Citizen-Driven International Networks and Globalization of Social Movements on Twitter

Zhu, Q., Feb-2017, In : Social Science Computer Review. 35, 1, p. 68-83 16 p.

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  • Citizen-Driven International Networks and Globalization of Social Movements on Twitter

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Social media offer an avenue for the formation of citizen-driven global networks that are vital to mobilizing international support and curating global public discourse in social movements. This study looks into the global flow of information and communication about Hong Kong's Occupy Central Movement with a focus on the country/territory-level international network that emerged on Twitter. Drawing on the world systems theory and the literature on social movement, it examines whether the globalization of a local social movement via social media is circumscribed by the existing order of the world system (i.e., from the developed core countries/territories to the developing peripheral). It focuses its analysis on the network structure and the predictors of countries/territories' centrality in the network. Findings of the social network analysis show that the structure of the international network still follows the existing order of the world system to a large extent. It is further supported by the result of the multivariate analysis that national income, a widely used benchmark for determining a country/territory's position in the world economy, is significantly and substantially related to centrality. However, national income does not have the largest predicting power. Instead, a country/territory's level of political grievances is found to be the strongest predictor. In addition, countries/territories with high Internet penetration rates tend to have high-centrality scores, and yet the effect size is smaller than the other predictors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-83
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Science Computer Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2017
Externally publishedYes


  • social media, social movement, world systems theory, social network analysis, INTERNET USE, WORLD, MEDIA, NEWS, RISE, HYPERLINKS, SYSTEM

ID: 126543975