Everyday self-organising social movements and the role of social media in citizen engagement


  • Petro Poutanen Helsinki University
  • Andrea Botero Aalto University
  • Sanna Marttila Aalto University
  • Mikko Villi Helsinki University

Palabras clave:

Digital storytelling, social media, communication infrastructure, social movements, self-organisation


This paper examines the role of digital storytelling in the context of small-scale local activities. We introduce the theoretical concept of ‘everyday self-organising social movements’ (ESSM), which refers to small-scale, citizen-led programs that aim at improving their neighbourhoods and cities. In theorising ESSM, we identify the tension between bottom-up and top-down actions aimed at fortifying the community, and discuss how this tension can be transcended through the concept of self-organisation. Our multidisciplinary research framework combines ideas from the fields of digital communication, media studies, urban planning and collaborative design. From the perspective of digital storytelling, we demonstrate how digital social media plays the role of a catalyst in the organisation of social movements and in the construction of identities. To make our case, we present six examples: three from Helsinki, Finland, and three from Tokyo, Japan. Finally, we discuss the conditions that city and municipality officers, decision-makers and urban planners can mobilise to support the activity of mundane but crucial, community-based social actions.


Anderson, B. (1991). Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. Verso Books.

Bialski, P., Derwanz, H., Otto, B., & Vollmer, H. (2015). ‘Saving’ the city: Collective low‐budget organising and urban practice | ephemera. Ephemera. Theory & Politics in Organisation, 15(1), 1–19.

Boonstra, B., & Boelens, L. (2011). Self-organisation in urban development: towards a new perspective on spatial planning. Urban Research & Practice, 4(2), 99–122.

Brynskov, M., Carvajal Bermúdez, J. C., Fernández, M., Korsgaard, H., Mulder, I. J., Piskorek, K., & De Waal, M. (2014). Urban Interaction Design: Towards City Making.

Brumann, C., & Schulz, E. (Eds.). (2012). Urban Spaces in Japan: Cultural and Social Perspectives. Routledge.

Chen, K. K. (2013). Storytelling: An Informal Mechanism of Accountability for Voluntary Organisations. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 42(5): 902-922.

Chen, K. K. (2012). Charismatizing the routine: Storytelling for meaning and agency in the Burning Man organisation. Qualitative sociology, 35(3), 311-334.

Cilliers, P. (1998). Complexity & Postmodernism: Understanding complex systems. London: Routledge.

Couldry, N. (2008). Mediatization or mediation? Alternative understandings of the emergent space of digital storytelling. New Media & Society, 10(3), 373-391.

Della Porta, D., & Diani, M. (Eds.). (2006). Social Movements: An Introduction (2 edition). Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Goodwin, J., & Jasper, J. M. (2003). The Social Movements Reader: Cases and Concepts. Blackwell Publishing.

Gregson, R. A. M., & Guastello, S. J. (2011). Introduction to nonlinear dynamical systems analysis. In S. J. Guastello, & R. A. M. Gregson (Eds.). Nonlinear Dynamical Systems Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences Using Real Data, (pp. 1–16). Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Hattam, J. (2015, February 12). Restaurant Day Has Become a Big Deal. Retrieved from http://www.citylab.com/work/2015/02/restaurant-day-has-become-a-big-deal-just-not-in-the-us/385450/

Hernberg, H. (Ed.). (2012). Helsinki Beyond Dreams: Actions towards a creative and sustainable hometown. Helsinki, Finland: Urban Dream Management.

Holland, J.H. (1995). Hidden Order: How Adaptation Builds Complexity. Reading, MA: AddisonWesley.

Humphreys, L., & Liao, T. (2011). Mobile geotagging: Reexamining our interactions with urban space. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 16(3), 407–423.

Horelli, L., Saad-Sulonen, J., Wallin, S., & Botero, A. (2015). When Self-Organisation Intersects with Urban Planning: Two Cases from Helsinki. Planning Practice & Research, 30(3), 286–302.

Jung, J-Y., Toriumi K., & Mizukoshi, S. (2013). Neighborhood Storytelling Networks, Internet Connectedness, and Civic Participation after the Great East Japan Earthquake. Asian Journal of Communication 23(6), 637–657.

Kim, Y. C., & Ball‐Rokeach, S. J. (2006). Civic engagement from a communication infrastructure perspective. Communication Theory, 16(2), 173–197.

Kukkapuro, I. (2012). The day of independent restaurateurs. In Hernberg, H. (ed). Helsinki Beyond Dreams: Actions towards a Creative and Sustainable Hometown, (pp. 140–147). Helsinki: Urban Dream Management

Marres, N. (2012). Material participation: technology, the environment and everyday publics. Palgrave Macmillan.

Mitchell, M. (2009). Complexity: a guided tour. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Noguera Vivo, J. M., Villi, M., Nyirő, N., de Blasio, E., & Bourdaa, M. (2013). The Role of the Media Industry When Participation Is a Product. In N. Carpentier, K. C. Schrøder, & L. Hallet (Eds.), Audience Transformations: Shifting Audience Positions in Late Modernity (pp. 172–190). New York: Routledge.

Seppälä, P. (2012). Tiny social movements: Experiences of social media based co-creation. In Botero, Patterson, Saad-Sulonen (Eds) Towards peer-production in public services: Cases from Finland, (pp. 62–75). Helsinki: Aalto University.

Sorensen, A., Koizumi, H., & Miyamoto, A. (2008). Machizukuri, civil society, and community space in Japan. In A. Daniere, & M. Douglass (Eds.). The Politics of Civic Space in Asia: Building Urban Communities (pp. 33–50). Oxon: Routledge.

Vivienne, S., & Burgess, J. (2013). The remediation of the personal photograph and the politics of self-representation in digital storytelling. Journal of Material Culture, 18(3), 279–298.




Cómo citar

Poutanen, P., Botero, A., Marttila, S., & Villi, M. (2016). Everyday self-organising social movements and the role of social media in citizen engagement. Sphera Publica, (15), 2–20. Recuperado a partir de https://sphera.ucam.edu/index.php/sphera-01/article/view/262

Artículos similares

<< < 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > >> 

También puede {advancedSearchLink} para este artículo.