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Adam Wilck

Adam Wilck

Adam is a Senior at Duke University pursuing a Public Policy Major, History Minor, and MMS Certificate. Over his 4 years at Duke University, Adam has become an active member of the Duke community through his roles as a Speech & Debate mentor for Durham public school students as well as an executive director at Campus Enterprises, a student-led startup on campus. Outside of his activities, Adam is very close with his two sisters, Paige and Emma, as well as his parents, Gwen and David Wilck. After graduation, Adam will be returning to New York City to begin his career as a Private Equity Analyst at Barings, LLC.

Honors Thesis:

A New Frontier for Protest: Exploring the Implications of Social Media Use on the 2019 Global Protest Wave

Faculty Advisor: Professor Giovanni Zanalda

Abstract: This thesis analyzes the extent to which, if at all, Twitter has influenced the ability of street protestors in the Barcelona, Hong Kong, and Chilean 2019 Protest Movements to mobilize, as well as to become impassioned leading up to and during protest peaks. In order to provide a wholistic and comparative analysis between the 3 geographies, this paper will utilize a mixed-methods approach, beginning with a brief case study of each city’s protest history followed by a content analysis of 16,000 tweets taken from the week before, day of, and week after each location’s protest peak. Ultimately, this thesis will aim to address the following research questions: In what ways, if any, has social media use affected the magnitude and direction of user emotion as well as user capacity to mobilize for protests? How has this relationship manifested itself across the 2019 protest movements of Hong Kong, Chile, and Barcelona? In addition to assessing mobilization capacity and sentiment of Twitter users, this paper will also take note of the presence of sudo “leaders”, or those who evolve from average civilians into movement leaders via the complex social media protest dynamics in play. Considering each of these factors in unison, this thesis concludes that while Twitter has expanded dialogues geographically, most Twitter movements fail to maintain a sustained degree of passion or focus beyond the immediate protest peak. While sustained movements were not encountered, this thesis successfully expands the literature surrounding social media leadership, emotional output at different stages of protest movements, and the most typical syntax to be found across Twitter platforms during the 2019 Global Protest Wave.