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La Pietra Dialogues On the World On-Line
Connective Action in European Mass Protest
Eva Anduiza and Camilo Cristancho, Universitat AutÚnoma de Barcelona
Conference Paper
May 10, 2013

Online social media is becoming a core element in contentious politics with the growing use of Twitter and Facebook and their normalization as mobilization channels. Research on diffusion processes has made a breakthrough with the use of online traces and big data from social media and multiple case studies have addressed the outcomes of events that rely heavily on it. However, we know little about the effects of mobilization processes that rely on social media and how these vary between contexts and demonstration types.
In this paper we address this question by looking into mass-demonstrations that occurred in 9 European countries between December 2009 and June 2012. Based on protest surveys and organizational data for 77 demonstrations, we analyze the characteristics and
the effects of emerging mobilization patterns based on intensive use of social media and loose organizational affiliation. To what extent is this digitally networked action making a difference in political involvement? Can digitally networked action (DNA) events and traditionally collective action (TCA) events be convincingly distinguished? What are the implications of digitally networked action for political participation and political equality?
The first aim of the paper is to assess to what extent cases of DNA can be distinguished from cases of TCA, not only in conceptual terms (as Benet and Segerberg 2012 do), but also in empirical terms. We show that we can meaningfully distinguish cases of DNA and TCA using two simple indicators: use of online social media as mobilization channels and organizational embeddedness. We further explore differences between DNA and TCA regarding the characteristics of the organizations involved and the personalization of frames.
The second aim of the paper is to assess whether DNA significantly affects the characteristics of the profile of the participant demonstrators. We show that this is indeed the case. These findings provide new evidence on the effects of social media in contentious politics and for the debate on the potential impact of internet use in reducing political inequalities.
Keywords: protest, online social networks, political equality, collective action, internet
Full paper and presentation here

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