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Title:Networked activists and the movement for democracy in Hong Kong
Author(s):Ting, Tin Yuet
Director of Research:McDermott, Monica
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):McDermott, Monica
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Bayat, Asef; Denzin, Norman K.; Schulz, Markus S
Department / Program:Sociology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Digital Media
Hong Kong
Networked Activism
Social Media
Social Movements
Abstract:The Umbrella Movement was arguably the largest and longest episode of collective contention in the history of Hong Kong, where political activism for democracy surged when a conservative reform to Hong Kong's electoral system was announced by the mainland Chinese government in late August 2014. Whereas Hong Kong lacks the tradition of radical protests, the Umbrella Movement enjoyed considerable public support, especially amongst the networked individuals whose everyday activities and social relations are intimately rooted in their new media usages. Drawing on in-depth interviews, online ethnography, and archival research, this research examines how the digitally-enabled individuals, who operated outside social movement organizations and political interest groups, came to engage in and sustain the Umbrella Movement. In particular, by integrating Actor-Network Theory and performance studies into social movement and Internet research, it submits a post-structuralist, practice-oriented approach to study how the individual citizens initiated their political activism, how they came together and acted in concert throughout the seventy-nine days, and how their movement involvement interacted with their everyday routines and relations, facilitated by the use of social media and digital technologies. Throughout this research, I contend that the digitally-enabled individuals' networked activism emerged and evolved as on-going processes of socio-material assemblages, in which the people's activist identity and political action arose within sets of situated, social-technological practices. This research has significant implications for the study of contemporary networked social movements. First, moving away from the common focus on the technical capacity of new media technology, it proposes the concept of hybrid contentious practices to look at how networked activists combine and switch between on- and offline spheres of action, as opposed to the general role of the Internet and its unidirectional impact on collective action. Second, this research orients our attention toward the larger historical-material contexts of and immediate encounters in protest movements, through which the individuals' political subjectivity and activity develop and alter. Lastly, this research transcends the long-standing scholarly divide by showing how people's contentious-political identity and action are simultaneously and mutually constitutive in the unfolding processes of performative doing.
Issue Date:2016-04-19
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Tin-yuet Ting
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-07-07
Date Deposited:2016-05

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