The impact of social movements
in the online space
A case study on the influence of the Fridays for Future movement on the
Dutch online climate discourse, based on a selection of Instagram posts
Communication for Development One-year master
Semester Year: 2020 Supervisor: Vittorio Felci Word count: 13374
Social movements are a key element for bringing about social change and social media are increasingly the centre of communication to interact, engage and form our perceptions of the world. But to what extent is the online dimension the space to bring about actual social change? The convergence of factors, such as; the growing concern about climate change, the Paris Agreement that followed, and consequently the intensification of the media on this topic, gave birth to the climate movement Fridays for Future. This movement is particular of interest, because it is initiated and practised by school students and reached international status due to the power of social media.
This case study aims to analyse the Dutch climate discourse within the online space of Instagram, between February 2019 and September 2020. It concentrates on the ‘common knowledge’ (Bekkers et. al. 2018, Lievrouw, 2011) created in response to 6 Instagram posts about the Fridays for Future movement, originated from the reputable news stations; NOS Jeugdjournaal and NU.nl. Through the lens of social change, I conducted a critical discourse analysis and concentrated on whether participants of the FFF movement are in the position (have the power) to change the climate discourse and if intertextuality is favouring their position and cause. And ultimately, if this leads to indications of potential social change. The analysis of the data shows a slight optimistic climate discourse in the first period of the movement’s uprising. However, through framing, marginalization, and (re)production of ‘common knowledge’, the sceptical voice maintained to dominate the climate narrative and overrepresented the discourse. As a response, the challenger’s group became less
expressive about their own handling and took a more reactive approach. However, this friction transformed the conversation increasingly into a dialog. The attention from sceptics to the voice of the challengers indicates that they may be taken more seriously with time and are able to reposition themselves within the climate conversation.
1. Introduction ... 4
1.1 Relevance for ComDev ... 6
2. Research questions ... 7
3. Demarcation of the study ... 7
4. Background ... 8
4.1 Communication Fridays for Future ... 8
4.2 Fridays for Future NL ... 8
4.3 Climate Discourse in the Netherlands ... 8
4.4 Activism in the Netherlands ... 10
5. Literature review ... 13
5.1 Defining discourse ... 13
5.2 Shaping discourse in the on- and offline world ... 16
5.3 Identity and ideology ... 17
5.4 Social movements and climate discourse ... 18
5.5 Dutch climate discourse ... 19
5.6 Use of Instagram ... 21
5.7 Participation in the Netherlands ... 22
6. Conceptual framework ... 24
6.1 Social change theory ... 25
6.2 Key elements... 26
6.3 Building up framework ... 26
7. Methodology ... 28
7.1 Choice for climate discourse... 19
7.2 Research approach ... 30
7.2.1 Collected data of Instagram ... 30
7.2.2 Discourse focus ... 32
7.2.3 Coding data ... 33
8. Analysis ... 35
8.1 Likes and emojis ... 35
8.2 Position of power ... 36
8.2.1 Parent-structure ... 37
8.3 Role of intertextuality ... 39
8.4 Potential social change ... 42
9. Conclusion ... 45
9.1 Other Insights... 46
9.2 Further study ... 46
When it comes to the subject of sustainability, the whole world is “in development”. Particularly the lifestyle and consumption of western societies are increasingly up for debate. Scientists argue that the high lifestyle demands of the west cause tremendous climate-related issues in the global south, where the predominant production is taking place. The political acknowledgment and urgency for developing towards a more sustainable future propelled a global initiative, known as the Paris-Agreement.
In December 2015, we all witnessed the first universal climate agreement, signed by 196 parties. A collaboration “to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future” (UNFCCC, 2020). With this act, nations show a gesture of acknowledgement and commitment to each other and their citizens, and it nudges societies to change their behaviour towards a more sustainable lifestyle. Nevertheless, the parties and nations involved have proven the complexity of the task, as the outcome of sustainable development policies and implementations has not yet shown much progress.
When the Paris Agreement did not lead to profound policy changes three years after the signing, Swedish student Greta Thunberg, decided to strike from school to raise awareness for the climate and demanded action from her government. This individual act inspired fellow students to take a stand together, which started the fast-growing grassroots
movement Fridays for Future (hereafter also referred to as the FFF movement). Through the channels of social media, the movement reached international attention, and students all over the world rose to the occasion. They want politicians to listen to science and demand a political translation of the Paris Agreement from their governments (Fridays for Future, 2020 [a]). They state that the youth is the future generation and therefore has the right to speak up. The fact that the movement is initiated by predominantly underage school students and reached international fame, is a unique element within the history of social movements, and an interesting subject for social scholars.
This case study aims to explore to what extent the FFF movement influenced the climate discourse within the Dutch online space of Instagram, between February 2019 and
5 contribute, or have the potential to contribute, to improving society or social living
conditions through the online channels. While there have been studies conducted on the role of social media in the uprising of social movements, the vast majority are movement-oriented. The impact on society outside the movement’s initial audience is often beyond the research scope (Jenkins & Form, 2005 p 331), this also concerns the online dimension. The online space, and in particular social media, became a significant part of our lives and space where our worldview is shaped. It is therefore intriguing to gain a better understanding of the development of discourses happening online.
This research is conducted as an exploratory case study, which allows me to centre the analysis on the impact initiated by the FFF movement. The focus is on the social participation shared on the social media platform Instagram. I make use of the public data of Instagram and academic literature, and I draw from my own experience as a marketing communication specialist. The literature review provides a selection of studies related to discourse
approaches, the Dutch climate discourse, how discourse is shaped within the online space, and previous relevant studies on the FFF movement. Discourse is always subject to context (Strauss, Feiz, 2014. P 49; Van Dijk, 1993, p 252-254), which involves multiple dimensions. In my analysis, I focus on the power dynamic between the ‘adult-child’ relationship in the online space to determine the position of the social movement within society, the role of intertextuality and if this initiates social change. I finalize with the conclusion section highlighting the most relevant findings.
Many students took part in the climate protest today in The Hague. According to the police, there were at least 10,000 participants. The students themselves think there were as many as 30,000 young people. They want politicians to do more to fight global warming 🌿🌎. Swipe for more banners!
#youth #jeugdjournaal #climatetruancy #thehague Photo 1. February, 2019
1.1 Relevance for ComDev
Communication for Development focuses on enhancing social change and development through participation and communicative activities. Collective action and a bottom-up approach are seen as the pillars of social movements that are able to confront social issues. Mediated communication such as the internet, and in particular social media, enforces the connections of collective thoughts, ideologies, and actions. More than ever before, global and local matters find articulation through social media that creates the foundation for a social movement (Eriksen, 2014).
