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The R/evolution of civic engagement: an exploratory network analysis of the Facebook groups of occupy Chicago

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This study explores the role of social media as mediating structures for civic engagement. A network analysis of 2829 Facebook groups joined by 600 randomly sampled occupy Chicago (OC) participants shows that OC is embedded in diverse interconnected voluntary groups mediated by social media. The observed patterns of interconnection reveal a loosely connected, fragmented, and clustered structure. Such a structure may enable publics, as self-organized social groups shaped in networked flows of communication, to shift in and out of more established institutional structures and formal civic organizations to form ‘flexible network-domains’ at developing moments of mobilization. The study explains the empirical patterns of civic affiliation in the context of the broad historical structural changes and the specific characteristics of contemporary forms of mediated sociality.
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Keywords: Civic engagement; Facebook revolution; network analysis; occupy movement; social media

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Communication, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

Publication date: January 28, 2019

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