smsociety14 has ended
Saturday, September 27 • 16:11 - 16:30
"Voices of Dissent: #Idlenomore as a contested space"

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Background: Studies into recent social movements such as Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring show how committed individuals are appropriating social media to articulate a counter narrative, and contest selective or dismissive framing by mainstream media (Gleason, 2013; Lotan et al., 2011; Meraz and Papacharissi, 2013). These movements do not have specific, concise demands that can be easily explained by mainstream media, but present an open-ended, unspecified meta-narrative where participants seek to create their own meaning.

Objective: The paper investigates how processes of networked gatekeeping shape the dissemination and representation of news and information on the Idle No More movement in Canada on social media. Through an analysis of the actor types who used the Idle No More hashtag, #Idlenomore, this paper examines how social media spaces create a terrain for negotiation where strength on all sides offsets the other, demanding articulations, and accountability for such expressions, explanations, and descriptions of the movement.

Methods: We analysed 743,365 tweets gathered in November 2013 and identified as containing the hashtag, #Idlenomore. The data covers the period when movement started and was most active, from December 2012 and January 2013. Using classifications adapted from Lotan et al. (2011) and from Hermida et al. (2014), the top 500 actor types by influence and by retweet were coded, providing us two ways to analyse authority on Twitter.

Results: While the top actors by influence were primarily institutional elites such as journalists from mainstream media organisations and celebrities, measuring influence by retweet resulted in a more diverse set of actors. We observed processes of multi-vocal articulation where a crowdsourced elite composed of a greater proportion of indigenous and alternative voices rose to prominence as the most retweeted during a time of intensive media, political, and public attentions.

Conclusions: In many ways, Twitter imitates and replicates existing power structures in society by elevating those with influence through mainstream media. Yet retweeting creates conditions for supplanting influencers when those in the network resonate with the articulations offered by alternative voices. Alternative structures emerge within the network, facilitating a crowdsourced elite capable of negotiating the processes of articulation and resonance. Social media, and Twitter in particular, affords a contested middle ground for relevance, meaning and interpretation.

Gleason, B. (2013). #Occupy Wall Street: Exploring Informal Learning About a Social Movement on Twitter. American Behavioural Scientist, 57. 966-982.

Hermida, A., Lewis, S., and Zamith, R. (2014) Sourcing the Arab Spring: A Case Study of Andy Carvin’s Sources on Twitter During the Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. 19(3), 479-499.

Lotan, G., Graeff, E., Ananny, M., Gaffney, D., Pearce, I., & Boyd, D. (2011). The Revolutions Were Tweeted: Information Flows During the 2011 Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions. International Journal of Communication, 5, 1375–1405.       

Meraz, S. & Papacharissi, Z. (2013). Networked gatekeeping and networked framing on #egypt. International Journal of the Press and Politics, 18(2), 1-29.


Candis Callison

University of British Columbia
Candis Callison is an Assistant Professor in UBC's Graduate School of Journalism where she conducts research on media, social movements, and science and environment issues. Her book, How Climate Change Comes to Matter: The Communal Life of Facts will be available in November 2014... Read More →

Alfred Hermida

University of British Columbia
Author of #TellEveryone: Why We Share and Why It Matters, out Oct 14 (DoubleDay Canada). Award-winning online news pioneer @BBCNews, digital media scholar & journalism professor @UBCJournalism

Saturday September 27, 2014 16:11 - 16:30
TRS 1-147 Ted Rogers School of Management

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