We revisit the notion of activist persistence against the backdrop of protest communication on Twitter. We take an event-based approach and examine Occupy Gezi, a series of protests that occurred in Turkey in the early summer of 2013. By cross-referencing survey data with longitudinal Twitter data and in-depth interviews, we investigate the relationship between biographical availability, relational and organisational ties, and social and personal costs to persistent activism online and on location. Contrary to expectations, we find no clear-cut relationship between those factors and sustained commitment to participation in the occupation. We show that persistent activist communication did not feed into enduring organisational structures despite the continuous online activity observed during and beyond the peak of the Gezi occupation. The article concludes with reflections on the organisational ramifications of persistent communication and its significance in a political context posing high risks to participation in dissident politics.
Dan Mercea is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at City, University of London. He holds a PhD in Communication Studies from the Department of Sociology, University of York. He is the author of Civic Participation in Contentious Politics (Palgrave, 2016).
Duygu Karatas is Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Westminster, London, UK.
Marco T Bastos is Lecturer in Media and Communication at City, University of London and an affiliate of Duke University’s Network Analysis Center. This research was conducted while he was a postdoc at the University of California at Davis.