Networks of Contention: The Shape of Online Transnationalism in Early Twenty-First Century Social Movement Coalitions

2013-10-24T15:17:50Z (GMT) by Stefania Vicari
The study of new media use by transnational social movements is central to contemporary investigations of social contention. In order to shed light on the terrain in which the most recent examples of online mobilization have grown and developed, this paper combines the interest in the transnational dynamics of social contention and the exploration of the use of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) for protest action. In specific terms, the study investigates how early twenty-first century social movement coalitions used Internet tools to build symbolically transnational collective identities. By applying a hyperlink network analysis approach, the study focuses on a website network generated by local chapters of the World Social Forum (WSF), one of the earliest social movement coalitions for global justice. The sample network, selected through snowball sampling, is composed of 222 social forum websites from around the world. The study specifically looks at hyperlinks among social forum websites as signs of belonging and potential means of alliance. The analysis uses network measures, namely of cohesion, centrality, structural equivalence and homophily, to test dynamics of symbolic collective identification underlying the WSF coalition. The findings show that in early twenty-first century transnational contention, culture and place still played a central role in the emergence of transnational movement networks.