Capturing Online Presence: Hyperlinks and Semantic Networks in Activist Group Websites on Corporate Social Responsibility
The rise of Internet-mediated communication poses possibilities and challenges for organisation studies, also in the area of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and business and society interactions. Although social media are attracting more and more attention in this domain, websites also remain an important channel for CSR debate. In this paper, we present an explorative study of activist groups’ online presence via their websites and propose a combination of methods to study both the structural positioning of websites (hyperlink network analysis) and the meanings in these websites (semantic co-word maps). We focus on the websites of SOMO, the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations, and of one of its campaigns, makeITfair, concerned with labour conditions in the IT industry worldwide. This allows us to show how this combination of methods can further our understanding of the way activist networks’ online presence can provide insights into the tactics these networks apply to achieve institutional change on CSR issues. Meanwhile, we identify some notable differences between styles and word use in the two organisations’ websites. We conclude with a set of suggestions for future research.
KeywordsActivism Corporate social responsibility Co-word analysis Hyperlink network analysis Institutional change Online presence Websites
Corporate social responsibility
European Coalition for Corporate Justice
Social movement organisation
An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Social Media for Social Purposes Conference, Copenhagen, Denmark in 2011. Thanks to participants in this event for valuable feedback and to the reviewers and special issue editors for their guidance. Thanks also to Lora Aroyo, Thomas Ploeger, Bibiana Armenta, Maxine Kruijt and Chun Fei Lung for useful discussions on mapping online activism.
- Bruns, A. (2007). Methodologies for mapping the political blogosphere: An exploration using the IssueCrawler research tool. First Monday, 12(5). http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/1834/1718. Accessed 29 Apr 2008.
- Caren, N., & Gaby, S. (2011). Occupy online: Facebook and the spread of Occupy Wall Street, Social Science Research Network Paper. Retrieved from http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1943168.
- Castells, M. (2012). Networks of outrage and hope. Social movements in the Internet age. Cambridge, UK: Polity.Google Scholar
- Cormode, G., & Krishnamurthy, B. (2008). Key differences between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. First Monday, 13(6), 2 June 2008.Google Scholar
- Diani, M. (2004). Networks and participation. In D. A. Snow, S. A. Soule, & H. Kriesi (Eds.), Blackwell companion to social movements (pp. 339–359). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Earl, J., Kimport, K., Preito, G., Rush, C., & Reynoso, K. (2010). Changing the world one webpage at a time: Conceptualizing and explaining Internet activism. Mobilization, 15(4), 425–446.Google Scholar
- Gurak, L. J., & Logie, J. (2003). Internet protests: From text to Web. In M. McCaughey & M. D. Ayers (Eds.), Cyberactivism: Online activism in theory and practice (pp. 25–47). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Hara, N. (2008). Internet use for political mobilization: Voices of the participants. First Monday, 13(7), 7 July 2008.Google Scholar
- Kim, J. H., Barnett, G. A., & Park, H. W. (2010). A hyperlink and issue network analysis of the United States Senate: A rediscovery of the web as a relational and topical medium. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 61(8), 1598–1611.Google Scholar
- Leydesdorff, L., & Hellsten, I. (2005). Metaphors and diaphors in science communication. Science Communication, 27(1), 64–99.Google Scholar
- Lounsbury, M., Ventresca, M., & Hirsch, P. M. (2003). Social movements, field frames and industry emergence: A cultural–political perspective on US recycling. Socio-Economic Review, 1(1), 71–104.Google Scholar
- Lusher, D. & Ackland, R. (2011). A relational hyperlink analysis of an online social movement. Journal of Social Structure, 12(5). Retrieved March 16, 2013, from http://www.cmu.edu/joss/content/articles/volume12/Lusher/.
- Marres, N. (2012). The redistribution of methods: On intervention in digital social research, broadly conceived. Sociological Review, 60(S1), 139–165.Google Scholar
- McWilliams, A., & Siegel, D. S. (2001). Corporate social responsibility: A theory of the firm perspective. Academy of Management Review, 26(1), 117–127.Google Scholar
- Meikle, G. (2010). Interactivity: Mapping online activism. In J. Hunsinger, L. Klastrup, & M. Allen (Eds.), International handbook of internet research (pp. 363–377). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
- Nehrlich, B., & Koteyko, N. (2009). Carbon reduction activism in the UK: Lexical creativity and lexical framing in the context of climate change. Environmental Communication, 3(2), 206–223.Google Scholar
- Park, H. W. (2003). Hyperlink network analysis: A new method for the study of social structure on the web. Connections, 25(1), 49–61.Google Scholar
- Ploeger, T., Armenta, B., Aroyo, L., de Bakker, F., & Hellsten, I. (2012). Making sense of the Arab revolution and occupy: Visual analytics to understand events. CEUR Workshop Proceedings, 902, 61–70.Google Scholar
- Rogers, R. (2010). Mapping public web space with the IssueCrawler. In C. Brossard & B. Reber (Eds.), Digital cognitive technologies: Epistemology and knowledge society (pp. 115–126). London: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Thelwall, M. (2004). Link analysis: An information science approach. San Diego: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Zhou, Y., & Moy, P. (2007). Parsing framing processes: The interplay between online public opinion and media coverage. Journal of Communication, 57(1), 79–98.Google Scholar