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Title: Politics in the pocket? : coffee activism, political consumerism and the Internet
Author: Lekakis, Eleftheria
ISNI:       0000 0004 2688 8511
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths, University of London
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis examines coffee activism III the UK in order to discuss the possibilities and hindrances for civic engagement within the wider debates on the decline of political participation and the mediation of politics online. Coffee activism is an umbrella term for the fair trade movement and actors beyond the official network. This research is based on the analysis of selected activists' websites, online and offline interviews with activists and citizens, as well as events observation and survey questionnaires. I interrogate the landscape of coffee activism through spaces which allow political expression and participation to emerge, and question the possible colonisation of such spaces by consumer narratives and mobilisation calls. By portraying the online growth of both civic and consumer-related information, as well as communication and consumption flows, I argue that the internet has served mostly as an enhancer of a neoliberal consumer-driven rationale. Such narratives and directions belong in the repertoire of political consumerism, which has signalled a distance from previous types of civic engagement. There is a shift in the placement of personal experiences of political engagement from public to private spaces. Civic engagement here consists of mostly individual acts, which become politically meaningful on a collective level. This is discussed as collective individualism, signifying a mass scale of individual acts of citizenship. Distance from civic habits of the past assisted by liquid politics online and offline and infiltrated by consumer culture and the politics of neoliberalism allows for both optimism and scepticism for a politics within the capitalist modus operandi. Concurring with literature on the prolific, though fragmented, nature of citizenship and the politics of political consumerism, I argue for the restrictive enactment of forms of participation and the restrained use of the internet for political revival.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral