The nexus between media, communication and social movementsLooking back and the way forward

Authored by: Donatella della Porta , Elena Pavan

The Routledge Companion To Media And Activism

Print publication date:  March  2018
Online publication date:  March  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138202030
eBook ISBN: 9781315475059
Adobe ISBN:


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The widespread adoption of digital media as tools for protest and activism during critical ­junctures – such as the Arab Springs, or the severe economic crisis in Europe and all over the world – has prompted a highly interdisciplinary reflection on how increased communication ­possibilities entwine with the organizational and the symbolic dimensions of social movements, but also on media practices as forms of resistance in their own right. Thus, this new strand of research revamps and, at the same time, updates a longer-term discussion on the role of media within contentious politics – one that developed in a mediascape dominated by mass media but that remains particularly relevant to understand the implications of the current ‘hybrid media context’ (Chadwick 2013). In this chapter, we offer a brief introduction to the study of the ‘intricacy of interactions between media and movements’ (Mattoni & Treré 2014: 252). We start from traditional approaches developed within social movement studies, then summarizing the current debate on the nexus between digital media and movements by paying specific attention to three main aspects: the modes in which movements organize and act, the formation of collective identities and the hybridization of action repertoires. We conclude by identifying some promising areas of research that can contribute to further developing our knowledge in this domain.

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