42nd Poznań Linguistic Meeting 2011


Conference paper: The discursive dynamics of online political activism

Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan

The internet comprises a constantly changing communicative space in the public (and semi-public) sphere. ‘Online activism’, i.e. the use of the internet by activists to raise awareness about social issues, to organise campaigns, or to exert pressure on institutions, has seen an exponential increase in recent years, which has accompanied the exponential increase in the use of social media such as Facebook. This fundamental change in social practices has led some commentators to point to the rise in online activism as a sign that political activism is not dead, and young people are anything but apathetic. However, others have identified a corresponding decline in offline, ‘real’ activism, and have also pointed to one of the problems inherent in using public social media to organize political dissent: while it is quick and easy to reach a huge volume of people, these people can also be identified by oppressive regimes, both during campaigns, when dissent can be silenced to prevent further activism, and after ‘failed’ campaigns, when dissenters can be brutally punished for their role as organizers or participants in campaigns.




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