Social Media Activism
Social Media Activism
Water as a Common Good
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TABLE OF CONTENTS List of Abbreviations Acknowledgements Introduction Case Study: the Italian referendum campaign against water privatization Connected Activism: loose interactions on social media, and possible effects on campaigning Methods to Investigate Large-Scale Campaigns: a challenging object of study Structure of the Book 1 Models of Online-Related Activism 1.1 Online-Related Activism: key concepts 1.2 Overlapping Plans: research on online phenomena, and its complexity 1.3 Recurring Questions Conclusions 2 Methods for Investigating Online Related Large-Scale Campaigns on the Web 2.1 The Italian Referendum Campaign on Water: methodological opportunities and difficulties 2.2 Online-Related Social Research: some inspiring methods 2.3 A Methodological Proposal for Investigating Large-Scale Online Campaigns 3 Water Commons: global movements and the Italian campaign against water privatisation 3.1 The Global Context 3.2 Acqua Bene Comune: the growth of the Italian water coalition 3.3 The 2011 Referendum Campaign against Water Privatisation in Italy 3.4 Alliances and Conflicts during the Campaign Conclusions 4 The Web of Water: a trace on the links structure 4.1 Investigating the Web as a Network of Links 4.2 Network Analysis of the Water Campaign on the Web 4.3 Community Structures and the Content of Websites Conclusions 5 Patterns of Online Communication during the Referendum Campaign 5.1 Online Communication during the Campaign: an evolving strategy 5.2 The Role of the Specialists: technological and communications skills 5.3 The Media Context: the relationship with non-digital media 5.4 Processes of Website Creation Conclusions 6 The Campaign for Water on Facebook. Perceptions and organizational models in a real-digital space of activism 6.1 How to Investigate a Facebook Campaign 6.2 Activism on Facebook during the 2011 Referendum Campaign 6.3 Groups, Initiatives, and Patterns of Use 6.4 The Perception of Facebook Conclusions 7 Reinterpreting the Data: new theoretical perspectives and methodological proposals 7.1 Three Final Perspectives for Observing the Referendum Campaign 7.2 On Methods: strengths and weaknesses of a combined methodological approach 7.3 Five Directions For Further Research References List of the Interviews

Matteo Cernison

Social Media Activism

Water as a Common Good

This book focuses on the referendums against water privatization in Italy and explores how activists took to social media, ultimately convincing twenty-seven million citizens to vote. Investigating the relationship between social movements and internet-related activism during complex campaigns, this book examines how a technological evolution — the increased relevance of social media platforms — affected in very different ways organizations with divergent characteristics, promoting at the same time decentralized communication practices, and new ways of coordinating dispersed communities of people. Matteo Cernison combines and adapts a wide set of methods, from social network analysis to digital ethnography, in order to explore in detail how digital activism and face-to-face initiatives interact and overlap. He argues that the geographical scale of actions, the role played by external media professionals, and the activists’ perceptions of digital technologies are key elements that contribute in a significant way to shape the very different communication practices often described as online activism.

Matteo Cernison

Matteo Cernison obtained his PhD in Social and Political Science at the European University Institute (EUI) in 2014, where he contributed to the ERC project ‘Mobilizing for Democracy’ at COSMOS — Centre for Social Movement Studies (EUI and Scuola Superiore Normale). He is currently developing pedagogical projects for Bretz’Selle, a small environmental NGO based in Strasbourg.