Mobilizing Discontent

Social media and networked activism in Japan

Authored by: Love Kindstrand , Keiko Nishimura , David H. Slater

Routledge Handbook of East Asian Popular Culture

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  December  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415749428
eBook ISBN: 9781315643106
Adobe ISBN: 9781317285014


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The ways in which social media becomes recognized, legitimated, and used as an effective tool of political activity—framing, mobilizing, logistical organizing of offline events and the subsequent re-representation of these events to a wider audience—depends upon a number of contingent features that probably differ quite widely with time and place, media environment and social structure, cultural expectations and political context. In many cases, Japan included, social media is primarily used as a casual tool of social networking, a way for friends and families to stay in touch, a way for people to keep up with news and the flow of popular culture. This changed in Japan around the events associated with the disasters of March 2011. We describe this transformation through three key shifts which unfolded in chronological order from even before the tsunami reached shore, that moved from the instrumental to the constitutive and finally to the symbolic, communicative, and social functions that enabled political potential heretofore undeveloped. Our argument is that through the instrumental use of these technologies, users established connections and relatively enduring networks that then came to constitute a durable and effective post-3.11 politics.

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