It can be argued that communication networks are not only present in all social movements, but, are in fact essential to their formation and emergence. As Manual Chattels argues in Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements In the Internet Age, social movements all throughout history could not have been possible without the communication networks formed by Individuals who had a common purpose and goal that challenged the norm of society.
Social movements, regardless of how different each may be, are always a response to some form of Injustice, whether It be ultra, economic, political or social, this Injustice Incites those being mistreated to stand up against the dominant power In their society and collectively act to try and change It. However, this collective action that challenges the dominant power In society Is not possible without first establishing a certain togetherness among the Individuals who wish to oppose the norm.
It Is through communication networks that people are able to unite and create the sense of togetherness that turns thoughts, feelings and emotions into actual collective action. Just as the government and elites hat too often hold the power in society use communication networks to attain the consent of individuals, those who are the counterpoise use communication in the same way for the production of dissent. Governments and corporations use the various outlets of media to communicate their values and interests in order to influence individuals into accepting their power without resistance.
Communication therefore is as essential to power and consent, as it is to dissent and social movements. Chattels states, “the way people think determines the fate of the institutions, norms and values on which societies are organized” (p. ), so once individuals form communication networks where they can exchange information of their shared feelings of discontent and injustice, they will begin to think not of the elite’s interests, but their own interests, and this is when dissent arises and social movements are formed.
It is through communication networks that individuals are able to turn their emotion into action, because once they are together they are able to overcome the fear that prevents them from resisting the dominant power In society. “Overcoming fear is the fundamental threshold for individuals to cross In order to engage in a social movement” and once fear Is no longer a factor, enthusiasm and hope move a social movement forward (Chattels, p. 10).
Communication networks offer a space where Individuals can exchange Information and organize themselves as a united force of dissent. With the emergence of the Internet and the advance In technological communication, social movements have greatly transformed. Not because the fundamentals have changed, communication networks are still the space for emotions to be shared, dissent to form and action to arise, but because communication between Individuals has been greatly facilitated.
Take for example the recent Arab Spring, a social movement arose because Individuals were able to communicate and organize themselves through social media and cellophanes where before it would have been very difficult to come together in will continue to advance, as Castles argues, communication networks will also continue to be absolutely necessary for the development and emergence of social movements. It is only through communication, and the togetherness it creates, that individuals dare to stand up against the norms of society and fight for a reconstruction of it.
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