Harsh Tweetment? Online reactions of opponents of marriage equality to looming and final defeat.

McGarty, C. (Western Sydney University)

The explosion of research generated by the social identity approach to collective action has expanded our knowledge of why and when people take collective action. Less is known about what supporters of causes do when their social movements face challenges or even defeat. Recently the DIME Model has been proposed by Winnifred Louis and colleagues in an attempt to clarify the responses of disidentification, innovation, moralization and energization in the face of perceived lack of progress by activists and other supporters. In this paper an archival study of the online social media content on Twitter (complementing longitudinal survey studies described elsewhere) followed 153 online opponents of/ sceptics about marriage equality before and after the postal plebiscite of 2017 (sampling content on the hashtag #ItsOKtoVoteNo. Analogues of key predictors used in the social identity model of collective action were created using Linguistic Inquiry Wordcount Software. The results show that these variables ebbed before defeat and flowed after it, but that more intriguingly there was evidence of declining connection between collective action predictors and action several weeks after the plebiscite result. This result meshes with ideas from the 2009 normative alignment model of Emma Thomas and colleagues.

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Health and Social Identity