What is the DUN Project?
Defence and military practice increasingly incorporates media into the planning, delivery and management of strategic and tactical defence activities. This is evident in the evolving doctrine and philosophy of Strategic Communications through which defence actors attempt to harness, and mitigate against ‘Now Media’ – the term used to describe the effect of the media rather than its character. Social media in particular, by virtue of its immediacy, mobility, and networked capabilities, is positioned as having particular utility in this regard. Yet, simultaneously, there is recognition of ‘risk’ emanating from the use of social media platforms in Strategic Communications practice. Throughout the Strategic Communications’ philosophy and doctrine then – which, among other things, attempts to map the pervasiveness of digital technology with a pervasive strategy – are the inherent contradictions of opportunity and risk that characterize the ambiguity of the role of social media within (and beyond) the defence sector.
The D.U.N Project directly speaks to the foregrounding of the concerns above and the uncertainty in defence as a result of rapid technological developments. Our main objective is to offer a comprehensive understanding of social media as both a tool for strategic communication and a tool for uncertainty. It will do this by interrogating the ways in which social is perceived, organized, managed and responded to by defence actors operating within the strategic environment.
In the context of evolving social media use in defence, the project asks what lessons have been learnt, and should be learnt, in order to avoid strategic surprise.
The project speaks directly to recommendations in the Blackett Review regarding the need to better identify, assess and manage risk in defence. Risk, here is understood as perceived and actual scenarios emanating from social media that can impact at a public, institutional, operational and personal level.
The research employs a three-pronged approach familiar to the social sciences; institutional, user and object-oriented using the combined methods of qualitative interviews and textual analysis.
Each approach allows for the examination of the issues from different perspectives but in a manner that is reflexive, comparative and interdisciplinary generating a ‘sum’ of understanding that is greater than the individual constituent parts.
The D.U.N Project is part of the Science and Security Programme.
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