I argue that a hashtag’s narrative logic – its ability to produce and connect individual stories – fuels its political growth. — My case study of #WhyIStayed suggests that in the initial stage, hashtags that express outrage about breaches of gender justice are likely to invite online participation, while the escalation into online collective protest depends on the nature of interaction among multiple actors and their sociopolitical contexts.
A tweet can be about something as mundane as a user’s morning cup of coffee, but when combined with the networked power of hashtags, the political fervor of digital activists, and the discursive influence of collective storytelling, online personal expressions can grow into online collective action.
One of the areas I’m working on – hashtag activism, hashtag campaigns, hashtag advocacy, or whatever you want to call it, depending on your point of view – curiously seems to have been primarily advanced by the field of feminist media studies, with a journal with the same name having published three special issues on the subject in the past few years. This is one of the Feminist Media Studies papers, and it seems to argue that hashtagged displays of activism are particularly well-suited for online feminist discursive action, with the paper in question detailing how one particular hashtag was used to subvert mainstream narratives on domestic violence.
I think this is interesting stuff, even while I remain somewhat unconvinced of the practical relevance of it.
Clark, Rosemary (2016). “Hope in a hashtag”: the discursive activism of #WhyIStayed. Feminist Media Studies, 16(5), 787–804. http://doi.org/10.1080/14680777.2016.1138235.