Counting Protest

  • Libby LesterEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Media and Environmental Communication book series (PSMEC)


This chapter reviews contemporary scholarship of protest and environmental activism. Over half a century of research on environmental protest has consistently pointed to the role of media in bringing attention to environmental concerns and risk, showing how the attention of media—historically journalists working within broadcast or print newsrooms, or photographers or filmmakers—needed to be won in order for messages that highlighted risks or promoted counter-narratives to reach the wider public. In the movement-media dance, the interaction of local concerns with a distant media was vital to prove the scale of risks and the commitment of protesters. ‘Speaking out’ remains a key strategy for shifting the scale of a concern from a defined local area translocally, nationally, transnationally or globally.


  1. Agarwal, Sheetal D., W. Lance Bennett, Courtney N. Johnson, and Shawn Walker. 2014. A model of crowd enabled organization: Theory and methods for understanding the role of twitter in the occupy protests. International Journal of Communication 8: 27.Google Scholar
  2. Alexander, Jeffrey C. 2006. The civil sphere. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Andrejevic, Mark. 2013. Infoglut: How too much information is changing the way we think and know. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Andrejevic, Mark. 2017. Digital citizenship and surveillance| To pre-empt a thief. International Journal of Communication 11: 879–896.Google Scholar
  5. Andrews, Norman. 1982. Gray’s tag on S-W condemned. The Mercury, 21 September.Google Scholar
  6. Beck, Ulrich. 2006. The cosmopolitan vision. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  7. Bennett, W. Lance, and Alexandra Segerberg. 2012. The logic of connective action: Digital media and the personalization of contentious politics. Information, Communication & Society 15 (5): 739–768.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bennett, W. Lance, Alexandra Segerberg, and Shawn Walker. 2014. Organization in the crowd: Peer production in large-scale networked protests. Information, Communication & Society 17 (2): 232–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. boyd, danah, and Kate Crawford. 2012. Critical questions for big data: Provocations for a cultural, technological, and scholarly phenomenon. Information, Communication & Society 15 (5): 662–679.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brockington, Dan. 2009. Celebrity and the environment. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  11. Carson, Rachel. 1962. Silent Spring—I. New Yorker, 16 June. Retrieved from
  12. Castells, Manuel. 2009. Communication power. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Castells, Manuel. 2012. Networks of outrage and hope: Social movements in the Internet age. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  14. Chenoweth, Erica, and Jeremy Pressman. 2017. This is what we learned by counting the women’s marches. Washington Post, 7 February. Retrieved from
  15. Commonwealth v Tasmania. 1983. Retrieved from
  16. Cosgrove, Denis. 1994. Contested global visions: One world, whole earth and the Apollo Space photographs. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 84 (2): 270–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cottle, Simon. 2011. Media and the Arab uprisings of 2011: Research notes. Journalism 12 (5): 647–659.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Couldry, Nick, and Andreas Hepp. 2016. The mediated construction of reality. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  19. Dauvergne, Peter. 2017. Is the power of brand-focused activism rising? The case of tropical deforestation. The Journal of Environment & Development 26 (2): 135–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dauvergne, Peter, and Genevieve LeBaron. 2014. Protest Inc.: The corporatization of activism. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  21. della Porta, Donatella, and Sidney Tarrow (eds.). 2005. Transnational protest and global activism. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  22. DeLuca, Kevin M., Ye Sun, and Jennifer Peeples. 2011. Wild public screens and image events from Seattle to China: Using social media to broadcast activism. In Transnational protests and the media, ed. Simon Cottle and Libby Lester. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  23. DiCaprio, Leonardo. 2014. Leonardo DiCaprio at the UN: ‘Climate change is not hysteria—It’s a fact’. The Guardian, 23 September. Retrieved from
  24. Foderaro, Lisa M. 2014. Taking a call for climate change to the streets. New York Times, 21 September. Retrieved from
  25. Fuchs, Christian. 2014. Manuel Castells, networks of outrage and hope; social movements in the Internet age. Media, Culture and Society 36 (1): 122–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gerbaudo, Paulo. 2012. Tweets and the streets: Social media and contemporary activism. London: Pluto.Google Scholar
  27. Gladwell, Malcolm. 2010. Small change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted. New Yorker, 4 October. Retrieved from
  28. Hay, Peter R. 1991–1992. Destabilising Tasmanian politics: The key role of the greens. Bulletin of the Centre for Tasmanian Historical Studies 3 (2): 60–70.Google Scholar
  29. Heimans, Jeremy, and Henry Timms. 2018. New power: How power works in our hyperconnected world—And how to make it work for you. Sydney: Pan Macmillan.Google Scholar
  30. Hepp, Andreas. 2013. Cultures of mediatization. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  31. Hutchins, Brett. 2016. Tales of the digital sublime: Tracing the relationship between big data and professional sport. Convergence 22 (5): 494–509.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Juris, Jeffrey S., and Alex Khasnabish. 2013a. Ethnography and activism within networked spaces of transnational encounter. In Insurgent encounters: Transnational activism, ethnography, and the political, ed. Jeffrey S. Juris and Alex Khasnabish. Durham and London: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Juris, Jeffrey S., and Alex Khasnabish. 2013b. The possibilities, limits, and relevance of engaged ethnography. In Insurgent encounters: Transnational activism, ethnography, and the political, ed. Jeffrey S. Juris and Alex Khasnabish. Durham and London: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Karpf, David. 2016. Analytic activism: Digital listening and the new political strategy. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Keane, John. 2005a. Eleven theses on markets and civil society. Journal of Civil Society 1 (1): 25–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Keane, John. 2005b. Cosmocracy and global civil society. In Global civil society: Contested futures, ed. David Chandler and Gideon Baker. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  37. Klein, Naomi. 2014. This changes everything. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  38. Konkes, Claire. 2018. Green lawfare: Environmental public interest litigation and mediatized environmental conflict. Environmental Communication 12 (2): 191–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kurtz, Hilda E. 2003. Scale frames and counter-scale frames: Constructing the problem of environmental injustice. Political Geography 22 (8): 887–916.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lester, Libby. 2007. Giving ground: Media and environmental conflict in Tasmania. Hobart: Quintus.Google Scholar
