Does “Social” Mean “Public”?

The Cognitive, Collaboration, and Communication Functions of Using Facebook in Local Protest against Shale Gas Extraction: The Case of Żurawlów

in Nature and Culture
Author:
Wit Hubert Institute of Sociology, Jagiellonian University, Poland wit.hubert@uj.edu.pl

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Aleksandra Wagner Institute of Sociology, Jagiellonian University, Poland aleksandra.wagner@uj.edu.pl

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Abstract

The article presents an analysis of the use of Facebook on the over 400-day-long anti-fracking protest by farmers in the village of Żurawlów in Poland against the global corporation Chevron. Analysis of this case study was used to discuss the deliberative potential of social media and their power in countering hegemonic discourse and providing visibility in the public sphere to actors and arguments marginalized or excluded by the traditional media. The results discuss Facebook's potential for mobilizing and providing identity while emphasizing the problem of visibility in the public sphere, which was key to the inclusion of discourse in public debate. Harnessing emotions and legitimizing minority interests helped create counter-power, while polarization and “homophile acts” against deliberation geared toward arriving at an agreement.

Contributor Notes

Wit Hubert is a market and public opinion researcher with several years’ experience. His main academic interests concern issues of the social impact of new technologies. He participates in research projects related to developing renewable energy cooperatives in Poland. He is a country leader in the project called COMETS (Collective Action Models for the Energy Transition and Social Innovation). He is a research-teaching assistant at the Institute of Sociology of the Jagiellonian University. ORCID: 0000-0001-5359-2503 Email: wit.hubert@uj.edu.pl

Aleksandra Wagner is a sociologist, founder of the Dialogue for Policy group. She specializes in discursive analyses of public policies, designing participatory processes, and effective moderation of group discussions, including in conflict situations. She is a professor at the Institute of Sociology of the Jagiellonian University. ORCID: 0000-0002-6465-5597 Email: aleksandra.wagner@uj.edu.pl

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