Date of Award
Master of Arts in International Development and Social Change (IDSC)
International Development, Community and Environment
Nigel Brissett, Ed.D.
Ramón Borges-Méndez, Ph.D.
The 2016 election that catapulted Donald J. Trump to the U.S. presidency has raised questions for how Facebook may have enabled the emergence and coalescence of a social movement among traditionally improbable voters. The research in this paper engages with contemporary social movement theory, assessing its adequacy for explaining the role of Facebook as a primary method for facilitating a social movement among the civically-alienated, who are the most unlikely of all Americans to join an organized collective for change. From a methodological perspective, the exploration takes up the case as a strategy of inquiry to explore social movement theory in the context of algorithmically-mediated social networking environments. It is concluded that the presence of a proprietary algorithmic mediator deployed by Facebook creates deliberate effects among its users which cannot be explained with social movement theory. These effects cannot be easily studied without unethical cognitive manipulations or information distortion.
Stimmel, Carol L., "Networks of Isolation: The Case of Donald J. Trump, Facebook, and the Limits of Social Movement Theory" (2018). International Development, Community and Environment (IDCE). 181.
American Politics Commons, Civic and Community Engagement Commons, Other Social and Behavioral Sciences Commons, Political Theory Commons, Politics and Social Change Commons, Public Policy Commons, Science and Technology Studies Commons