Communities and Web 2.0

The #SchoolStrike4Climate community and the strength of weak ties


Focusing on the recent Schools Strike 4 Climate youth movement, this paper examines how weak ties of Web 2.0 technologies strengthen global advocacy movements. This paper will argue the volume, diversity and speed at which weak ties grow are conducive to activism and that weak ties, global networks and mobility create effective political communities. Finally, the paper will discuss the characteristics of social media and how they offer interesting opportunities for community building and environmental activism.


“Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not. #howdareyou.”

– @GretaThunberg, Twitter, 2019

Concluding an impassioned speech to world leaders at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit, leading youth activist Thunberg posted the extract to Twitter, immediately gaining traction on the social networking site. Retweeted almost forty-nine thousand times; ‘liked’ by nearly two hundred and fifteen thousand people and commented on by almost six and a half thousand users (Twitter, 2019), the tweet demonstrates the power of the Web 2.0 microblogging platform as a tool to disseminate information through the weak ties of social networks. The ‘line’ Thunberg refers to, is the perceived inaction by political leaders to treat climate change as a global crisis (Schools Strike 4 Climate, n.d). This issue has propelled school students to unite under the banner, ‘Schools Strike 4 Climate’, or SS4C as it is known here, across time zones and cultures, to skip school to demand government action. The student-led strikes thought to be the most significant climate mobilisation in global history (Laville & Watts, 2019). Despite arguments that weak ties of Web 2.0 technologies are not conducive to political organising and activism, the recent use of Twitter to organise and mobilise the ‘School Strike 4 Climate’ community, demonstrates that these weak ties offer interesting opportunities for community building and environmental activism. 

The strength lies in weak ties!

Scholars have argued that political organising and activism are not effective on social media because social ties are too weak. However, it is the volume, diversity and speed at which weak ties grow through online social media platforms such as Twitter, that recently supported a wave of youth activism and the mass mobilisation of people during the 2019 ‘Global week for futures strikes’, an initiative organised by the SS4C community.

Granovetter’s (1973) theoretical framework, ‘The strength of weak ties’, defines a strong social tie as the “combination of the amount of time, the emotional intensity, the intimacy, and reciprocal services of the tie” (p.1361). Weak ties can be therefore described as a distant relationship, for example, a ‘friend of a friend’. The author notes that strong ties tend to form in triangles of highly connected groups, whereas weak ties form a bridge between different clusters of people. Although pre-dating social media, Granovetter’s theory applies to the networked structure of Twitter, illustrating a Web 2.0 platform connecting users through weak-tie networks. The site fosters online communities consisting of participants who may have never met in person or engage offline in emotional relationships. Illustrating this concept, the SS4C global community is made up of smaller sub-groups, fused together by weaker ties. This fusion extends the reach of the community into other networks, spreading their message at a local and international scale. At an individual level, many of the organisers and participants of the strikes are geographically and culturally separated, such as the founder of the movement, 16-year-old Swede, Thunberg and 17-year old Varsha Yajman, a member of SS4C organisation team in Australia (Brown, 2019). The teenagers who may never have met in person, are united under the SS4C banner.

Literature also supports that more extensive networks of weak ties are inclined to be more diverse. They offer valuable resources and participation opportunities quickly, as opposed to networks linked by strong ties (Campbell et al., 1986; Eveland & Hively, 2009; Gil de Zúñiga & Valenzuela, 2011; La Due Lake & Huckfeldt, 1998, as cited in Valenzuela et al., 2018). Demonstrating this concept further, what started as a weekly solitary strike by Thunberg in 2018 to Swedish parliament, went on to inspire millions of students around the world to take action and join together in local groups, and Thunberg to form the global grassroots movement. The movement’s hashtag, #SchoolStrike4Climate, spread quickly and in less than a year, groups gathered in a series of globally coordinated school strikes. Organisers of the first events held in March reported more than one million students skipped school to take part (Glenza et al., 2019). The more recent strikes further demonstrate the power of the movement with advocacy group, (2019), reporting the events to be the most massive climate protest mobilisation in history. Five thousand eight hundred actions took place in one hundred and sixty-three countries, with an estimated six million people taking part in on the ground protests (Taylor et al., 2019). These figures clearly illustrate the speed and scale at which weak social ties spread.

