The #OCCUPY network on Twitter and the challenges to social movements theory and research
by Davide Beraldo; Juan Galan-Paez
International Journal of Electronic Governance (IJEG), Vol. 6, No. 4, 2013

Abstract: This work sketches out an exploration on some challenges that digital environments pose to social movements studies. While transformations in the technology available for communication among movement networks quite obviously reconfigure their organisational patterns, the current use of the notion of collective identity, less obviously, is also called into question. Drawing on a dataset of tweets collected during the early stage of the worldwide Occupy protest wave, the outcomes of different possibilities of analysis are presented. The discussion of the results challenges various aspects of recent trends in Social Movements Theory, including the persistent distinction between organisational and identitary elements. A socio-semiotic observation is then acknowledged: to a certain extent, in contemporary protests, signifiers have acquired distinctive importance with respect to signified, in mediating the assemblage of contentious networks. The notion of 'social movement brand' is consequently suggested as fitting these phenomenon's better than the classical one of collective identity.

Online publication date: Wed, 23-Apr-2014

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