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.
Bibliographical noteFunding 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.