This research will apply an exploratory, multi-disciplinary methodology to analyze the activities, functions, and mechanisms of digital activism performed on Telegram and TikTok around protests in authoritarian regimes, framing as case studies the 2020-2021 protests in Belarus and Russia. Through doing so, the study seeks to contribute to social movements literature by building the case for Telegram- and TikTok-enabled pro-democratic protests as unique tools for mobilization and coordination of protest actions, popularization of pro-democratic movements, as well as for facilitating empirical research into such activities. The tremendous growth in usage of TikTok and Telegram in Belarus and Russia, represents a shift in how these platforms are used during protests, perhaps catching the authorities off guard. Despite the emergence of Telegram and TikTok as popular platforms for digital activism, there are few studies that use empirical data to gain insight into how and why these are used by pro-democracy activists. This project addresses this gap and seeks to design a theoretical and methodological framework to conceptualize the Belarus and Russia protests mediated by TikTok within digital activism literature.
Start date:October 2022
Research Topic:Digital acitivism in authoritarian regims
Research pathway:Journalism and Democracy
Research Supervisor:Emiliano Trere, Helen Innes
Supervising school:School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Cardiff University
Primary funding source:ESRC
Research keywords:authoritarian regimes; digital activism; internet-based protest mobilisation; protests