Unveiling Digital Positionality: Empowering Netizens in the Digital Age
Anna Lena Menne, Alissa Steer, Makēda Gershenson
This research project explores the concept of digital positionality and its significance in empowering individuals, fostering digital literacy, self-awareness, and encouraging grassroots engagement. Inspired by a Participatory Action Learning and Action Research (PALAR) methodology, the project has engaged diverse social groups in Berlin to develop a transformative tool for understanding digital positionality. Digital positionality refers to an individual's unique position within the interconnected digital world, encompassing the Earth, the Social World, and Information and Communication Technology (ICT). It shapes how individuals perceive and navigate the digital landscape, influencing their opportunities and challenges. Preliminary findings reveal a deep-rooted avoidance of critical self-reflection among participants concerning historical and social inequities beyond simplified ICT interfaces, underscoring the need for grassroots self-awareness. The primary outcome of this research project is a transformative tool based on a comic-suported journey where users are guided through an exploration of their unique digital positionality within the Earth, the Social World, and ICT. By engaging with this tool, users gain insights into how their social identity, access to resources, and interactions with technology shape their social realities. The impact of the project includes enhanced understanding, self-reflection, and empowerment among netizens, leading to collective action. Key follow-up questions involve evaluating the long-term effects and effectiveness of the tool, as well as further exploration of digital positionality in sustainable digitalization policies and its implications for governance. This research sheds light on the interconnections between material resources, society, and technology, addressing digital inequalities. It highlights the potential for bottom-up initiatives to address these disparities and offers practical implications for individuals' digital engagement, the academic research agenda, and digital governance.