This abstract is summarized by IPR from the original journal article published in Journal of Public Relations Research.

Dr. Jennifer Vardeman and Dr. Amanda Sebesta of the University of Houston examine the convergence of activism and intersectionality to understand how communicators create messages about social justice issues using social media.

The researchers conducted a content analysis using the 2017 Women’s March on Washington as an object of study. Themes within website content, social media posts, and news articles were analyzed as researchers sought to discover how campaign messages reflected principles of intersectionality, consensus- and dissensus-based communication, and organizational self-reflection.

Key findings include:

  • Women’s March on Washington texts included messages of inclusivity (i.e. the march includes all women) as well as a prioritization of the needs of specific groups (i.e. women from particularly difficult sociopolitical margins).
  • Both consensus- and dissensus-based strategies were used to negotiate the differences among the Women’s March on Washington myriad publics.
  • Among these publics, there was conflict surrounding who should lead the organization and which groups should benefit from the political action.
  • The organization educated publics on the definition of intersectionality and provided examples of how intersectionality is involved in the lives of women.
  • The campaign succeeded in promoting the term and concept of intersectionality to a broad audience, however, its messaging consistently relied on the singular subject of gender to gain followers and unify support.

Read more to learn about how leaders incorporated intersectionality into the Women’s March on Washington movement.

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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