Social Media and Virality in the 2014 Student Protests in Venezuela: Rethinking Engagement and Dialogue in Times of Imitation

There’s a fascinating virality related article looking at the 2014 student protests in Venezuela in the International Journal of Communication published here

Social Media and Virality in the 2014 Student Protests in Venezuela: Rethinking Engagement and Dialogue in Times of Imitation by JAIRO LUGO-OCANDO, University of Leeds, UK, ALEXANDER HERNANDEZ, Universidad del Zulia, Venezuela, MONICA MARCHESI Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Catalonia, Spain.

“The authors ask whether these technologies were used by leaders and participants as a catalyst to trigger the protests and amplify them across the country or whether they were a galvanizing factor among more general conditions. Following similar research that claims that viral media have played a key role in Spain’s indignadosmovement (Postill, 2014), we use virality/contagion (Sampson, 2012) and cultural chaos (McNair, 2006) as theoretical approaches to analyze these events while examining their limitations and shortcomings in the context of the Venezuelan society.”

Although I’m not entirely convinced by the rather binary distinction made between psychology and technology, on one hand, and users’ practices and political culture, on the other, since it conceptually flattens the importance of Tarde’s more inclusive notion of the social in contagion theory, the paper makes positive use of this material as an “argumentative provocation.”





About Virality

Tony D. Sampson is Reader in Digital Culture and Communications at the University of East London. He has a PhD in social-cultural-digital contagion theory from the Sociology Department at the University of Essex. He is a former art student who re-entered higher education in the UK as a mature student in the mid-1990s after a long stint as a gigging musician. His career in education has moved through various disciplines and departments, including a maths and computing faculty, sociology department and school of digital media and design His publications include The Spam Book, coedited with Jussi Parikka (Hampton Press, 2009), Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks (University of Minnesota Press, 2012), The Assemblage Brain: Sense Making in Neuroculture (University of Minnesota Press, 2016) and Affect and Social Media (Rowman and Littlefield, July 2018). He is organizer and host of the Affect and Social Media conferences in the UK. As a co-founder and co-director of the public engagement initiatives, Club Critical Theory (CCT) and the Cultural Engine Research Group (CERG), Sampson has developed a number of funded research projects and public events that aim to bring impactful critical theories into the community and local political sphere to approach a series of local challenges. These activities have included large conferences co-organized with local authorities looking at a range of policies relating to the revitalization of the Essex costal region, developments in the cultural industries as well as a series of community focused events on food cultures and policy, collaborations with arts groups and informal lectures/workshops in pubs and community centres. Director of the EmotionUX Lab at UEL. He occasionally blogs at: Full academic profile:
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