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Social Movements and New Media

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Abstract

This article explores the contention that social movements are a significant social force transforming societies through their engagement with new media, such as the Internet, Web 2.0, and digital communications, which are seen as capable of facilitating new power structures. Utilizing della Porta and Diani's framework, it considers how new media technologies may be shaping the structure, identity, opportunity, and protest dimensions of social movements. It concludes by suggesting that new media does offer important opportunities for cost-effective networking, interpretive framing, mobilization, and repertoires of protest action. However, their adoption does not represent the creation of entirely new virtual social movements but rather a new means of providing existing social movement organisations, local activist networks, and street-level protest with a trans-national capacity to collaborate, share information, and communicate with a wider audience. Such new media-enabled social action is both more congruent with a politics of identity but may also increasingly be competing within a media environment saturated by user-generated content.

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