YouTube and Social Movements: A Phenomenological Analysis of Participation, Events and Cyberplace



Abstract:  Web 2.0 studies position new social media as creating relational connections, yielding new geographies based on increased awareness. YouTube exemplifies these media, fostering relations between geographically and politically disparate people. Moving beyond the dichotomy between space and cyberspace, this paper expands upon Wellman's (2001) description of cyberplace, and argues that place and cyberplace form a continuum upon which filmed events can be located. Invisible Children, a non-governmental organization concerned with raising awareness about Ugandan child soldiers, illustrates the role of new media in this continuum through disseminating their videos of protests on YouTube. This analysis expands our understanding of both the links between the generation of awareness and movement participation, and media's contribution to geographies of collective action.