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Making Sense of Social Change: Observing Collective Action in Networked Cultures



This article presents an overview of rising trends in the study of networked interactions conveyed by social media technologies and the emergence of new meanings associated with social change. In recent years, a healthy amount of studies has focused on ICT uses within collective action, considering social media tools to have become crucial components of many transnational movements and social change projects. Crossing boundaries between social movements theories, political science, and communication studies, literature suggests that ‘online activism’ and increasingly networked interactions may have transformed the meanings and definitions associated with ‘collective action’ and ‘social change’. To make sense of these meanings, we identify three approaches used by scholars, which focus on (i) the actual networking of actors, (ii) the diffusion of new repertoires and frames through networks, and (iii) making sense of new meanings conveyed within networked cultures. We conclude by suggesting the need for more comprehensive research to better observe and make sense of how's actors define collective action and how they use social media tools when striving to convey social change.