Reading & video: Intro

Going through previous modules, you might have felt doubt and asked yourself – have I seized existing digital opportunities to make my opinion count? We are certain you have, in more ways than you might be aware of. Let’s do a quick check:

- Did you support or join any social movement (even if only by regularly following their social media platforms, hashtags, or joining their mailing list)?

- Did you sign any online petition lately (ie. or Avaaz) or should we better ask, how many have you signed?

- Did you back-up/financially supported any community cause over crowdsourcing platforms (such as OpenIdeo, Indiegogo or similar)?

Even if you answered negatively, we have one more try:

-Did you express your opinion on social media to campaign or advocate for an issue? 

If yes, then you have definitely used online tools as a digital activist, but there is so much more you can do to make your voice be heard. So, let’s get started and explore how our increasingly networked society influences those working towards social change.

There is a clear shift among younger generations - from engagement with institutional politics to engagement with more cause-oriented political activism (climate change, women’s rights, racial justice, lgbt+ movements). This shift also means they are finding alternative ways to start, innovate and invent actions and ideas to organise change in public attitudes and policies. And even though technology has always played an important role in social movements, the rise of social media and civic-tech has dramatically shaped the ways social movements operate and how they shape advocacy campaigns. According to different authors (Pew Research Center, 2018; Rosenbaum, 2018, cited in Rosenbaum and Bouvier, 2029) [1], social media platforms seem to grant voice to individuals marginalised from mainstream conversations.

Street protests are equally important as they have always been, but changes in technology affected how activism today looks like and how mobilisation of supporters takes place. Viral* campaigns have helped in getting more people to participate in shaping public policy and affecting societal values. The rise of social media has fundamentally changed how people communicate and has helped facilitate political coalitions and networks. Organisation and dissemination of activists ideas and mobilisation of people to take action starts on social media and there have been numerous cases where viral-only campaigns had led to changes in policies and changes in public attitudes. 

Accelerating digitalisation enabled space for solidarity movements in which crowds formulate and pursue common concerns through networking at all levels - from the local to the global.

To understand better how protest movements changed over time, and how to move from a hashtag to a world-wide solidarity movement, play this video by ELLE to hear from the initiators of the two most recognisable movements from 21st century: #blacklivesmatter and #metoo (5:29).

* viral [vahy-ruh l] (adj) pertaining to or involving the spreading of information and opinions about a product or service from person to person, especially on the internet or in emails (


[1] Rosenbaum, J. E., & Bouvier, G. (2020). Twitter, social movements and the logic of connective action: Activism in the 21st century–an introduction.

Last modified: Wednesday, 15 June 2022, 10:55 AM