Civil Society Chatbots: A Plurality of Conceptual Approaches

Sophie Toupin


This article examines chatbots that have been developed by civil society for social, political, and/or cultural purposes. I ask what conceptual approaches have influenced the design of civil society chatbots and how these frameworks are actualized in practice. To do this, I first propose the concept of “civil society chatbots” to understand how and why civil society has chosen to use chatbots to support their campaigning and advocacy work. I then examine four conceptual approaches that have influenced them in the design of their chatbots and illuminate each with short case studies. The conceptual approaches under study are entertainment education, community media and technology, feminist design, and human and digital rights. Using these approaches helps situate a practice that is increasing and plural within civil society but relatively eclipsed by the hype around generative artificial intelligence chatbots.


chatbot, activism, advocacy, civil society, Global South

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