Despite early forecasts of a landslide victory for the Conservative Party in the 2017 UK general election, the Labour Party surprised many by gaining 30 seats and increasing its share of the vote by almost 10 per cent. In explaining Labour’s relative success, some political commentators have highlighted the role of Momentum, the political activist group founded in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s rise to leader of the Labour Party. With 40,000 members, 200,000 supporters, and over 170 local groups across the UK, Momentum has become an insurgent force in British politics.

Set in the context of its impact during the 2017 UK general election and the debates surrounding its organisational form, this project examines how Momentum uses Facebook and Twitter within its campaigning. By exploring this social media-enabled activism at the national and local level, I seek to understand the extent to which Momentum offers member-driven campaigning. Drawing on a mixed-method research design, combining data collected through interviews with local organisers in Bristol and Portsmouth with a descriptive discourse analysis of content posted on public-facing Facebook and Twitter pages, I observe the organisational dynamics of Momentum. I test whether it provides meaningful forms of influence for members, or whether it acts more like a political party, restricting the agency of grassroots activists by directing citizen participation to those tasks that the leadership needs completing.

Selected talks

Dennis, J. (2019). A New Politics? Digital Media and Political Participation in Momentum. Paper presented at the Political Studies Association Annual Conference, Nottingham, April 15-17.

Dennis, J. (2018). A New Politics? Digital Media and Political Participation in Momentum. Understanding and Examining the Digital Advocacy Pioneers Workshop, University of Portsmouth, September 6-7.