Gold, power, protest: Digital and social media and protests against large-scale mining projects in Colombia

Colombia’s Internet connectivity has increased immensely. Colombia has also ‘opened for business’, leading to an influx of extractive projects to which social movements object heavily. Studies on the role of digital media in political mobilisation in developing countries are still scarce. Using surveys, interviews, and reviews of literature, policy papers, website and social media content, this study examines the role of digital and social media in social movement organisations and asks how increased digital connectivity can help spread knowledge and mobilise mining protests. Results show that the use of new media in Colombia is hindered by socioeconomic constraints, fear of oppression, the constraints of keyboard activism and strong hierarchical power structures within social movements. Hence, effects on political mobilisation are still limited. Social media do not spontaneously produce non-hierarchical knowledge structures. Attention to both internal and external knowledge sharing is therefore conditional to optimising digital and social media use.

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Specht, D., & Ros-Tonen, M. A. (2017). Gold, power, protest: Digital and social media and protests against large-scale mining projects in Colombia. New Media & Society, 19(12), 1907-1926.

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