Text Messaging in Social Protests

Text Messaging in Social Protests

Innocent Chiluwa (Covenant University OTA, Nigeria)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 8
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8239-9.ch083


This article gives a general overview of the roles of mobile phone in initiating and mobilizing social protests. It is argued that text messaging had been used to mobilize civil engagement and protests ever before the prevalence of modern social media. Drawing from different social and political contexts, this article also shows that text messaging has been used by protesters alongside Twitter and Facebook to achieve significant political change. It further chronicles major research literature in political protests and social media studies. The article proposes further research directions on how true it is that texting and social media do indeed achieve realistic political change, giving different sociopolitical contexts and unique situations of protesters. It examines the argument against cyber utopianism that contends that the assumed emancipatory roles of social media and text messaging can be misleading.
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The spread of social/political protests around the world in recent times has been attributed to the impact of new information and communication technologies (ICTs). People who are concerned about political events and developments in their countries are radically responding and mobilizing against the erstwhile oppressive regimes and demanding for sociopolitical change (Smith 2010). According to Garret (2010) social media and ICTs such as Twitter and Faceboook are currently changing the ways in which activists communicate, collaborate, and demonstrate. And text messaging has played important roles alongside these other social media, sometimes earning government ban. Though these protests respond to very different socio-political and economic circumstances, they share the same social features (Gonzalez-Bailon et al, 2011).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Social media: The interaction among people in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks (see Ahlqvist et al 2008 AU51: The in-text citation "Ahlqvist et al 2008" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ); or ‘a group of internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0 and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content (see Kaplan & Haenlein 2010 AU52: The in-text citation "Kaplan & Haenlein 2010" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Protest: The expression of objection by protesters through words or actions or other forms of social behaviour that rejects or resists certain government policies, or the existing sociopolitical structures.

Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC): Communication that takes place through the use of electronic devices, usually by individuals who are connected either online or a network connection using social software and interact with each other via separate computers.

Mobile Phone (Cell Phone): A device that can make and receive telephone calls over a radio link, while moving around a wide geographical area. This is possible by connecting to a cellular network provided by a mobile phone operator, allowing access to the public telephone network (see Wikipedia, 2013 AU50: The in-text citation "Wikipedia, 2013" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Texting: The act of composing and sending a short electronic message (maximum of 160 words) between two or more mobile phones. A sender of a text message is referred to as a texter.

Protester: Someone engaged in a protest.

Mobile Technology: Technology used for cellular communications.

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