Contentious Politics in a Digital World: Studies on Social Activism, Protest, and Polarization
Homero Gil de Zúñiga
Democracy Research Unit, University of Salamanca, Spain / Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, Pennsylvania State University, USA / Facultad de Comunicación y Letras, Universidad Diego Portales, Chile
Democracy Research Unit, University of Salamanca, Spain
Departamento de Ciencias de la Comunicación y Trabajo Social, Universidad de La Laguna, Spain / Instituto Universitario de Neurociencia, Universidad de La Laguna, Spain
Abstract: In a world of polarized societies and radical voices hogging the public digital sphere, this thematic issue aims at identifying the different strategies of old and new social movements in the extremes of the political debates by focusing on the interplay between polarization, uses of the internet, and social activism. In order to disentangle these interactions, this thematic issue covers a wide range of political settings across the globe. It does so by studying: (a) how opposing activists discuss politics online and its implications for democratic theory; (b) how social media uses and online discussions foster offline protests; (c) how the media and state-led-propaganda frame disruptive and anti-government offline protests and how this situation contributes to polarization in both democratic and non-democratic regimes; and finally (d) how civil society uses digital tools to organize and mobilize around sensitive issues in non-democratic regimes.
Keywords: digital activism; digital mobilization; political polarization; political protest; social media