Paul Reilly
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Social media, contentious politics and social movements
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In Chapter 1, the evolving relationship between social media, contentious politics and social movements is explored. The role of digital media in social movements since 2011 is analysed, using exemplars such as Occupy Wall Street and the popular uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa later labelled the ‘Arab Spring’. The chapter moves on to explore the evolving role of digital media in contentious politics in Northern Ireland. Data from organisations such as OfCom are used to empirically investigate the news consumption practices of citizens and the levels of public trust in professional news media and political institutions in the social media era. Finally, the results of interviews conducted with key stakeholders (N=14) between October 2009 and September 2013 are elaborated, in order to critically evaluate the impact of Web 2.0 on political participation in the deeply divided society prior to the flag protests.

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Digital contention in a divided society

Social media, parades and protests in Northern Ireland

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