Finally, some scholars subscribe to the belief that social media activism or ‘Slacktivism’ is merely a way to display support for social causes without the personal demand that it takes to effect real change (Morozov, 2012, as cited in Kwak et al., 2018). For instance, the single retweet of Thunberg’s UN speech does not instigate immediate change. The re-tweet of Thunberg’s words on a mass scale, however, through a network of weak ties, particularly members that cross over into in multiple groups (Hampton, 2016), helps to spread knowledge across different networks to quickly and effectively promote the SS4C message, engage and recruit participants and prompt collective action (Kavanaugh et al., 2005). 

#SchoolsStrike4Climate as an effective political community

The 2019 global SS4C demonstrates that weak ties, global networks and mobility can be used to create effective political communities. Yes, social movements require strong ties to be successful (Schradie, 2018). However, it is weak ties that are instrumental in helping to build a social movement by acting as bridges between multiple groups (Kavanaugh et al., 2005). Without the movement of information between networks (Granovetter, 1973, 1982 as cited in Cantoni et al., 2015), SS4C may not have gained momentum as fast, nor the attention of the media and the public. Additionally, SS4C community gained support from other, previously unconnected community groups, as seen locally by more than two and a half thousand Australian businesses also taking part in the student-led strikes (ABC News, 2019). Internationally, scientists and digital companies went on strike in solidarity with the youth-led movement (de la Garza, 2019). The collective action, sending a message that leaders cannot ignore.

The SS4C community, driven by scientific evidence that has been warning us for years about human-induced climate change (Revkin, 2018), have injected new energy and a sense of urgency into the climate change debate. The effectiveness of the political community was its ability to mobilise participants in a short space of time and at an unprecedented scale. As such, the strikes coordinated by the movement became an event of international significance with the French president, Emmanuel Macron quoted as saying “we cannot allow our youth to strike every Friday without action” in response to the strikes (Milman, 2019). Most notably, SS4C diverse nature, from members situated around the world, supports its effectiveness as a political community. Through weak ties, activists can share their real-life experiences of climate devastation and activist stories beyond their personal networks, receiving support from others on a mass scale, and serving to inspire more young people to act.

Community building and environmental activism

“We are united by concern for the future of our planet, even though we live hundreds of kilometres apart”.

SS4C Australian community, n.d.

The characteristics of social media offer interesting opportunities for community building and environmental activism. With the introduction of Web 2.0 information and communication technologies, community structures have been reshaped (Hampton & Wellman, 2018) and the notion of community updated. Delanty (2018) notes that the Internet specifically, has increased capacity for community to be imagined, as seen by the different social groups that came together to fight for the same cause. Likewise, new social relationships and interactions have been made possible through the exchange of content on social media. Unlike previous forms of community building, the need to be in the same physical location has been made redundant (Doerfel & Moore, 2016). Moreover, traditional beliefs that community is constrained by geography and face to face interaction are challenged (McMillen & Chavis 1986, as cited by Johnston, 2013). As physical boundaries disappear and information flows more freely, community structure has become “less densely knit, less local, less tightly bounded, more diverse, and more fragmented” (Hampton & Wellman, p. 2018). A concept illustrated by the SS4C Australian community in their own words, as being separated by hundreds of kilometres and united by concern for the future of our planet.

The SS4C global community exists in part, as a virtual community, defined as an online space where users connect through mutual interests (Porter, 2015, as cited in Cantoni & Danowski, 2015). Social media has provided a space for virtual communities to expand and thrive by removing barriers to communicate (Ellison & boyd, 2013). Users are able to effortlessly forge new connections and be active in the exchange of information (Huberman et al., 2008). One of the most pivotal aspects, is the speed and scale at which users can connect with others. Twitter, for example, enables users to ‘follow’ or be ‘followed’ by other users, regardless of location and time, a feature that supports the instantaneous flow of information and a 24/7 connected environment (Motion et al., 2015). The feature also enables users to join online communities outside of their personal networks and speak directly to the public, an affordance that propelled the mobilisation of the SS4C global community, and for participants and community leaders like Thunberg to respond directly to each other, regardless of location and time. What’s more, social media characteristics enable persistent contact (Hampton & Wellman, 2018) to sustain communities, not available in traditional structures, where life interruptions (Hampton, 2016) were a primary cause for members to become disconnected.

