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The participants of the ‘unibrennt’ (‘university is burning’) protest movement, which saw the occupation of Vienna's largest lecture hall by students in October 2009, used social media such as Twitter and Facebook to a large extent. Communication, thus, was anchored in the participants' interconnected individual and personal (online) networks, so both in- and out-group communication took place within a media space that is referred to as networked publics. Based on the authors media ethnographical work which was followed by a qualitative analysis of conversations, this article discusses the form of community building and social organization that was facilitated by those means. The authors also look at the way in which involved actors (participants and non-participants) dealt with the social media's specific character, especially its high degree of transparency and accessibility which resulted in a conglomeration of internal and external discourses. Drawing on the concept of voluntary issue communities, this article argues that the low-obligatory and low-binding nature, as well as the immediacy of connection to the movement, were elementary for its success in terms of drawing large groups of students and university staff into the protests and the large amount of public attention the movement ultimately received. This movement of connected individuals exemplifies how individuals can organize themselves as a politically acting community and how such a community and its actions can be like when the participants quite naturally employ information and communication technologies to socially connect within networked publics.
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Keywords: community building; domestication of ICTs; social movements; social networking; web 2.0

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Communication,University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria 2: [email protected], Email: [email protected], URL:"> RWTH Aachen, Aachen, Germany< xmlns:xlink="" xlink:href="">[email protected], Email: [email protected], URL:

Publication date: March 1, 2012

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