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Although digital activism and mobilization around education is booming worldwide, few educational studies have addressed the relationship between education and activism mediated by digital technologies. This article explores how the scientific literature has conceptualized the relationship between education and activism mediated by digital technologies through a systematic review of international studies published between 1996 and 2016. The research uses thematic analysis to identify emergent patterns and relationships in the scientific literature. Thus, 392 articles were reviewed, and 40 were selected for a more detailed analysis. The findings show that it is necessary to problematize certain conceptual distinctions that some studies make (e.g., formal, non-formal, informal education). We propose a new typology of political practices, which transcend this type of distinctions present in the scientific literature. Conclusions address a necessary integration of a “practical turn” when analyzing the links between activism, digital technologies, and education since this approach allows one to challenge the binary distinctions and oppositions identified in the scientific production of knowledge.
Education in the Knowledge Society 20 (2019)
Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca | 14 - 1
Education in the Knowledge Society
journal homepage
Education, Activism and Digital Technologies: A Systematic Review
Educación, activismo y tecnologías digitales: una revisión sistemática
Nicolás Aguilar Foreroa, Gary Alberto Cifuentes Álvarezb
aFacultad de Educación, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia
bFacultad de Educación, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia
Although digital activism and mobilization around education is booming worldwide, few educa-
tional studies have addressed the relationship between education and activism mediated by
tionship between education and activism mediated by digital technologies through a systematic
review of international studies published between 1996 and 2016. The research uses thematic
is necessary to problematize certain conceptual distinctions that some studies make (e.g., formal,
non-formal, informal education). We propose a new typology of political practices, which tran-
integration of a “practical turn” when analyzing the links between activism, digital technologies,
and education since this approach allows one to challenge the binary distinctions and oppositions
Pocos estudios en el campo educativo se han preocupado por la relación entre educación y acti-
vismo mediado por tecnologías digitales. Sin embargo, dadas las crecientes oleadas de activismo
y movilización en el mundo con diversas expresiones educativas, esta relación merece un análisis
entre educación y activismo mediado por tecnologías digitales, a través de una revisión sistemá-
tica de estudios internacionales publicados entre 1996 y 2016. El enfoque metodológico de esta
         
para un análisis más detallado. Los resultados permiten sostener que, para entender los vínculos
entre el activismo mediado por tecnologías digitales y la educación, es necesario problematizar
ciertas distinciones conceptuales que hacen algunos estudios al referirse, por ejemplo, a la educa-
ción formal, no formal e informal. A partir de allí se propone una nueva taxonomía de prácticas
      
concluye que es necesario incorporar un “giro práctico” al momento de analizar los vínculos entre
Recibido, 2/10/2018. Revisado, 2/11/2018. Aceptado, 9/12/2018. Publicado 10/7/2019
e-ISSN: 2444-8729
Key words:
Digital technologies
Political Practices
Thematic analysis
Palabras clave:
Tecnologías digitales
Prácticas políticas
Análisis temático
1. Introduction
nizations and collectives in the public sphere of different countries in recent years. These uses have also affec-
N. Aguilar Forero y G. A. Cifuentes Álvarez
Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca | 14 - 2
ted the relationship between activism and education, leading to new possibilities and experiences. The history
of activism in the contemporary world has been linked to the classical movements. In the 1960s, for example,
the ethos of social movements was especially linked to the labor movement, student movements, and in Latin
America, to peasant and political-revolutionary movements. Activism at that time was associated with the trans-
formation of social structures, and these processes were conceived of as liberating.
Later on, in the 1980s, new groups, actors, and collectives emerged on the public stage decentralizing the
paradigm of the revolution. This drew attention to various social contradictions and issues of dispute that went
ments began to proliferate and gain momentum due to multiple forms of oppression (mainly state oppression)
that turned into various types of resistance. As Melucci (1999) and Delgado, Ocampo and Robledo (2008) point
out, these emergent expressions of social activism have been linked to certain characteristics: 1) they move
through more informal political spaces (usually outside parties and unions); 2) they are organized on the basis
elements beyond strategic, economic, or material issues.
       
