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The transformation of participatory warfare: The role of narratives in connective mobilization in theRussia–Ukraine war

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Digital War
Accepted/In press12 Sep 2022
Published27 Sep 2022


King's Authors


The participatory affordances of digital media allow a broad spectrum of new forms of participation in conflicts that go beyond the information domain (Boichak 2017). This article explores the factors that shape forms of digitally-mediated participation in warfare. It highlights the association between narratives of statehood and forms of conflict-related mobilization of volunteers that rely on digital platforms. Rooted in an analysis of a dataset of digital platforms that mediated engagement in the warfare and 31 in-depth interviews with Ukrainian digital activists, it offers a model that helps to explain the diversity of modes of connective mobilization in the context of the war and
the shifts in the role of digitally-mediated conflict-related mobilization. The analysis does not aim to provide a linear model that explains the forms of mobilization but rather seeks to develop a framework that helps us understand the changes taking place in the scope and forms of participation in wars relying on digital platforms. The model suggests that the strengthening of narratives of statehood is associated with a transformation of conflict-related mobilization away from crowdsourcing and towards the emergence of organizations offering warfare-related outsourcing services and in some cases the incorporation of digital resources into state institutions (insourcing).

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