Carnegie Mellon University
Choi Judy Dissertation M23.pdf (17.98 MB)

Networked Movements Through the Dramaturgical Lens

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posted on 2024-02-21, 22:00 authored by Judeth ChoiJudeth Choi

Movements such as#Occupy, #Egypt, #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter have shifted the culture, in spired revolutions and influenced policy change and legal actions. Protests for Black lives, spurred  by the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, have already led to shifts in attitudes toward police  and to real policy change in several US cities. This movement, like many others, would not be  possible without social media. My research extends literature in HCI/CSCW on networked movements and popular social movement theory by focusing not on how emerging technologies replace  traditional movement infrastructure, but how networked activism, such as a hashtag campaign,  is contextualized within broader social movements and is complementary to traditional forms of  organizing and protest.

  Informed by my interdisciplinary background as an organizer and theatre artist, this thesis draws  from the sociological lens of dramaturgy and performance studies to develop a framework for un derstanding how scripts communicated through social media guide action and role development in  local activist networks. The framework investigates how movements play out on different “stages,”  each affording different “scripts,” which guide role formation, coordination, framing processes and  behavior, transforming an audience member into an activist. This thesis involves empirical research  of the 2020 Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests with a focus on events in Pittsburgh, the Justice  for Antwon Rose II movement, self-identified social justice activists on Twitter, and a community organized festival.  

Each study adds to our understanding of how local, sometimes offline organizing, works hand in-hand with networked forms of activism. I describe the type of locally situated action described in  these studies as cooperative action and compare cooperative scripting processes to devised theatre  processes. I propose that the dramaturgical approach can help activists, researchers, and technology designers understand how movement scripts guide action and lend to growth in local activist  networks.  




Degree Type

  • Dissertation


  • Human-Computer Interaction Institute

Degree Name

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Jessica Hammer Jodi Forlizzi

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