Preliminary Conference Agenda

Papers 11: Online Activism
Monday, 01/Apr/2019:
3:30pm - 5:00pm

Session Chair: Colin Rhinesmith, Simmons University
Location: 0105


Information Bridges: Understanding the Informational Role of Network Brokerages in Polarised Online Discourses

P. Yan

University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Abstract. Social networking and micro-blogging sites such as Twitter and Weibo have provided new platforms of public discussions for Internet us-ers. As the number of online social movements has increased in recent years, the Chinese government has adopted new media and has strategically confronted online social movements with orchestrated campaigns, which lead to a dichotomy between the Chinese government and civil society. Us-ing a network analysis perspective, this research aims at studying the polar-ization of Chinese online political discourse, by examining who are playing the key roles in bridging different voices and exchanging various view-points in an online debate. I collected data from a conversation network in a massive online protest on Weibo, visualised the polarization between the Chinese government and civil society, and analysed the typological differ-ences between the two groups. This research demonstrated the structural role of brokers in information diffusion within conversation network by using Susceptible-Infected (SI) simulation, showing that brokerage plays a key role in bridging the polarized online opinions and facilitating infor-mation diffusion. Taking a social network analysis perspective, this re-search re-examined Chinese contentious social movement under its politi-cal regime and can shed lights onto the understanding of the structural and informational roles of network brokerages for the deliberative democracy.

Putting the “Move” in Social Movements: Assessing the Role of Kama Muta in Online Activism

J. Pierre

UCLA, United States of America

Today the structure of social media movements online is moving beyond just a means for communication and more into space for growing the movement, developing a brand, and solidifying the network for group action. Thus individual posts on personal profiles and group and event pages become an increasingly important element of participation. Emotions may drive these posts, as well as the responses to them. This study seeks to enter into conversation with previous works in the areas of communication, information studies, sociology, and anthropology that investigate the intersection of social media and activism. However, this study takes a novel approach through the particular focus on individual emotional elements of social media posting, sharing, commenting, and other forms of engagement. Using ethnographic methods of digital participant observation of five major activist Facebook groups, this study will examine the prevalence of content expressing or intending to evoke kama muta.

Crowdsourcing Change: A novel vantage point for investigating online petitioning platforms

S. Dhanorkar, M. B. Rosson

Pennsylvania State University, United States of America

The internet connects people who are spatially and temporally separated. One result is new modes of reaching out to, organizing and mobilizing people, including online activism. Internet platforms can be used to mobilize people around specific concerns, short-circuiting structures such as organizational hierarchies or elected officials. These online processes allow consumers and concerned citizens to voice their opinions, often to businesses, other times to civic groups or other authorities. Not surprisingly, this opportunity has encouraged a steady rise in specialized platforms dedicated to online petitioning. These include, Care2 Petitions, and others. These platforms are open to everyone; any individual or group who is affected by a problem or disappointed with the status quo, can raise awareness for or against corporate or government policies. Such platforms can empower ordinary citizens to bring about social change, by leveraging support from the masses. In this sense, the platforms allow citizens to “crowdsource change”. In this paper, we offer a comparative analysis of the affordances of four online petitioning platforms, and use this analysis to propose ideas for design enhancements to online petitioning platforms.