Grass Roots Campaigning as Elective Sociality (or Maffesoli Meets ‘Social Software’): Lessons from the BBC iCan Project

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This paper is based on ethnographic research during the development phase of the BBC iCan website. It discusses how we defined the object of study that would become the focus of the site—“grass roots campaigning” and how following two stages of research we found the site’s early planning (influenced by the ‘social software’ movement) needed to recognize the deeply contextual nature of this practice—and avoid attempting to mediate the majority of a campaign online. Working with Maffesoli’s theories of ‘sociality’; we understood grass roots campaigns to be rooted in experiential “being together” and less ‘individual’ and ‘political; than commonly perceived.

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