The FFF movement is a young movement, both in existence and the profile of the audience. The movement rapidly grew due to social media and found its framing and meaning
predominantly through these channels. Participants are dedicated to create awareness and enforce action from those in power for a global crisis that will affect their generation. Through street activism, education, and social media, the movement aims to enhance social change towards a sustainable lifestyle. Those elements are characteristic for the application of communication for development and social change (Deane, 2014, p. 238).
How subordinates of society challenge those in power and articulate voices to enhance change, is a significant component within ComDev research. Climate change is a huge global threat, which calls for a behavioural change of society as one of the solutions. The global south is already experiencing the disastrous effects of climate change. As a result, livelihoods are threatened and the inequality gap is widening even further. The consumerism of the global north is a major cause of this effect and therefore a focus in this area is of particular significance. Another reason for interest is that due to the young existence of the
movement, there are still many perspectives to be explored. Social movement studies are largely internally concentrated, focussing on the development of ideologies and shaping of identity amongst participants. However, the effects on society outside the bubble of the movement, and especially within the online sphere, is less researched.
2. Research questions
The question I aim to answer is:
To what extent has the Fridays for Future movement influenced the climate discourse within the Dutch online space of Instagram, between February 2019 and September 2020?
• Does the position of the FFF movement within the Dutch online space have the power to change the climate discourse?
• What is the role of intertextuality in relation to the online climate discourse?
• Can we identify elements of potential social change in the online discourse, favouring the message of the FFF movement?
3. Demarcation of the study
The researched data is conducted from the social media platform Instagram, for the reason that the movement largely grew due to this application. However, I am aware that those specific focal points come with limitations, outlined below:
• The process of global climate awareness and crisis recognition is already in motion. The FFF movement has emerged within this climate crisis realm and benefits from this momentum for its growth. Therefore, an effect on the climate discourse cannot solely be attributed to the communication from and about the movement.
• Social media is not comprehensive when discussing a social discourse in society. The results of this research should therefore be seen as a barometer of the broader discourse.
• Social discourse is a crucial element in anchoring social change, but it cannot be seen in isolation. The support and implementation of sustainable business, legislative activities, and embedded policies initiated by governments are equally important to drive real change.
When the Paris Agreement had not led to specific changes in policy three years after the signing, student Greta Thunberg, decided to stop attending school and bivouacked outside the building. What started as an individual statement, grew to a dozen students within weeks. This united group stimulated awareness for their actions on social media and
herewith initiated the grassroots movement Fridays for Future. The movement aims to raise awareness amongst society and politicians to treat climate change as a crisis, advocate for environmental education and demand a political translation of the Paris Agreement from their governments (Fridays for future, 2020 [a]).
4.1 Communication Fridays for Future
The FFF movement targets specifically a young crowd, between the age of 14 and 25. They argue that the youth is the future generation and are entitled to speak up. The main objective of the FFF movement is for the ones in power to listen to ‘united science’ and act accordingly (Fridays For Future. 2020 [c]). Herewith admitting the powerless position of themselves (Moor, 2020 p 26; Evensen 2019) and emphasizing this by emotionally loaded phrases, such as; “How dare you?!” and “You have stolen my dreams and childhood” (United Nations, 2019). The fact that Greta Thunberg was invited to speak at the UN Climate Summit of 2019, indicates that children are getting a voice.
The message of the movement spread across social media channels and with the
enforcement of traditional media, global awareness of its existence increased. Students all over the world rose to participate in the online conversation and physical strikes. Two years later, the FFF movement is active in 213 countries and organized globally a total of 172k strikes (Fridays for Future, 2020 [b]). Statistics show that in 2019 enormous peaks in physical protest participation were measured during World Climate Strike days. But from the end of 2019, the total number of strikers worldwide lingers at around 14 million individuals, and actual protest participation has halved since then (Fridays for Future, 2020[b]). This indicates that the participation level of protests in the physical space is decreasing, even before the limitations due to Covid-19 came into effect. However, Covid-19 forced the climate conversation into the online space even further.
9 Table 1. Fridays for Future (2020 [b])
4.2 Fridays for Future NL
The structure of the movement makes it clear that FFF is not an organization with a hierarchical system. Rather, it should be seen as a network, formed by self-organizing individuals and small groups, connected by a shared ideology. Every individual is allowed to organize a local climate strike, hence agreeing to the core principles and values of the movement (Fridays for Future, 2020 [a]).
The Dutch leg is represented since February 2019 and supported by the climate activist group Youth for Climate Nederland. Meanwhile, several provinces and cities have its own social media channels and local strike events. In table 1., we detect a slight decrease in the numbers of strikes in 2020, which resounds with the global tendency. However, these statistics do not reveal the number of protesters present, solely the number of strikes organized.
4.3 Climate Discourse in the Netherlands
The conversation about climate change and the urgency for action, are not new topics for Dutch society. Throughout the 70s, the debate regarding the negative climate effects of nuclear energy started to expand, partly by Environmental NGO campaigns and the oil crisis. However, NGO’s were not able to translate the abstraction of the upcoming climate crisis to civil language, and the nuclear interests for business and the strong lobby of the big
companies in the country (e.g. Shell, Unilever, and KLM) had faded the urgency (Dewulf et.al 2017). In addition, the data and concerns about the climate crisis circulated mainly within the scientific domain. Developing towards sustainable production and lifestyle is until today associated with high costs.
The climate topic never left the political agenda, but it wasn’t until decades later when the release of Al Core’s movie An Inconvenient Truth triggered a wave of urgency and climate
10 awareness in politics and society. Dewulf et.al (2017) mentioned that this was about the same time new media emerged which helped enforcing the climate crisis narrative. Simultaneously, it gave voice to climate-scepticism, which were, according to Dewulf et.al (2017), “dominating the discourse” online and even found political support.
Throughout 2019, several unprecedented climate-related events took place that stimulated a lot of media attention1. These events left catastrophic devastation for communities and inhabitants of all kinds. The consequences penetrated societies all over the world and it became clear that climate change is not limiting its effects to ‘just’ nature. The realisation and acknowledgment that humanity itself is now undeniably in danger of climate change, became more visible. When politicians initiated global collective policies for moving towards a more sustainable lifestyle, the public debate sharpened on a societal level, but also within the Dutch parliament itself. The sustainable proposals seem to be perpendicular to the interest of several industries that symbolizes Dutch pride (to name a few; cleanest nuclear energy, biomass, production of cheese and top exporter of livestock, and the interests of e.g. Shell and KLM) (Dewulf et.al 2017).
