Technologies of last resort: The discursive construction of digital activism in Wired and Time magazine, 2010–2021

Victoria Balan*, Delia Dumitrica

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article approaches digital activism as an object of discourse and asks: how is the political prowess of digital technologies discursively articulated in news magazine coverage of digital activism? We take an exploratory approach that maps the representations of digital activism in two world-renowned news magazines – Wired and Time, between 2010 and 2021. We find five dominant narratives through which digital technologies gain political significance, namely: as a last resort; as a witness; as a double-edged sword; as sites of creativity; and as enablers of horizontalism. We argue that these narratives contribute to a persistent discourse casting digital technologies as powerful political tools of grassroots empowerment, which enable unprecedented levels of citizen mobilization. This discourse rehearses techno-utopian imaginaries casting digital technologies as democratizing forces while underplaying the difficulties of sustaining mobilization and of working towards political change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalNew Media and Society
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Mrs. Balan’s research is supported through an NRO Aspasia grant (no. 015.013.044) awarded to Dr. Delia Dumitrica.

Publisher Copyright: © The Author(s) 2022.


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