INVESTIGATING COLLECTIVE ACTION EVENTS THROUGH TWITTER USAGE: THE CASE OF THE THAI PROTESTS OF 2010

Open Access
Author:
Bajpai, Kartikeya
Graduate Program:
Information Sciences and Technology
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
July 15, 2011
Committee Members:
  • Andrea H Tapia, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • thailand
  • twitter
  • new media
  • collective action
  • protest
Abstract:
Recent years have witnessed multiple international protest movements which have purportedly been greatly affected by the use of Twitter, a micro-blogging platform. Social movement actors in Iran, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Egypt and Thailand are thought to have utilized Twitter to spread information, co-ordinate protest activities, evade government censorship and, in some cases, to spread misinformation. I propose a framework for conceptualizing and analyzing Twitter data related to contentious collective action crises. My primary research goal is to delineate a framework informed with a social movements lens and to demonstrate the framework by means of Twitter usage data related to the Thailand protests of 2010. The proposed framework concerns itself with three aspects of protest activities and Twitter usage, namely, the structure and nature of Twitter messages regarding collective action events, and the construct of Twitter ‘protest waves’. I also present preliminary results from a follow-up study which explores the notion of message granularity. In the final section, I describe the status quo and challenges of incorporating new media data in scholarship, and discuss notions of narrativity in the analysis of new media datasets, in general, and data concerned with collective action, in particular.