Social Media Activists: Analyzing the Relationship between Online Activism and Offline Attitudes and Behaviors

Aaron Noland


Token support for social causes has been increasingly studied and commented on in recent years.  Campaigns such as the Livestrong bracelet, the pink breast cancer ribbons, the KONY 2012 video, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and the Facebook profile picture modifications for marriage equality and support for Paris after the 2015 terrorist attacks have been coined “slacktivism” and those who engage in these activities “slacktivists,” however, little empirical research has been done on the topic.  This research explores the relationship so-called slacktivism, operationalized as various social media activities, has on social capital, cosmopolitan attitudes, and other forms of social cause engagement activities.  The results suggest that the effects on social capital and cosmopolitanism are not significant.  However, the strong relationship between slacktivism and other, “traditional,” forms of activism suggest that “slacktivist” may be an ill-fitting name for individuals engaged in this social cause engagement.


Slacktivism, social capital, digital activism, cosmopolitanism

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