Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose? Understanding how and why new ICTs played a role in Burkina Faso’s recent journey to socio-political change

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Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose? Understanding how and why new ICTs played a role in Burkina Faso’s recent journey to socio-political change

Type: Research master thesis
Title: Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose? Understanding how and why new ICTs played a role in Burkina Faso’s recent journey to socio-political change
Author: Dragstra, F.
Issue Date: 2017-01-31
Keywords: Burkina Faso; new ICTs; information; uprising; political agency; hybrid social movements; political memory; connective action; revolution; mobilisation
Abstract: New ICTs, such as mobile phones and social media, are increasingly being seen as catalysers for political engagement, the spark of revolutions, or breaking power relations between political elites and the ‘information poor’. They have been centralised in the explanation of the Arab Spring and the wave of popular uprisings that occurred from 2010 onwards. It is safe to say that new ICTs indeed play a role in how information is spread and how people are mobilised for protest. However, the need for a reflection on why these new ICTs have a part in the outcome of uprisings within its respective context was often lacking. Moreover, it has often been left undiscussed what happens after a revolution or popular uprising. Is there actual social or political change, or does it often lead to an illusion or deception? New ICTs can prove to be extremely useful in mobilisation, the creation and spread of information and awakening a sense of political agency. Nevertheless, a country’s history, and its social, political and economic context might prove to be just as important when understanding the complexities of popular uprisings and their aftermath. This thesis discusses the case of Burkina Faso, where in the period of one year, the population rose up twice to demand change, justice and accountability. In October 2014, the Burkinabè massively hit the streets and within a ‘ten day revolution’ they ousted Blaise Compaoré who had been in power for 27 years. In September 2015, the Burkinabè again hit the streets to condemn a coup d’état that was executed by the former right-hand of Blaise Compaoré. Both uprisings were successful, meaning that those protesting achieved their short-term goals of ousting Blaise Compaoré and stopping a coup d’état. However, the question remains if they ensured change on the long-term and why new ICTs played a role in these successes. This thesis draws upon six months of extensive fieldwork in Burkina Faso and months of employing digital ethnographies, to understand if, why and how new ICTs played a role in the growth, outcome and aftermath of the Burkinabè uprisings. It argues that new ICTs played a major role in both uprisings because it brought together a collective of like-minded people and it ensured rapid mobilisation. However, we should be careful in putting them at the forefront of the explanation of political unrest and uprisings, because the socio-political context, historical background, existing political tensions and social structures may affect its effects.
Description: This thesis is under embargo until 31-1-2019
Supervisor: Bruijn, M.E. deGoede, M.J. de
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities
Department: African Studies (Reseach master)
Specialisation: Research Master African Studies
ECTS Credits: 25
Handle: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/45794
 

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