4.4 Activism in the Netherlands
Besides the Dutch export of prominent national products, the Dutch are culturally known for their tolerance, Calvinist nature, neoliberal norm, and strong protectors of freedom of speech. A frequently used Dutch saying (freely translated); “Just behave normally, then you already behave crazy enough” reflects the conservative and Calvinist character of the Dutch. However, the cultural diversity of the second and third-generation-born Dutch citizens evoke the need for expressing different voices. The number of protests in the past two decades reflects the discontentment within society. In 2002, approximately 350 demonstration requests for The Hague2 were processed. In 2018 the number increased to a staggering 1500 requests per year. One of the reasons for this growth is the increasing polarisation within societies (Bloemhof, 2019) and the social pressure that forces individuals to “take sides”. This phenomenon became so expressively present and almost aggressive, that even the king
1 The Australian and Amazon bush fires, the cyclone Idai in southeast Africa, the extreme water shortage in South Africa, and the overall warmest temperature since measurement, filled the airtime in 2019.
11 of the Netherlands emphasised in his yearly speech, that it is okey not to have an opinion about complex social matters (NOS, 2020).
Even though not all demonstration requests were for the purpose of a social movement3, it does tell us that there is an increase of friction within society where individuals with similar challenges feel the need to collectively express their discomfort. Cultural friction converts into “overheating effects” (Eriksen, 2014 p. 41), and stimulates communities to rise, which consequently has an attractive force on other communities or minorities struggling with their position in society.
Another reason for the increase in demonstrations is the use of social media campaigns by activist groups on a global scale. Communities sympathize with injustice on the other side of the world and raise local awareness for this cause (Bloemhof, 2019). A recent example of a social movement that reached global awareness, evoked by a situation that happened in the USA is #BlackLivesMatter.
Castells (2015, p. 6) argues that certain frictions within societies are often the initiator of the emerging of a social movement. Movements challenge the hegemonic social norm and this, in turn, creates possible counter-reactions. We may consider globalization and transnational agreements positive progressions. However, it also overrules national policies (and local political promises) which leaves local societies powerless. The fear of losing control over one's livelihood and autonomy provokes protectionism and obstruction of change (Eriksen, 2014. p. 10). In the Netherlands, resistance is seen in decision-making matters, such as; the European Union, the Syrian refugee migration, policies regarding border security, and of course, the climate crisis.
One movement that is particularly worth mentioning is the farmer's protests 4. Farmers were in this case not fighting for change, but quite the opposite. The farmers oppose the
sustainability policies regarding the reduction of quotas for livestock and milk production and therefore organized several socially impactful demonstrations 5. The Netherlands is after
3Demonstration requests were also for; protest vigils, sit-ins, labour union demonstrations, demonstrative bike
rides, or music events with a social goal (Roorda, 2016 p.59).
4The ‘Boerenprotesten’ started on October 1, 2019, and they are demanding legislative support and
appreciation from the government. Companies Agractie and Farmers Defense Force organize the protests and make use of Whatsapp and Facebook groups (Melkveebedrijf, 2020)
5This entails ooccupying public space and highways with tractors, which led to dangerous situations, blocking
12 the USA, the second-largest exporter of animal products while being 240 times smaller (DutchNews, 2019), and the number one consumer of dairy per capita in Europe. This results in an alarming 70% of nitrogen emissions caused by this industry (Trading Economics, 2020). The production and consumption of particularly dairy are deeply rooted in the cultural values of the Dutch. Questioning the nostalgic image of the hardworking traditional farmer and labelling them as ’polluters’, is therefore socially frowned upon. Farmers gain a lot of support for their cause resisting further sustainable policies. Climate and animal activist groups are on the other side of the spectrum, demanding a drastic reduction of livestock. Both sides let their voices be heard via social media and street activism, which provokes recurrent confrontations with farmers, activist groups, and the government.
The march started at 1 p.m. with performances by Claudia de Breij and Typhoon. Climate scientist Heleen de Coninck also gave a speech and the initiators of the 'climate truants' took the floor.
#Climate #Climatemarch #Climatetruants Photo 2: March 2019
5. Literature review
Due to FFF movement's relatively new existence, a selective number of studies can be found. The available studies, tell us more about Greta Thunberg's motivation and the development of her iconic status. Other studies are predominantly focused on political outcomes or the reasoning for participants to engage in collective action. Studies related to the impact of the FFF movement on society are still in their infancy.
In this literature review, I present studies that are relevant to this topic and the area to which this thesis may contribute. I explore different discourse theories that support the analysis of the collected data, and to better understand the shaping of discourse in the on- and offline world and the relation between those communication spaces. Furthermore, I highlight literature concerning the FFF movement with Instagram as its source of data.
5.1 Defining discourse
The literature presents many different approaches and definitions of discourse. Foucault defines discourse through the production of language. He formulates discourse as the way we think and speak about a specific topic and how language is bound up with institutional practices (Cheek, 2008) (e.g. in medical practices; being positioned as a 'patient', the person accepts to be subject to bodily examinations). Foucault dismisses the concept of an
"absolute truth" as a discourse and formulates his research through the lens of knowledge and power. He argues that the question about the ones who are in control of that
knowledge is more important than what is actual 'truth' (Hall, et.al, 2013 pp 29-32). The shaping of discourse involves the negotiation of power between the dominant group in control of the knowledge, and the submissive group challenging this control.
Fairclough (1992, p 462) argues for a Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and studies language as a form of social practice; referring to our habitual activities and language use in daily life. Hart (2008, p 2, 14) describes CDA as structures of linguistic representation, wrapped in ideology to achieve specific goals. He views ideology as a systematic “organised presentation of reality”. This explanation resonates with Eriksen’s (2014, p 2) description of
representation as the production of meaning through language. Van Dijk (1993, p 252-254) views CDA as the analysis of "complex relationships between dominance and discourse”.
14 He emphasises the importance of understanding the context in which the negotiation of power is taken place, underlining the position of the challenger group within society and the role of reproduction of ideologies. He points out two aspects in discourse related to
dominance; the overrepresention of the dominant voice and the controlling of the public discourse in text and speech (by framing, othering, and marginalizing) and herewith implicitly influencing discourse.
