Can "slacktivism" work? Perceived power differences moderate the relationship between social media activism and collective action intentions through positive affect



We argue that the often-used critique of social media activism as merely a ‘feel-good’ mechanism can be countered by conceptualizing social media activism as a necessary type of collective action (i.e., consensus mobilization), incorporating theory on the benefits of positive feelings for activism, and by examining how power may affect these relationships. Women from two different samples (MTurk and university) were randomly assigned to recall a high- versus low-power experience, view real-world events of sexism, and then complete questionnaires assessing endorsement of social media activism, positive affect, and collective action intentions. A dual moderated mediation analyses at the second stage of mediation showed equivalency across two samples, at which point the single moderated mediation model was tested on the combined sample. The model was significant, such that among those in the high-power condition, endorsing social media activism was associated with greater positive affect, which in turn predicted greater collective action intentions. Among those in the low-power condition, however, this indirect effect was not significant. This study provides counter-evidence to the ‘slacktivism’ critique, contributes to theories of collective action, power and their integration, and identifies a possible intervention to enhance the effectiveness of social media activism.

Social media; collective action; slacktivism; power; activism; sexism

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