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Institutionalisation of Political Parties: Comparative Cases. Edited by Robert Harmel and Lars G. Svasand

Using Twitter to Mobilise Protest Action: Transnational Online Mobilisation Patterns and Action Repertoires in the Occupy Wall Street, Indignados and Aganaktismenoi Movements

Presenter
Gema García Albacete
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
Authors
Yannis Theocharis
Universität Mannheim
Gema García Albacete
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
William Lowe
Universität Mannheim
Jan van Deth
Universität Mannheim

Abstract
2011 marked the emergence of social movements on a massive, global and often simultaneous scale. Powered by the internet, the social movements use different ways to organise collective action, mobilise resources and engage in a mix of online and offline repertoire of actions. The extensive use of Social Network Sites (SNS) for protests purposes was a distinctive feature of the protest events in Spain, Greece and the US. Like the Occupy protesters, the Indignant activists of Spain and Greece protested different manifestations of unjust, unequal and corrupted political and economic institutions marked by the arrogance of those in power. But how did the networking capacities offered by the internet were utilised to diffuse cross-national solidarity and allow high-threshold, old-fashioned social movement tactics, such as occupations, to become a tactic that surpassed borders? A closer comparison of the content of the information exchange in SNS revealed not just similarities but also differences among the three movements (Theocharis & García-Albacete, 2012) some clearly emerging due to the different national contexts. How common were the demands, practices, goals or political actions promoted by the three movements? We tackle these questions studying the communication patterns of people who tweeted about the movements. This paper presents the findings of a comparative content analysis that focuses on how Twitter was used by Spanish, Greek, and American citizens for exchanging information, organising protest events, mobilising participants and creating new, or supporting old, repertoires of engagement. Preliminary results show that the main similarity is the usage of Twitter for information exchange in the three countries. But there are also differences, most notably, the tweeted output of the Aganktismenoi movement differs in several characteristics from the Indignados or Occupy Wall Street.
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