Gee (2004) builds on Fairclough's principle of CDA and questions whether analysing the way “talk and texts function in social interactions” is sufficient to understand the social construct. Or should scholars take the next step and analyse how talk and text function politically in social interactions? With politically, Gee refers to how language is used in different social settings. He states that language-in-use is always part of a specific social practice, and is embedded in cultural and social practices of language. In other words, a person may communicate formally in a business situation, using the pre-existing socially appropriate language, but changes its vernacular when having drinks with friends or posting content online. People adjust their language and behavioural representation according to the social norm. CDA researchers are particularly interested in the process of how social practices create new meanings through (re)production of ideologies, how these new sets of meanings challenge the hegemonic social construct, and how this process ultimately enhances social change (Fairclough, 1992, p 457).
Siham is in The Hague today. A major strike is currently taken place 💪. Children participate in a protest march and brought banner and protest signs. They believe the government should do more to combat climate change 🌎. The strike is also taking place in other parts of the world today. Tonight you can see more about the strike in our broadcast and of course online!
#ontheroad #climatestrike #protest #thehague Photo 3. September 2019
15 Table 1. Fridays for Future, 2020 [b]
Fig. 1. Hermeneutic circle. Source: Simon Fraser University Gee (2004) argues that discourse is created by (re-)production of information, and emphasis
herewith the power of language. A repeating confrontation with a specific narrative leads to a certain familiarity with that narrative, and eventually in the adoption as the new reality. This process is thoroughly explained in the Hermeneutic theory and is the foundation of marketing strategies.
The Hermeneutic approach draws from the philosophy that interpretation is based on a constant flow. A repeating cycle of new narratives confronting narratives of common knowledge and social behaviour according to the norm. This process builds on previous understandings (fig. 1) and forms new sets of meaning at the intersection between those narratives (Geertz, 1973 p 17). It is a continual conscious and unconscious dialog between familiar and new narratives and results in the adoption of a new “truths” (Freeman, 2012, p 2).
According to Brown (2017), people usually require factual, scientific reasoning for accepting a new narrative as a new reality. However, the broad existence and available scientific knowledge related to climate change, has not led to a new profound social construct and behaviour. This implies that ontological knowledge “is not able to make much sense of human desires, goals, and social conduct” (Brown, 2017, p 216), which are far more complex and deeper rooted in our personal and cultural stories.
Social media facilitates a space for the wide (re)production of information, where ideologies can materialize uncontrollably. It also challenges the theoretical models scholars have been using thus far. According to Blommaert (2010), these new ways of communication require different approaches to explain the value of online conversations. It raises the question of which role social media (digital conversation), utilized by the majority of social movements, plays in the context of social change in any form.
5.2 Shaping discourse in the on- and offline world
Tufte (2017) identifies several social processes we experience in recent years that influenced our interpretation of the world, such as; the uprising of a new generation of social
movements, the birth of civil society organizations worldwide, and the role of social media as the driver and centre of social movement’s ideology.
The definition by Kaplan & Haenlein resonates best with this thesis interpretation of social media;
Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological
foundations of Web 2.0”, where Web 2.0 means that content and applications are no longer created and published by individuals, but instead are continuously modified by all users in a participatory and collaborative fashion (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010, cited in Oprea, 2019 p 315).
Previously, discourses were mostly formed by traditional media companies. Their choice of topics, use of words, and view on the matter, nudged the way people created their
perspective of the world. The internet, however, disrupted this one-directional media landscape and forced a paradigm shift of control and ownership of information. The once leading force and information beacon is currently following the trending occurrences on social media, but this doesn't make traditional media necessarily obsolete. Miladi (2016 pp 44-49) argues that all media are products and could be seen as “an indicator of the social discourse.” The key to how discourse is shaped and creates meaning within a social context lies in the interrelation between traditional and new media productions, and audiences. However, the wide usage of social media facilitates and accelerates the connectivity between individuals with united values, and it transcends traditional social, cultural, and national boundaries (Tufte, 2017). This enables the unlimited sharing of ideologies within the online space.
Social media became an undeniably integral part of our communication and an important indicator for understanding social processes. Almost half of the world’s population has at least one social media account (Statista, 2021). The online space enables user-generated content, limited content control, and the fast interchangeability of information.
Subsequently, it offers multiple options for interaction and provides room to express voices, but also hide identities.
17 This is seen as an opportunity for oppressed communities to be heard and simultaneously, be protected by the anonymity of the internet. On the other hand, it raises concerns about authenticity and potential misuse.
Miladi (2016) argues that the historical ownership of information controlled by governments and elites is currently disrupted by digital opportunities. Not only because of the possibility to create and share own content, and herewith able to parry the dominant narrative. But because it became easier to expose the ones in power and hold them responsible for their actions, by using social media to force social unity.
The online space offers researchers new insights into the shaping of discourse and flow of online societal dynamics. However, how we need to position online communication within the shaping of discourse, is still debated. Garcia et.al (2009, p 54) and Lane (2015) argue that rather than separating the on- and offline worlds, we need to see it as one social world. While others do not directly oppose this argument, but rather place the use of social media in a local and cultural perspective (Costa, 2016). Herewith claiming that the content
produced on social media is linked to the social norm in the offline world. Oprea (2019, p 317) speaks of our separate worlds. Referring to our representation in our professional and private lives, which are partly integrated into both the virtual and real (offline) lives. This indicates that our virtual life becomes part of our real life. And that discourse (sets of ideologies) articulated in the online space, becomes part of our truth and identity.
5.3 Identity and ideology
Even though this thesis is not focused on the development of ideology and identity, I do touch on this topic because it is an important component for understanding the process of discourse. Throughout history, the repeated sharing of narratives has played a significant role in the preservation of cultural common values, practices, and believes (Seargeant & Tagg, 2014, Johnstone 1990, Polanyi 1985). This process results in a continuous shaping of individual and collective identities, by people pursuing group recognition, which response to the fundamental human need ‘to belong’, and creating (self-)identification through these interactions (Seargeant & Tagg, 2014, pp 9,15).
18 The power of ideology and the process of (re-)production also manifests itself within the online space and is an important motivation for why narratives became strategic means in political and societal processes. Hegemonic groups are able to preserve their dominant role, through the sharing and framing of their identities and ideology, and controlling the
reproduction (Hall, et.al, 2013 pp 29-32). Subsequently, having herewith the power to demonise the subordinates across those same channels and influences society's opinion. This theory echoes Foucault’s discourse approach of knowledge and power (Chapter 5.1).
Another component for an efficacious social movement, is the leader. Leaders of social movements are often "chosen" by the media, for charismatic or sympathetic reasons. It is through the media framing process that connotations between the spokesperson/leader and the movement tend to become interchangeable (Morris and Staggenborg, 2002, P 32). Although a movement is characterized by bottom-up, non-hierarchical structures, leaders often become the embodiment of a movement. The leader’s actions, goals, and even missteps reflect back on the movement, and vice versa.
