Social media as a tool of political isolation in the Russian public sphere
Main objective of this article is to show how the configuration of new media and its ties with the traditional media system in Russia is contributing to isolation of opposition and social control favourable to the ruling power coalition. From our point of view the media system does not push the opposition parties to elaborate clear political strategy which marginalises them and extreme polarizing them against the acting political forces. It does not allow the opposition to participate within normal political life through the creation of blocks, coalitions and associations with other parties. All that in turn increases the threat to the ruling power coalition’s security blanket, which pushes it to preserve the power at any price. Such a conclusion is counter to the idea that “new media” is the catalyst of social changes and protest movements (for example in Arab countries). Direct interaction, flexibility and absence of hierarchy in social media allowed some scholars to highlight the peculiar model of such communication channels, supposedly completely free of manipulation and control. Critiques of such “absence of power relations” within so-called egalitarian networks have been done using theories examining power within networks. This article studies Russian social media within the context of the parallel public sphere and examines the political conditions of inclusion/exclusion of oppositional forces into/from public debates.