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Kris Ruijgrok

Apr 15, 2022

Internet Use and Protest in Malaysia and Other Authoritarian Regimes

Challenging Information Scarcity

Palgrave Macmillan 2021

Internet-enabled mobilization begins long before there is a call for protest. In the book Internet Use and Protest in Malaysia and other Authoritarian Regimes (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021), Kris Ruijgrok examines the case of Bersih – an anti-corruption movement in Malaysia – to track the sequence of events that lead citizens to take part in protest action. Contrary to the impression that social media platforms like Twitter spontaneously spark protests around the world, the book takes a longer and wider view of how the internet challenges information scarcity in authoritarian regimes, which, consequently, creates conditions for citizens to carefully consider their sympathies for a protest movement and defy their fears about state control.

In this podcast, Kris discusses the reasons why the Malaysian government is unable to successfully control the digital public sphere in the same way it controlled the information environment of traditional media. He makes a case for going beyond what he considers to be technologically deterministic debate between cyber-pessimists and cyber-optimists. Instead, Kris foregrounds the importance of context – how different social conditions result to different outcomes.

Kris Ruijgrok is a lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the University of Amsterdam.

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Nicole Curato is a Professor of Sociology in the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra. She co-hosts the New Books in Southeast Asia Studies channel.

This episode was produced in collaboration with Erron C. Medina of the Development Studies Program of Ateneo De Manila University.

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