After Aylan Kurdi: How Tweeting about Death, Threat, and Harm Predict Increased Expressions of Solidarity with Refugees over Time

Laura Smith, Craig McGarty, Emma Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Viral social media content has been heralded for its power to transform policy, but online responses are often derided as ‘slacktivism’. This raises the questions, what drives viral communications, and what is their effect on support for social change? We addressed these issues in relation to Twitter discussions about Aylan Kurdi, a child refugee who died en route to the European Union. We developed a longitudinal paradigm to analyse 41,253 tweets posted by 373 users one week before the images of Aylan Kurdi emerged, the week they emerged, and 10 weeks afterwards – at the time of the Paris terror attacks. Tweeting about death before the images emerged predicted tweeting about Aylan Kurdi, and this, sustained by discussion of harm and threat, predicted the expression of solidarity with refugees 10 weeks later. Results suggest that processes of normative conflict and communication can be intertwined in promoting support for social change.
LanguageEnglish
Pages1 - 12
JournalPsychological Science
Early online date15 Feb 2018
DOIs
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Feb 2018

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Refugees
Social Change
Communication
Social Media
Paris
European Union
Conflict (Psychology)
Drive
Power (Psychology)

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After Aylan Kurdi: How Tweeting about Death, Threat, and Harm Predict Increased Expressions of Solidarity with Refugees over Time. / Smith, Laura; McGarty, Craig; Thomas, Emma.

In: Psychological Science, 15.02.2018, p. 1 - 12.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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