- Contentious branding
- Reassembling social movements through digital mediators
- Award date
- 17 January 2017
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
This dissertation wishes to contribute to the sociological debate on protest movements by developing the notion of ‘contentious branding’ as a reflection emerging from the digital exploration of two empirical cases that challenge social movement theory: Occupy and Anonymous. The research was orientated by three interrelated questions operating at a methodological, empirical and theoretical level: How can digital research remediate the study of social movements? What sort of assemblages are articulated around the contentious brands Occupy and Anonymous? How does a branding perspective add to or amend traditional theories of social movements? The argument is built on a complexity-orientated epistemological background, interweaving insights derived from assemblage theory, actor-network theory, socio-semiotics and second-order cybernetics. The empirical research has been undertaken by means of digital techniques: Application Programming Interfaces of popular social media (mostly, Twitter and Facebook) have been pulled for data; the #Occupy and #Anonymous hashtags have been employed as research devices to set the limit of the analysis; and the datasets have been explored mostly by means of network analysis and computer-assisted content analysis techniques. The core contribution of the dissertation is to introduce and develop, within the field of social movement theory, the notion of ‘contentious branding’, to cope with the theoretical challenges highlighted by the empirical sections. A branding perspective on social movements not only fits these specific cases better: it intends to provide an epistemological and methodological device, to sustain a non-essentialist understanding of social movements, especially in the cases of digitalization of empirical phenomena and research methods.
- This thesis was prepared within the partnership between the University of Amsterdam and the University of Milan with the purpose of obtaining a joint doctorate degree.
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