Over the past 15 years, digital media have redefined the repertories of political action and engagement. Formal political actors, companies, interest groups and citizens are now turning to digital platforms to inform, disseminate messages, mobilize and protest in the public space. These new political practices, facilitated by the Internet, seem particularly helpful in order to debate social acceptability issues. The notion of social acceptability has become essential when it comes to the development of projects with economic, social or environmental impacts; several controversial infrastructure or development projects (e. g. LNG ports or pipelines) have given rise to fierce political and social clashes in North America and Europe. However, we know very little about the intertwining of these new forms of engagement that social media allows when the social acceptability of projects is at stake. Are social media a vehicle for engagement and mobilization? Who are the actors that invest in these platforms and what are their objectives? How do social media strategies complement traditional protest repertories? What are the effects of such participation on the trajectory of controversies? The goal of this panel is to understand the uses of digital social media in controversies that raise social acceptability issues.
The contributions sought will be aimed at:
- Characterizing the use of digital social media in controversial contexts;
- Examining the place of these uses in the communication strategies put forward by the various actors involved in these controversies;
- Analyzing the supporting rhetoric deployed by actors on these digital social platforms, and comparing it to that put forward through traditional protest and participation repertoires;
- Characterizing the leadership that is exercised in these spaces;
- Studying the forms of dialogue between the different stakeholders in the debates made possible by the digital media.
Proposals with an empirical dimension will be preferred.