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PRIN PNRR Grant P2022NXPBB (2023-2025) “New Technology, Old Technology: The Interplay Between Social Media and Mass Media for Social Movements"


The proposed research project will investigate the role and nature of social media and mass media and their interplay in various
modern social movements (e.g. regarding environmental, gender inequality, racial justice, etc.) In the modern days, public
narratives and collective attention during social movements are shaped by the interplay between social media and mass media. Our
study will seek to understand how social media and mass media interact to amplify and shape collective attention and public
narratives during social movements from a holistic perspective at the scale of the information ecosystem. The unique property of
connective action makes it particularly suitable for studying this question as each movements can be treated as an significant event
through which we will investigate the dynamical relationship between social media discussion, mass media coverage, and collective
attention and public attitude toward the movement. In our context, collective attention is measured by information-seeking behavior
(i.e., online search for the movement) and information consumption (i.e., viewership of Wikipedia pages for relevant event) and
public attitude is measured by both sentiment and issue stance in social media posts. Existing studies examine social media and
mainstream media separately and hence do not provide a complete picture of how online activism and connective action are organized and interact. A deeper understanding of the interplay between different technologies is warranted. Our study will address
this critical gap in scholarship.
Our project will conduct large-scale data analysis of structured and unstructured data from multiple sources These include data on
(1) Twitter posts; (2) TV news transcripts; (3) Measures of collective attention such as online search and web pageviews; (4)
incidences of social movements. With this rich and detailed information on dynamic between different media discussions and
collective attention, we will use various advanced statistical tools to both model the temporal dynamic interplay between different
media coverages and collective attention and perform rigorous causal inference on the relative impact of different information
This proposed research will make contributions to scholarship and to practice. The study will enable us to develop a
conceptualization of the complex relationships of technologies with different affordance complement and compete in shaping the
collective attention and public narratives during social movements. Our empirical investigation will shed light on the co-evolvement
pattern of mass media coverage and social media discussions and hence provide insights into the role and nature of different
information technologies. Practically, our study can shed light on how online activist campaigns can strategically benefit from
different mechanisms that guide public attention.