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Notwithstanding a growing interest in online politics, the analysis of web sites' qualities by social movement organizations (SMOs) has received little attention in social research. In creating their sites, SMOs often underline the capacity of new technologies to involve members and sympathizers in organizational processes and internal decision-making. However, web site design and management implies many choices among various goals, often in reciprocal tension: stressing organizational identity versus opening to the outside; increasing transparency versus reserving some sections to members; informing users versus mobilizing them; widening the debate to people with different opinions versus deepening the discussion in homogeneous groups. In this article, we focus on how the web sites of SMOs are fulfilling Internet potentialities, considering various aspects of their online presence. The empirical research was based on the analysis of 261 web sites of Global Justice Movement (GJM) organizations in six different European countries and at the transnational level. Diverse qualities of SMOs' web sites can be explored empirically, focusing on a series of dimensions such as: information provision, identity building, transparency/accountability, mobilization, and intervention on the digital divide. In our analysis, we will use contextual characteristics (level of Internet access, GJM features) and organizational characteristics (structural features, territorial level of action, year of foundation) to explain the different qualities of the web sites.
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Keywords: Global Justice Movement; political use of the Internet; qualities of web sites; social movements

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology and Political Science, European University Institute, Florence, Italy 2: Dipartimento di Comunicazione e Spettacolo, Universita Roma Tre, Roma, Italy

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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