(Cyber)activism in an online social movement: Exploring dialectics and discourse in The Zeitgeist Movement



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This ethnographic study takes an interpretive approach and critical approach to exploring the experiences of cyberactivists within the online social movement known as The Zeitgeist Movement. Thirty-three interviews were conducted with members of The Zeitgeist Movement (TZM) and contextualized with participant observation. Participants describe their experiences as cyberactivists organizing for social change online. Grounded theory was employed to identify emergent themes in the transcripts, which revealed the presence of organizational and emotional dialectical tensions. Chapter four explores organizational dialectics through contradicting statements expressing (1) the need for leadership or hierarchy vs. the need for equality or democracy and (2) autonomy vs. connection. Emotional dialectics were expressed in discourse surrounding (1) emotion vs. rationality, and (2) hope vs. hopelessness. In chapter five, I discuss the microscopic, discursive strategies employed by members of TZM to promote a discourse of masculine sameness, including (1) demonizing the feminine, (2) normalizing gender inequality, (3) the rational yardstick and (4) the spiritual other. Finally, we explore the macroscopic, or institutional practices, of masculine sameness, including (1) accessibility, (2) communication structures and (3) the entry quiz.