Article ID: CBB001181668

Revolutionary secrets: Technology's role in the South African anti-apartheid movement (2007)


Description In the late 1980s, Operation Vula brought exiled African National Congress (ANC) leaders and military capacity into South Africa despite legal and military obstacles. According to participants, a purpose-built encrypted communication system was critical to this success, but what was the significance of the technology? Was it simply a catalyst for change within the ANC leadership, or did the system crucially alter the political situation? This case study highlights the importance of four key factors affecting the interaction between new information and communication technologies (ICTs) and social movements. The factors are (a) ongoing technological innovation, (b) user practices, (c) technical competence, and (d) organizational routines. Scholarship that fails to consider these factors risks oversimplifying the process of sociotechnical change, hampering our ability to understand the relationship between ICTs and contentious political activity. (Abstract from:

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Authors & Contributors
Hecht, Gabrielle
Brate, Adam
Boczkowski, Pablo J.
Leslie, Jacques
Haigh, Thomas
Castells, Manuel
IEEE Annals of the History of Computing
Cold War History
Diplomatic History
Science, Technology and Human Values
Technikgeschichte: Beiträge zur Geschichte der Technik und Industrie
MIT Press
The MIT Press
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
International and Area Studies, University of California at Berkeley
Transaction Publishers
Information technology
Technology and society
Technology and politics
History of Computing
Computers and computing
Cold War
Steinbuch, Karl (1917-2005)
Time Periods
20th century, late
21st century
20th century
United States
South Africa
Soviet Union

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