FIELDS OR NETWORK? STRATEGIC ACTION AND SOCIAL SKILL AMONGST TWITTER ACTIVISTS

Mathieu O'Neil, Robert Ackland

Abstract


Though massive amounts of digital trace data can be collected about how people exchange information online, the question of why they do so remains elusive. In order to explain how information cascades, how viral dynamics are launched, researchers often analyse issue diffusion following a “social contagion” model whereby information spreads smoothly and continuously across nodes (Myers and Leskovec 2010; Onnela & Reed-Tsochas 2010).

Social contagion does not account for cultural dynamics or the reflexivity of actors, and we argue that a field-level approach is useful to understand how patterns of relations between networked actors are organised in collectively significant ways.


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