Along with new community structures, social media affordances have also modernised environmental activism. The participatory and interactive nature of this web 2.0 technology making it possible for activism to occur on a much larger scale than any other medium (Consalvo & Ess, 2011; Rotman et al., 2011). The youth community, in particular, embrace digital technology, and it seems natural for new types of activism to form in a digital context. The interconnected nature of social media platforms, such as Twitter, are conducive to information sharing, with scholarly sources supporting social media platforms such as Twitter, as an essential tool for all stages of protest, particularly during the organisation stage (Tufecki, 2017, p.8). The speed and breadth of communication that Twitter warrants offer grassroots movements like SS4C to “galvanise support and enable citizens to take action and speak critically to power” (Chadwick & Howard, 2008; Elgot, 2015, as cited in Housley et al., p.2, 2018). The SS4C was, in part, organised and promoted via the platform, among other social media networks. The affordances of the micro-blogging site, such as tweets, retweeting and hashtags helping to drive global awareness of the SS4C demonstrations, leading up to and during the events; the platforms hashtag function utilised to proliferate information quickly and effectively across multiple networks. Moreover, users of social media are more exposed to mobilising information without having to actively search for it (Wellman, 1992, as cited in Kavanaugh et al., 2005). People also not able to take part in physical demonstrations were able to show their solidarity for the movement, by retweeting the community’s messages, further strengthening the campaign.  

Social media has also served to sustain environmental activism and continue the momentum of the 2019 strikes. Long after SS4C physical protests took place, students are still calling for change, by striking solo or in small groups and sharing their experiences with the broader SS4C community and their other online networks. More recently, due to social distancing restrictions, the community has created new ways to act by taking their fight entirely online with a series of digital strikes. Community members are taking part in a series of coordinated strikes, replacing crowds with large-scale video calls, and placards with postings of photos and supporting hashtags (Murray, 2020). Harris et al., (2010) previously described young people engaging in more self-expressive acts of activism that are “informal, individualised and everyday activities” (p. 2), such as posting their personal stories and experiences of activism on social media like the SS4C community do and other acts such as boycotting brands. The community have gone as far as launching an initiative online to teach young people activist skills (School Strike 4 Climate, 2019) and as such, we will see environmental activism continue to evolve and take on new forms.


In conclusion, the Schools Strike 4 Climate youth movement illustrates how weak ties serve to strengthen global advocacy movements, by the speed, volume and diverse nature at which they spread. By linking people across different networks, weak ties open up opportunities for community involvement and political expression. 

The recent global strikes, coupled with continued digital activism, reveal the determination and solidarity of the worldwide youth community. The network, spanning across time zones and cultures, unite under the SS4C banner to drive political change on a local and global scale and help to bring the issue of climate change into public view. 

The collaborative nature of social media and its affordances, such as the instantaneous exchange of information, will continue to support networks to grow and offer new forms of activism, serving only to strengthen offline activism. A web 2.0 technology that encourages social interaction and the building of relationships, we can only look forward to social media characteristics building and supporting social advocacy movements.

In the words of Thunberg (2019):

“This is just the beginning.

Change is coming, whether they like it or not.”

References (2019, September 20). Over 4 million people strike for climate action.\

ABC News. (2019, September 21). Global climate strike sees ‘hundreds of thousands’ of Australians rally across the country.

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Ellison, N., & Boyd, D. (2013). Sociality through social network sites. The Oxford handbook of internet studies.

Glenza, J., Evans, A., Ellis-Petersen, H., & Zhou, N. (2019, September 19). Climate strikes held around the world – as it happened. The Guardian.

