Global Injustice Symbols and Social Movements by Thomas Olesen (auth.)

By Thomas Olesen (auth.)

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Yet it is appropriate to argue that with the acceleration of communication flows resulting from technological innovation (Castells, 2012), the conditions and potential for injustice symbol formation and preservation have expanded in at least four ways in the present period characterized by networked communication. First, at the most basic level, new technologies have made communication faster, cheaper, and easier. Second, and partly following from the above, the establishment of communication technologies, which are simultaneously individualized and networked, has created huge global citizen interfaces (Bennett and Segerberg, 2012).

First, icon literally means image. While the icons analyzed within this framework cannot be reduced to their visual representation, their personalized nature means that the visual aspect does play a central role. Second, icon refers to an image or person that embodies and symbolizes a period, an event, or a set of values. This is the core meaning of the term as it is used here. Third, the term has certain religious connotations. The argument is not that icons are religious per se but that the values associated with them often resonate with deep political-cultural and, in some instances, religious themes.

Nelson Mandela and Antiapartheid The following offers a three-step analysis of Mandela’s transformation to global political icon. The first discusses how icon formation was able to evolve during Mandela’s prison years (1962–1990). The second demonstrates how Mandela’s global iconicity climaxed from 1988 to 1994. The third shows and argues that Mandela is now a firmly established and recognized global icon. Building on the theoretical framework, emphasis in the analysis will be on the interaction between icon/biography, agents, and audience.

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