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Using social media as a tool for mobilization and collective learning

This month, Professor Gunes Ertan presented her work about social media and the 2013 Turkish uprising, also known as the "Gezi Park" protests, to START staff and students.

The June 2013 uprising in Turkey was unprecedented in many regards. According to some empirical studies, more than half of the protesters had never participated in any form of collective action event before the protests. In the absence of activism history, various online networks such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter acted as critical tools for sharing logistical information, and developing strategies for coping with police violence. Using firehose Twitter data on the June 2013 uprising in Turkey, Dr. Ertan's study aims at deciphering different functions of social media during collective action events and highlights how Twitter may have acted as a tool for collective learning.

“I’ve known Gunes since we began our doctoral program together many years ago, and ended up working with the same advisor, Dr. Louise Comfort,” said START post-doctoral research associate Erin McGrath. “Gunes inspired me to become interested in Turkish politics and actually go to Turkey and learn Turkish. Her research on this topic has never been more important. It was wonderful for her to be able to present her work at START and get feedback from our research community.”

Dr. Ertan received her Ph.D. from University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs in 2013. She currently is an Assistant Professor of International Relations at Koc University in Istanbul, Turkey. Her main research interest is the relationship between social networks and collective action within the contexts of social mobilization and policy.