William Dutton: Social Movements and the Fifth Estate

Social Movements and the Fifth Estate

The press in liberal democratic societies is often viewed as a Fourth Estate, given its relative independence and ability to hold other estates to account. In the digital age of the Internet, networked individuals are emerging as a Fifth Estate, able to independently source information and network in ways that empower them to hold institutions such as governments and the press more accountable. The Fifth Estate is not a social movement, but it is shaping and challenging social movements, which must enroll and contend with networked individuals who have their own information sources and networks. This paper clarifies the concept of the Fifth Estate, and illustrates ways in which it can support or challenge the leadership and dynamics of social movements.

William Dutton is Professor of Internet Studies and founding director of the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), University of Oxford, Fellow of Balliol College, and Emeritus Professor at the University of Southern California. Dutton was a Fulbright Scholar to the UK and National Director of the UK’s Programme on Information and Communication Technologies (PICT)

Holberg Symposium 2012: Media and Democracy

The Holberg symposium 2012 was held in honour of Holberg Laureate Manuel Castells. The symposium is composed of lectures and talks by Manuel Castells, Göran Therborn, Helen Margetts, Andrew Chadwick, Terhi Rantanen, Annabelle Sreberny and William Dutton.