Sites of Social Dissent

As I’ve gone back through my previous posts I’m realizing that I seem to be a little disjointed; the posts about social media seem to be moving along fairly cohesively, but the art posts still seem a little forced. So this is going to be my attempt to tie everything together conceptually and to explain why I think discussions of art and media go together nicely. Since I’m not writing a thesis right now, I’m going to take my time and address the reasons individually. That said, the first topic is “social dissent.”

How do social media and art connect through social dissent? Well, for starters they both provide a space for these views to be developed. In an article written earlier this year, David Edgar argued that one reason the arts deserve public funding is their provocative role and their part in challenging the way society is run. With a quote from David Lan, Edgar explains this critical lens is “necessary to democracy, and [thus] democratic governments should have an interest in preserving sites in which [this] dissent can be expressed.”

So essentially the argument is that art serves a democratic function by providing a space for alternative views—sound familiar? It should. Remember the interview with Alec Ross? You know, the one where he explained how social media was “redistributing power” and fueling citizen-centered democratic movements? And where he explained that governments should have an interest in preserving an open Internet as a site for free expression? Right, that one.

But while social media and art may provide a space for public discussion and dissent, it’s still up to the audience to take the next step. In other words, it’s not just about challenging the way that society is run, or criticizing the government, it’s about empowering people to do something about it. And the first step in this process is including people in the debate—or at least reminding them that they have the right to be there. So how do art and social media engage the public? Well, that’s for another day.

[image via VoicesofDissent.us]

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