Pro-democracy struggle in the age of social media: Evolution of military and resistance strategies in post-coup Myanmar

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In this latest nationwide struggle against military rule in Myanmar, both the military and the anti-coup resistance forces have relied on conventional and digital strategies to discredit their opponents and gain widespread support for their actions. To what extent do social media platforms serve to facilitate and popularize pro-democratic calls? And how do the pro- and anti-military forces adapt their strategies over time? Using an original dataset of 5,200 public Facebook posts and 708 military newspaper articles published between March and May 2021, we address these questions by integrating a qualitative content analysis with statistical analysis. In a stark departure from military media, we find most coup-related Facebook posts are either explicitly anti-military or neutral news. However, military media overall features more resistance-related content than on social media, which might reflect the military’s active attempt to reframe reality. Nonetheless, the military’s violent repression of resistance forces on the ground continues to engender online backlash rather than stifle dissent. Finally, although pro-resistance content enjoys a significantly higher rate of engagement on average than pro-military content, we find pro-resistance posts gradually declining while pro-military rhetoric is gaining ground. This may reflect power differentials between the pro- and anti-coup forces, as well as the resistance actors’ adaptation to the increasing threat of digital repression. The findings from our paper serve to deepen our understanding of social media’s evolving affordances of and limitations to anti-authoritarian efforts across the country.
TitelMyanmar after the Coup : Resistance, Resilience, and Re-invention
Redaktører Giuseppe Gabusi, Raimondo Neironi
ForlagTorino World Affairs Institute
ISBN (Trykt)9788894080346
StatusUdgivet - 2022

ID: 326448221