Chapter 6 in Civil Society in an Age of Uncertainty. Eds Paul Chaney, Ian Rees Jones. pp 111-132.
This chapter examines the challenges and opportunities for local civil society posed by digital technologies, especially social media. Drawing upon case studies of local civil society groups in three localities in Wales – Aberystwyth, Cardiff and Swansea – they explored the dynamics of reconfiguration of local civil society and how the new digital technologies have created a new universal space of social consciousness, identity, belonging and collective action. These are underpinned by a growth in global consciousness and values, mediated by transnational institutions and NGOs. A key issue is whether this presents an existential threat to local civil society, with the global and the local pitted against each other in a zero-sum game, or whether more sophisticated processes are at work. The analysis showed that the social dynamics and civil society structures in the three case study localities have evolved with the deepening of globalisation and other socio-economic changes. The chapter discusses how digital technologies have had both positive and negative impacts. For example, digital technologies afford opportunities to rebuild local community identities through hyper-local platforms, providing new ways of connecting neighbours and new vehicles for civil society action.