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French Scandals on the Web, and on the Streets: A Small Experiment in Stretching the Limits of Reported Reality

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The main argument of this paper is that the Web is well suited for the role of a streetwise informant for protest events. Using special software, we plot the network of Web sites of organisations related to the meat and anti-globalization protests in Milau, France, in June of 2000, and compare our findings about the nature of the actors with the reports in the mass media. Not only do the findings deepen mass media accounts but they also point to a new web-sociological means to re-open the question of the real. Putting on display the institutional dimension of the protest, the Web network simultaneously undermines and enriches the mass media accounts of the protests. The Web may provide a reality check on existing accounts of the protest and document encounters between opposing definitions of reality. Our analysis also suggests the Web can be harnessed to complicate the definition of real social action.


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