COVID-19 and Online Activism: A Momentum for Radical Change?

Julie Uldam, Tina Askenius

Research output: Other contributionNet publication - Internet publicationResearch


Historically, crises have been seen as opportunities for change. The current crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. For example, the pandemic has brought about calls for rethinking how we organize our everyday lives and society. For climate activists, this has involved calls for using the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to envision, articulate and act on solutions to the climate crisis. In doing so, the climate crisis is articulated both as a larger looming crisis, which will eclipse the COVID-19 crisis, and as connected to social inequalities also exposed by the COVID-19 crisis. Theoretically, this short article draws on critical approaches to crisis and the notion of social imaginaries to capture the ways in which the COVID-19 and climate crises are articulated and collectively imagined, with implications for possibilities for action. Empirically, it draws on observations of online events and activities organized by activist groups and NGOs, Extinction Rebellion, Greenpeace, PUSH and Fridays for Future in Denmark and Sweden. On the basis of preliminary findings of a digital ethnography of the everyday practices of online activism during the first months of the pandemic (March-June 2020), we show how the COVID-19 crisis was articulated as both a window of opportunity for imagining a more sustainable post-corona world and as a challenge for activism. Further, we point to similarities in articulating hope over despair and visions of solutions – including technologies of climate change mitigation, decision-making processes and how we organize society – to dealing with the climate crisis rather than returning to business as usual.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date21 Aug 2020
Place of PublicationBristol
PublisherE-International Relations
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2020

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