Digital Activism Project

Project Objectives

The proposed project provides further insight into our understanding of how young people engage in social activism by examining the role of social media. Social media has transformed engagement in social activism; social movement organizations (SMOs) have taken advantage of the new possibilities afforded by ICTs by integrating social media into their mobilization and communication strategies. The project has three goals:

  1. To learn about digital activism and temporality in activism.
  2. To identify the key motivations for participation in digital social activism.
  3. To shed light on mechanisms that move participation in digital social activism from being solely digital to other forms of social activism.

Project Outcomes

  • Gosse, C., McDougall, A., & Quan-Haase, A. (2016). Click Here: ‘Slacktivism’ and the Question of Commitment. In Social Media and Society 2016 (July 12–14). London, UK.
  • Gosse, C., MacDougall, A. & Quan-Haase, A. (2015). Virality and the long tail: An exploratory study of engagement. Paper presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Communication Association, Ottawa, ON, June 3-5.

Project Team

Anabel Quan-Haase

Anabel Quan-Haase is jointly appointed as Associate Professor of Sociology and Information and Media Studies at Western University. She engages in inter-disciplinarity, knowledge transfer, and public outreach. Her focus is on social change, social media, and social networks. She is the co-editor of the Handbook of Social Media Research Methods with Luke Sloan (Sage, 2017) and the co-author of Digital Society with Lorne Tepperman (Oxford University Press, 2017) as well as the author of Technology and Society (Oxford University Press, 2016). Her work has appeared in top journals of the field including New Media & Society, Journal of Computer-Mediated CommunicationInformation, Communication & Society, Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST), The Information Society, Journal of Documentation, Information ResearchBig Data + Society, and Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

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Mélanie Millette

Mélanie Millette, PhD, is Assistant Professor in the department of social and public communication at UQAM, as well as a member of the Laboratoire de communication médiatisée par ordinateur (LabCMO, UQAM and Université Laval, a research team supported by FRQSC) and TheFourchettes – Critical Methods in Technoculture collective. Mélanie’s research deals with the political and cultural uses of social media and specifically the issues of visibility and public participation among members of minority and marginalized groups. The Internet is a breeding ground for power relationships and its infrastructure, like its content, presents numerous ethical, economic and social challenges. Nevertheless, social media can potentially be leveraged to improve representation of different social voices and communicate alternative viewpoints. The issue that interests Mélanie is to understand how, under what conditions and for which social stakeholders this holds true. She has published many chapters and papers (in English and French) and is the co-editor of Médias sociaux: Enjeux pour la communication (Proulx, Millette et Heaton, Presses de l’Université du Québec, 2012).


Christoph Lutz

Christoph Lutz (Dr. oec. University of St. Gallen) is Assistant Professor at the Nordic Centre for Internet & Society and at the Department of Communication and Culture, BI Norwegian Business School (Oslo). In addition, he is a Research Associate at the Institute of Communication and Media Studies, University of Leipzig. His research interests cover various aspects of social media, in particular participation, privacy and digital inequalities. Christoph is also interested in digital labor, the sharing economy, and social robots. He has published widely in leading communication, Internet and information systems journals such as New Media & Society, Information, Communication & Society, Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST), First Monday, Journal of Management Information Systems (JMIS), Social Media + Society, and Mobile Media & Communication.


Student Collaborators

Chandell Gosse

Chandell is a PhD candidate in Media Studies at Western University. Her research projects focus on the intersections of digital spaces and social life. Chandell’s dissertation looks at perceptions of cyberviolence and the chilling effect cybermisogyny has on women’s engagement in online spheres. She also does research on digital and online activism, the social impact and influence of algorithms, and diversity in the videogame industry.


Alyssa MacDougall

Alyssa MacDougall is a Ph.D. student at Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, in communication and media studies. Her work is concerned with the spread of islamophobic discourses and narratives in digital spaces, especially as these trends influence policy.


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