Greta Thunberg and Fridays For Future, from global myth to local mobilization

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Research by Silvia Díaz-Pérez, Roger Soler-i-Martí and Mariona Ferrer-Fons, members of the JOVIS research group at the Department of Communication, analysing the figure and influence of the activist on a global and on a local scale.

In 2019 the climate movement experienced an unprecedented growth in its mobilization capacity and its political and media impact. The success of the movement is closely linked to the figure of Greta Thunberg and the global impact of her discourse and the “Fridays for Future” movement in hundreds of cities around the world.

A study by Silvia Díaz-Pérez, Roger Soler-i-Martí and Mariona Ferrer-Fons, members of the UPF JOVIS research group of the Department of Communication, analyses the activist’s speeches and messages on social networks and their legitimization through her personal story, and it also looks into the “Fridays for Future” movement in Barcelona, based on Twitter and Instagram posts. The research was based on a project that has received funding from UPF’s Planetary Wellbeing call.

Greta Thunberg creates a framework for collective action that is present in her speeches and posts on social networks and has great strength and a great impact

“What it analyses, therefore the article is how Greta Thunberg creates a framework for collective action that is present in her speeches and posts on social networks and has great strength and a great impact because it is accompanied by a personal story that follows the monomyth structure”, Roger Soler-Martí explains. In mythology and art, the monomyth takes the shape of the archetypal journey of the hero who achieves such status by overcoming dangers and adventures after a calling or suffering an event that takes him from an ordinary world to a mythical world.

“Fridays for Future”, an international, principally student movement that protests to demand action against global warming and climate change, gained momentum when the activist Greta Thunberg began to demonstrate in front of Swedish Parliament, in August 2018. The “Fridays for Future” movement, despite its diversity, serves Greta Thunberg as an agent of mobilization and resonance.

The “Fridays for Future” movement, despite its diversity, serves as an agent of mobilization and resonance in the activist’s frame

The authors studied how Thunberg’s global frame is incorporated locally, for which they focused on the case of “Fridays for Future” in Barcelona via Twitter and Instagram content from its creation (February 2019) until the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic.

The results show a clear influence of the activist in the discourse of local movements and among their followers. As Soler-i-Martí, co-author of the work explains, “despite the rejection of personalist leaderships and despite the particular characteristics of the local group, the activist’s global framework is very present in the discourse broadcast on “Fridays for Future” Barcelona social networks”.

The construction of the frames in social movements arise from two-way dialogue between the global and the local dimensions

And Soler-i-Martí adds, “In addition, the study reveals how the experience of local groups of the movement also influenced the evolution of Thunberg’s discourse, which has changed over time, incorporating new actors and strategies. This element highlights how the construction of the frames in social movements arise from two-way dialogue between the global and the local dimensions”.

The analysis provides empirical evidence of the importance of global and local dynamics in social movements on the Internet and highlights that the use of the basic elements of Thunberg’s frame lead messages from the local “Fridays for Future” Barcelona movement to have a greater impact on social networks among its followers.

The article is relevant because it shows the glocal (global-local) dynamics in the creation and resonance of the discourse and messages of a global social movement, as well as the central role of social networks in this process. The study ends by showing how the pandemic has altered this framework of collective action that requires adapting to the new circumstances.

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Related work:

Silvia Díaz-Pérez, Roger Soler-i-Martí, Mariona Ferrer-Fons (2021), “From the global myth to local mobilization: Creation and resonance of Greta Thunberg’s frame”, Comunicar, 68, https://doi.org/10.3916/C68-2021-03

Media Contact
Núria Pérez
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Related Journal Article

https://www.upf.edu/en/web/focus/noticies/-/asset_publisher/qOocsyZZDGHL/content/id/244856257/maximized#.YJELm7Uzbct
http://dx.doi.org/10.3916/C68-2021-03

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