November 3, 2011 · Posted in Literature Review · Comment 

Enabled by ICT, social media are instrumental in and shaping and catalyzing social change for they allow for wide participation, continued flow of communication, and speed in public mobilization. In other words, their development has created opportunities to fuel social change through building awareness, triggering public will mobilization, encouraging civic engagement, sharing knowledge, etc. Hence, their role is indeed changing in social and political processes and their significance is increasing in society. While the mobilization of social media has become an instrumental approach for social change, their embrace and strategic use may further transform them into a driving force for major political changes, if their implementation is based on a constant adjustment of strategies to political and social context specific requirements. However, a theoretical framework is needed to advance a shared pursuit toward understanding the role of social media technologies for social change, as assessing their real impact on social change is still compounded by the lack of clear empirical evidence.

Furthermore, for they are decentralized and less hierarchical and based on democratic structures, social media offer new and appealing possibilities to people in terms of expression, collaboration and participation in powerful new ways. This is due to the advent of Web 2.0 technologies that has enabled users to create and exchange user-generated content. In relation to this, the so-called citizen media could be said to meet the Web 2.0 social media revolution, with some of related applications being in part an essential constituent to social media and others losing their dominance due to no adherence to the relevant principles and practices. As a key feature, social media provide scale and are capable of reaching a massive, global audience and are accessible to as well individual as media actors to produce or consume information in equal terms, as the means of social media production are available to the public. Thus, individuals are no longer stochastically at the outer borders of media production and distribution.