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The populist allure of social media activism: Individualized charismatic authority

Gustafsson, Nils LU and Weinryb, Noomi (2020) In Organization 27(3). p.431-440
Abstract
This article argues that the type of individualized social media activism that has been conceptualized as ‘connective action’ has affinities to populism, and may have detrimental consequences for democratic procedures and the bureaucratic structures that enable them. We trace the normative allure of individualized digital engagement to the libertarian roots of techno-utopianism and argue that this, in combination with a form of mobilization fueled by digital enthusiasm, has potentially dire democratic and organizational consequences. Digital enthusiasm generated on social media platforms entails self-infatuation, here conceptualized as a form of individualized charismatic authority in the Weberian sense. This individualized form of... (More)
This article argues that the type of individualized social media activism that has been conceptualized as ‘connective action’ has affinities to populism, and may have detrimental consequences for democratic procedures and the bureaucratic structures that enable them. We trace the normative allure of individualized digital engagement to the libertarian roots of techno-utopianism and argue that this, in combination with a form of mobilization fueled by digital enthusiasm, has potentially dire democratic and organizational consequences. Digital enthusiasm generated on social media platforms entails self-infatuation, here conceptualized as a form of individualized charismatic authority in the Weberian sense. This individualized form of charismatic authority is fundamentally focused on personalized engagement, and simultaneously interconnected through the technological affordances of social media platforms. If individualized charismatic authority becomes institutionalized as a legitimate and predominant manner of organizing, it may have large-scale implications for societal organizing at large by promoting populism. In sum, we argue that digital enthusiasm not only provides democratic opportunities for protest and contention in civil society, but that the fickleness of the individualized charismatic authority it generates may also put democratic procedures and respect for bureaucratic structures at risk. (Less)
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author
and
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
social media, emotional labor, civil society organizations, Social movements, connective action, charismatic authority, Weber, digital enthusiasm, populism, social media activism
in
Organization
volume
27
issue
3
pages
10 pages
publisher
SAGE Publications
external identifiers
  • scopus:85062342341
ISSN
1461-7323
DOI
10.1177/1350508419828565
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
ec727221-83ce-4de1-a13e-f4c461870e89
date added to LUP
2019-02-25 12:07:29
date last changed
2020-10-14 14:30:48
@article{ec727221-83ce-4de1-a13e-f4c461870e89,
  abstract     = {This article argues that the type of individualized social media activism that has been conceptualized as ‘connective action’ has affinities to populism, and may have detrimental consequences for democratic procedures and the bureaucratic structures that enable them. We trace the normative allure of individualized digital engagement to the libertarian roots of techno-utopianism and argue that this, in combination with a form of mobilization fueled by digital enthusiasm, has potentially dire democratic and organizational consequences. Digital enthusiasm generated on social media platforms entails self-infatuation, here conceptualized as a form of individualized charismatic authority in the Weberian sense. This individualized form of charismatic authority is fundamentally focused on personalized engagement, and simultaneously interconnected through the technological affordances of social media platforms. If individualized charismatic authority becomes institutionalized as a legitimate and predominant manner of organizing, it may have large-scale implications for societal organizing at large by promoting populism. In sum, we argue that digital enthusiasm not only provides democratic opportunities for protest and contention in civil society, but that the fickleness of the individualized charismatic authority it generates may also put democratic procedures and respect for bureaucratic structures at risk.},
  author       = {Gustafsson, Nils and Weinryb, Noomi},
  issn         = {1461-7323},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {05},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {431--440},
  publisher    = {SAGE Publications},
  series       = {Organization},
  title        = {The populist allure of social media activism: Individualized charismatic authority},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1350508419828565},
  doi          = {10.1177/1350508419828565},
  volume       = {27},
  year         = {2020},
}