5.4 Social movements and climate discourse
Social movements erupt when individuals experience social discomfort, connect through a shared ideology and participate in a form of collective action to address social issues
(Castells, 2015, p. 6; Eriksen, 2014 p. 41). Mobilization often comes from an emotional place, such as fear for a possible threat, or anger about injustice. The need to addressed those feelings leads to collective action (McAdam, 2017 p. 194). Jamison (2010) defines social movements as “a collective form of social behaviour that is explicitly organized for political action” by mobilizing people and resources. He argues that social movements have a significant role in society for it creates the social context to translate complex problems society is enduring.
Until the '70s, the climate change discussion predominantly took place within the academic sphere. When the narrative about the effects of human activity on the environment reached the public more often, a general awareness increased amongst society and politicians, which consequently stimulated the growth of the climate movement.
Academics found a voice through the movement because representatives of the movement participated in the public debate and thus spread awareness about climate change on a more understandable level than academics. The earlier environmental movement was particularly focused on forcing governments to improve environmental communication to society and provide environmental education at schools (Jamison, 2010). The FFF movement aims for a similar outcome, decades later. However, the approach of climate activism
changed over time. It developed from organizing media stunts by a handful of activists to a more traditional approach, where collective action in the form of street (mass) protests and “civil disobedience” are deployed (Della Porta & Parks, 2014).
Jamison (2010) argues that social movements strongly influenced different viewpoints in the current debate about climate knowledge and distinguishes three main positions. He
associates those who are actively participating in raising awareness and reflect on their behaviour concerning a sustainable lifestyle, with the dominant position. The oppositional
position, or ‘sceptics’, challenges the dominant position by questioning the reliability of the
scientific knowledge produced. The emergent position is seen as the in-between camp, acknowledging the environmental challenges, but placing it in a broader perspective of justice and other related crisis situations. These identified positions are still relevant to climate discourses. However, the online dimension of the climate conversation, which is an integral part of our communication today, is not discussed in his research. An interesting point is that Jamison (2010) considers the supporters of climate action occupying the dominant position and scepticism being the challengers' group.
5.5 Dutch climate discourse
Over time, several waves of climate change awareness emerged that received media attention and, however loosely, gained a foothold in Dutch society. Until 2008, the
consensus within the political and scientific sphere regarding the climate situation was more or less stable. When the right-wing party gained momentum during a financial crisis (from 2008) and mass immigration influx, climate scepticism found its way to the parliament. The party stressed the urgency for other societal local problems and diminished the climate crisis with the introduction of alternative facts (Bekkers et. al., 2018).
20 It created just enough doubt within society for questioning the reliability of the scientific knowledge and therefore the involved tax money. For citizens, it is difficult to believe scientists when there seems no consensus within the climate debate (Eriksen, 2014). Through digital channels, scepticism moved freely online, and alternative discourses were formed. This undermined the climate urgency and ultimately resulted in an erosion of climate policies (Bekkers et. al., 2018).
Even though the climate crisis is still on the political agenda and an overall awareness is present, it has not yet been transformed into rigorous local policies and structural behaviour change within society.
Bekkers et. al (2018) researched the creation of ‘truths’ related to the climate discourse in the years 2007-2009 and 2010 – 2011 and the influence of ‘truth’ on Dutch policymaking. This study presents three dominant forms of truth, which share similarities with the three main discourse positions mentioned by Jamison (2010).
The first is “scientific knowledge”, which refers to truth proposed by the academic world. The two other forms of knowledge are identified as alternative knowledge. The production of truth by members of political parties is referred to as “political knowledge”, claiming to represent the voice of the people. Society forms its own discourses, based on the available ontological and epistemological knowledge, and is identified as “common knowledge” (Bekkers et. al. 2018, Lievrouw, 2011). Scientific knowledge is frequently challenged by both alternative domains. But because political and scientific knowledge, are considered as “equally valid” (Houtman et al., 2012), citizens, and thus potential voters, are struggling with understanding the actual truth regarding complex politicalized social matters.
Bekkers et. al. (2018) approached the research of creating discourse from a political point of view and shows how political ‘truths’ can influence political outcomes. However, the study doesn't mention the reversed impact of created "common knowledge" on policymaking, manifested in forms of voting or referendums.
5.6 Use of Instagram
Della Porta & Parks (2014) studied the framing of transnational campaigns about climate change, drawing from social movement theories. With the introduction of the internet, the climate movement overcame transnational boundaries and is creating meaning and a collective identity within the online space. For this reason, Della Porta & Parks (2014) argue for more research from a media and communications study approach as new media is increasingly leading the “framing processes of today’s world”.
The FFF movement gained for a large part momentum on Instagram (Brünker et.al, 2019). This social media application offers the opportunity to share visuals with corresponding captions, and to follow (one-sided) personas or hashtags. Hashtags are metadata tags that support cross-referencing of shared content about a specific topic. Although Instagram is image-centred, the written word (in the form of hashtags and captions) is still leading in the transmission of information (Oprea, 2019 p 318).Participation is expressed through placing comments, hashtags, or emojis on shared content. Other forms of recognized involvements are; likes, watching insta-stories, or direct messaging.
Social platforms offer the possibility to partake in the online conversation and express support to a specific social movement with a low-cost effort. A legitimate reason for activist groups to use social platforms to boost momentum and drive participation for their cause. The widespread online attention for a particular cause, evidently increases the possibility to reach the political agenda, as we have seen in the #metoo debate. (Brünker et.al. 2019, Manikonda et al. 2018).
Instagram is a very popular application in the Netherlands. The platform grew from 4,9 million users in 2019 to 5.6 million users in 2020, showing an increase of 14%. With an adoption rate of more than 80% within the age group of 15-19-year olds, Instagram is much more popular than Facebook, with just a 51% adoption within that age group (Van der Veer et. al, 2020).
A similar trend of Instagram's growing popularity amongst the youth is found in other parts of the world. This could explain the rapidly widespread outreach of the FFF movement within this age-group. For this reason, Brünker et.al (2019) centralized Instagram in their study on the FFF movement.
22 This study aimed to examine how participants of a group contribute to the creation of
collective group/social identity and how this leads to collective action. The study combined the viewpoints of Social identity and Identity theory and analysed 1137 individual comments placed by 2 Instagram posts of Greta Thunberg. The data is gathered through an automated text classification technique, with the pre-defined categories; Group Cohesion, Emotional Attachment, and Solidarity.
