Invited paper: Researching online activism: political resistance, the web, and social media
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 vast increase in recent years, which has accompanied the exponential increase in the use of the internet in general, and social media such as Facebook in particular.
In this paper I present some initial findings from the Political Resistance Online Research Project (PRORP), which ultimately aims to investigate online resistance practices across a wide variety of contexts. Several case studies are used to show how activists employ tried and tested discursive strategies from the ‘offline world’ to try to get their point across, but also adapt their strategies to take advantage of the new affordances offered by web technologies.
By situating the study of online political resistance practices within the academic fields of critical and computer mediated discourse analysis, and also within the broader public debate on the role of online media in political struggles, I hope to offer some new perspectives on research in this area.