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Mainstream media and activist framing of activists use of social media

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Abstract

Published
Publication date12/06/2012
Original languageEnglish
EventProtest and the Media: 5th Annual Conference of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication - University of Westminster, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 12/06/201313/06/2013

Conference

ConferenceProtest and the Media: 5th Annual Conference of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityLondon
Period12/06/1313/06/13

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to explore media framing of the use of social media by activists protesting against the current Coalition government's austerity measures, with UK Uncut and Boycott Workfare highlighted as examples of these activist networks. Recent research from within social movement studies suggests that the definition of political opportunity structures must be broadened to include media opportunity structures (Crossley 2002; Cammaerts 2012). This approach contends that activists are aware of mediated political representations of their strategies, which in turn influence activist's protest repertoires.

This paper adopts critical discourse analysis (Fairclough 1995; Wodak 2001) as an approach to show how media framing of the utilisation of social media platforms by activists is used as a discursive strategy to delegitimise the claims of protesters. I argue that claims made by journalists and politicians within the field of mediated politics, such as on BBC's Newsnight, frame social media as a medium colonised by extremist opinion and an instrument employed by individual activists in order to mobilise their followers. Activists' use of social media is represented in
dualistic terms (Jurgenson 2012), where a separation between online and offline is strategically employed to discredit activists.