Brünker et.al. (2019) concluded that the content assigned to the first two categories were the most shared, and comments related to Solidarity were the least expressed by
individuals. Herewith indicating that an online collective identity is shaped on the basis of commonly individual shared interests and goals. What resonates with the strong need of people for group recognition and belonging (Seargeant & Tagg, 2014, p 9).
Brünker et.al. (2019) also acknowledged the need for further and in-depth analysis when it comes to the role of Instagram in the development of social movements.
Especially, because the majority of the research on social media is focused on Twitter or Facebook (Bunker et al. 2017; Mirbabaie et al. 2017; Oh et al. 2013; Stieglitz et al. 2017).
5.7 Participation in the Netherlands
A qualitative study conducted by Wahlström et.al (2019) in 13 European cities including Amsterdam, during the Global Climate Strike in March 2019, shows that the majority of participants were in the age group of 15 and 19. Just a small percentage was older than 20 years (fig.2). Hence, most of the participants, who identified themselves as school students, were underage. According to Dutch law, adolescents are obligated to attend school and truancy is not accepted. With this, the FFF strikers are officially in violation of Dutch law. Dutch adolescents have no leverage or autonomy on any level of decision-making, leaving them naturally in a subordinate position.
The study of Wahlström et.al (2019) provides interesting data to the deeper motivations and communication of participants. It concludes that the movement gained global awareness via social media. However, 65% of the Swedish respondents became aware of the FFF
movement by interpersonal recruitment, opposing to 35% of the Dutch participants.
This indicates that Dutch school students were more often motivated by social media, which played a significant role in the overall communication of the movement.
23 According to Wahlström et.al (2019), the main reasons for Dutch school students to
participate in the Global Climate Strike are;
• the opportunity to express their views. While the reason of a handful of adult participants was in solidarity with the younger generation
• motivated by Greta Thunberg herself. The representation of Greta as a young female who initiated enormous social impact may be an indicator for FFF having a
predominately female following in the Netherlands. At the demonstration in Amsterdam, March 2019, 70% of the participants were female.
• more than 50% expressed their reasoning for participating due to future worries and frustrations they experience. Castells (2015) explains that social movements are emotionally driven and on an individual level. The actual creation of a movement happens at the moment when emotions turn into actions.
Bowman (2019) points out interesting counterarguments in his article. He argues that the researchers did not give room to the participants to express positive feelings, such as "hopeful" or "trust in policymakers". This colours the research outcomes negatively and seemingly exposing the biases of the researchers. Secondly, he emphasises that these results are not representative of the movement as a whole, considering FFF is a global movement and the researchers limited the field to Europe.
24 In a second study conducted during the third Global Climate Strike in September 2019, 19 cities from different countries were taken under research (Moor, 2020). However, the Netherlands wasn’t included, so a comparison with the previous study mentioned above, cannot be made. This study did involve cities outside of Europe, namely in; Mexico, the USA, and Australia. Nevertheless, Asian or African cities were not included. However, a consistent result in both studies is that females represent the predominant gender (58% in March 2019 versus 59% in September 2019) (Moor, 2020, p 12).
The week of action for a more ambitious climate policy will end on Friday with a major protest action in The Hague. An estimated 30,000 people were present, mainly young people made themselves heard today. The turnout was so high that the route of the march even had to be adjusted.
#protest march #denhaag #climate Photo 4: September 2019
6. Conceptual framework
Based on the literature review, we could conclude that social movements are a key element for bringing about social change. There is a large number of studies available about social movements. While a small number of studies include the immediate (political) outcome of a movement’s effort, the impact on society and actual social change is often beyond the scope of the study (Jenkins & Form, 2005 p 331).
6.1 Social change theory
This research is conducted through the lens of social change. Social change theory is in principle the analysis of the transformation of social relations (McLeish, 2013. p 1-4). The foundation of social change theory is laid by Karl Marx. He was particularly interested in the relation between power and inequality, and how a conflictual situation stimulates social change. Many theorists have built on his premise of social change through conflict. Marx argued that social change is about the negotiation of power, and initiated by ideas and emotions. Even though his theory of social change is concentrated in the economic domain6, the concept of conflictual power relations for the sake of change is also transferable to other, more contemporary, cases (McLeish, 2013. p 1-4). Historically, socially disrupted situations provide the ideal environment for the emerging of social movements (Eriksen, 2014). From this perspective, we could argue that society needs a form of friction to enhance change.
Jenkins & Form (2005, p 332) describe society as an abstraction and define social
movements as “organized efforts to bring about social changes in the distribution of power”. In other words, social movements are a mechanism for individuals or communities to use to challenge the ones in power for a more equal or just society. This process gets supported by other factors that result in willing and unwilling social change, such as; the acceleration of communication, technology, and global mobility of people and information (Eriksen, 2014).
6Marx distinguished two groups; the bourgeoisie, the ones in power who are having the knowledge and
materials. And the proletarians, the working class who were at the mercy of the bourgeoisie and the social construct they have built.
6.2 Key elements
Within the theory of social change, the development of change is central to the analysis. Herewith, not focusing on the communication from the movement itself, but on the meaning created by society through interaction. Online content is continuously (and uncontrollably) produced, modified, shared, owned by all users within a joined space (Oprea, 2019 p 315) and therefore always in development.
Frequently, social movements with the intention to change the social structure get
confronted with counter-reactions, or even emerging counter-movements, aiming for the preservation of the situation. Counter-movements often include the antagonization of the “other side” (othering) as part of their collective identity, and by using negative labels for the ones that initiate a change (Jenkins & Form, 2005, p 340). Hall et.al (2013 pp 29-32) argues that hegemonic groups preserve their dominant role by sharing, framing, and controlling the reproduction of certain narratives. This process is the creation of ‘common knowledge’
(Bekkers et. al. 2018, Lievrouw, 2011), it influences the development and eventually its outcomes.
Another important factor is the context in which the power negotiation take place (Van Dijk, 1993, p 254) and the hegemonic social structure in which movements need to position themselves. The "parent-structure" (Jenkins & Form, 2005, p 332; Schwartz, 1975) is brought forward as an example of an institutionalized, socially accepted dominant position of a group over another. Translating this to the position of the FFF movement, the resemblance with the concept of the parent-child, or in a broader sense, the adult-child relationship is evident. The question is, what is the position of the FFF movement, and to what extent plays
reproduction of narratives a role in changing the discourse, which may lead to social change.
6.3 Building up framework
I base the framework of this thesis on social change theory. Social change theory
complements critical discourse analysis within the context of social change seamlessly. Both, theory and method, centre power relations as the building blocks of society and social change. I concentrate on a discourse change over a specific period within the online space, that initiates changing the social structure related to the climate topic (Wilterdink & Form, 2020).
