The role of Twitter during the Gezi Park protests

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By Roya Imani Giglou, Leen d’Haenens, Baldwin Van Gorp (University of Leuven) and Christine Ogan (University of Indiana)

Doctoral researcher Roya Imani Giglou presented her research proposal at the doctoral consortium of the Websci2014 conference on 24th June in Indiana, US. She will examine the role of Twitter during the Gezi park protests on relational and structural attributes, social networks and social capital among Turkish diaspora in three European countries. Twitter’s impact will be unraveled using a mixed-methods approach: a combination of online and offline surveys’, social network analysis, in-depth interviews with key actors and content analysis of tweets. This research proposal was picked out as one of the best proposals to be presented by students.

Political actions during the Arab spring revolutions and lately during the Gezi Park movement in Turkey have stimulated research about the role of online social media to facilitate political mobilization and social change. The role of online social media is ambiguous. On the one hand, its role is overstated. Social media often fail to establish the intended social changes. What’s more, governments could abuse social media to crush opposition protests and identify protesters. On the other hand, online social media may spark and accelerate a social movement, help activists to organize their activities and strengthen their voices against authoritarian leaders.

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