Weaving the Web: Internet, Mobilization, and Contentious Political Movements



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Since the development of Web 2.0, the integration of the public sphere into political realm, and vice versa, is remarkable. From the Arab Spring in the Middle East to the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong, the Internet has connected, mobilized, and coordinated the crowds in a way that is unprecedented in any other conventional media platforms. The Internet weaves together like-minded individuals into what appears to be, in Malcom Gladwell’s term, a “loose and leaderless” web but it manages to make it work! This dissertation examines the relationship between the Internet and contentious political movements. It proposes a theoretical alternative from the traditional social movement literature and the study of digital politics, which generally seek to answer the question of whether or not the Internet and its subsuming platforms have a role in facilitating the modern day’s activism. Rather, this project aims to decipher the how and the when part of this puzzle. Through several empirical analyses, this dissertation approaches the connection between the Internet and the propensity of contentious political movement from various perspectives ranging from macro to micro level.



Internet, Social Media, Politics, Contentious, Political Unrest