Granovetter, M. (1973). The Strength of Weak Ties. American Journal of Sociology, 78(6), 1360-1380. Retrieved from:

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Laville, S., & Watts, J. (2019, September 21). Across the globe, millions join biggest climate protest ever. The Guardian.

Kwak, N., Lane, D., Weeks, B, Kim, D., & Lee, S. (2018). Perceptions of Social Media for Politics: Testing the Slacktivism Hypothesis. Human Communication Research, 44(2).197–221.

Mason-Hubers, M. (2019, September 20). Students striking for climate change action.

Milman, O. (2019, September 24). Greta Thunberg condemns world leaders in emotional speech at UN. The Guardian.

Revkin, A. (2018, July). Climate Change First Became News 30 Years Ago. Why Haven’t We Fixed It? National Geographic.

School Strike 4 Climate. (n.d.). Join us. School Strike 4 Climate.

  Schradie, J. (2018). Moral Monday Is More Than a Hashtag: The Strong Ties of Social Movement Emergence in the Digital Era. Social Media + Society. 1(3).

Valenzuela, S., Correa, T., & Gil de Zúñiga, H. (2018). Ties, Likes, and Tweets: Using Strong and Weak Ties to Explain Differences in Protest Participation Across Facebook and Twitter Use. Political Communication, 35(1), 117-134.

Taylor, T., Watts. J., & Bartlett. J. (2019, September 28). Climate crisis 6 million people join latest wave of worldwide protests. The Guardian.

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18 replies on “The #SchoolStrike4Climate community and the strength of weak ties”

Hi Charlotte,

That was a really interesting read, thank you! The numbers that you provide at the start of the paper in relation to Greta’s tweet are really impressive.

Your paper makes a strong argument that the success of the SS4C campaign can be directly attributed to the weak ties that Web 2.0 and Twitter help connect and propagate. There can be no doubt that SS4C has been a hugely successful online campaign, but why do you think this particular campaign has been so successful at getting people out on the streets? The argument against ‘slacktivism’ and hashtag campaigns is that the activity normally stays online, making it somehow less worthy (Earl, 2016). I’m interested to understand how SS4C made the move from online campaign to millions of people marching through the streets around the globe. Other hashtag campaigns have rallied large amounts of online interest (Hitchings-Hales & Calderwood, 2017), but they have not necessarily resulted in a physical movement (at least not on the scale of SS4C).

I think the answer to that question possibly ties in with another question I have – how do weak ties transform into the strong ties that you say are necessary for social movements to be successful (para. 6)?

I was very interested to read that the students have taken their strikes online in the midst of COVID-19, and that young people are being taught activist skills. For me, this is a real demonstration of the way in which weak ties have become strong – but again, I’m curious to know how that transition was made for this particular group.

It will be interesting to see what direction SS4C takes as we head into the next phase of this pandemic.

Thanks for such a thought-provoking paper!


Earl, J. (2016, December 16). ‘Slacktivism’ that works: ‘Small changes’ matter. The Conversation.

Hitchings-Hales, J., & Calderwood, I. (2017, August 23). 8 massive moments hashtag activism really, really worked. Global Citizen.

Hi Anna,

Thanks for reading my paper and your comments! I’ve been reading lots of news articles covering the strikes and interviews with students and parents taking part as part of my research, and I think the fact it went from nothing to something worldwide in a short space of time is incredible. My seven and 9-year-old nephews attended the Brisbane strikes (even made it onto the news!) and that I can put down to, like Lee mentions, as the Greta effect!
I think that initially, rather than just saying something on social media, Greta acted. Education can be a controversial subject, and I believe Thunberg repeatedly striking from school outside of the Swedish parliament sent a very clear message, I don’t care what you say, I have the right for my voice to be heard! I guess you could say she flipped the dynamic on older people. Also, the fact that Greta has been given a platform to speak alongside word leaders has further legitimised her message, given it a novelty factor and strengthened the SS4C message.

