Expanding on Narration through Hashtags. A Social Change.

Expanding on the notion of hashtags as more than the diffusion of information, but rather a narrative of individualised experiences and reactions. Thus digital activism is relevant to the narrative agency that result from hashtags. Yang argues that similar to literature, social change follows a narrative structure. Narrative agency is “invented” and invention with the producers and rhetors restricted to some capacity, as a result these individuals construct new ways of expression. Hashtag activism is a reflection of these developments.

The relationship between social change and narration can be illustrated through how #BlackLivesMatter originated. Through the use of a Facebook post and hashtag individuals have invented a narrative in which has flourished through reactions to that hashtag. This has created the narrative for the social movement that we are witnessing.

Social movements embedded in the digital sphere have been associated with Slacktivism, with social touchpoints allowing individuals to result in gratification without practical effort. However there are two issues with this. The first being that individuals or organisations who receive interactions from Slacktivists may continue their cause through the idea that others support them. Additionally through the hashtag we have the capacity to influence opinions without the need for physical space or institutional control.

The reason that digital movements have positive agency is through the power of narration. This is due to the hashtag reducing the process of noise, allowing individuals to interact with another through this shared construct and the capacity for routine. For such hashtags  to create social change they rely heavily on associated rhetoric in the narrative. Producing similar call to actions to what we see of Facebook in terms of “‘tag’ your friend you would do this with.” This creates a sensation of personalisation and contribution to the narrative.


7 thoughts on “Expanding on Narration through Hashtags. A Social Change.

  1. Enjoyed this blog, it was a Interesting take on this weeks topic. The linking of digital activism to the term ‘Slacktivism’ is spot on. It appears that most people only ‘half ass’ their role when opposing a issue, as many people fail to act, but rather share or participant in a trend for that ‘I’ve done my part’ feeling. One suggestion on this blog would be diverting from using Wiki sources (don’t worry I tend to use them a lot as well). I know it can be hard to find relevant sources for these digital new age words, but you know how the Uni is with using Wikipedia – just in case it loses you marks in the future. Another suggestion I would make is providing a link in this blog to your previous blog, as you are expanding on it.
    Cheers for the read Sam!


  2. You brought up some great examples to explain how a hashtag can become a narrative. I think when you mentioned the #BlackLivesMatter movement, you could have expanded even further on how some people tried to change the story and focus on #AllLivesMatter. It’s almost as if there was a plot twist in the narrative when this occurred and this type of thing is actually quite common as people hijack the original meaning of a hashtag.
    Here is an article expressing why it should be kept as #blacklivesmatter and not changed to #alllivesmatter, thought you might find it interesting: http://fusion.net/story/170591/the-next-time-someone-says-all-lives-matter-show-them-these-5-paragraphs/


  3. It was interesting to read your blog and see the link you write about with hashtags and narratives. It is really evident to see with your example of #BlackLivesMatter. It all started on social media, but its popularity caused international recognition of the issue and the hashtag has taken off on social media and in protests around America. This article links in well with what you have discussed as it talks about the start of the movement and the effects that have been felt with the popularity of the movement. http://time.com/time-person-of-the-year-2015-runner-up-black-lives-matter/


  4. It would also be of use using this example to focus on how it motivated a wider community to translate that sentiment into physical action, taking to the streets in cities around the globe and assimilating the tag into their own fight for equality- see marches for indigenous Australians
    I know it doesn’t contribute to your argument on slacktivism, but it does reflect some balance in what actually happens in the community as a whole.
    I love that term though… it’s so perfect.


  5. When researching to write my blog post, I was attracted by the notion of “Slacktivism”. Though being aware of its benefit, Slacktivism, to some extent, makes me doubt the effectiveness of digital activism, but your explanation on “slacktivism” is clear. And it is interesting that you created a link between hashtags and narrative. Well done!


  6. Really enjoyed your post! Mentioning the example of #blacklivesmatter really helped to create deeper understanding of your views for this weeks topic. With social media platforms like Twitter and the idea of the hashtag, this has given these groups and their allies a way to network, organize, and express themselves publicly, as well as allowing international populations to come together in support of each other and in protest of radical ideologies. Mentioning the reasoning behind digital movements have positive agency through the power of narration was really interesting. As I do agree these hashtags are shown to create social change as well as relying heavily on associated rhetoric in the narrative.
    Can’t wait to read more!


  7. Your post is a great read and I particularly enjoyed your discussion of the topic of slacktivism. It’s so easy for people to make a tweet and show support, but are they really? or are they just doing it for that warm and fuzzy feeling. Your example of #BlackLivesMatter was informative and provided me with knowledge on a topic I was unfamiliar with.


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