Affiliated Organization

Proceedings of JAIS Theory Development Workshop


The objective of this paper is to present a preliminary model of the emergence of an issue, initiated by the thought of an individual, communicated via the internet, modified and embraced by new participants, and surfaced into the social consciousness of a large number of people ready to mobilize resources to enact change within their environment. In other words, the theory attempts to understand how a single message, floating in the Sargasso Sea of information, evolves into a movement that demands a particular type of response from private citizens, corporate entities, or governments. The focus of this model is therefore on how an issue comes to be surfaced. Key elements of the emergent model include program, identity, and standing claims articulated within messages and the valence, richness and reach of responses to the messages. We briefly consider subsequent consequences of issue surfacing for resource mobilization.