Tweeting Resistance: The Evolution of Engagement Frameworks


School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding and Development

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Social media platforms are increasingly receiving attention as legitimate locations for civil society discourse and social movement mobilization. Initial work by Lovejoy and Saxton suggests NGOs use digital platforms such as Twitter to engage their constituencies through information dissemination, community building, and mobilization to action. Here, we explore the applicability of Lovejoy and Saxton’s communicative functions framework to resistance movement behavior by exploring two examples of digital engagement in political conflict. Through content analysis of tweets using hashtag indicators #BDS and #ICC4Israel collected during the spring of 2015, we affirm Lovejoy and Saxton’s findings that information dissemination is the most prevalent communication function for grassroots and institutionally grounded movements. Further, we find that informational tweets in our sample often provide information about grievances, and therefore propose an expansion of the framework to accommodate tweets that may be more common in resistance movements than in NGO communication. In addition to general findings about the communicative functions framework, the content analysis yielded several findings specific to the resistance movements studied. Notably, we find that #BDS and #ICC4Israel tweets are overwhelmingly nonviolent, and that sentiment is generally favorable across both hashtags, with the exception of tweets focusing on academic boycott, which were more ambiguous.

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Research in Social Movements, Conflict and Change

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