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ICA 2012: Sujin Choi, Han Woo Park

Shared identity and collective actions of a Twitter-based community in South Korea

This study provides an empirical account on how an online community has employed social media to mobilize people for a political goal.  The case explored is a Twitter-based community in South Korea that calls for the elimination of a conservative national daily newspaper and whose activism is contextualized in the political history of Korea. Based on mixed methods of virtual ethnography and co-word analysis on tweet messages, the research results suggest that the role of the group organizer as an information provider and coordinator contributed to the sustainability of the group, and that group members formed a collective identity through the framing process of discourse. In addition, massive “retweeting” and “culture jamming” tactics were found to be strategically employed to enhance group solidarity, to broaden the base of support, and to crystallize involvement into political acts with other offline actions. Rather than decaying to an echo chamber or “slacktivism,” the online community seemed to demonstrate a new form of collective activism through the mediation of technology in everyday life.

Sujin Choi is a doctoral student in the Department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests include political communication (public sphere), social network analysis, and relevant policy issues such as e-government and the digital divide. Her work has appeared in journals such as Telecommunications Policy and Scientometrics.

Dr. Han Woo Park is Associate Professor in the Department of Media & Communication at Yeungnam University, South Korea. He is also the director of the World Class University (WCU) Webometrics Institute and CyberEmotions Research Center at Yeungnam University.