social movements has opened up new frontiers. The waves of social upheaval that have recently shaken the
they rapidly coordination actors and activities led to mass occupations of major cities such as Cairo, Tunisia,
Athens, Madrid, Barcelona, New York, Mexico City, Santiago de Chile and Bogotá. They brought thousands of
people together, and they shocked the public by incorporating forms of protest linked to art and culture (carni-
erarchical forms of organization, and experimenting with communicative and educational practices far removed
from traditional approaches and structures.
zation, mobilization and political action produced by new technologies, a need to deepen the discussion on the
political practices of contemporary activism and to understand the relationship between activism mediated by
digital technologies and education still exists. This article seeks to contribute to that discussion and understand-
ing by answering the following research questions:
 -
tionally studied?
What terms and categories have been proposed?
What is the geographical distribution of the studies?
What sort of patterns and political practices emerge from empirical studies on this relationship?
cal background on activism and its links with digital technologies and education. The second section describes
the methodological approach of this study: a thematic analysis of the literature. The third part recounts some
political practices of contemporary activism around the world in recent years. In this section, we problematize
the categories of formal, non-formal and informal education used to describe activism mediated by digital tech-
nologies. The last section makes a claim for a practical turn to transcend traditional distinctions, boundaries and
hierarchies in the study of activism mediated by digital technologies and education.
  
different scales (local and global) and durations (long, medium, or short). It can incorporate technological tools
and the Internet (Boumlik & Schwartz, 2016; Vivitsou & Viitanen, 2015). This conceptualization is based on a
cant contributions are the following approaches:
Theory of resource mobilization. Focused on internal resources from social movements and their capac-
ity to establish alliances and achieve strategic goals.
Theory of political processes. Based on the key concept of political opportunity structure; this theory
is related to the interactions between collective actions and the opening or closing of political systems
(Tilly, 1995; Tarrow, 1997).
Education, Activism and Digital Technologies: A Systematic Review
Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca | 
Identitarian paradigm. Oriented to the analysis of emergent collective identities that encompass causes
related to sexuality, gender, generation, ethnicity, religion, territory, among others (Touraine, 1987,
1997; Melucci, 1999).
Other approaches analyze and combine some of the previous elements as a part of the emergence and
development of New Social Movements –NSM- (since the 1980s). These approaches take into account
factors such as the structure of political opportunities and the constraints that social movements have
to face, the formal and informal ways of organization and the collective process of interpretation and
social construction that mediate between opportunity and action (McAdam, McCarthy, & Zald, 1999).
Nevertheless, in the recent years the use and appropriation of digital technologies has changed the theoret-
ical approaches to activism. Arab Spring, the Indignant Movement in Spain, Occupy Wall Street and the student
movements in Latin America, owe their success to the widespread appropriation by activists of platforms such
as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The most recent activism experiences that have politicized cyberspace can
be distinguished from the NSM of the 1980s. Different authors have embraced new approaches and incorpo-
ments (Feixa, Juris, & Pereira, 2012); networks of indignation and hope (Castells, 2012) and networked protest
(Tufekci, 2017).
The newest social movements usually are organized around plural motivations linked to diverse sources of
indignation: imposed educational reforms (Bekkers et al., 2011); sexual violence; discriminatory policies and
the need for a better sex education policy (LaRiviere et al., 2012; Linder et al., 2010; Shayne, 2008); abduction
and violation of the right of women to formal education (Chiluwa & Ifukor, 2015); job insecurity (Biddix & Park,
       
abuse (Pearson et al., 2016; Weeks, 1999), to name a few.
Despite the important contributions of such approaches to the analysis of contemporary activism, little
              
shown how some movements, like feminist organizations, promote opportunities and spaces for non-formal
learning (workshops, short courses) and informal (day-to-day) learning using new digital media and technol-
ogies. Through these spaces, movements offer mentoring services or support to women who are victims of all
kinds of violence, including sexual abuse (Irving & English 2011). In the same way, environmental organiza-
tions promote education on sustainability through videos and social networks. The videos circulated through
YouTube show the impact of deforestation, or other types of environmental damage, in order to promote aware-
ness, learning, responsible consumption and fundraising for environmental organizations (Pearson et al., 2016).
As Biddix (2010) explains, although certain movements or organizations intentionally promote educational
activities, most of the knowledge gained is derived from daily, ‘informal’ interactions. In this regard, interactive
media and platforms offer constant contextual and relational learning. Learning does not only happen as knowl-
edge acquisition; in fact, activism mediated by digital technologies promotes relational learning that emerges
Knowledge: learning emerges due to study of topics of interest received in different formats (text, audio,
video), which encourage the construction of informed and critical opinions.
Skills: skills are acquired to a) politically appropriate digital technologies and various Internet tools; b)
research, debate and participate; c) generate teamwork and coordination of collective actions and lead-
  
