The Revolution Will Be Twittered!
Or will it?
Recent events in different authoritarian regimes, such as the Muslim States Iran and Egypt, drew a considerable amount of attention to a developing phenomenon in collective action. People in those countries organized themselves through different social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, for political protest and resistance.
This phenomenon implies a change in social structures and social behavior, which is intrinsically tied to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The use of social media platforms in order to leverage collective action, which can eventually also lead to a political revolution, demonstrates the significance of ICT and social media in people’s ability to organize.
Furthermore, this phenomenon points out how developed methods for organizing and managing of information, which are possible primarily in digital form and with intangible information-objects, can in turn affect people’s organization. In many contexts, information is not organized in linear and predefined hierarchies any longer, but rather in a network-form with flexible, adaptable and context-relevant structures. As soon as those principles are implemented in people’s communication (and a critical mass of use is achieved), as is the case with social media, the technologies facilitate the adoption of decentralized, non-hierarchical manners of organization. Groups of people can communicate with each other simultaneously and organize in a network form.
Social media’s impact on collective action was the subject of my thesis, written in August 2011.
The paper is available as open-access at the following links:
Humboldt University Open-Access Repository (eDoc Server):