Social movements around the world have begun to harness new tools in the repertoire of political contention: social media. Social scientists have begun to investigate the relationship between social media and mobilization, yet the majority of the literature is focused on how these tools are used to co-ordinate protest activities in the physical world. Despite increasing acknowledgement of collective identity as a mobilizing force, social movement theorists have mostly emphasized social media’s informational and organizational functions. This thesis focuses on the ideational function of social media by examining mechanisms of collective identity cultivation therein, and posits that social media not only affect mobilization in the physical world, but constitute a space for mobilization itself. I present an analysis of the pro-Islamic State (IS) discourse on Twitter, highlighting three particular socio-linguistic identity-building mechanisms: indexicality, positioning, and intertextuality. I show that hashtags and hyperlinks are elements of a new digital toolbox which can be used to bolster collective identity creation and movement solidarity.
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Thesis advisor: Moustafa, Tamir
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