and to the development of a sense of responsibility and commitment to public life (Biddix, 2010).
As can be seen, processes of activism mediated by digital technologies are themselves educational as they
involve diverse types of learning. These types of learning are primarily aimed at people who participate directly
in activism but can reach more broadly when social movements intentionally seek this societal education.
Through dissemination of different educational content on digital platforms, or through educational spaces
(workshops, courses, popular education experiences and even universities), learning is created by social move-
ments and powered by digital technologies. Of course, just as activism mediated by digital technologies is inher-
ently educational, education cannot be conceived of only as part or dimension of the processes of resistance
and social activism. As has been widely discussed, education is in itself a form of activism or, at least, a political
N. Aguilar Forero y G. A. Cifuentes Álvarez
Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca | 14 - 4
by digital technologies and education, in the next sections we present the methodological proposal of the study
and the results.
3. Method
 -
cation and analysis of patterns in the sources analyzed (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Below we present the inclusion
criteria and the three phases of the systematic review.
3.1. Inclusion criteria
More than 10 databases from different areas including Scopus, Web of Science, JSTOR, Wiley Online Library,
years: from 1996 to 2016. We selected this period due to amount of work produced on the relationship between
education and activism mediated by digital technologies in this time span. The inclusion criteria used were as
Empirical studies with quantitative, qualitative or mixed methods data.
Peer reviewed articles (to ensure quality and reliability) published between 1996 and 2016.
Papers where the words education, digital technologies and activism (or equivalent terms such as social
media activism) appear together in the title, abstract or keywords.
3.2. Procedure
Phase one: familiarization with sources. The exploration was focused on English and Spanish as these languages
    
sources and the general topic of the study.
Phase two: categorization and coding. As noted by some authors (Osses, Sánchez, & Ibáñez, 2006; Braun &
Clarke, 2006), while categorization allows us to classify units that are conceptually addressed by the same topic,
currence approach, we grouped and numbered certain words that appeared together in the same paragraph,
including titles, abstracts and keyword of all the texts. Then, we tried to identify whether similar words and
technologies and education were not the most relevant co-occurring words; in fact, many other terms emerged
from the coding stage.
Taking this fact into account, the emergent terms were numbered and categorized. We created seven catego-
corpus of texts. The seven categories that appear linked to education were social media activism, cyberactivism,
Internet activism, online activism, digital activism, cyberfeminism and cybercitizenship.
From this review, we selected 40 documents that were linked to the main research questions and inclusion
criteria. Taking into consideration the previous categories and codes, the most relevant information from these
40 documents was summarized and analyzed in tables based on the following items or questions: 1) author and
understood and what place does it have in each text? These items and question made it possible to do a transver-
sal, systematic analysis of how the literature approaches certain political terms, concepts and practices.
Phase three:   The most important results of
          
Education, Activism and Digital Technologies: A Systematic Review
Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca | 14 - 5
relationships, concepts and patterns in all the information. During the three phases, the two authors discussed
advances, results and reached consensus jointly about their interpretations.
3.3. Limitations of the study
While our inclusion criteria consider various important factors, they do have some limitations. For example, by
selecting certain databases and peer review articles published between 1996 and 2016, the most recent biblio-
from books, theses or other research circulated outside of indexed journals or databases like Scopus or Web of
Science. Similarly, our analysis only considered production in two languages (English and Spanish), which exclu-
contributions to the topic of study. Finally, the decision not to use specialized software for the analysis could
 
4. Results and analysis
            
 
instead, education was related to other keywords such as social media activism (115 texts), cyberactivism (52),
Internet activism (47), online activism (42), digital activism (28) or cyberfeminism 
the association of terms (in this case social media activism and education) which yielded the greater amount of
   
study (Figure 2).
Figure 1. Social media activism and education (115 sources). Association according to year published
N. Aguilar Forero y G. A. Cifuentes Álvarez
Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca | 14 - 6
Figure 2. Social media activism and education (115 sources). Association according to the geographical ascription of the texts
As can be seen in the graphs, the production of knowledge about activism mediated by digital technolo-
        -
tion, began to increase in 2010, particularly in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
In contrast, the literature from Spain and Latin America is much less prevalent; it primarily comes from Chile
according to the geographical context of the studies. In other databases, such as Web of Science, we found a
similar situation: most of the production emerged between 2011 and 2016 from countries such as the United
States, Australia, England and Canada. In this case, however, there is less production from Latin American coun-
tries; for instance, neither Colombia nor Costa Rica appear in the results:
Education, Activism and Digital Technologies: A Systematic Review
Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca | 14 - 7
Figure 4. Social media activism and education (52 sources).
Association according to the geographical ascription of the texts. Source: Web of Science
reveals that in most of the literature analyzed, the concepts and the distinctions between them are not rigor-
similarities or differences would be worth analyzing are used as equivalents (e.g., Linder et al., 2010; Shayne &
tion is merely a context in which activism or technological appropriation occurs. One could say that education is
represented as an ‘institutional container’ for activism. Examples of this are studies on young activists in schools
who display interest and indignation about topics like environment, animal protection, sexual diversity and
human rights, using social media (González-Lizarraga, Becerra-Traver, & Yanez-Díaz, 2016; Linder et al., 2010;
Fullam, 2017). In this case, education is just a ‘context’ or a ‘condition’ because the activists are ‘students’.
Likewise, in much of literature, education is conceived of in terms of the traditional categories of formal,
non-formal and informal education. In several cases, what is criticized is the formal educational environment
people are sensitized or empowered through curricular or didactic strategies (Mills et al., 2011; Glenn, 2015;
Vivitsou & Viitanen, 2015). On the other hand, in several texts, emphasis is on non-formal education, understood
as the education which is enacted on extracurricular spaces such as social organizations, social movements or
NGO (e.g. Weeks, 1999; Enguix, 2016; Share & Shayne, 2008).
Beyond the semantic discussion, the thematic analysis reveals that in the empirical studies, the relation-
ship between activism mediated by digital technologies and education is based on concrete political practices
that involve different levels of participation. In what follows we propose a new typology of political practices
complex connection between activism mediated by digital technologies and education.
This political practice consists of following critical content or groups working on political, sociocultural or envi-
ronmental issues online. Exposure to this type of content, in addition to promoting learning and awareness, can
lead to action. For example, it can be manifested in actions like expressing support for certain topics of interest
N. Aguilar Forero y G. A. Cifuentes Álvarez
Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca | 14 - 8
fested in other actions likes signing letters and virtual petitions in order to demonstrate indignation, making
charis, 2012; Share & Shayne, 2008; Bekkers et al., 2011).
As Juris (2008) explains through his ethnographic analysis of the anti-globalization movement, people
involved in newest social movements consume critical information and promote alternative interpretations of
certain events through different media and mediations. In contrast to corporate media, which often represents
the political, economic and socio-cultural realities and interests of their owners, the contemporary activists
create counterhegemonic spaces (counter-spaces) in which structural issues, ususally marginalized in main-
stream media, can be discussed. Therefore, activism mediated by digital technologies makes it possible to ques-
tion dominant media narratives, generate spaces of resistance and visualize the stories or voices of marginalized
communities (Linder et al., 2010; Pearson et al., 2016).
Some scholars have recently claimed that these characteristics supersede classical distinctions between
consumption of mass media and the production of content (Gibbons, 2017). As Urresti (2008) suggests, youth
           
hybrid between a consumer and a content producer. Their practices include those that may be construed as
similar to a traditional consumer but with a critical eye: passive regarding production but active in reception.
But their practices also include those of the autonomous producer who consumes what he or she produces
(Urresti, 2008).
Indeed, as is expressed in the literature, organizations, networks and newest social movements have use
their web pages and other platforms of cyberspace not only to protest and consume critical information, but
also to learn and educate others by offering training, support or counseling (Enguix, 2016). Activists in cyber-
space have several resources available, like those of the NGO Advocates For Youth (a north American organiza-
tion supporting intergenerational activism). These resources include online tools to learn about production/
circulation of virtual petitions, creation of community forums, effective use of social media and lobbying tactics
with decision-makers on issues of interest (Shayne & Shayne, 2008).
Nevertheless, activism mediated by digital technologies implies different levels of participation, beginning
with critical, active consumption (which goes beyond simply consuming) and increasingly reaching a productive
level as they politicize (without becoming production only). In the following section we describe a second set of
practices that complement and overlap with the critical and active media consumption.
5.2. Searching for and circulating information
Along with critical and active media consumption is the practice of searching for and circulating information or
content. The search implies a willingness to research, learn and think critically, which of course transcends mere
reading or ‘consumption’ of information. The circulation of content, on the other hand, is based on massive or
Glenn 2015; Khoury-Machool, 2007).
                
informal education enter into a complementary or articulated relationship, which invites us to question the
very distinction between these educational domains. One instance of this is illustrated in what happened after
the political changes with Arab Spring in Tunisia. After technology and Internet tools were used rebelliously to
circulate information and to encourage the revolts to overthrow Ben Alli, the same tools were then used to foster
awareness, democratization and education. This was achieved through the political-communicative practices
of certain NGOs such as Al Bawsala, which promoted the empowerment of citizens through popular education
activities and the circulation of information through their website1. Al Bawsala also created spaces for debate
between politicians and citizens and fostered a new political culture linked to the monitoring of legislative and
governance practices to ensure the transparency of the new regime in that country (Boumlik & Schwartz, 2016).
      
action by offering them the means to stay updated with their elected representatives and by providing them ways to defend their fundamen-
tal rights; 2) to build relationships with elected representatives and decision-makers in order to work towards the establishment of good
     
information available in the website:
Education, Activism and Digital Technologies: A Systematic Review
Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca | 14 - 9
In this case, the educational process moves from the ‘informal’ to the ‘non-formal’ with no clear boundaries
between these domains.
Similarly, in relation to the critical and active consumption of content, searching for and circulating informa-
tion implies a higher level of politization, usually adressing colective actions. This in turn relates to the third set
5.3. Coordination of actions
Coordination of actions is related to practices in which collective actions, such as protests, mobilizations,
campaigns, mass events, meetings, forums, seminars, educational activities and so on, are organized or promo-
ted. Action coordination, enhanced by the use of digital technologies, implies not only reaching agreements on
the logistical elements, but also sharing points of view, discussing ideas, defending opinions and making deci-
sions. This last element, as Biddix (2010) explains, may be simpler in the case of small organizations since large
organizations require face-to-face meetings, not only internet interactions.
In any case, the coordination of actions within educational processes transcends the traditional distinctions
between formal, non-formal and informal as it takes place in parallel settings and with different levels of formal-
ity. We can see this in the case of studies on the revolts and encampments of 15M in Spain (Fernández-Planells,
on Internet at the beginning motivated mobilizations and awareness in an ‘informal’ and expanded manner,
various commissions began to emerge when the occupations in the squares of the most important cities in
both countries took place. Education commissions stood out among the most important and were in charge of
promoting educational spaces with higher levels of formality. Likewise, when the occupations and the encamp-
ments dissipated, it was decided to channel the disruptive energies towards decentralized, organizational, and
educational processes online or in different neighborhoods with diverse communities.
             
   
this is another feature of contemporary activism; it circulates through interstitial spaces where online activity
 
activism in particular, should not be maintained. Instead of two separate worlds of social activism, these are
hybrid, convergent deployments with multiple intersections. This activism relies both on streets and on the
    
pation and politicization, the content production, which is discussed below, challenges this notion.
With this practice, activists go from active consumption to active production by creating, modifying and editing
content such as photos, videos, and texts. In some cases, platforms such as Google docs enable the creation of
documents that movements or collectives build collaboratively. Other content may come in the form of images
or videos to publicize actions carried out or to denounce acts of repression. For example, recently young people
have responded to the attacks carried out by public forces on protesters in North Africa, Spain, the United States
or Latin America by recording what happened and uploading the videos to the web, often anonymously and
with little editing (Peña, Rodríguez, & Sáez 2016). Due to the communicative power of the videos, thousands of
people have joined the protests after feeling empathy and solidarity with the demonstrators.
In the case of education, content production as a means of activism mediated by digital technologies also
blurs the distinction between formal, non-formal and informal domains. For instance, in some of the texts
revised, the links and transitions from the ‘formal’ to the ‘non-formal’ and ‘informal’ are also noticable in the
political practices of contemporary activism. In Chile, for example, many young people used audiovisual produc-
tion abilities they had learned at school (‘formal‘) in spaces of mobilization (‘informal‘). In fact, several leaders
and members of the Chilean student movement who in 2011 demanded a free, quality public education by occu-
pying educational institutions and mobilizing in mass, used what they learned at school in regards to the use of
digital technologies along with audiovisual production to create ‘non-formal’ learning experiences. As a result of
what was learned at school, the young people relied on their technical knowledge and skills in the use of digital
N. Aguilar Forero y G. A. Cifuentes Álvarez
Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca | 14 - 10
technologies and the Internet to produce and massively circulate creative videos that had a strong emotional
impact on other young people (Peña, Rodríguez, & Sáez, 2016).
Another example is the work of Khoury-Machool (2007) which analyzes the case of Palestine, where NGOs
like the Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation (PYALARA) and universities like Bit
Zeit University of Ramallah, created several educational initiatives for the appropriation of Information and
Communication Technologies (ICT) that fostered the creation of virtual radios, blogs and web pages by students.
This appropriation generated a new political culture because young people began to report on the situations
of their neighborhoods, families, teachers, schools and so forth, through the dissemination of photographs,
texts and video clips on the Internet. This provided a great opportunity for young Palestinians in the occupied
territories to express themselves, to make their stories visible, to maintain communication with peers, friends
and family in the diaspora and to establish transnational communities of interaction and collaboration. Thus,
a causal relationship was established between ‘formal’ educational processes and the appropriation of ICTs to
generate ‘non-formal’ and ‘informal’ initiatives for training and communication.
Even though the aforementioned practices imply varying levels of participation and relations with cyberspace,
hacker practices could be understood as the more ‘active’ o ‘radical’ ones. These practices are organized by acti-
move through independent networks and free software. As Rueda (2004) points out, hackers aim at subverting
the control and power patterns behind authoritarian and undemocratic technological designs and transfor-
ming what circulates in virtual environments for the public good. This form of activism and resistance in the
network is distinct from cracking, the practice of breaking into security systems. The world of hackers is related
to the construction of a radical digital citizenship, not to committing crimes or to breaking the law (Emejulu &
           
communicative infrastructures such as independent information networks, non-commercial Internet providers
and freeware platforms. This promotes dialogue, organization and mobilization outside the corporate media
Although one could consider the practices performed by hackers to be successful (for instance blocking
government or corporative organizations websites) these practices have also been criticized because they have
no ‘real effects’; to some they are just slacktivism, a hybrid of slacking and activism. Slacktivism, from Glenn’s
(2015) perspective, consists of a form of ‘awareness’ that is not ‘real activism’ because it implies little time,
minimal effort and no participation in mobilizations or concrete actions ‘outside of the web’. These are practices
through which one can be part of a group or webpage, read or share information on social issues, sign virtual
petitions, ‘like’ certain content or participate in virtual boycotts without concrete contributions to the solution
of social problems. Along the same lines, LaRiviere et al. (2012) states that Internet activism promotes low-com-
mitment collective action (e.g. simply contributing ‘clicks’ to support the cause) and it prevents further recogni-
tion of complexities and commitments to the situations being protested.
tivism (Chiluwa & Ifukor, 2015) since it reduces highly complex practices to opposing, hierarchical categories.
In fact, while certain practices imply levels of participation and involvement that can be associated with ‘low
commitment’, this does not necessarily mean that they cannot be translated or overlapped with other types of
signing a virtual petition or sharing supportive messages can have considerable effects when carried out by
millions of people. Since different objectives go hand in hand with different actions, online practices, as trivial
as they may seem, can have a great potential to achieve certain purposes, such as drawing public attention or
promoting or supporting causes on the Internet may be more likely to make donations, volunteer or engage in
off-the-web activities (Metzger et al., 2015; Linder et al., 2010). In this sense, instead of understanding slacktiv-
ism as activism that is ‘not real’, ‘false’, or ‘lazy’, what we have are complex forms of activism that involve varying
Education, Activism and Digital Technologies: A Systematic Review
Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca | 14 - 11
6. Conclusions
Beyond the different and sometimes less rigorous ways of naming the relationship between activism mediated
by digital technologies and education, the literature review revealed a broad set of political practices which
involve different levels of participation: critical and active media consumption, searching for and circulating
information, coordination of actions, content production, hacker practices. Likewise, in the different texts, activ-
ism mediated by digital technologies (or this concept referred to with different terms) is associated with various
forms of technological appropriation that have diverse practices and purposes: raising awareness, protesting
or defending certain causes of interest, promoting social mobilization, creating new forms of citizen participa-
tion, generating local, national and global collaboration networks, and strengthening solidarity and a sense of
community (Pearson et al., 2016; Linder et al., 2010; Khoury-Machool, 2007; Theocharis, 2012; Peña, Rodrí-
guez, & Sáez 2016; Enguix, 2016; González-Lizarraga, Becerra-Traver, & Yanez-Díaz, 2016; Vivitsou & Viitanen,
2015; Weeks, 1999).
                
of a clear division between ‘formal’, ‘non-formal’ and ‘informal’ educational domains. Additionally, in several
cases already described, it is noticeable that some other distinctions are problematic: consumption/production,
ized categories present in certain studies. Taking into account the results of the thematic analysis, we also argue
for a “practical turn” in the study of the relationship between activism mediated by digital technologies and
education. The practical turn in social theory allows us to challenge taken-for-granted distinctions (technology/
which are open to creative and disruptive enactments (Schatzki, 2001; Bolldén, 2016; Knorr-Cetina, 2001). To
this extent, if new empirical studies make that practical turn, it could be possible to deepen de discussion about
the typology of political practices proposed in the present article, instead of circulating traditional categories or
oppositions as several scholars still do.
After this research, certain questions also arise: Can the diversity of political-educational practices of young
people be reduced to the typology proposed in this article? What new political expressions may be emerging
beyond what can be traced through investigative, analytical and conceptual procedures? What other distinc-
tions in the academic literature can be overcome through the political practices of emerging activism? As some
   -
ronments, breaking, among others, public/private, collective/individual or national/international distinctions
transcend the taken-for-granted distinctions or categories.
Likewise, we believe this approach could be useful to face certain challenges of the knowledge produc-
         -
sis of processes of social revolt cannot be reduced to a romantic and naïve reading associated with horizontal
relations, leaderless movements, and supposedly democratic mechanisms. Of course, activism implies power
On the other hand, when avoiding an idealization of disruption experiences and resistance, one must also
associate certain actions with labels like ‘light’, ‘lazy’, ‘low commitment’ or ‘outside real activism. Behind these
labels, there is a certain ‘purism or essentialism’ that aims to limit activism to presence on the streets and to
inherited forms of politics resistance (e.g. marches, demonstrations, mobilizations, etc.). Beyond the distinction
between activism and slacktivism, political practices with diverse horizons appear on a daily basis. This activ-
 
marginally or instrumentally uses the technologies and the Internet for its purposes. On the contrary, digital
technologies create a networked public sphere as well as networked movements that are not ‘online-only’ or
connected’ (Tufecki, 2017, p. 6).
In conclusion, we claim for a practical turn as a necessary alternative to help erase traditional distinctions,
boundaries and pre-established hierarchies in the study of the relationship between activism mediated by digital
technologies and education. Activism in the contemporary world problematizes the distinction between formal,
non-formal and informal education since its political practices express complex interactions between these
N. Aguilar Forero y G. A. Cifuentes Álvarez
Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca | 14 - 12
three domains. The political actions of groups, networks or newest social movements are inherently educa-
tional, and they can hardly be reduced to concepts, distinctions or traditional conceptions of policy and citizen-
ship. Education, on the other hand, is inherently political and it cannot be reduced to pre-established models
deployments in each context or experience of education and disruption. As a result, previous and naturalized
categories, still present in the contemporary knowledge production, must be revisited in order to understand
the present and imagine the future.
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