Date of Award

2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Communications Honours

School

School of Communications and Contemporary Art

Faculty

Faculty of Education & Arts

First Advisor

Debra Mayrhofer

Abstract

Computer-mediated communication has revolutionised the way activist groups influence the opinion of corporations, governments and the community. It has never been so cheap or convenient to publish high-quality material to push a specific issue or cause. Activists are no longer restricted to satisfy the news values of media corporations to reach wide publics. Nor do these businesses (or governments) have any apparent advantage, despite their more economically sustainable and highly-resourced positions. Current literature is able to examine and explore how the Internet is used and the problems involved, yet much research fails to examine how these constraints and opportunities are negotiated and embraced by users. This thesis provides a window to the use of computer-mediated-communication within three activist groups, and explores how cyberactivist organisations use the Internet, and how this use influences their capacity to communicate, articulate problems, mobilise resources and maintain relationships within a public relations framework. Activist groups advocate for the implementation of change and have the power to affect an organisations ability to accomplish its goals and missions. As a result, research on activism has become an important aspect of public relations research. Activists represent articulate and vigilant publics who can organise sustained and effective action on diverse issues; yet dominant public relations literature views activists as 'the enemy' of the corporate world. The rise of the networked world has shifted the social and political configurations of the twenty-first century, creating new ways of understanding power and change. From all over the world, activism and cyberactivism will increasingly contribute to shaping those changes.

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