Agenda of Vkontakte online protest communities based in St Petersburg
Keywords:protest, social networks, protest movements, strategic communication, online communities
The article examines Vkontakte communities representing active protest movements operating in St Petersburg. Modern Russian protest movements actively use social network resources for coordination and campaigning. Early 2010s saw a surge in online protest communities’ activities related to the Bolotnaya Square developments and the 2018-2019 rallies against pension reforms.
Online community content is an important and underestimated resource to explore online publication strategies. It has a great deal of information about the key topics, authors, claims and symbols of movements as well as forms of digital activism (e-petitions, flash mobs). The study aims to describe the agenda of online protest communities based on the core characteristics of protest movements manifested in the publications.
The posts from seven active communities (2017-2018) were used to study different movements such as: “Committee to protect St Petersburg”, “Vesna Movement”, “Let’s protect Isaakievsky Cathedral”, “No animal cruelty in Russia. SPb”, “Save Pulkovo Observatory”, “St Petersburg branch of Leninist Komsomol”, "Navalny's Team | St. Petersburg". The paper describes the structure and basic features of content in each community and analyzes main similarities and differences of online protest communities.
Acknowledgements. The authors would like to thank the colleagues from the Center for Sociological and Internet Research (St Petersburg State University) for guidance and support. The work was supported by Russian Foundation for Basic Research [grant no. 18-011-00477 “Sociological analysis of the protest potential among Russian students”].