconflicts … this network form is not always evident. This is why there is a dual modality of cyberconflict: one rhizomatic and one hierarchical” (88). The empirical sections of the book use the distinction to categorise a range of different instances of online activity, effectively demonstrating in practice the importance of the distinction.

 

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