27 Marx’s theory of social change based on conflict is still relevant to the online space and the current polarized climate debate. The literature review presents different approaches for translating offline social theories to the online space. I build on Costa’s (2016) theory of interpreting online content in a local and cultural perspective. However, I prefer to propose an extended approach by framing the online world as an extension of our offline lives. Social media is often used as a form of self-expression and self-identification, and a tool for
articulating different voices. But not necessarily to mix this voice or equate it with our offline identity. The online world also offers a space for how we wish to be seen and heard by others. This may be manifested in the form of a created (anonymous) persona or is expressed through slacktivism7. The anonymity of online participation stretches the boundaries of freedom of speech without any consequences, which harshens the
conversation and enforces (online) polarisation and conflicts. It also allows for disengaging from a conversation completely.
This thesis aims to answer the question to what extent the FFF movement has influenced the climate discourse within the Dutch space of Instagram. I focus the analysis on the “common knowledge” (Bekkers et. al. 2018, Lievrouw, 2011) within the online space, between
February 2019 and September 2020. Theorists emphasise the importance of context for successfully enhance social change, and that discourse is therefore always subject to context (Strauss, Feiz, 2014. P 49; Van Dijk, 1993, p 252-254). Preferably, a study comprises all aspects influencing the discourse, however, I concentrate on the position (of power) of the movement within the social construct to stimulate a change, if intertextuality is supporting their position and cause, and ultimately, if this leads to indications of potential social change.
7 Slacktivism means carrying out an action for a political or social purpose with minimal effort, which above all gives a satisfying feeling to the participant himself (Skoric, 2012).
For this thesis, I am interested in the effects of a social movement on society over time. In a broader context, are environmental social movements able to make a real change? Herewith not researching the communication of the movement or the media, but rather the
conversation within society in response to the message and goals of the movement. This led me to approach this research as a case study. It allows me to conduct a narrowed empirical research of the FFF movement’s influence on the online climate discourse. This widely used strategy creates space to focus on in-depth analysis of a specific phenomenon and detailed data collection (Blatter, 2008). As a consequence, the results of this specific case study may limit the transferability to other -although similar- social occurrences (McLeod, 2019), but could be seen as an exploratory starting point for further research. Due to the lack of scientific boundaries concerning case study research, different views on the matter evolve. Blatter (2008) discusses three different understandings of case study research; naturalism, positivism, and constructivism. I lean towards a constructivist's approach, as it builds on the theory that people create their own reality and knowledge about the world, through encounters with different narratives. Which is corresponding with the discourse theory of Foucault and the Hermeneutic argumentation of Gee. I do, however, make use of statistics to support correlations between the research subject and its
To analyse the impact of the FFF movement on the online climate discourse and to understand to what extent power relations are of influence, I approach the case from a social change perspective and make use of Critical Discourse Analysis.
7.1 Choice for climate discourse
From a personal and professional standpoint, I am fascinated by the process of public opinion in the online space, and if this contributes to development and social change. The online space often provides an outlet for, what I call, ‘hidden feelings”; thoughts that are less intensively articulated in real life due to the offline social structure but expressed uncensored in the online space. The social media epoch facilitates the constant (un)willing consumption of messages and fuels all sorts of social (media) hypes. But when the dust has fallen and the majority is following the next trending topic, what is left of the message of that particular social movement? And did the movement even had the potential to make a change or was the media attention just based on sentimentalism?
Within the realm of discourse, the online dimension offers many unexplored angles. Therefore, numerous discourse approaches and related premises keep evolving. This
ongoing development and tailoring of theories to contemporary form and text promise more detailed analysis in future studies concerned with social change.
My focus of interest, is social change related to the climate crisis. The environmental and social destruction climate change is bringing is a deep personal concern. I am attentive that choosing such a personal topic can cloud my judgement. Apart from that, as a marketer, I am aware of the commercial goals of the tech companies beneath their perfect social branding and the far-reaching consequences of social media algorithms. Professionally, I myself utilize the full potential of online marketing opportunities for clients. This makes me doubtful towards and struggling with, the effectiveness of social movement participation and the credit social media gets in the context of social change. However, it is also the consideration for choosing this topic.
Van Dijk (1993, p 253), emphasises that critical discourse scholars should be “social and political scientists, as well as social critics and activists” and therefore always biased. According to Van Dijk (1993, p 279) this standpoint could bring new perspectives to researches related to discourse analysis.
I am focusing this study on the Dutch online space for two reasons. Firstly, I am a Dutch citizen which helps me interpret the underlying cultural and social context and language barriers. And secondly, in my perspective, the biggest polluters of the world should be motivated to develop in a more sustainable direction. Those are predominantly the western nations, which the Netherlands is a part of.
7.2 Research approach
I organize the analysis based on discourse dimensions of power and social change, proposed by theorists Foucault, Van Dijk, Fairclough, and Gee. The collected data for analysis consists of textual material gathered from Instagram. For structuring the collected qualitative data within predefined discourse forms, I make use of latent coding and the software application Excel.
7.2.1 Collected data of Instagram
I selected 6 Instagram posts, which originated from 2 reputable news stations; NOS Jeugdjournaal and NU.nl. The predominant visitors of those platforms are an age segment younger, and older than the initial FFF audience, which brings a different perspective to the matter.
NOS Jeugdjournaal is already 40 years, a respected news channel for children. It's a
subsidiary of one of the biggest news platforms within the Dutch media landscape, the NOS. This platform is part of the public broadcast corporation and is subsidized by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science. NOS Jeugdjournaal has an Instagram following of 348k, creates a variety of content, and uses modern technology and means of
communication to engage children in the age group of 9-12 years old. A great number of adults (parents) are following this account too. NOS also initiated the Instagram account NOSstories, which is targeting teenagers. However, the large number of comments placed at NOSstories posts, made analysis unrealistic within the scoop and the available time for this thesis. Secondly, NOSjeugdjournaal is particularly interesting because it entails
conversations from a different segment of society.
NU.nl is recently part of the Belgium company DPG Media. The website presents the most recent news and has more than 2 million visitors a day and 311k followers on Instagram. Nu.nl describes their audience as highly educated and between the age of 20 and 49 years, which has a different following than NOSjeugdjournaal.
Beforehand, I established the following criteria for the selection of the data. 1. The Instagram posts contain content related to the FFF movement.
2. The selected posts need to at least provoked 40 useful comments. This entails comments that relate to the predefined forms of discourse.
31 3. And finally, the posting of the content by the news platforms is preferably around a
World Climate strike, starting from February 2019 to September 2020.
