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#HashtagActivism: Networks of Race and Gender Justice

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DIGZOOM seminar with Brooke Foucault-Welles.

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The proliferation of social media has given rise to widespread study and speculation about the impact of digital technologies on politics, activism, and social change. Key among these debates is the role social media play in shaping the contemporary public sphere, and by proxy, our societies. Maligned by some as “slacktivism,” I will argue social media platforms such as Twitter create unique opportunities for often-excluded voices to challenge the terms of public debate. Using the evidence from Twitter hashtag networks such as #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo, I will demonstrate how hashtag activism complements other forms of activism to change the terms of mainstream public debates about race and gender justice in the United States.

Brooke Foucault Welles is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies and a core faculty member of the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University. Combining computational social science and network science with the theories of communication studies, Foucault Welles studies how online communication networks enable and constrain behavior, with particular emphasis on how these networks enable the pursuit of individual, team, and collective goals.

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