“Blogging and Collective Action: Which Networks Matter and For Whom?”
Date: Wednesday 8 September 2010
Time: 3 p.m.
Venue: CNM Playroom, AS6 03-38
Political developments that took place in recent years suggest that blogging has embarked on a different trajectory, from a personal and therapeutic medium to one which impacts civic participation. Observations of how bloggers are influencing the political landscape are not limited to countries in the West but extend to Asian countries as well. Existing literature on cyber-activism is mainly focused on how technologies facilitate collective action across geographical boundaries as well as enable marginalized groups and individuals to overcome real world constraints to further their cause. In the field of sociology, social movement theorists have lauded the importance and indispensability of one’s informal and formal social networks in influencing and sustaining participation. This paper first identifies the different types of political bloggers in the local context and their levels of involvement in activism. It then examines the roles and significance of three types of social networks – informal, formal and online. In-depth interviews were conducted with more than 40 political bloggers, prominent activists as well as those who did not engage in activism. Quantitative data from questionnaires further elucidated on the relationship between social network variables and bloggers’ participation/non-participation in collective action. The findings indicate significant relationships between political bloggers’ informal and formal social networks and their participation. Although online networks play a critical role in helping political bloggers connect with like-minded activists, communication frequency, social influence, trust and information-seeking were higher between activist bloggers and their informal and formal contacts.
This paper is part of the presenter’s doctoral dissertation which examines the role of collective identity and social networks in engendering participation in collective action among political bloggers. Combined with the analysis of collective identity shared by political bloggers, these findings provide the basis for the development of a typology on the relationship between collectiveness and activism involvement.