Activist capitals in network societies: Towards a typology for studying networking power within contemporary activist demands

Jakob Svensson


Network societies are characterized by social media — media that are supposed to level out power hierarchies — making political participation more inclusive and equal. By developing a typology for studying networking power within activist demands in network societies, such techno–optimistic/deterministic assumptions are questioned. This typology is based on Bourdieu’s conceptual framework of social fields, habitus and capitals. It revolves around participating, mobilising, connecting and engaging capital and how these intersect, overlap and are used for negotiating recognition which I argue is of pivotal importance for upholding core positions among activists. Such core positions are related to networking power, i.e., knowing how and being in a position to network in order to decide about courses of events in the organisation of the demand/social field and its actions. This largely theoretical account is exemplified from an ethno– and nethnographic study of a group of middle–class activists in southern Stockholm using online platforms in tandem with more traditional off–line activist activities to organise and mobilise participation.


Activism; Social Media; Capital; Participation; Recognition Networking; Mobilization

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