Performing politics on social media: The dramaturgy of an environmental controversy on Facebook

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Abstract

Social media has become an important stage for environmental politics where different actors seek to shape and contest meanings. Meaning making on social media is studied through an empirical study of a controversial coal seam gas project in Australia. Key Facebook pages associated with opposing viewpoints on this controversy are analyzed using the dramaturgical concepts of scripting and staging. The analysis reveals that the Facebook performances are multisensory, staged to appear personal, and tightly scripted. It is argued that although these characteristics serve an important solidarity function among like-minded individuals and groups, they leave limited space or tolerance for counter-scripts. This in-depth empirical analysis suggests that social media platforms are transforming the way publics form and meet, but their capacity to bridge opposing viewpoints on divisive issues remains limited.

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Hendriks, C. M., Duus, S., & Ercan, S. A. (2016). Performing politics on social media: The dramaturgy of an environmental controversy on Facebook. Environmental Politics, 25(6), 1102–1125. https://doi.org/10.1080/09644016.2016.1196967

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