#demo2010: Using Twitter to Research the Geographies of Protest

Hannah Awcock

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Since its launch in 2006, microblogging website Twitter has become a popular communication tool for activists and social movements. Whilst there is a significant amount of research on the role of digital technologies in protest (Theocharis, 2012, and van Laer and van Aelst, 2010), it is still a relatively new field of research, and as such frequently requires experimental research methodologies.

In this paper, I shall explore the opportunities and difficulties of digital methodologies using research conducted on the use of Twitter during the 2010 Student Tuition Fee Protests in London. Collecting tweets published during the protests using selected hashtags allowed me to investigate how protesters and observers talked about the protests in real time. However, it also presented a number of methodological challenges, including:

• the prohibitive costs of commercial tweet collection services versus the extensive time commitments of manual tweet collection;
• the impacts of the digital divide;
• interpretation of the tweets; and
• the ethical concerns associated with researching tweets.

Twitter is a potentially invaluable resource for geographers, but critical discussion of methodological issues is vital to make the most of this digital technology.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - Sept 2017
EventRoyal Geographical Society Annual International Conference 2017 - Royal Geographical Society , London, United Kingdom
Duration: 29 Aug 20171 Sept 2017


ConferenceRoyal Geographical Society Annual International Conference 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

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