Tweets and the Streets: Social Media and Contemporary Activism

by Paolo Gerbaudo
London: Pluto Press, 2012

Tweets and the Streets analyses the culture of the new protest movements of the 21st century. From the Arab Spring to the “indignados” protests in Spain and the Occupy movement, Paolo Gerbaudo examines the relationship between the rise of social media and the emergence of new forms of protest. Drawing on an extensive ethnographic research, comprising 80 in-depth interviews, observations of protest events and textual analysis of social media messages, the book unveils the narratives and identities involved in the grassroots appropriation of corporate platforms like Facebook and Twitter as means of organisation and mobilisation.

Gerbaudo argues that activists’ use of Twitter and Facebook does not fit with the image of a “cyberspace” detached from physical reality. Instead, social media are used as part of a project of re-appropriation of public space and are turned by protest organises into means to ‘choreograph’ the assembling of individualised constituencies around “occupied” places such as Cairo’s Tahrir Square or New York’s Zuccotti Park. An exciting and invigorating journey through the new politics of dissent, Tweets and the Streets points both to the creative possibilities and to the risks of political evanescence which social media brings to the contemporary protest experience.

// Content


1. Friendly Reunions: Social Media and the Choreography of Assembly

2. ‘We are not guys of comment and like’: the Revolutionary
Coalescence of Shabab-al-Facebook

3. ‘We are on the streets, we are not on Facebook’: the Harvesting of

4. ‘The hash-tag which did (not) start a revolution’: the laborious
Adding up to the 99%

5. ‘Follow me, but don’t ask me to lead you’: Liquid Organising and
Choreographic Leadership


Paolo Gerbaudo is a Lecturer in Digital Culture and Society at King’s College London, and has been an Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the American University in Cairo and a journalist for Italian newspaper il manifesto.

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// Book Tour

– October 25th – Book Launch @ King’s College London, Council Room –
7,30pm – 8,30pm with Tim Jordan and Joss Hands

– November 15th – Book Presentation @ Creative Activism Thursdays –
7pm Performance Studies Dept. NYU, 721 Broadway, 6th floor, New York – with
Stephen Duncombe

– November 20th – Book Presentation @ Goldsmiths College – New
Academic Building (NAB) 302 – 6pm – New Cross, London – with Nick
Couldry, Alberto Toscano and Natalie Fenton

– November 25th – Cairo – tbc

– Madrid – tbc

– Milan – tbc

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