Greta posting her strikes on social media spread quickly throughout networks (strength in weak ties is volume, speed and diversity at which they grow). She inspired other young people to act in their communities – I think students inspiring other students has been crucial to getting them on the streets. On the flip side of this, for children to protest about an issue connects with older generations too as they are supposed to be the caregivers (like Greta said…I shouldn’t be up here. I should be at school). The group’s characteristics play into this as well – globalised, connected, environmentally and socially aware. Coupled with being digital natives, (social media and other web 2.0 technologies are so embedded into their everyday life) perhaps this is paving a new way for activism and the transition from online to offline?

I’ll be watching the group with interest, especially during this time as well.

Thanks again,

Hi Charlotte,
I agree with Anna that you have presented a well-researched, interesting paper and have clearly demonstrated the role of weak ties and Web2.0 technologies in uniting communities across the world towards a common goal.

In answer to Anna’s question I believe part of the #SchoolStrike4Climate’s success lies in the age of Greta Thunberg which appeals to other teens and perhaps even gains her a bit more attention and admiration from adults for standing up; and climate change has been on the political agenda for the past 20 years (could even be more but I know it was quite topical in the 2002-2009 wide-spread drought across Australia) and they want a day off school (only joking).

One thing I did read, (Australian Parliament House paper on climate change, 2010) was: “if we are to accept the science that there is a global urgency to address climate change then that is portrayed as accepting the need to reduce energy consumption (which could lead to reduced economic growth and reduced level in the standard of living)”. Quite interesting when we see the amazing reduction in pollution in all parts of the world now due to our lack of travelling due to Covid19.

I agree that the world cannot continue in the way that it is, but I also wonder, do activists (or anyone) actually have an alternative to offer when we can see that the one thing that is creating the most pollution is not going to be wind or sun propelled? We have all become so used to travelling that it would be very hard to give it up.

Be interested to see if your research offered any solutions.
Thanks Charlotte.

Hi Lee,

Thanks for reading my paper and your comments!

You bring up a valid point and a big question! My research focused more on the success of the strikes and I didn’t come across alternative solutions for travelling (although I went down many other rabbit holes!!). I guess we don’t really know what life will look yet after Covid-19 and how long it will take to recover… will we ever go back to normal? Will people travel less and stay more local? I think probably not but who knows? What effect does the increase of businesses operating online impact energy consumption? You might find this article interesting

Thanks again,

Hi Charlotte,
Thanks for your reply and for the link. I had a look at it and it certainly does highlight the need – and has presented those opportunities – to take something positive out of Covid19. The links that are embedded in the article make pretty good reading too, for instance this one:
where the author talks about how unity on a global scale (as we have seen in part) all goes down to trust in a country’s leaders – which is why I think has been part of Australia’s more successful record of combating the spread of the virus (plus it has helped that we are an Island albeit a very large one!) but compared to America’s response is probably due to Donald. This is a quote from the same author’s article: “few would follow a leader who never takes responsibility, who never admits mistakes, and who routinely takes all the credit for himself while leaving all the blame to others.”

Interestingly though that the article states where Covid19 has seen a return of trust and a listening to “experts” which was one of the problems addressed in that link that I put on my previous reply where scientists were feeling the pressure of political agendas in their reporting of findings regarding climate change and were often met with scepticism and accused of being alarmists etc or having an alternative agenda.

It will be interesting to see if the “work-from-home” might be implemented more and whether it could lead to an exodus from the cities back to the country towns that were exited in the first place in the need to seek work. In addition, maybe many of those trips on planes to be part of meetings etc might now be replaced by online platforms such as Zoom? Personally I would not think moving schools online en masse would be a good thing but could be a realistic alternative for kids (such as ours) that had to move from the bush to cities for secondary school.

What’s your thoughts Charlotte?

Hi Lee,
Thank you for your response, and I’m so sorry about the tardy reply.
You’ve highlighted some points to consider, and I think this probably leads to another conversation away from the conference site of which I’m happy to continue? (considering that today is the last day!).
On WFH, a hot topic right now, I’d not thought about people moving back to country towns if it were to become the norm. I’m in a very fortunate position where I’ve been able to continue WFH, and the transition has been relatively smooth. However, I have missed some of the natural social interaction that working in the office enables. I’ve been thinking about ties weakening as we are not frequently interacting other than zoom meetings focussed on a specific subject and how this affects our working environment. In comparison, to other ties strengthening within other communities, like SS4C, as they find new and creative ways to come together to continue the conversation during the pandemic.

