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#Rezist 2017: Communicating Dissent in a Hypermedia Environment
Protest communication and campaigning plays a crucial role in democracy, and can bring about regime change, yet is treated as of secondary importance to electioneering activities. This paper counters the imbalance by focusing on the #Rezist protests in Romania 2017; triggered by an attempt by government to exonerate senior politicians who had been found guilty of corruption. Young Romanians took control of Victory Square, facing the government building, to demand the law be repealed and European law be respected. In order to counter the government narrative which dominated party supportive media, protesters quickly developed their own media channels to build support. The protests spread across Romania and the diaspora; the younger, entrepreneurial class gained the attention required to bring about short-term changes. Through interviews with some of the key activists and monitoring of developments in the anticorruption campaign we chart the role social media plays in building the e motional mood and sense of solidarity required to meet short term goals. But equally our analysis shows that once short term objectives are attained the c ampaigns that bring together Internet-mediated issue generalists can become fragile. Hence this paper offers a more balanced perspective of Internet-mediated social movements than studies of Castells and others. Our study serves to highlight how protests can emerge through the emotional power of outrage, can mobilise citizens around narrow objectives, and can evolve to become a social movement, but then struggle to then develop a more transformatory socio-political agenda.
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