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Most groups do not have a postal address and only publicize an official homepage or SNS (social networking service) address

Most groups do not have a postal address and only publicize an official homepage or SNS (social networking service) address

Mailing lists and SNS networks serve as substitutes for formal membership

In some groups, the electronic or residential address of one of the main members becomes the group’s address. Although none of the groups have an official representative, the main activists serve as spokespeople. These groups generally create a homepage and start uploading information. They might post information about relief activities in the disaster zone or about nuclear policy issues, for example. They might also organize their own demonstrations or rallies and apply for police permission to hold them in a park or in the street. After announcing the date of the event on their homepage or via SNS, they prepare banners and speakers and recruit a number of event ong their peripheral members. On the day of the event, they go to the rallying point in a park or other public place without knowing how many people will turn up.

These groups do not usually maintain a membership list or even a formal membership system. They are best described not as organizations but as affinity groups. They do not have a fixed group of people whom they can mobilize for a rally. The number who turn out for their rallies can grow into the tens of thousands or shrink to the hundreds. This is similar to the way the number of hits on a website can increases dramatically and die away just as quickly.

MCAN’s main activists have thousands and even tens of thousands of followers on SNS

Participants decide for themselves which group’s rally they will attend. A woman in her 30s, whom I surveyed as part of my study of 53 protest participants, attended rallies every week but was not affiliated with any group. (más…)