Civil society sphericules: Emerging communication platforms for civic engagement in Tanzania

Thomas Tufte

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Abstract

This article explores the communicative practice of a Tanzanian NGO, Femina. Based on a tripartite model of engagement (Madianou, 2012) integrating speech, action and understanding, and drawing on fieldwork on the communication practices of Femina, I critically assess the forms of civic engagement the organization strategizes about and seeks to articulate amongst Tanzanian youth. Situated in the ‘perverse confluence’ (Dagnino, 2011) between neoliberal and radical democratic agendas in the communicative practices of civil society-driven media platforms, Femina navigates between identities as an NGO, a social movement and a media initiative. In the context of the growing literature on social networking sites and their affordances, dynamics and structures, the case of Femina illustrates how a civil society sphericule emerges within the dynamic co-evolution of new and old media platforms. The study is furthermore an example of the difficult shift in civil society practice, from service provision to an agenda of public service monitoring, social accountability and community engagement.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftEthnography
Vol/bind15
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)32-50
ISSN1466-1381
DOI
StatusUdgivet - mar. 2014

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