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Modeling the Behaviour of Participants in Social Networking Sites: Insights from Transnational Environmental Movements

I have always had a keen interest in understanding the behaviour of networks. I have previously studied how transnational environmental activist coalitions are built in North America. But before this year, I had never attempted to map out online social advocacy networks of environmentalists. I enjoy challenging myself by tackling uncharted territory and exploring whether a research topic is worth of me delving into. This a brand new talk that I just proposed (and got accepted) to give at Social Media Camp in October of 2010. This talk will synthesize my findings in what I think is still a fairly unexplored topic. The only other scholars who have explored this topic in some depth to my knowledge are Dr. Alexandra Samuel and Dr. Kate Milberry. My approach is much more network-based and explores the sociology of networks (using much of the work of Granovetter and my own empirical research).

The use of social networking sites (SNS) has become widespread in a variety of non-profit and social justice contexts. While before Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund would need to organize mail-in campaigns, now all it takes is a tweet, a Facebook wall message or a YouTube video to spark a movement.

Using insights gained from 10 years of empirical research in the field of environmental policy, as well as my experience as a power social media user, and drawing from the body of work of the sociology of networks, I posit that successful environmental activism campaigns are founded on the basis of a strong understanding and modeling of the
behaviour of participants in SNS.

Drawing from case studies I have analyzed in the past 10 years (and focusing on cases that have used social media in the past 24 months) I offer some general conclusions into how we can model the online behaviour of transnational environmental activists.

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Posted in environmental NGOs, research, social media for public policy, social media for sustainability.

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  1. JoVE says

    Looks interesting.

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