Social movements as complex adaptive systems: The antecedents and consequences of movement participation in the age of social media

Saahir Shafi, Bing Ran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this study, we focus on social movements as complex adaptive systems where citizens act as autonomous agents engaging in collective sensemaking of information gleaned via social media to generate emergent patterns of self-organization. Based on a systematic literature review, we propose a theoretical framework focusing on the antecedents and consequences of social movement participation as complex adaptive systems. We identified three major antecedents of social movement activity–social identity, political efficacy, and structural embeddedness–that are moderated by social media use and lead to movement participation. The consequences of social movement participation yield enduring effects on participating individuals through effects on their social identity, political efficacy, and structural embeddedness. This paper contributes to the existing literature by analyzing social movement activity through the lens of complex adaptive systems and proposing a new framework explaining the process of citizen self-organization in social movements. Social media use enables movement activity and is positioned as a key moderating factor in our framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSocial Science Journal
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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