Jacquelien van Stekelenburg: "Everyone can be an activist through social media"


In the last ten years, there have been more protests than at any time since the sixties. Why? This is one of the most difficult questions in social sciences. Jacquelien van Stekelenburg has an answer.

Protests come and go - in waves, according to Jacquelien van Stekelenburg, Professor of Social Change and Conflict, in a video interview at the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute as part of the 16th European Trend Day. According to van Stekelenburg, the increase in protest movements is mainly due to social media. But inspiration and affectation are also drivers: people see that others are protesting and decide to take to the streets themselves.

What makes social media a significant factor is the possibility of reaching an enormously large group of people - in a short demand of time against low costs. "This is what we call the super-size effect," says the professor. "Reaching such a large group of people was previously very expensive." So anyone who participates in social media can spread information and become an organizer or activist;in the past, only labour unions that organize everything top down were capable. "Everyone can become an activist through social media," says van Stekelenburg. And that has changed the whole protest dynamics.

To the interview: