The Internet, Policy & Politics Conferences

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Boyu Chen, Dachi Liao, Hsin-Che Wu, San-Yih Hwang: The Logic of Communitive Action: A Case Study of Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement

March 18, 2014 became the first time the floor of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan was occupied, an incident which received the attention of the international news media.  The name “Sunflower Movement” was bestowed upon these activities, and from the moment students occupied the legislature internet technologies played an instrumental role in both organization and mobilization inside and outside the building.  On March 30, protesters called the Taiwan public at large to take part in sit-ins and marching demonstrations at Ketegalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Hall.  Tens of thousands of protesters, identifiable by the black shirts they wore, swarmed into the area surrounding the Legislative Yuan, thus creating a new page in the history of Taiwan’s social movements.  Furthermore, the movement received over 6,630,000 NT$ in contributions within 3 short hours for posting a series of advertisements in the New York Times entitled “Democracy at 4am.” 

This movement shocked Taiwanese society and had a great impact on political researchers.  In examining the above mentioned literature on social movements, we found many aspects of the Sunflower Student Movement would be a worthwhile subject for dialogue based on this literature researching news media and social movements.  Based on the logic of collective action as well as the logic of connective action, this research proposes a new perspective: the logic of communitive action, which supplements previous theories in three ways.  Firstly, we believe community consciousness created by affect plays a critical role throughout a movement, and it is political opportunity which invokes public emotion.  Secondly, a new type of leadership is emerging in the digital community, which means technology savvy and political knowledgeable leaders facilitate the process of organizing.  Thirdly, crowdsourcing is a central means of coordinating the work involved in a movement, and communitive consciousness is the most important motivation for crowdsourcing.  Our proposal of a logic of communitive action is not a denial of the logic of collective action or of connective action.  Rather, we desire to provide a new perspective for internet mediated social movements through an examination of the Sunflower Student Movement.

This paper tries to analyse this crowdsourcing-based internet mobilization of Hung’s event by the aforementioned three theoretical perspectives with more concrete applications of crucial ideas. For instances, resource mobilisation can be self-generated by the 1985 initial organisers, since all of them are equipped with internet-skills and some of them own special information accesses to Hung’s case. Political opportunities may be produced by the wrong-doing of political figures and bureaucrats in the evolutionary process of Hung’s case. Collective identity then plays an essential role in consolidating people’s anger and fear so as to make them explode under a special gathering call for Hung. That call was released by the 1985 alliance through the internet and successfully mobilised people, since Taiwan’s young males, females and their families all highly concern about problems hidden in military service as well as in Martial court. 

The methods employed by the paper involve in-depth interview, internet survey and text-mining technique. The paper hopefully sheds some new lights not only into the three theoretical approaches regarding social movements, but also into the crowdsourcing-based operation of internet mobilisation.

Boyu Chen (National Sun Yat-sen University), Dachi Liao (National Sun Yat-sen University), Hsin-Che Wu (Nanjing University), San-Yih Hwang (National Sun Yat-sen University)