Governing with conversation culture–conditioning organizational interaction in a digital social movement

Salla Maaria Laaksonen*, Merja Porttikivi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Digital platforms support forms of collective action with varying degrees of organizationality–that is, with organization-like attributes such as identity, actorhood, and decision-making. These forms include seemingly non-organized online groups, which can be easily dismissed as informal chatter. Building on communicative theories of organizing and Luhmann’s Theory of Social Systems, we explore the communicative organizationality of a Facebook group related to urban planning. By analyzing private chat logs of the group administrators, we explore the group’s organizationality and the ways in which organizational and interactional communication become intertwined to produce and curate digital political discussions. Our findings illustrate how technological affordances built for moderation also support the strategic organization of discussions to orchestrate political talk. We conceptualize such operations as discursive conditioning of organizational interaction and suggest that political action online can be propelled not only by connecting people, but also by the powerful yet concealed tactic of conditioning public online discussions.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Jan 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • CCO
  • digital activism
  • organizationality
  • Social movements
  • theory of social systems


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