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The role of digital technology within the environmental movement

Research project My research project explores how digital technology can be used to engage people towards environmental sustainability. This is done with a focus on what role the technology plays in the sustainability movement and how different actors utilize it in a variety of ways.

By democratizing information and lowering entry bars, the emergence of digital technology has led to a boom of online activist movements and engagement towards a great variety of causes. Activism and social movements have been part of other research disciplines for a long time but has recently started to emerge within information systems research. Understanding the effect that digital technology has on these movements is of great importance, since it fundamentally changes how they are conducted and what effects it results in.

Head of project

Julia Andersson
Doctoral student

Project overview

Project period:

Start date: 2023-07-01

Project description

When working towards a more sustainable and green future, digital technology has potential to play a big role in making this change. We must therefore understand both its possibilities and limitations. People all around the world are affected by environmental changes, and therefore it is important that we can act together towards solving these. Digital tools can be a useful resource as it allows different sized organizations and social movements to reach large crowds and establish meaningful change.

This is especially complex considering that these efforts and social movements exist in a large ecosystem of all other online content. Therefore, I intend to explore digital activism and social movements from a variety of perspectives. By including several different types of actors in my studies I aim to understand their different roles in this ecosystem. Learning more about how actors such as environmental organizations, individual entrepreneurs, and the public sector, are utilizing these tools can be one way of understanding why some engagement efforts succeed and others fail. As of now we know very little about how digital tools can be used to benefit these movements. My work includes mapping these different actors and their efforts to understand the capabilities and limitations of the hardware and software technologies they are using. Examples of such technologies includes computers, smartphones, digital platforms such as social media, podcasts, communication services, and more.

Establishing behavioral change is difficult as it is. Thus, it is important that we learn how to engage people more efficiently in the future. This knowledge would not only be useful for the organizations and individuals working towards activist purposes, but also society as a whole. Supplying activists and entrepreneurs with the correct tools and methods for developing digital strategies can further support their important work towards solving the common challenge of creating a sustainable future. By recognizing that historical movements are changing when becoming digital and learning more about its consequences, I expect to contribute with knowledge about how digital technology can be part of creating a sustainable future.

Latest update: 2024-05-23