  41. Lester, Libby. 2010a. Media and environment: Conflict, politics and the news. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  42. Lester, Libby. 2010b. Big tree, small news: Media access, symbolic power and strategic intervention. Journalism 11 (5): 589–606.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lester, Libby. 2013. On flak, balance and activism: The ups and downs of environmental journalism. In Journalism research and investigation in a digital world, ed. Stephen Tanner and Nick Richardson. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Lester, Libby. 2014. Transnational publics and environmental conflict in the Asian Century. Media International Australia 150 (1): 167–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lester, Libby. 2017. Rights activism, journalism and ‘The New War’. In The Routledge companion to media and human rights, ed. Silvio Waisbord and Howard Tumber. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  46. Lester, Libby, and Brett Hutchins. 2012a. The power of the unseen: Environmental conflict, the media and invisibility. Media, Culture and Society 34 (7): 832–846.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lester, Libby, and Brett Hutchins. 2012b. Soft journalism, politics and environmental reporting: An Australian story. Journalism 13 (5): 654–667.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Lievrouw, Leah L. 2011. Alternative and activist new media. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  49. Lohrey, Amanda. 2002. Groundswell: The rise of the greens. Quarterly Essay 8: 1–86.Google Scholar
  50. Mah, Alice. 2017. Environmental justice in the age of big data: Challenging toxic blind spots of voice, speed, and expertise. Environmental Sociology 3 (2): 122–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Mainwaring, Simon. 2018. New power! Book review: How to connect with the crowd to build a better world. Retrieved from
  52. Markham, Tim. 2014. Social media, protest cultures and political subjectivities of the Arab spring. Media, Culture and Society 36 (1): 89–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. McGaurr, Lyn, Bruce Tranter, and Libby Lester. 2014. Wilderness and the media politics of place branding. Environmental Communication 9 (3): 269–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. McGaurr, Lyn, Bruce Tranter, and Libby Lester. 2016. Environmental leaders and indigenous engagement in Australia: A cosmopolitan endeavour? Conservation and Society 14 (3): 254–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Mills, Stephen. 1983. Franklin loss worse than destroying pyramids: QC. The Age, 11 June.Google Scholar
  56. Morozov, Evgeny. 2011. The net delusion: How not to liberate the world. London, UK: Penguin.Google Scholar
  57. Murphy, Patrick D. 2017. The media commons: Globalization and environmental discourses. Champaign: University of Illinois Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Neumann, Roderick P. 2009. Political ecology: Theorizing scale. Progress in Human Geography 33 (3): 398–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Peoples Climate Movement. 2014. Retrieved from
  60. Poell, Thomas. 2014. Social media and the transformation of activist communication: Exploring the social media ecology of the 2010 Toronto G20 protests. Information, Communication & Society 17 (6): 716–731.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Ruiz, Diana. 2018. Time’s running out: The deforestation problem that consumer companies created., 21 March. Retrieved from
  62. Ryall, Jenni. 2014. An Australian climate change protest with a difference gives a bums-up salute. Mashable Australia. Retrieved from
  63. Segerberg, Alexandra, and W. Lance Bennett. 2011. Social media and the organization of collective action: Using Twitter to explore the ecologies of two climate change protests. The Communication Review 14 (3): 197–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. SumOfUs. 2018. SumOfUs is 15,038,871 people stopping big corporations from behaving badly. Retrieved from
  65. Tarrow, Sidney G. 2006. The new transnational activism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  66. Tarrow, Sidney G. 2011. Power in movement: Social movements and contentious politics, 3rd ed. New York: Cambridge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Tarrow, Sidney, and Doug McAdam. 2004. Scale shift in transnational contention. In Transnational protest and global activism, ed. Donatella della Porta and Sidney Tarrow. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  68. Taufik, Kiki. 2018. Forest destroying products and producers, time’s up., 19 September. Retrieved from
  69. Taylor, Dorceta E. 2000. The rise of the environmental justice paradigm: Injustice framing and the social construction of environmental discourses. American Behavioral Scientist 43 (4): 508–580.Google Scholar
  70. Thompson, John B. 1995. The media and modernity: A social theory of the media. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  71. Tranter, Bruce, Libby Lester, and Lyn McGaurr. 2017. Leadership and the construction of environmental concerns. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Tufekci, Zeynep, and Christopher Wilson. 2012. Social media and the decision to participate in political protest: Observations from Tahrir Square. Journal of Communication 62 (2): 363–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Uldam, Julie. 2018. Social media visibility: Challenges to activism. Media, Culture and Society 40 (1): 41–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. van Dijck, José. 2013. The culture of connectivity: A critical history of social media. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Visentin, Lisa. 2014. Poet brings world leaders to tears at UN Climate Summit. Sydney Morning Herald, 25 September. Retrieved from
  76. Waisbord, Silvio. 2016. Communication studies without frontiers? Translation and cosmopolitanism across academic cultures. International Journal of Communication 10: 868–886.Google Scholar
  77. 2014. Remarks by the President at U.N. climate change summit 23 September (Media Release: Office of the Press Secretary). Retrieved from
  78. Youngs, Richard. 2017. What are the meanings behind the worldwide rise in protest? Open Democracy. Retrieved from

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Media SchoolUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia

Personalised recommendations