From school strikes to webinars: Mapping the forced digitalization of Fridays for Future’s activism during the COVID-19 pandemic

Giuliana Sorce, Delia Dumitrica*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
76 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This paper discusses the forced digitalization of activism brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic in the case of the transnational environmental youth movement Fridays for Future (FFF). Theoretically, we engage with social movement action repertoires to study the shifts in protest tactics associated with the social restrictions during the early stages of the pandemic. A qualitative content analysis of 781 posts across all 27 national FFF Facebook pages in the European Union reveals four clusters of digital action types: digital contentious actions; online information and education; digital community engagement and online partnership development. While digital media were part of FFF’s action repertoire in pre-pandemic times, our findings yield that the shift from the movement’s iconic street protests to exclusively digital tactics privileges community-building and education over contentious actions, potentially softening the political impact of the movement’s landmark ‘school strike’. Furthermore, although timely tactical flexibility kept the movement going during country lockdowns, the forced digitalization in the early stages of the pandemic primarily recombined existing action tactics rather than innovating them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalConvergence
Volume29
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright: © The Author(s) 2022.

Research programs

  • ESHCC M&C

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