On SAGE Insight: Black Lives Matter and the Evolving Role of Social Media

Article title: All Lives Matter, but so Does Race: Black Lives Matter and the Evolving Role of Social Media

From Humanity & Society


This article
demonstrates the ways in which youth of color played an active role in debates that erupted on Twitter following the tragic deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner in Ferguson, MO, in August 2014. These debates on social media represent a larger struggle over discourse on race and racism across the nation. Drawing from critical theory and race theory, and engaging in the relatively new practice of using Twitter as a source of data for sociological analysis, this article examines Twitter as an emerging public sphere and studies the hashtags ‘‘#AllLivesMatter’’ and ‘‘#BlackLivesMatter’’ as contested signs that represent dominant ideologies. The debates on Twitter reveal various strategies that youth of color employed to shape the national discourse about race in the wake of these high profile tragedies.

The author of this paper engages in the relatively new practice of using Twitter as a source of data for sociological analysis, joining other scholars who have begun to investigate the role and implications of Twitter as it unfolds. Social media serves as a public sphere where youth of color are particularly skilled and well equipped to gain some amount of power over public discourse to express their experiences and viewpoints. As yet the full implications of social media as a public sphere are unknown, but there is already evidence that it holds great possibilities for engaging youth of color in important current issues in the United States. Engaging in activism and participating in a forum that allows traditionally silenced groups to be heard are valuable in and of itself. In the future, we should stay alert to the ways in which public discourse on social media directly or indirectly influences policy and affects change on a structural level within the nation.

Abstract

This article demonstrates the ways in which youth of color played an active role in debates that erupted on Twitter following the tragic deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner in 2014. These debates on social media represent a larger struggle over discourse on race and racism across the nation. Drawing from critical theory and race theory, and engaging in the relatively new practice of using Twitter as a source of data for sociological analysis, this article examines Twitter as an emerging public sphere and studies the hashtags ‘‘#AllLivesMatter’’ and ‘‘#BlackLivesMatter’’ as contested signs that represent dominant ideologies. This article consists of a qualitative textual analysis of a selection of Twitter posts from December 3 to 7, 2014, following the nonindictments of officers in the murders of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The debates on Twitter reveal various strategies that youth of color employed to shape the national discourse about race in the wake of these high profile tragedies.

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Article details
All Lives Matter, but so Does Race: Black Lives Matter and the Evolving Role of Social Media
Nikita Carney
First Published  April 13, 2016
DOI: 10.1177/0160597616643868
From Humanity & Society

 

 

 

     
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