The story of Occupy Wall Street
: Narratives of politics and identity on Twitter

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis focuses on the Occupy Wall Street movement (OWS), and argues
that a narrative analysis of this movement’s social media stories can shed
light into how contemporary social movements and their supporters
endeavour to politically negotiate and present themselves to the world on
Twitter. Social media narratives are important elements surrounding the
discourses of social movements. However, despite the resurgent interest in
the ways in which social media are used strategically by activists to organise
their networks, and in the ways in which their communities use these
platforms as windows to express their shared sentiments, little of these
approaches focus on the narratives constructed on social media networks, or
on the stories told by users of social media networks in response to social
movements. Instead, quantitative analysis, sentiment analysis, organisation
analysis, and network analysis have governed social movement studies of
Twitter, focusing on metric aspects of movements and their organisation.
Moving beyond these frameworks, this thesis deploys the original analytical
framework of Network Thematic Analysis (NTA) as a six-step analytical
process, in order to look into the elements—stories, micro-narratives, and
narratives—constructing the big story of OWS on Twitter. Network analysis
of Twitter communication unveils the dynamics of the stories told about
OWS, and reveals the dominant narratives of the movement’s story on
Twitter. This thesis advances our knowledge about OWS’ political and
identity narratives, stimulates new discussions about social media’s role in
contemporary social movements, and provides a springboard for new
analyses of social movements.
Date of Award2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorPaolo Gerbaudo (Supervisor) & Tim Jordan (Supervisor)

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