Media Systems Dependency and Human Rights Online Video: The “Saffron Revolution” and WITNESS’s Hub

Melissa Brough, Zhan Li


This article bridges scholarship on symbolic power, social movements, and media systems dependency (MSD) theory to analyze how transnational human rights advocates leverage Web 2.0 video networks. MSD offers a multilevel ecological model of power that is useful for analyzing how relationships of information and resource dependency may shift within media systems. The study adapts MSD to consider how human rights activists circulate online video content and how their symbolic power may be enhanced or constrained in the Web 2.0 media ecology. This MSD adaptation is applied to two prominent online video case studies: the grassroots social movement efforts during Burma’s “Saffron Revolution” and the Hub initiative of the U.S.-based, nonprofit organization WITNESS. The study bridges cultural and structural analyses of Web 2.0, treating media platforms as imbricated within broader ecologies of dependency relations where symbolic power is wielded and challenged.

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