Last month, Mobilization published a special issue on new methods in social movements research, edited by Neal Caren. I was one of the contributors to the issue, submitting a piece borne of my master’s work. The piece is on using supervised machine learning of Facebook messages from Egypt’s April 6th Movement in its formative months of 2008, corroborated by interviews with April 6th activists.
With the emergence of the Arab Spring and the Occupy movements, interest in the study of movements that use the Internet and social networking sites has grown exponentially. However, our inability to easily and cheaply analyze the large amount of content these movements produce limits our study of them. This article attempts to address this methodological lacuna by detailing procedures for collecting data from Facebook and presenting a class of computer-aided content analysis methods. I apply one of these methods in the analysis of mobilization patterns of Egypt’s April 6 youth movement. I corroborate the method with in-depth interviews from movement participants. I conclude by discussing the difficulties and pitfalls of using this type of data in content analysis and in using automated methods for coding textual data in multiple languages.
You can find the PDF here.
The issue is full of a lot of other great stuff, including:
Studying Online Activism: The Effects of Sampling Design on Findings, Jennifer Earl
How Repertoires Evolve: The Diffusion of Suicide Protest in the Twentieth Century, Michael Biggs
Contextualizing Consequences: A Sociolegal Approach to Social Movement Consequences in Professional Fields, Elizabeth Chiarello
A Methodology for Frame Dynamics: Analyzing Keying Battles in Palestinian Nationalism, Hank Johnston and Eitan Y. Alimi
The Radicalization of Contention in Northern Ireland, 1968-1972: A Relational Perspective, Gianluca De Fazio