Linking for Peace. An affordance perspective of LinkedIn as an instrument for peace professionals to advance constructive conflict resolution and transformative efforts
Has LinkedIn become the platform for a global community of practice for peace professionals? Does it have the potential to be? An inductive approach to Reflexive Thematic Analysis (RTA) following Braun and Clarke’s six-phase methodology was used as an analytic instrument on empirical data from 13 semi-structured interviews with professionals in peace mediation, using the theoretical lens of affordances. The participants in the study were found to use LinkedIn to create and sustain meaningful connections globally and across sectors, learn from empirical knowledge, stories and insights from others and explore economic opportunities. However, the extent of engagement with LinkedIn varied depending on the socio-cultural context of the individual actor. The research also underscored the existence of a digital divide, which disproportionately excludes key actors, in particular middle-range actors, from accessing and benefiting from LinkedIn's capacity as a digital platform advancing constructive conflict resolution and transformative efforts among peace professionals. Based on these findings, the thesis argues that for LinkedIn to rightly realise its potential as an instrument for sustainable peace, the field of human-computer-interaction (HCI) must work alongside peace, conflict and security actors to improve connectivity, digital literacy and inclusivity in regions experiencing ongoing armed violence and war. By intentionally working towards bridging the digital divide, LinkedIn can effectively support peace action and empower a broader range of stakeholders in peace processes.