In order to guarantee the reliability of the research results, a statement regarding the data must be made;
1. The data, with a total of 482 comments (translated from Dutch to English), is collected on the 1st of November 2020. Instagram is an open platform and enables individuals to delete or alter their contribution at any time or add a comment after the date of collection. These changes are not included in the analysis of this research. 2. Another point to highlight is that the data is gathered within a specific time frame.
The selected posts originate from February 2019 to September 2020. The analysis is focused on and therefore limited within this spectrum.
A special moment in Oxford this week!
Climate activist Greta Thunberg (17) met another (and also very young) activist there: the now 22-year-old Malala Yousafzai, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 💪. They became almost immediately friends.
#Thunberg #Malala Photo 5. February 2020 Source: Instagram NU.nl
32 7.2.2 Discourse focus
Discourse is always subject to context (Strauss, Feiz, 2014. P 49), and can therefore be studied from different angles. The central question is to what extent the FFF movement has influenced the climate discourse within the Dutch space of Instagram. I focus on the position of power of the FFF movement within the online social structure, the role of intertextuality in relation to the climate narrative, and ultimately, if this leads to indications of potential social change within the predetermined time frame. The data is organized according to three forms of discourse:
1. Has the FFF movement the power within the climate realm to change the online discourse? Foucault views discourse through the lens of institutionalised power and knowledge. This dynamic is marked as the powerful and the subordinates. I
centralized the power relation between adults and minors, the “parent-structure” (Jenkins & Form, 2005, p 332; Schwartz, 1975), to understand the position of the FFF movement and its development.
• To study this relation, I analysed expressions of negative commons, indicating; marginalization due to age, gender or lack of knowledge, and contextual use of emojis, in the data. And simultaneously, expressions of solidarity, support, and contextual use of emojis favouring the position of the FFF movement.
2. What is the role of intertextuality in relation to the online climate discourse? Gee refers to language itself as a form of power. Discourse develops through the (re)production of ideologies and narratives regarding socially unchallenged claims, and the sharing of presumed scientific citations or sources.
• I studied forms of shared scientific knowledge and repeated common knowledge narratives within the data and the implications for the climate discourse.
3. Can we identify elements of potential social change in the online discourse, favouring the message of the FFF movement? According to Fairclough, the hegemonic social norm is a form of power. Challenging this power with new narratives that leads to a form of action, is the ultimate result of social change, and the focus point of critical discourse analysis.
33 • I analysed the data for potential social change in relation to actual action and
non-action. Action in this context stands for all forms of positive behavioural expressing, such as; willingness, intention, or concrete action. Opposing communicating Non-action, or the emphasis on keeping behaving according to the dominant social norm.
7.2.3 Coding data
Instagram facilitates short, organized forms of text, which makes coding a suitable method for structuring the data. Researchers who opt for a manifest coding approach, look at direct observable values of data and are usually not guided by predetermined interpretations or theory (Gray & Densten, 1998, p 4). Latent coding, however, centres the underlying meaning of data in relation to theory and is frequently used in contextual complex studies. I prefer a latent coding approach, as it leaves the validation of the data essentially with the researcher (Gray and Densten, 1998, p 5-6).
Because the three predefined discourse forms are very much correlated, drawing a hard line between those forms of power is not expedient. Therefore, a number of data sets are coded with more than one discourse form, based on my interpretation. Table 2. Provides an
overview of the assigned coding to the discourse forms. Pos. stands for a positive
contribution to the discourse, favouring the message of the FFF movement. Neg. presents the dominant position, also referred to as ‘sceptics’, opposing the change.
I make use of Excel for structuring the gathered data. This software has not the ability to analyse data automatically but is used for organizing and presenting the data in a
spreadsheet. Excel allows the filtering and the translation of the data to visual graphics. The reason for using Excel and manually code the data is because algorithms are not able to make sense of sarcasm, cultural interpretations, and the identification of context. Another reason is that the use of emojis is often contextual. The sharing of a fire emoji or a thumbs-up may refer to a previous comment, instead of the initial content of the post. This could be significant for interpreting the data and the understanding of the discourses present. The selected comments are anonymized by replacing the account names for numbers, including account names who were tagged but did not take part in the conversation.
34 Table 2. Overview of the assigned data coding related to discourse
1. Position of power Negative, marginalized comments related to
age, gender, or lack of knowledge Code: 1.neg Positive comments, expression of solidarity, and
support Code: 1. pos
2. Intertextuality Intertextuality in favour of the hegemonic
discourse Code: 2. neg
Intertextuality in favour of the message of the
FFF movement or the climate narrative Code: 2. pos
3. Potential social change Non-action, or the emphasis on keeping
behaving according to the dominant social norm Code: 3. neg
Action means all forms of positive expressions,
such as; willingness, intention, or concrete action
Code: 3. pos
4. n.i. Not Identified. Comments or reactions which are not substantively contributing to one of the predefined discourses
All over the world, young people are again protesting for the climate today. They want governments to do more to combat climate change 🌿. In total, more than 3000 protests have been announced, such as in Australia, Poland and Sweden. This includes well-known climate activist Greta Thunberg.➡ In the Netherlands, 11 protests are planned, including in Leeuwarden, Enschede and Arnhem.
#youth # youth news # climate #demonstration #protest
Photo 6. September 2020
This chapter comprises the analysis of the data related to the discourse forms defined in the previous section. I demonstrate the most representative parts of the data and the
implications for the discourse.
8.1 Likes and emojis
Emojis are recurrently used instead of, or in combination with, text to communicate sarcasm or to intensify the meaning of the written word. It also has the ability to articulate emotions and facial expressions without the effort to formulate a textual argumentation. There is an observable dominant use of emojis within the 1.neg segment, mainly communicating
ridiculing, disgust and undermining. Within the positive segment, emojis were primarily used for expressing support for the cause or ridiculing the sceptical comments. The most shared emojis within the context of the position of power is within the negative framing: 😂 🤮 🤡, and positive framing: ❤😂.
Liking could be seen as a passive agreement or token of support to the conversation without much effort or exposure of one’s actual identity. The comments with the most likes, are surprisingly not provoking the most reactions and are all found under code 1.neg. The comment with the most likes illustrates a meeting between Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai and received 155 likes.
“Malala is committed to education for girls all over the world and Greta doesn't want to go to school” (comment on post from Feb 2020)
Other comments with the most likes are:
“And how did she get to England? With a polluting plane?”
(93 likes, comment on post from Feb ‘20)
“Go to work, then you do something for society instead of this drivel” (45 likes, comment on post from Sep‘19)
“The real fighters were just sitting at school making tests”