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Special Issue on Social Media and Protest Identity – Information, Communication & Society – Volume 18, Issue 8, 2015

Special Issue of Information, Communication & Society  – Volume 18, Issue 8, 2015

edited by Paolo Gerbaudo and Emiliano Treré

How does collective identity operate in social media activism across protest movements as Occupy Wall Street, the indignados and Anonymous? What are the different social media practices involved in the construction of collective identity? And how do forms of collective identity produced via social media reflect the affordances of these communication technologies and the dilemmas of digital society? Examining these and similar questions, this special issue sets out to explore the changing nature of collective identity in a digital era and to establish what opportunities and threats the new media ecology brings to processes of identity construction in contemporary protest movements. The contributions to the special issue recognize and problematize collective identity as a central object of concern for digital activists and conceive social media as platforms in which new identities are forged and channelled. The authors demonstrate that social media has become the key site where protest identities are created, channelled, and contested. Far from having disappeared from the horizon of contemporary activism, collective identity still constitutes a pivotal question for activists and scholars alike; one which is decisive to understand the emergence, persistence, and decline of protest movements, and to discern their meaning and worldview.



In search of the ‘we’ of social media activism: introduction to the special issue on social media and protest identities
Paolo Gerbaudo, Emiliano Treré


Creating the Collective: Social Media, the Occupy Movement and its Constitution as a Collective Actor
Anastasia Kavada

From Social Movements to Cloud Protesting: the evolution of collective identity
Stefania Milan

Reclaiming, proclaiming, and maintaining collective identity in the #YoSoy132 movement in Mexico: an examination of digital frontstage and backstage activism through social media and instant messaging platforms
Emiliano Treré

Protest avatars as memetic signifiers: political profile pictures and the construction of collective identity on social media in the 2011 protest wave
Paolo Gerbaudo

Multitudinous identities: a qualitative and network analysis of the 15M collective identity
Arnau Monterde, Miguel Aguilera, Xabier E. Barandiaran, Antonio Calleja, John Postill

The Rise and Fall of Collective Identity in Networked Movements: Communication Protocols, Facebook, and the Anti-Berlusconi Protest
Lorenzo Coretti, Daniele Pica

From Indymedia to Anonymous: rethinking action, identity and digital communications Kevin McDonald


Do clouds have politics? Tracing the Meanders of Collective Identity Amid Social Media
Maria Bakardjieva

Paolo Gerbaudo

I am a researcher interested in new media and culture in contemporary global activism. I am a Lecturer in Digital Culture and Society at King's College London and have previously worked at the American University in Cairo.

My academic profile