Connective labor and social media: Women's roles in the 'leaderless' Occupy movement

Megan M Boler, Averie Macdonald, Christina Nitsou, Anne Marilla Harris

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    38 Citations (Scopus)


    This article draws upon the insights of 75 Occupy activists from Toronto and across the United States interviewed as part of the 3-year study 'Social Media in the Hands of Young Citizens'. This article highlights three major roles adopted by women in the so-called leaderless, horizontally structured Occupy movement - both within the offline, face-to-face General Assembly meetings held during the Occupy encampments and within the online spaces of Facebook pages, Web sites, affinity groups, and working committees. As key participants in the movement, women used social technologies such as Facebook, Twitter, and livestreaming as modes of activist engagement, developing unique roles such as that of the 'Admin' (Social Media Administrator), the 'Documentarian', and the 'Connector'. The women's adoption of these roles illustrates, we argue, the emerging notion of 'connective labor' an extended enactment of Bennett and Segerberg's (2012) notion of 'the logic of connective action', augmenting its logic to reveal the often hidden labor of women in sustaining the networked and affective dimension of social movements. This article highlights the gendered, hybrid, embodied, and material nature of women's connective labor that has supported, and in many ways sustained, the contemporary Occupy movement.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)438-460
    Number of pages23
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2014


    • Connective labor
    • direct action democracy
    • emotional labor
    • gender
    • horizontalism
    • hybrid social movements
    • ICTs and social media
    • Occupy Wall Street
    • participatory culture
    • women activists

    Cite this