Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/27943
Title: "Blogging and collective action: The role of collective identity and social networks in engendering change."
Authors: SOON WAN TING
Keywords: Political blogging, collective action, collective identity, social networks, social movement, Singapore
Issue Date: 27-Dec-2010
Source: SOON WAN TING (2010-12-27). "Blogging and collective action: The role of collective identity and social networks in engendering change.". ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Political developments that took place in recent years suggest that blogging has embarked on a different trajectory, from a personal medium to one which transforms civic participation. Observations of how bloggers are emerging as political players are not limited to Western countries but extend also to Asian countries. Theoretically grounded in resource mobilization theories and new social movement theories, this study is set in Singapore and ascertains the role of informal, formal and online social networks as well as the process of collective identity building among political bloggers in influencing their crossover from online to offline participation in collective action. Taking into account the role of human agency in activism, this study also examines the types of activism in which political bloggers are involved and how they have used Internet technologies to meet their goals and objectives. The three research questions are: (1) Does a collective identity exist among activist bloggers and if so, what is the nature of the collective identity shared among them? (2) What roles do social networks play in engendering political bloggers? participation in activism? (3) What roles do Internet technologies play in activism? A mixed methodology of qualitative and quantitative techniques was used to address the three research questions. Comprising political bloggers in Singapore, the sample was collected through an exhaustive web crawl. In-depth interviews were conducted with 41 bloggers, including prominent activists as well as bloggers who did not participate in activism at all. I gathered data on political bloggers? perception of others and the nature of the collective identity shared with other political bloggers in Singapore; the nature of their participation in activism; their relationships (or lack thereof) with other political bloggers and activists; as well as their use of Internet technologies for activism purposes. Other than measuring the number of people political bloggers knew in their informal, formal and online social networks who took part in activism, the survey also collected data on relational variables such as strength of ties, trust, social influence, information-seeking and selective incentives in each network for both activist bloggers and non-activist bloggers. The study shows that political bloggers in Singapore are a heterogeneous group and participate in a wide range of alternative and reformative movements. Pertaining to collective identity and blogging, this study establishes firstly, that activist bloggers experienced a strong sense of collective identity, manifested through a shared consciousness, clear identity signifiers, and an articulation of an adversary compared to non-activist bloggers. Secondly, the findings validate existing social network theories by showing that there is a strong correlation between political bloggers? social networks and their participation in collective action. Social networks played different roles: informal networks were critical in building trust and strong ties, while formal networks fulfilled information-seeking needs, exerted social influence and social selective incentives effects on veteran activists and enhanced solidarity among members. However, qualitative data showed that over time, formal organizations cultivate friendships, build solidarity and strengthen solidarity among members. Thirdly, the findings shed light on how Internet technologies and social media are used by political bloggers to realize their activist agenda. Over and above answering the research questions, three groups of political bloggers emerged from the findings ? offline-based activists, online-based activists and non-activists. The different roles played by formal, institutionalized organizations and ad hoc online participatory groups are also discussed in this study.
URI: http://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/27943
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