Scholars of both resource mobilization theory and new social movement theory recognize leadership as integral to traditional social movements. Following global protest movements of 2011, some now characterize movements relying on social media as horizontal and leaderless. Whether due
to an organizational shift to networks over bureaucracies or due to a change in values, many social movements in the present protest cycle do not designate visible leadership. Does leadership in social media activism indeed disappear or does it take on new forms? This paper undertakes an in-depth
analysis of data obtained through interviews, event observations and analysis of media content related to three Canadian cases of civic mobilization of different scale, all of which strategically employed social media. The paper proposes a conceptual framework for understanding the role of
these mobilizations’ organizers as organic intellectuals, sociometric stars and caretakers. By looking closely at the three cases through the lenses offered by these concepts, we identify the specific styles that characterize digitally mediatized civic leadership.
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Document Type: Research Article
Department of Communication, Media and Film, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
Department of Media and Communication, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Netherlands
June 3, 2018
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