Good citizenship as a frame contest: Kony2012, memes, and critiques of the networked citizen

Neta Kligler-Vilenchik*, Kjerstin Thorson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


The rise of networked media has brought new opportunities and challenges for individuals’ engagement with politics. Some scholars propose that norms around “good citizenship” are evolving as well. Yet, little attention has been paid to how those debates play out in everyday cultural understandings. Drawing on the case of Kony2012, a highly visible social change campaign, we illustrate how perceptions of good citizenship can be understood as a contest between frames, one conducted not only by elites but also by individuals as they create and spread user-generated content. Using the theoretical lens of the frame contest, we contrast the hopeful image of the “networked citizen,” presented in the Kony2012 campaign, with counter-frames of “slacktivism,” presented in memes circulated in response to the campaign and its supporters. We posit the frame contest as a mechanism through which to understand how conceptions of good citizenship may change over time.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1993-2011
Number of pages19
JournalNew Media and Society
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, © The Author(s) 2015.


  • Citizenship
  • frames
  • memes
  • online activism
  • slacktivism
  • social media
  • youth


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