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Wednesday, July 13 • 13:46 - 15:15
Movement Action Repertoires and Social Media – the Case of Migration Aid

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Location: PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - LG01, 
Goldsmiths, University of London, Building 2
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  • Tibor Dessewffy, Eötvös Loránd University, Faculty of Social Scicences, Hungary
  • Zsófia Nagy, Eötvös Loránd University, Faculty of Social Scicences, Hungary


Several attempts in the academic literature aim at giving a complete overview of Internet-related forms of collective action. The ambition of the present paper is to give a close reading of the repertoire of action of our case study, therefore we consider the use of lists and categories that best fit our focus. Our empirical analysis focuses on Migration Aid, a Hungarian Facebook-based social movement that was established with the aim of providing relief aid for refugees who crossed Hungary in considerable numbers during the summer of 2015. The researched period starts with the group’s inception, 29 June and ends on 15 September – the date when the erection of a fence on the Serbian-Hungarian border and a number of legal changes effectively put an end to the group’s operations in Budapest

Objective: Migration Aid, in the course of a few weeks established a hybrid organization operating both on- and offline, with a wide and highly flexible repertoire of action, without a formal hierarchy or leadership. We argue that this complex undertaking and achievement was mainly made possible by what we coin the Social Information Thermostat function of Facebook. The concept of Social Information Thermostat (SIT) refers to the operation of a self-regulative system which permanently receives inputs from given surroundings and changes its outputs accordingly. At the same time SITs themselves are subjects of continuous change and they drive transformation of the broader context as well.

Methods: The study examined 4616 posts shared in the central, closed Facebook-group of Migration Aid from its inception, 29 June until 15 September, 2015. A combination of close reading and content analysis - also borrowing from Fairclough’s three-dimensional model (2001) of critical discourse analysis (CDA) - were used. The close reading led to the identification of central themes in the group’s posts (see Table 1), where the textual unit of one post was considered a unit of analysis.

Results: Our quantitative findings evidence that during a permanent fluctuation of demands and inputs the group effectively reacts with fitting responses and outputs. We also find that the Facebook-group is central in the establishment, maintenance and connection of diagnostic and prognostic action frames. The long-term co-occurrence of these action frames is also evidenced by the findings. Based on our qualitative analysis we discuss five substantial trends made possible by the Social Information Thermostat function: sophisticated crowd-enabled collaboration, the creation of micromedia, the centrality of mobile communication and location-based networking, and open innovation. Facebook also poses limitations on social movements that are shortly discussed as well.

Future Work: We have finished this paper recently and intend to continue to work on Migration Aid and the refugee crises by exploiting the possibilities provided by different digital footprints than Facebook.

Wednesday July 13, 2016 13:46 - 15:15 UTC
PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - LG01 Goldsmiths University, Building 2

Attendees (6)