The symbol of social media in contemporary protest: Twitter and the Gezi Park movement

Olu Jenzen*, Itir Erhart, Hande Eslen-Ziya, Umut Korkut, Aidan McGarry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

This article explores how Twitter has emerged as a signifier of contemporary protest. Using the concept of ‘social media imaginaries’, a derivative of the broader field of ‘media imaginaries’, our analysis seeks to offer new insights into activists’ relation to and conceptualisation of social media and how it shapes their digital media practices. Extending the concept of media imaginaries to include analysis of protestors’ use of aesthetics, it aims to unpick how a particular ‘social media imaginary’ is constructed and informs their collective identity. Using the Gezi Park protest of 2013 as a case study, it illustrates how social media became a symbolic part of the protest movement by providing the visualised possibility of imagining the movement. In previous research, the main emphasis has been given to the functionality of social media as a means of information sharing and a tool for protest organisation. This article seeks to redress this by directing our attention to the role of visual communication in online protest expressions and thus also illustrates the role of visual analysis in social movement studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-437
Number of pages24
Journal Convergence
Volume27
Issue number2
Early online date6 Jul 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021

Keywords

  • aesthetics of protest
  • Gezi Park
  • online activism
  • social media activism
  • social media imaginers
  • Turkey
  • protest
  • social media
  • Twitter
  • visual communication

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