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Digitally Mediated Protest: Social Media Affordances for Collective Identity Construction

With their groundbreaking study of 'digitally enabled social change,' Earl and Kimport have gone a long way toward filling the void. Must-reading for anyone who hopes to understand online and offline activism in the age of the Internet. See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books. Add to Wishlist. USD Buy Online, Pick up in Store is currently unavailable, but this item may be available for in-store purchase.

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Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Usually ships within 6 days. Overview An investigation into how specific Web technologies can change the dynamics of organizing and participating in political and social protest. Show More. Average Review. Write a Review. Related Searches. How artists' magazines, in all their ephemerality, materiality, and temporary intensity, challenged mainstream art criticism How artists' magazines, in all their ephemerality, materiality, and temporary intensity, challenged mainstream art criticism and the gallery system.

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The nature of the stimulation shapes the connections among neurons that create the neuronal networks necessary for thought and behavior. By changing the cultural They argue that the Web offers two key affordances relevant to activism: sharply reduced costs for creating, organizing, and participating in protest; and the decreased need for activists to be physically together in order to act together.

A rally can be organized and demonstrators recruited entirely online, without the cost of printing and mailing; an activist can create an online petition in minutes and gather e-signatures from coast to coast using only her laptop. Drawing on evidence from samples of online petitions, boycotts, and letter-writing and e-mailing campaigns, they show that the more these affordances are leveraged, the more transformative the changes to organizing and participating in protest; the less these affordances are leveraged, the more superficial the changes.

The rally organizers, for example, can save money on communication and coordination, but the project of staging the rally remains essentially the same. One such movements is the NotGuilty movement. This movement began in April with Ione Wells. The letter described how she was sexually assaulted and how she chose to respond and build from that point in her life.

At the end of the letter she urged readers to send a letter back describing their own sexual assault experience with the hashtag notguilty. She received so many letters from locals that she decided to create a website, this caused global attention and inspired many to share their stories. Tarana Burke created the phrase to "empower women through empathy" and Alyssa Milano helped spread the use of the phrase. It soon spread to apply to all forms of sexual assault, especially in the work place. These movements were intended to create an outlet for men and women to share their experiences with those with similar views without blame or guilt.

They brought widespread attention to sexual assault and caused much controversy about changes that should be made accordingly. According to some observers, the Internet may have considerable potential to reach and engage opinion leaders who influence the thinking and behavior of others.

Information communication technologies ICTs make communication and information readily available and efficient. There are millions of Facebook accounts, Twitter users and websites, and one can educate oneself on nearly any subject. While this is for the most part a positive thing, it can also be dangerous. For example, people can read up on the latest news events relatively easily and quickly; however, there is danger in the fact that apathy or fatigue can quickly arise when people are inundated with so many messages, or that the loudest voice on a subject can often be the most extreme one, distorting public perception on the issue.

These social networks which occupy ICTs are simply modern forms of political instruments which pre-date the technological era.

Digital activism: Tools of change or tools of choice?

People can essentially mobilize worldwide through the Internet. Women can create transnational alliances and lobby for rights within their respective countries; they can give each other tips and share up-to-date information. This information becomes "hyper textual", available in downloadable formats with easy access for all.

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They can post information about upcoming summits, they can post newsletters on what occurred at these meetings, and links to videos can be shared; all of this information can be downloaded at the click of a button. With all this information so readily available, there is a rising trend of "slacktivism" or "clicktivism".

While it is positive that information can be distributed so quickly and efficiently all around the world, there is negativity in the fact that people often take this information for granted, or quickly forget about it once they have seen it flash across our computer screens. The Internet has also made it easier for small donors to play a meaningful role in financing political campaigns. Previously, small-donor fundraising was prohibitively expensive, as costs of printing and postage ate up most of the money raised.

