DISRUPTIING THE STATUS QUO: A CASE STUDY OF DIGITAL MOBILIZATION & AWARENESS WITHIN BLACK LIVES MATTER
Goodridge, Tyler Patrice
What sparks a revolution? In August 2014, millions were spurred to action by the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. By fall of that year, protests surrounding Brown’s death were subsumed under the organization, Black Lives Matter (BLM). Continuing today, BLM has become a movement that fights to change social discourse and public policies that marginalize Black citizens. Researchers have found that the maintenance of this movement is contingent upon social networks built within the digital sphere. Through the use of social media platforms, BLM now has a community of supporters that stretches into the millions. This study examines the use of the popular Twitter hashtag #AliveWhileBlack in framing social discourse around racial inequality and the Tumblr blog Ferguson National Response Network, as a network used to mobilize citizens on the ground. Using the narratology paradigm and resource mobilization theory, my results find that social media—specifically Twitter—has the unprecedented ability to synthesis digital counter-narratives in a potent manner that quickly evokes reactions. This study also finds that the use of social media to mobilize is most effective at critical points in the movement—specifically 1 to 2 weeks after major incidents. Documenting specific periods, I found significant upticks in citizen activism 1-8 days after the non-indictment of Darren Wilson and 1-20 days after the non-indictment of Daniel Pantaleo.
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