Forms of online activism

lucky streik
“Lucky Streik” Logo of the student protests

Through the spread of stationary and mobile communication technology our whole society has changed to a network society and with it the forms of protests. This development started much earlier than the media coverage of the arab spring makes us think. At the end of the 1990th the German political scientist Christoph Bieber studied the forms of online activism of the student protests in Germany. He outlined the importance of these forms of activism for the consolidation and professionalisation of the protest. Because several of these forms of activism are still current and can be used even nowadays, they are presented here.

Forms of online activism during the student protests of 1997 and 1998

Forms of online activism


Protest website

Contained a presentation of the current events of the protest and informed about important protest actions.

Mailing lists

Had the function of a virtual headquarters of the protest. Informed about the participation of Universities in the protest, the reopening of the lecture and the coordination of postulation, appointments and actions.

Internet Relay Chat

Internet Relay Chats are an early version of modern chat systems like twitter. These were used for the exchange on national scale.

Ready-made letters of complaint

Based on a list of the e-mail addresses of the responsible national and federal state politicians, ready-made letters of complaint and electronic chain letters were presented on the website. Electronic chain letters are e-mails signed with the own e-mail address and sent to the initiator of the electronic chain letter and to friends.

Electronic chain letters

Permanent online lecture

Unfourtunatly the link is expired.

Online archive

Contained online dossiers, a collection of newspaper articles, pictures, audio and video data, political speeches and legislative texts.

Protest links

Interconnected several protest sites to a protest network on national scale.

Reservation of prominent web domains

Through the reservation of prominent web domains like (offline) a visible place in the public cyberspace was occupied.

Symbol of the protest

The “Lucky Streik” graphic symbolised the identification and the expression of solidarity with the protest community.

Rotation model

A model for the coordination of the protests on national scale.

Spread through the public sphere of the cyberspace

Call your Parlamentarien

As a result of this massive online activities, several established media companies extended their coverage.

Direct calls to Parlamentarians are possile. They could be convinced in a personal conversation to the goals of the protest.

Based on:

Bieber, Christoph 1999: Politische Projekte im Internet. Online-Kommunkation und politische Öffentlichkeit. p. 174 – 178


communicative figurations
Model of mediatization (Adamik 2013)

Applying my altered model of mediatization based on Andreas Hepps und Uwe Hasebrinks model, these forms of online activism can be seen as mediated forms of communication. In an actual analysis of these protests they can replace the mediated basic types of communication. Further research has to deal with the questions, how these forms of activism alter the constellation of acteurs and which influence it had on the elements of socio-cultural change.

This article but not the chart is published under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 Creative-Commens-Licenz.

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