Take Part - Social Learning to Take Part in Social Movements:

Understanding the Social Transformation of Civic Participation

Social Learning from Tweets to Streets:
Exploring Frame alignment in the Romanian #rezist Protests


Dan Mercea, Felipe G. Santos, Matthias Hoffmann, Sorana Constantinescu, Henri
Pozsar, Claudiu Vlasie, Fernando Varga, Teresa Zenteno


Triggered by plans to water down legislation on misconduct in public office, the #rezist
demonstrations were a set of rolling protests in Romania, widely described as the most
momentous since the fall of communism in 1989.

In this paper, we use a dataset of 45,871
#rezist tweets collected for the period between February 2017, at the start of the protests, and the
end of 2022. This setting allows us to study the evolution of online communication even after the
end of the on-site protests, in 2018. Drawing on social learning and framing theory in social
movement studies, we examine the hashtagged communication as a medium not solely for the
aggregation and transmission of information but also for a process of frame alignment supported
by social facilitation and contextual imitation.

The latter two are social learning mechanisms
whereby the presence of key individuals who champion one or more frames for the protests
(social facilitation) enables alignment, over time, around those frames evidenced through the
circulation of similar messages by other people than those key individuals (contextual imitation).
First, we expect to find little evidence of alignment before social facilitation. Second, we posit
that contextual imitation will facilitate an alignment of frames among on-site and online
protesters. Third, we expect alignment to wane once the protests subsided.

This study aims tocontribute empirically to the understanding of framing processes, in social movements, by
showing how social learning can be applied to a process thus far more generically described as
frame negotiation.

Photo source: france24


Hoppitt, W., & Laland, K. N. (2013). Social Learning An Introduction to Mechanisms, Methods,
and Models: Princeton University Press.

Meraz, S., & Papacharissi, Z. (2013). Networked gatekeeping and networked framing on #egypt.

The International Journal of Press/Politics, 18, 138-166. doi:0.1177/1940161212474472.

Conferences where the paper will be presented:

1. European Consortium of Political Research General Conference (ECPR GC),
Dublin, 12 – 15 August.

2. European Sociological Association (ESA) Conference, Porto, 27-30 August