The Internet also allows ordinary people to contribute materially to Humanitarian relief projects designed to intervene in situations of global disaster or tragedy, as in the case of the " Hope for Haiti Now " telethon event, which was launched three days after the Haiti Earthquake. The telethon and its broadcast became an effective vehicle to present a plea for support and to collect contributions quickly, facilitating a relationship between entertainment and humanitarian fundraising that has developed in response to historical and economic market conditions.

With internet technology vastly changing existing and introducing new mechanisms by which to attain, share and employ information, internet activism raises ethical issues for consideration. Proponents contend internet activism serves as an outlet for social progress but only if personal and professional ethics are employed. Proponents along this line of thinking claim the most effective use of online activism is its use in conjunction with more traditional or historical activism activities.

In this sense, the ethical implication is that activism becomes descriptive rather than transformative of society. Critics argue that Internet activism faces the same challenges as other aspects of the digital divide , particularly the global digital divide.

Some say it gives disproportionate representation to those with greater access or technological ability. Issues like racism and sexism are issues that internet activists reportedly deal with [81]. Not surprisingly college students used SNS for political activity the most but this was followed by a more unlikely group, those that had not completed high school. In addition the probability for non-White citizens to consume political information was shown to be higher than that of Whites. These two outcomes go in the face of normal predictors of political activity.

Despite these surprising findings older generations, men and whites showed the highest levels of political mobilization. Acts of political mobilization, such as fundraising, volunteering, protesting require the most continued interest, resources and knowledge Nam, The experience of the echo chamber is easier to create with a computer than with many of the forms of political interaction that preceded it," Sunstein told the New York Times.

Internet activism

It's not like this should be censored, but it can increase acrimony, increase extremism and make mutual understanding more difficult. On the other hand, Scott Duke Harris of the San Jose Mercury News noted that "the Internet connects [all sides of issues, not just] an ideologically broad anti-war constituency, from the leftists of ANSWER to the pressed-for-time ' soccer moms ' who might prefer MoveOn , and conservative activists as well.

Another concern, according to University of California, Santa Cruz professor Barbara Epstein, is that the Internet "allows people who agree with each other to talk to each other and gives them the impression of being part of a much larger network than is necessarily the case. Another concern, expressed by author and law professor Cass Sunstein , is that online political discussions lead to " cyberbalkanization "—discussions that lead to fragmentation and polarization rather than consensus, because the same medium that lets people access a large number of news sources also enables them to pinpoint the ones they agree with and ignore the rest.

Famed activist Ralph Nader has stated that "the Internet doesn't do a very good job of motivating action", citing that the United States Congress , corporations and the Pentagon do not necessarily "fear the civic use of the Internet. This critique has been criticized as Western-centric, however, because it discounts the impact this can have in authoritarian or repressive contexts.

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Radsch argued that even this low level of engagement was an important form of activism for Arab youth because it is a form of free speech, and can spark mainstream media coverage. Scholars are divided as to whether the Internet will increase or decrease political participation, including online activism.

Those who suggest political participation will increase believe the Internet can be used to recruit and communicate with more users, and offers lower-costs modes of participation for those who lack the time or motivation to engage otherwise. Those concerned that the Internet will decrease activism argue that the Internet occupies free time that can no longer be spent getting involved in activist groups, or that Internet activism will replace more substantial, effortful forms of in-person activism. Malcolm Gladwell argues that activism through social media and the internet cannot be successful because they promote a 'lazy' way of activism that doesn't require people to put in meaningful effort.

By for example 'liking' a protest related post on social media, people feel like they have contributed to a cause, which makes them less likely to take more costly, and some would argue more effective, action like joining a protest. Another criticism is clicktivism.


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According to techopedia, clicktivism is a controversial form of digital activism. Opponents believe that clicktivism reduces activism to a mere mouse-click, yielding numbers with little or no real engagement or commitment to the cause. Micah M. White argues, "Political engagement becomes a matter of clicking a few links. In promoting the illusion that surfing the web can change the world, clicktivism is to activism as McDonalds is to a slow-cooked meal.

It may look like food, but the life-giving nutrients are long gone.