V. Theory of Change: Our political assumptions and beliefs

Political assumptions relate to how we, collectively, understand how power and change operate in the real-life political, cultural and organising contexts we are working in. Beliefs refer to how we feel we can effect and/or contribute to the changes desired along with types of strategies that will be most effective for us to use to bring about the desired organisational outcomes. 

This section outlines APC’s revised political assumptions and beliefs – our understanding of how power and change operate in the real-life political, cultural and organising contexts we are working in and how we, collectively, can best effect the changes we are seeking. 

The internet has transformed human communications and behaviour and challenged existing structures of power, including gender-based power, and should be recognised and governed as a global public good. We believe that the internet and digital technologies have enormous potential to strengthen social, political, cultural, economic and human development. They are tools and spaces for expression, for organising, for accessing information, for creating and sharing content and for exercising human rights. They can increase agency, build community, facilitate political participation, good governance, learning and innovation, and increase transparency and accountability among governments, business and civil society. 

However, this potential is being threatened by the following factors:

  • Digital exclusion is increasing in different dimensions under current economic and regulatory models, intensifying inequalities, poverty and discrimination and amplifying unequal power relations.

  • The dominance of corporate control and influence in shaping the internet and digital technologies and spaces has eroded the publicness of the internet and human rights. The power of global technology corporations, based primarily in the global North, to control and exploit data and content platforms, exacerbates discrimination and inequalities.

  • The content, language and knowledge of the internet and digital technologies continue to be dominated by white, male, private and global North interests, deepening the colonisation of knowledge in the offline world. The belief that the internet could create a truly inclusive global public knowledge commons is disappearing as digital spaces have themselves become battlegrounds for struggles over power and narratives. 

  • Digital spaces are increasingly powered by hate and discrimination that target women, LGBTIQ communities, religious minorities, migrants, people with disabilities and other people and groups that are in positions of vulnerability or marginalisation. This includes new manifestations of gender-based violence mediated by digital technologies.

  • Governments are often at the forefront of control, surveillance, censorship and even total shutdowns of internet services, thereby disrupting not just the internet, but also peoples' ability to enjoy fundamental human rights. 

  • New issues, challenges and questions have arisen, especially around security, sustainability and resilience in the current climate of shrinking civic spaces, increased surveillance and threats faced by social change actors, as well as the multiple crises that impact on all areas of women's rights and feminist activism.

  • The production and use of digital technologies is likely to continue contributing to climate crisis proportionate to their increasing share in overall consumption of raw materials, manufacturing, energy consumption and waste disposal and recycling. Governments and the powerful private interests that profit from activities that cause environmental damage are likely to respond through increasing internet surveillance, censorship and propaganda, both directly as well as through cooperation with the few companies who today handle the majority of internet communications. 

Our basic assumptions and beliefs about our role in harnessing the transformations we seek:

  • Digitally networked technologies are changing the landscape of movement building, and there is an increasing awareness of the critical role of the internet in the work of movements to drive and sustain change. We are strengthening our approach to organising and movement building to reflect the emerging digital landscape and build on our history of network building and connecting movements. This includes our political understanding of how the digital landscape has brought new opportunities and challenges and new actors outside familiar forms of organising; considering emerging dynamics and spaces of organising; exploring distributed accountability and leadership and models of resource distribution to support new ways of organising.

  • Digital inclusion goes beyond access to connectivity infrastructure and should include enabling conditions to increase overall individual and collective autonomy, agency and choice in how people connect to digital technology and spaces, as well as how they use, shape, inform or create them once they are connected. We believe in developing alternatives to how people connect through contributing to an enabling ecosystem for the emergence and growth of community networks and other community-based connectivity initiatives in developing countries. By addressing human capacity and sustainability challenges, along with policy and regulatory obstacles that limit the growth of community-based connectivity initiatives, we seek to strengthen the impact, reach and sustainability of the community networks movement in the global South. 

  • Used strategically, the internet and digital technologies and spaces can amplify the voices and efforts of civil society organisations, social movements, individual activists and excluded communities and groups. We contribute to amplifying voice, agency and capacity by providing opportunities for knowledge exchange and learning, incorporating the politics and practice of care and safety, through peer exchanges, local convenings, workshops and campaigns. 

  • The internet and digital technologies are enablers of human rights, development and social justice, including gender justice. We believe in influencing policy change by working with our members, partners, collaborators and strategic allies to develop positions that promote and protect human rights, challenge corporate domination and hold governments accountable. 

  • We believe in building knowledge and contributing to discourse through research, social media and other media content and artistic content that counter privileged positions and perspectives, discrimination and oppression, and that support evidence-based advocacy towards a rights-based approach and feminist internet which contribute to building a global commons of knowledge.

  • There is a need for continued engagement in internet governance processes to challenge corporate power and emphasise governments’ responsibility to hold private corporations accountable. The views, voices and interests of people confronting structural discrimination and oppression are needed to push back against corporate power and state control and challenge the securitisation of the internet.

  • The choice and use of digital technologies and the policies guiding their production, use and disposal and the recovery of raw materials will have a huge impact on the way they contribute to the climate catastrophe, but also on their potential to mitigate it. The environmental crisis requires a drastic change from the existing design/production/use/disposal/recycling model to one that embraces a circular economy aiming to eliminate waste and foster the continual reuse of resources. 


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