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Digital prefigurative participation: the entwinement of online communication and offline participation in protest events

Mercea, D. (2012). Digital prefigurative participation: the entwinement of online communication and offline participation in protest events. New Media & Society, 14(1), pp. 153-169. doi: 10.1177/1461444811429103

Abstract

This article reviews the main findings of a three-year empirical study that examined the possible contribution of computer-mediated communication (CMC) to participation in offline social movement protest events. Participation was examined as manifest in mobilization, identity building and organizational transformation. Digital prefigurative participation is a tentative construct that attempts to capture the CMC aspect of engagement in the three processes. The participatory processes were probed in the contrasting circumstances of high- and low-risk protest events. This distinction has revealed some important differences in the structural factors that foster participation, primary among which has been organizational affiliation. Yet, it has remained largely unexplored in studies of internet use in protest politics. Findings from two case studies of environmental protests in Romania and the UK suggest that digital prefigurative participation may be extensive among unaffiliated participants at a low-risk event and the affiliated at a high-risk one.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > Sociology
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/3047
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