The targets of online protest: State and private targets of four online protest tactics

Jennifer Earl, Katrina Kimport

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


A major debate has erupted in recent work on social movements about the role of the state in protest, with some advocating alternative approaches to the study of social movements, such as a focus on institutional authorities. Using data on four types of online protest (petitions, boycotts, and letter-writing and email campaigns), acquired using an innovative new methodology that produces a generalizable sample of online protest actions, this paper addresses this debate. While the state is a frequent target of online protest, a significant portion of protest activity targets other institutional authorities. The authors' analyses disaggregate the state and distinguish between types of institutional authorities, further deepening the understanding of both state and non-state actors. Their data also suggest an association between tactical forms and their targets. Finally, by using Internet data, this paper contributes to an under-studied area of social movement research: online protest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-472
Number of pages24
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • Contentious politics
  • Internet
  • Online protest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Library and Information Sciences


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