Simon Lindgren (Umea University, Sweden): Global media, Local movements: The role of local context in social media mobilisation
Many previous studies of social media as employed in political activism, tend to conflate political action and social movements with a particular scale (large) and geography (urban). To counterbalance that bias, this article presents a case study of a locally rooted Swedish environmental campaign. The aim of the study is to analyse how the double — and partly contradictory — goals of speaking to both the global and the local comes into expression in the social media activities that relate to this movement. A dataset consisting of Facebook and Twitter posts was analysed with a focus on the interaction between activists and their opponents as well as the resources linked to in tweets and Facebook posts. The social media platforms gave the movement a potentially global reach and the activists used this to put pressure on companies, and on local and national governments. Furthermore, social media was used to reveal inconsistencies or conflicts between different levels in the political system (between the EU and the Swedish government, between political parties and between academic and political expertise). In general, social media provided techniques for building legitimacy and credibility that could help activists prevent or resist framings and associations of the movement that would have demobilising effects.
Simon Lindgren is Professor of Sociology at Umeå University, Sweden. He researches digital culture with a focus on social connections, social organization and social movements. He works with developing theoretical as well as methodological tools for analysing discursive and social network aspects of the evolving new media landscape. His publications cover themes like hacktivism, digital piracy, citizen journalism, subcultural creativity and learning, popular culture and visual politics. Simon is the author of New Noise: A Cultural Sociology of Digital Disruption (2013) and the editor of Hybrid Media Culture: Sensing Place in a World of Flows (2013). More information can be found at www.simonlindgren.com