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The potential of web 2.0 applications to enhance social cohesion and the emergence of collective action

Hartmann, Timo Sebastian (2017) The potential of web 2.0 applications to enhance social cohesion and the emergence of collective action.

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Abstract:The risks inherent in climate change and the vulnerability they pose to contemporary societies are widely acknowledged. Disasters often foster solidarity among affected people, who, in turn, show an increased willingness to engage collectively in coping with the consequences. In the last few years, web 2.0 ever more became a key coordination and mobilization tool for collective activists. This case study examines how Occupy Sandy, a grassroots disaster relief network that emerged in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in the U.S.A, used web 2.0 applications to organize collective action. Furthermore, it explores to what extent web 2.0 contributed to social cohesion among users who were engaged in Occupy Sandy. In a mixed-methods approach, I combined natural language processing and machine learning with a qualitative review of Occupy Sandy-related Twitter and Facebook contents. I find that web 2.0 applications were essential tools for Occupy Sandy to organize its disaster-relief efforts and crucial to mobilizing a broad network of volunteers. Furthermore, Occupy Sandy-users formed a socially cohesive group around their shared perception that formal organizations responded inadequately to the hurricane. This was reflected in a dense network of social relations, users’ expressions of feelings of attachment to Occupy Sandy, and a distinct sense for the common good. This study reveals that social cohesion provides a great resource for the emergence of community-based disaster relief networks. Furthermore, the case of Occupy Sandy points to the promising potential of collective action from the grassroots that has lately been increasingly acknowledged by disaster response agencies.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey, United States of America
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:88 social and public administration, 89 political science
Programme:Management Society and Technology BSc (56654)
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