Networked Discontent: The Anatomy of Protest Campaigns in Social Media

Forthcoming in Social Networks

37 Pages Posted: 22 May 2013 Last revised: 22 Jul 2015

Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon

University of Pennsylvania - Annenberg School for Communication

Ning Wang

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Date Written: May 21, 2013

Abstract

We analyze the communication network that emerged in social media around an international protest campaign launched in May 2012. Applying insights from network science and the theory of brokerage, we examine the cohesion of the network with community detection methods, and identify the users that spanned structural holes, creating bridges for potential diffusion. We also analyze actual information flows to assess how the network was used to facilitate the transmission of information. Our findings provide evidence of fragmentation in online communication dynamics, and of a distribution of brokerage opportunities that was both uneven and underexploited. We use these findings to assess recent theoretical claims about political protests in the digital age.

Keywords: social protests; online networks; structural constraint; modularity; digital media

Suggested Citation

Gonzalez-Bailon, Sandra and Wang, Ning, Networked Discontent: The Anatomy of Protest Campaigns in Social Media (May 21, 2013). Forthcoming in Social Networks. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2268165 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2268165

Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Annenberg School for Communication ( email )

Philadelphia, PA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.asc.upenn.edu/sgonzalezbailon/

Ning Wang

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

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