Baba Jukwa and the Digital Repertoires of Connective Action in a ‘Competitive Authoritarian Regime’: The Case of Zimbabwe
One of the direct offshoots of the ‘Arab Spring’ and its concomitant globalization of the protest culture across the globe was the launch of the infamous Baba Jukwa Facebook page in Zimbabwe. Despite the popularity and criminal investigations which accompanied the Facebook page, there has been lack of interests among researchers in examining the blog from a social movement perspective. This chapter, which draws much of its data from social media ethnography, qualitative content analysis and in-depth interviews with some of the fans of the Baba Jukwa Facebook page, identifies various digital repertoires of contention, which were deployed by the administrators and fans to mobilize people against the authoritarian nationalist regime during the 2013 harmonized elections. It also highlights the problems associated with most of the digital repertoires of contention utilized especially as it pertains to exposing fans to surveillance, leaving digital footprints and use of real names as well as pseudonyms. It critically assesses cyber-optimistic and pessimistic claims about the potential of social media to drive political change in societies where most of the people are disconnected from the internet and are politically and economically disenfranchised. It argues that online activism backed by limited offline activism feeds into the cult of clicktivism, free-rider problem and neglects the importance of face-to-face mobilization and strategic planning. The chapter also illustrates the limitations of Facebook activism.
KeywordsSocial Movement Authoritarian Regime Qualitative Content Analysis Social Media Platform Framing Theory
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