Hey Charlotte!!
I love the colours of your chosen cover photo. Great choice! I also liked how you mentioned Greta straight away – definitely something that came to mind when reading your abstract. Very well researched! I could tell through the flow that this is something you know a lot about.
The topic was really interesting as I remember my step sister skipping school for this strike too. I enjoyed reading about how the ties and community grew, how they were strongly united through a cause despite not meeting in person. Weak ties as a concept is something new to me, so it’s good that you could identify the link between it and SS4C.
Did you participate in any of the marches?

Hi AnneMarie,

Thanks for reading my paper!

I wasn’t able to take part in the SS4C unfortunately, but I took part in some university student-led rallies in Brisbane where they had members speak from various communities. I have to say the air was electric!

In my previous response to Anna, I mentioned that my 7 & 9-year-old nephews took part which was fantastic to see…they even made it onto the news! I don’t know about you, but every time I watch Greta’s speech, I get emotional, and the mobilisation of this movement has further propelled me to take action in my personal life. Weak ties was a new concept to me as well, so it was interesting (very challenging at times!) to research and write a paper on. I’ll be keeping a close eye on the SS4C community – they are an interesting one to watch!

Thanks again,

Hi Charlotte!
I enjoyed reading your paper! I thought it was a pretty strong statement that “social movements require strong ties to be successful”, and wondered if there are exceptions, or what the supporting arguments are.

So I’ve just been reading through your reference for it, the Shradie 2018 paper. It seems mostly to be saying the consensus is actually leaning away from the necessity of strong ties, but one study (also by Shradie in 2018) found that the financial backing of organizations (with their strong ties) created a big inequality between activism backed by strong ties, and that with only weak ties.

“Still, the academic needle has tipped in favor of the decreasing relevance of strong-tie organizations in the digital era.”

But researchers of online activism have argued that strong ties are simply less necessary in the digital era, as the Internet can link weak-tied individuals together for mobilization (e.g., Theocharis, 2015). ”

“Nonetheless, a main thrust of digital activism scholarship is that mobilizing and resource structures, that is, with strong ties, are less relevant in the digital era: recent movements have spread because of the lack of central nodes in a more spontaneous rhizomatic revolution (Castells, 2012; Vasi & Suh, 2016)”

“One study did find that classed organizational resources are still critical for digital activism (Schradie, 2018), but the most common assumption is that strong structural ties are waning with the digital era”

With the paper making so many clarifications that the consensus leans the other way, I’m not sure it compellingly supports the contention you referenced it for.
What do you think? 🙂


Hi Luke,
Thanks for taking the time to read my paper and your comments.
In the context of my paper, I wanted to highlight the role that weak ties can play in strengthening social movements using SS4C as a recent example. I thought it was also important to acknowledge that strong ties are also relevant, and I realise now, as you’ve pointed out that this can be interpreted as quite a strong statement in the paper.
Shradie’s (2018) exploration of social movement origin theories, indeed, highlight the more recent digital argument that weak ties enable information to spread quickly through weak ties and the benefits of this. In her exploration of the emergence of the Moral Monday movement, however, she notes a combination of factors, strong ties as one them, as being critical to this particular movement’s origins in the digital era:
“The NC-NAACP’s internal organisation, as well as their networks with other groups, created strong structural ties (p.9).”
This illustrating to me the concept of weak ties bridging groups to strengthen ties within a movement, also noting that the Moral Monday movement had a minimal digital presence, unlike the SS4C group. The SS4C group to me, are an interesting group to watch in keeping the momentum going, particularly in the current environment. So far they’ve been successful in coordinating global strikes on and offline and I wonder how this will play out in the future.
Thanks again,

Hi Charlotte

Do you think it’s the spreading of information itself, that turns weak ties to strong ties? i.e. People become more informed about a topic, and that gives them shared values.

