#digitalactivism: networks, new media and political action

Jacob Wallis

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    935 Downloads (Pure)


    This study explores the use of digital networks and new media by environmental groups in campaigning for the protection of native forests on the Australian island state of Tasmania. Network analysis and content analysis of web sites are used to explore how digital networks and new media are being used to extend the public sphere of political engagement. Web crawling is used to delineate a network of fifty interconnected web sites which represent organisations involved in campaigning around the protection of native forest in Tasmania. Content analysis is used to investigate how new media are being used to extend public engagement and facilitate participation in the campaign.This research identifies how networked new media are being appropriated by civil society organisations (such as those that make up the environmental movement) to extend their campaigning strategies. The study highlights how environmental groups use the structures of digital communications networks to mobilise and channel a campaign of political action into the sphere of public policy and legislation. The study identifies emergent forms of digital activism that exploit the emotive possibilities of new media to communicate campaign aims and to shape the public perception of issues. The findings demonstrate how personal networks of campaign supporters are exploited as channels for soliciting wider public engagement and participation. Results suggest that digital activism is an increasingly integral component of strategies of political action. The data also suggest that a new paradigm of citizenship is emerging, which is issues-based and revolves around digitally-mediated interaction with competing political narratives in a networked public sphere. The study concludes by noting that the networked public sphere and citizenship paradigm present challenges for representative democracy and its political institutions. These challenges to existing modes of democratic practice are forcing innovation in how governments, civil society and the public interact in the development of public policy.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Charles Sturt University
    • Given, Lisa, Principal Supervisor
    • Kennan, Mary Anne, Co-Supervisor
    Award date01 Feb 2014
    Place of PublicationAustralia
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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