Social Movements and the Internet. the Sociotechnical Constitution of Collective Action in the Digital Age

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 10:30
Oral Presentation
Ulrich DOLATA, University of Stuttgart, Germany
For some years, the field of research on social movements has undergone fundamental changes with regard to its structure and orientation. More specifically, it has moved from conceptualizing and examining protest movements as purely social phenomena to taking into consideration the new technological foundations of collective action. Regardless of the degree of influence which the internet and its media platforms is deemed to have on social movements, most research contributions to this topic have one commonality: Despite the oft-made references to the action-enabling and -expanding character of the new technological connectivity, the technologies themselves with all their embedded rules and regulations remain a blind spot in much of the discussion. Against the backdrop of this discussion, this paper seeks to identify the role played by the internet and in particular social media today in the development and stabilization of political protest and social movements. For this, the paper pursues two tasks: One, to arrive at a more precise definition of the technical foundations of collective behavior and action, namely one that would reveal the internet and social media not only as enabling but also as regulating and action-guiding infrastructures and institutions that have a considerable degree of impact. And two, to assess the relationships between the technical and social conditions under which collective protest and social movements take shape in the digital age, referred to as “technically advanced sociality.”


Ulrich Dolata, 2017: Social Movements and the Internet. The Sociotechnical Constitution of Collective Action. Stuttgart: SOI discussion paper 2017-02