The role of media in fostering citizen engagement : A case study on the communication tactics of the Let’s Do It! movement

University essay from Karlstads universitet/Avdelningen för medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap

Abstract:

A wide use of social media and the development of digital communication channels have changed the game in grassroots activism. Embracing those new ways of communication gives a way to new forms of activism and raises questions about media’s shifting role in the sphere of social movements and collective action. The general aim of this study was to map the role of media in the Let’s Do It! (LDI) movement that fights against illegal waste by organizing clean-up campaigns and by building awareness about the problem among the general public. The purpose was to find out what role media plays in the mobilization of clean-up actions; in communicating with the whole LDI movement and in sustaining the global network.

The research questions posed were: What communication channels are used, and how are they used by activists to reach general public and to engage the volunteers when organizing the local and the global clean-up campaigns in the LDI network? What is the value of the global Let’s Do It! network and how is global-local communication organized?

To find out about the use of communication channels and the purpose of the global network, a web-survey and in-depth interviews with global and local members of Let’s Do It! were conducted. The results show that different communication channels have a different role in the process of coordinating clean-up campaigns and in sustaining the network. Traditional media is important for gaining wider visibility; digital channels of communication, especially social networking platforms, are multifunctional with combining the internal and the external communication; and face-to-face meetings and interpersonal relationships are deemed crucial in forming strong ties and sustaining the network both globally and locally. The actual media use is also strongly influenced by the cultural context and the resources available for the local teams.

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