Social Movements on the Internet: Together Alone or Alone Together?

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ECIS 2013 Conference. Utrecht, The netherlands.

ECIS 2013 Conference. Utrecht, The netherlands.

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  • 1. SOCIAL MOVEMENTS ON THE INTERNET:TOGETHER ALONE OR ALONETOGETHER?ECIS 2013 – Utrecht – Friday, June 7Juan D. Borrero, University of Huelva, Spainjdiego@uhu.esAntonio Díaz Andrade, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand,antonio.diaz@aut.ac.nzCathy Urquhart, Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, UKc.urquhart@mmu.ac.ukhttp://www.staff.science.uu.nl/~Vlaan107/ecis/files/ECIS2013-0620-paper.pdf
  • 2. Does Social Networking FacilitateCollective Action?• A study of a Facebook Anti-Austerity politicalcampaign, Democracia Real Ya!• Our preliminary framework suggests that socialinfluences, social capital and the technology platformitself all contribute to collective action through SNS• We analysed FB posts between17th of July and the10th of September 2012 and used grounded theorymethod to analyse those posts
  • 3. Findings• Voice – the intention is to be seen and heard beyond the onlinecommunity• Multiple agendas - heterogeneous community with very differentideas about to how to go forward• Call for action – a focus on organising action which is challenging• Identity – community is united in their disenfranchisement and lackof voice• Future work will look at other campaigns such as UK Uncut• COME SEE OUR POSTER – Is Castells right about social media?What role does social capital play? We are interested in debatingwith you!
  • 4. 11/06/13IntroductionThe growing popularity of social media platforms istransforming the ways in which people not onlycommunicate but also demonstrate (Castells, 2012).Research problem:1) To uncover the patterns of online activism.2) How online activism might trigger mechanisms forcollective action.Research Question:How is social media used by civil society to facilitatecollective action?ResultsThe massive economic crisis in Spain surfaced many divisions inSpanish society and provoked the eruption of social movements.The posts on DRY’s site reflect those divisions. People arecharacterized in one of two ways: bankers, politicians, speculatorsand rich people on one side, and ordinary people who perceivethey have been left behind and are unfairly carrying the burden ofthe severe austerity measures imposed by the government. Thetable below shows open codes taken from the data along with thecorresponding concept.Example Focused Codes Open CodesParticular agendasselfish behaviour; against internal divisions; “not addressing thecore issues”; “lack of strategic vision”; lack of shared goals;dominant factions that restrict internal freedom of speech; calls forunity; calls for order; call for organisation; unityHeterogeneous compositioninternal disagreements; negative comments among the protesters;grudges between employees and independent entrepreneurs;inappropriate internal behaviour; calls for avoiding symbols, flags;“call for responsible action”; message of unity; call for aconstructive discussion; “calls for a rational discourse”Perceived lack of progress“these protests go nowhere”; ephemeral results from the socialmovements; mobilisation with no results; “too much noise butnothing happens”; “losing momentum”; demoralising effect oflimited success; “we complain but do nothing”; “nothing willchange”; pessimism; “hopeless actions”Focused Codes CategoryStruggling for visibility, Platform forexpressionVoiceParticular agendas, Heterogeneouscomposition, Perceived lack of progressMultiple agendasCalls for mobilisation, Platform fortransformation, Reinvigorating civil societyCall for actionDisenfranchised, Clampdown, Sacrifice,RepresentativenessIdentityMethodThe unit of analysis of this study is ¡Democracia Real YA!(DRY) www.democraciarealya.es, an online citizen’sgrassroots movement that started in 2011 in Spain. Theirmembers identify themselves as the “unemployed, poorlyremunerated, freelancers, vulnerable workers and youth”.Their slogan reads: “We owe nothing, we pay nothing”.Data was collected from the messages posted on DRY’sFacebook site between July and September 2012. Samplingwas designed toward theory construction (Charmaz, 2006).Data analysis was conducted according to the tenets ofgrounded theory (Glaser and Strauss, 1967). The theory thatresults may be tested in subsequent quantitative research.The figure below represents the four stage model researchdesign. We have used only the first two in this research inprogress.Research design using Grounded Theory (adapted from Idrees et al.,2011; Urquhart, 2013)Similar concepts are clustered into categories. Thus, this high leveldescription of DRY postings sets the stage for the salient categories thatemerge from the grounded theory analysis. The four categories thatnaturally arose in the previous table are shown with their category in thetable below.The emergent categories reveal three overlapping reasons for using SNSto facilitate collective action:1. to defend against what is perceived as the threat of neo-liberal policies,2. to enhance the decision-making capability of the protesters in thepolitical system, and3. to claim the right of being the genuine representatives of people’sinterests.ConclusionsEven though DRY members do not represent a homogeneous, cohesive group with an easily identifiable common purpose, alarge group of people disaffected with dominant system cohabit in the online environment and struggle to make their voiceheard in the offline world. The evidence suggests that technology has somewhat increased the opportunity of enrolling moresupporters that otherwise could not have been able to join the group.Our analysis shows that there are heterogeneous groups cohabiting in the online environment, and using social media as aplatform to make their voices heard. The challenge for them remains in gaining space in the political decision-making processthat takes place offline. They may indeed have achieved being ‘together alone’, but there is still difficulty in accessing powerstructures that would enable them to achieve social change.Future work1) Examining the apparent connections betweencategories to suggest theories which can explainthe data before us, but using two different cases.2) Theoretical integration of our emerging theory withexisting literature.SocialSocial MovementsMovements onon thethe Internet:Internet:TogetherTogether AloneAlone oror AloneAlone TogetherTogether??Juan D Borrero Antonio Díaz Andrade Cathy UrquhartUniversity of Huelva Auckland University of Technology Manchester Metropolitan Universityjdiego@uhu.es antonio.diaz@aut.ac.nz c.urquhart@mmu.ac.uk