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Extending the local: Activist types and forms of social media use in an case of anti-mining struggle
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

As political activists increasingly use social media in local protests, scholars must redirect attention from large-scale campaigns to scrutinize the ways in which geographically confined actors use social media to engage in protests. This paper analyses how a 2013 anti-mining campaign in Kallak, Sweden, combined on-site resistance with social media strategies via Facebook-pages. The study examines which activist roles and forms of social media use that emerged and aims to explore what larger practical and theoretical implications one can derive from this specific case of place-based struggles. Results show that three typologically distinct activist roles emerged during the protests: local activists, digital movement intellectuals and digital distributors. These different types of actors were involved in four different forms of social media use: mobilization, construction of the physical space, extension of the local and augmentation of local and translocal bonds. Based on our findings, we argue that the coming together of these different activist roles and the different uses of social media added a translocal dimension to the peripheral and physically remote political conflict in Kallak. Media users were able to extend a locally and physically situated protest by linking it to a global contentious issue such as the mining boom and its consequences for indigenous populations.

National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-114438OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-114438DiVA: diva2:895424
Available from: 2016-01-19 Created: 2016-01-19 Last updated: 2016-01-21Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Digital media and the transnationalization of protests
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Digital media and the transnationalization of protests
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Recent developments in communications technology have transformed how social movements might mobilize, and how they can organize their activities. This thesis explores some of the geographical consequences of the use of digital media for political activism. It does this by focusing on the transnationalization of protests. The aim is to analyse how movements with different organizational structures and political scopes are affected by their use of digital media. This is done with a specific focus on how digital media use influences or enables transnational modes of organization and activism. The thesis comprises four different case studies where each study examines a social movement with a specific organizational structure. There are, however, also important similarities between the movements. In each study, somewhat different perspectives and methodological approaches are used. Some of the methods used are semi-structured interviews, content analysis of written data (retrieved from Facebook as well as Twitter), and social network analysis.

The analysis indicates that digital media do have a role in the transnationalization of protest. This role, however, differs depending on what type of social movement one studies. The organizational structure of social movements, together with their specific forms of digital media use, influences how the transnationalization of protests and movements is articulated and formed. In cases where a social movement has a hierarchical organizational structure, there is less transnationalization, whereas in social movements with a more non-hierarchical organizational structure one sees more transnationalization. The thesis concludes that the transnationalization of protests is affected by social movements’ organizational structure. The more decentralized the social movement, the more vibrant the transnational public. In order to explain how transnational social movements, using digital media, can emerge in cases where geographical distances might make such coalitions unlikely, the thesis introduces the notion of affectual proximity. This concept helps us understand how transnational social movements, connecting actors from all over the world, can emerge through digital media. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2016. 57 p.
Series
Akademiska avhandlingar vid Sociologiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, ISSN 1104-2508 ; 77
Keyword
Social movements, social media, digital media, digital activism, transnational activism, affectual proximity
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-114456 (URN)978-91-7601-405-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-02-12, Hörsal E, Humanisthuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-01-22 Created: 2016-01-19 Last updated: 2016-01-22Bibliographically approved

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Dahlberg-Grundberg, MichaelÖrestig, Johan
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Department of SociologyDepartment of Education
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)

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