In this article, we aim at expanding the event-based and protest-centered perspective that is typically adopted to study the nexus between social media and movements. To this aim, we propose a network-based approach to explore the changing role that these tools play during the dynamic unfolding of movement processes and, more particularly, over the course of their institutionalization. In the first part, we read the added value of social media as a function of the ‘integrative power’ of the networks they foster – a unique and evolving form of sociotechnical power that springs from the virtuous encounter between social media networking potential and social resources. In the second part, we investigate this form of power by focusing directly on online networks’ structure as well as on the type of communication and participation environments they host. We apply our proposed approach to the longitudinal exploration of the Twitter networks deployed in the period 2012–2014 during three annual editions of the transnational feminist campaign ‘Take Back The Tech!’ (TBTT). Results from our case study suggest that, over time, TBTT supporters do in fact make a differentiated use of social media affordances – progressively switching their communicative strategies to better sustain the campaign’s efforts inside and outside institutional venues. Thus, the exploration of the TBTT case provides evidence of the usefulness of the proposed approach to reflect on the different modes in which social media can be exploited in different mobilization stages and political terrains.
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