What is the Role of Social Media in Establishing a Chain of Equivalence between Activists Participating in Protest Movements?

 

This paper explores the role of social media in establishing a chain of equivalence between activists participating in protest movements. Applying Diani’s network approach as the theoretical framework and introducing the concept of Laclau and Mouffe (1985) ‘the chain of equivalence’ in social movement studies. It is a discursive formation on how each chain is different and how the chains work together to oppose hegemony (common enemy i.e. the state, authority or stakeholder). This project consists of 9 interviews with a chronic interest in participating in protests movements in Taiwan. The method is applied together with social network analysis to draw a graph to depict the overlapping concept provided by the activist’s map. By combining the two methods together, the researcher is able to reach a better understanding of the way activists build their network. The result shows that the importance of social media is when building network connections between activists, through building the chain of equivalence, protest movements can easily work together online and offline become allian to opposed the common enemy. The links are able to constitute outside for information to spread over. Through social network links they are able to establish ‘the chain of equivalence’ in protest movements. While social media plays a vital role in protest movements, the network ties between activists should also be taken into account.