Or, maybe it’s just about the interaction between people that occurs in order to spread information that strengthens ties?


Hi Luke,
A good question and my thinking at this point in time leans towards your second observation, aligning with Granovetter’s (1973) definition that a weak tie strengthens through frequent interaction. Weak ties facilitate the movement of information through different communities. Still, it is only through frequent interaction that people form stronger ties, and this could be through the sharing of information. I’d be interested to hear what you think?

Hi Charlotte,
Good call with that Granovetter definition! It might be that just as a matter of definition then, but it does seem to me like both processes would occur. The difference between a network and a community is (debated but) often phrased in terms of shared values. So a network could turn into a community, with stronger ties, if their values are aligned by exposure to the same information (or, propaganda).

– Luke 🙂

Hi Luke, that’s a good point! Also, thinking about it the other way, ties are not permanent. So what once could have been strong ties could weaken if say, people leave a community.
Charlotte 🙂

Hi Charlotte

Great article, well written.

I’d love to play devils advocate though. Your paper sparked a renewed interest in the topic for me and I was doing some reading last night.

As a champion of most revolutionary technology and actively progressive millennial (less the constant virtue signalling), I desperately want all of this to be true, but I get a sense that today’s society are constantly being distracted by the new shiny object.

This tends to be accurate for a lot of online conversation, and in particular, viral Twitter discussions. I understand that there has been a continued effort to continue the conversation regarding climate change, but before we know it, the next major issue is trending and everyone feels obliged to focus on that instead. Zeynep Tufekci from UNC Chapel Hill addressed this in her book ‘Twitter and Teargas’ (Tufekci, 2017) by saying of the speed at which weak ties unbound by geography can unite on social media comes at a cost. “With this speed comes weakness, some of it unexpected … The ease with which current social movements form often fails to signal an organizing capacity powerful enough to threaten those in authority”.

I just hope that you’re right, the offline mobilisation continues and will strengthen the movement to reinforce demand for action.

Tufekci, Zeynup. Twitter and tear gas: The power and fragility of networked protest. Yale University Press: New Haven, 2017

Hi Nicholas,
Thanks for reading my paper! I’m also happy that it sparked renewed interest in the topic for you.
You make a valid point. Particularly now, as the climate change debate, in the media anyway, feels as though it has taken a back seat to Covid-19 as we experience the immediate impact of the pandemic. While I agree with your point about constant distractions, I believe that the SS4C will continue to show commitment and determination to their cause as it impacts their entire future. Tufekci’s (2017) notes that strength of social movements lies in their capacities and I think the SS4C group have represented narrative and disruptive capacity, to which Tufeki’s writes is a powerful combination (p.202). She also notes disruption can sustain over time. Unfortunately, we don’t have a whole lot of time when it comes to the impacts of climate change.
Thanks for providing Tufecki’s book, I looked at part three: After the Protests but I’m interested in reading it all.
Charlotte 🙂

Hi Charlotte,
Thanks for your conference paper and writing about School Strike 4 Climate, its community and the Strength in Weak Ties. Greta Thunberg’s storey is one that I have followed for the past year and have admired her ability to motivate millions around the world. I have always thought; how does a person become so infamous and influential on a global scale so quickly without having connections or being a famous singer/actor etc. Your explanation and examples in relation to Greta Thunberg and School Strike 4 Climate supports the Strength in Weak Ties theory well.
Some would argue that the movement has not changed anything or anyones mind that has any real ability to make substantial changes for a better climate/environment despite the amount of people Greta motivates around world. Though this may be true today I for one am excited about the movement and the ability to leverage the Strength in Weak Ties as she might not have the ability to makes changes now but the people she is motivating today will be the people who can can make changes tomorrow.

Hi Kylie,

Thank you for reading my paper and your positive comments. Sadly, I’ve just seen them as I write up my reflections on the experience!

I agree that while we may not have seen action from those in power yet despite great efforts from this group and others, I strongly admire the SS4C group for continuing their cause as its one that affects us all and will continue to support them.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the conference.

Thanks again,

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