New article published: From connective to collective action: Internet elections as a digital tool to centralize and formalize protest in Russia

A new article by Florian Toepfl is published online first by the journal Information, Communication & Society. It is entitled

From connective to collective action: Internet elections as a digital tool to centralize and formalize protest in Russia and its abstract reads as follows:

 

Over the past decade, an extensive body of literature has emerged on the question of how new communication technologies can facilitate new modes of organizing protest. However, the extant research has tended to focus on how digitally enabled protest operates. By contrast, this study investigates why, how, and with what consequences a heavily digitally enabled ‘connective action network’ has transitioned over time to a more traditional ‘collective action network’ [Bennett, W. L., Segerberg, A. (2013). The logic of connective action: Digital media and the personalization of contentious politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 47]. Specifically, the article scrutinizes the trajectory of the Russian protests ‘For Fair Elections.’ This wave of street protests erupted after the allegedly fraudulent parliamentary elections of December 2011 and continued into 2013. As is argued, the protests were initially organized as an ‘organizationally enabled connective action network.’ However, after eight months of street protests, Russian activists reorganized the network into a more centralized, more formalized ‘organizationally brokered collective action network.’ In order to implement this transition, they deployed ‘Internet elections’ as a cardinally new digital tactic of collective action. Between 20 and 22 October 2012, more than 80,000 activists voted online in order to create a new leadership body for the entire protest movement, the ‘Coordination Council of the Opposition.’ As the study has found, activists implemented this transition because, within the specific Russian socio-political context, enduring engagement and stable networks appeared crucial to the movement’s long-term success. With regard to achieving these goals, the more formalized collective action network appeared superior to the connective action form.

 

The full text of the article can be downloaded here. If you do not have access to this journal, or if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the author anytime.