Mainstreaming the Alternative: the Changing Media Practices of Protest Movements

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The article argues that contemporary protest movements are facing a convergence of what has traditionally been coined as mainstream and alternative media. Traditionally, the broad term ‘alternative media’ has been employed to embrace a wide range of oppositional media channels that can be considered to carry on the tradition of the early radical and party press: micro-media operating at the grassroots level, discontinuous, non-professional, persecuted or illegal. Today, heavily commercialised media and online communities such as Facebook, YouTube and MySpace constitute a common part of the repertoire of communication channels for activists engaged in alterative politics and protest movements. Are these new media channels a necessary means in order to reach beyond the circles of
the likeminded? Or, do the use of these media point towards a mainstreaming
process of political cultures of resistance to the establishment, eroding their very raison d’être? Combining a theoretical discussion of the inherent paradoxes in the celebration of new media technology as a source of democratisation and empowerment of civic cultures with an empirical focus aimed at exploring the changing repertoire of communicative tools used by social movement actors, this paper analyses two cases of online media practices in contemporary Scandinavian protest movements: 1) A series of civil disobedience actions and mobilisations of mass demonstrations before and after the eviction and destruction of the Youth House (Ungdomshuset) in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2007-2008; 2) The popular
demonstrations in connection with the European Social Forum in Malmö, Sweden
in September 2008.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Political Science
  • Media and Communications


  • social network sites, political communication, protest movements, social media, protest culture, social movements, viral politics
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-41
JournalInterface: a journal for and about social movements
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The article is published under the Creative Commons license Attribution-Non commercial-No derivatives (

Total downloads

No data available

Related research output

Nils Gustafsson, 2013, Department of Political Science, Lund University.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)

View all (1)