The emergent new media ecology which integrates participatory media into the structure of global information flows has fundamentally affected the means of production and distribution of attention, a key resource for social movements. In social movement scholarship, attention itself is rarely examined directly; rather, it is encountered in the study of means of delivering attention such as mass media or celebrities. This conflation of the resource, attention, and the pathways to acquire it, such as mass media, was less of an analytic problem when mass media enjoyed a near monopoly on public attention. However, the paths connecting movement actors and public attention are increasingly multiplex and include civic and social media. In this article, I examine the concept of attention as a distinct analytic category, reevaluate social movement scholarship in light of weakening of the monopoly on public attention, and introduce and examine a novel dynamic brought about by emergent attention economy: networked microcelebrity activism. I examine this novel dynamic through case studies and raise questions for future exploration.
“Not This One”: Social Movements, the Attention Economy, and Microcelebrity Networked Activism | Zeynep Tufekci