Communication, Technology and Political Conflict: Introduction to the Special Issue

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Journal of Peace Research 52(3): 263-268

Modern communication technology is emerging rapidly, with tremendous social implications. The key innovations introduced by this technology include the increased pervasiveness and the rich nature of digitally transmitted information, and a new type of network structure over which it is disseminated. The articles in this special issue present theoretical and empirical research on the relationship between communication technology and political conflict and violence. There are different pathways through which this can happen: technology can facilitate collective action, but at the same time give governments the opportunity to censor content and gather intelligence about dissidents. Also, audience effects can be introduced by the rich and instant transmission of information from conflict regions. The contributions to this special issue can be divided into three groups. A first group of articles looks at the effects of ‘old’ communication technologies with state-of-the-art methods, which is necessary to see if the effects of modern technology really differ. A second category of articles focuses on ‘new’ communication technologies, and try to assess their effect on conflict both theoretically and empirically. The third and last category reverses this question, and looks at the reflection of war and violence in (traditional and new) media channels.