Social Media, Activism, and Organisations (#SMAO15)

6 November 2015, Goldsmiths, University of London

#SMAO15 Summary


Social media, Activism, and Organizations 2015 (#SMAO15) brought together a large, international audience from a variety of disciplines. Founding chair, Dhiraj Murthy, was thrilled to receive such a strong set of submissions, which made for an exciting day of talks. #SMAO15 was fortunate to have plenary talks by Jen SchradiePaul LevyAlison Powell, Natalie Fenton, and David Karpf. Our keynote talk was by Jennifer Earl. It was a pleasure to also host the launch of Veronica Barassi’s book, Activism on the Web.

Papers at #SMAO15 not only advanced our understandings of contemporary uses of social media use in social movements, but also the many ways in which we can critically reflect on their potential and limitations. Importantly, organizational communication perspectives were central to #SMAO15 and the contributions made give scholars in this interdisciplinary area much to think about. Questions around social media in formal and informal movement organizations were explored from a variety of methodological perspectives, including social network analysis, ethnography, surveys, participant observation and big data analytics. Papers covered regional case studies in Europe, North America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. In addition, #SMAO15 brought together practitioners, artists, and scholars. This unique constituency of attendees yielded new perspectives and approaches to studying social media, activism, and organizations.

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Over 1000 tweets were posted during the event and you can virtually (re)attend via the #smao15 Twitter archive or network visualization/analytics. As you can see from the network graph to the left, #smao15 tweets exhibit a focused density. Keywords in tweets (see below) illustrate the diverse themes and approaches of #smao15 papers and attendees. Thank you to those who tweeted before, during and after #smao15.

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2015 Social Media, Activism, and Organisations Symposium (#SMAO15)

Social media (from mainstream platforms such as Twitter to organization-specific tools) have become increasingly pervasive. This is exemplified by the diversity of uses ranging from Twitter and Facebook use during the Arab spring to the use of Snapchat by highly surveilled activist groups. Many social movements have increasingly seen social media as a means to collaboratively crowdsource, to network and communicate with diverse stakeholders. In large  organizations, social media is often supported because the technology can help foster the sense of a “digital village”, where individuals are able to “see” the lives of others within their organization and feel closer to them. However, the literature on social movements and social media has not fully grasped just how much social media has fundamentally changed the landscape of organizational communication, ranging from stakeholders being able to directly mobilize resources to making grassroots transnational social movements more organizationally feasible. Social Media, Activism, and Organisations (#SMAO15) seeks to better our understandings of how social media has shaped social movement organizations and the organization of social movements.

The Social Media, Activism, and Organisations #SMAO15 symposium will be held in London, England on November 6, 2015 at Goldsmiths, University of London. The symposium is sponsored by The Sociological ReviewThe Centre for Creative & Social Technologies at Goldsmiths, and the Centre for the Study of Global Media and Democracy at Goldsmiths.


•    Organisational communication and social media

•    Democratizing organisational structures via social media

•    Gender, social media, activism, and organisations

•    Activist knowledge aggregation techniques

•    Enterprise applications and social activism

•    Collaboration, social media, and activism

•    Virtual teams, social media and activism

•    Activist networks and organizational communication

•    Social media and organizational leadership

•    Communicating organizational messages via social media

•    Social media and advocacy organizations

•    Inter-movement organizational communication and social media

•   Visual social media and organisations

•    Implications of anonymous social media