Anti-stigma organizing in the age of social media: social movement organizations leverage affordances to build solidarity

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Wang, MS 

Stigmatization is pervasive in society. Stigma may arise from the core attributes of a social group, such as race, nationality, religion, class, sexuality, and disability, which can induce significant negative impacts on group members. While scholars have documented how stigmatized groups can organize to challenge the prejudice they face, research has been slow to account for the rise of social media—a digital disruption that characterizes a critical feature of the “new normal.” Yet, the emergence of social media technology has transformed the cultural potential of relationship building within and across social groups. In this paper, we examine anti-stigma organizing in the age of social media. We theorize how social movement organizations use social media to enact three audience focused anti-stigma framing processes. These processes structure three distinct types of social bond and, when iterated over time, shape three corresponding types of solidarity that support the social inclusion of stigmatized groups and reduce group stigma. Through our framework, we contribute to research on stigma and social movements by conceptualizing the role of social media in anti-stigma organizing, and by building new theory about the relationship between solidarity and stigma reduction.

35 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services, 3507 Strategy, Management and Organisational Behaviour
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Academy of Management Review
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Academy of Management