Handbook of Political Citizenship and Social Movements
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Handbook of Political Citizenship and Social Movements

Edited by Hein-Anton van der Heijden

This Handbook uniquely collates the results of several decades of academic research in these two important fields. The expert contributions successively address the different forms of political citizenship and current approaches and recent developments in social movement studies. Salient social movements in recent history are explored in depth, covering the environmental, women’s, international human rights, urban, Tea Party, and animal rights movements. Social movements and political citizenship in the ‘global South’: China, India, Africa, and the Arab World, are discussed, presenting a novel empirical insight into these fields of study.
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Chapter 16: Social movements and the ICT revolution

Jennifer Earl, Jayson Hunt and R. Kelly Garrett


Researchers have examined the relationship between social movements and new information and communication technologies (ICTs) for decades, but with exponentially increasing intensity. Scholarship in the area has shifted from emphasizing a small number of high-profile cases to a more theoretically driven body of research that considers a range of technologies, social movements, and outcomes. The number of publications has grown tremendously and today this subfield represents a burgeoning area of research. With this expansion, a number of distinct theoretical questions and positions have emerged, and new research frontiers have been identified. In this chapter, we review important developments in the field, highlighting central theoretical questions and debates and summarizing key findings. We focus on two levels where theoretical discussion and debate have taken place. First, there have been ‘grand’-level debates about whether or not ICT usage has impacts on activism and social movements, and, if so, whether these effects are the product of amplifying well-known social movement processes (e.g., making diffusion happen faster or diffuse farther) or they represent a more fundamental transformation of our models of social movement activity. Second, theoretical discussion and debate has also taken place within established social movement subfields, such as within research on repression, movement outcomes, and so on. At times these discussions are linked to the grand-level debate we begin with. For instance, we consider at length research examining whether the role of social movement organizations is fundamentally altered by more extensive ICT usage.

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