How Social Networking Use and Beliefs About Inequality Affect Engagement With Racial Justice Movements

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Race and Justice

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Social media is an increasingly prominent platform for sharing information about current social issues. In the recent case of the fatal shooting of unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown by a White police officer in 2014, social media was a major influence in the mobilization of social movements including Black Lives Matter (BLM). This study explores the relationship between the use of social networking (SN) websites for policing-related content, beliefs about inequality, and engagement in racial justice movements. Students at a large university (N = 539) completed an online survey that measured social attitudes focused on policing, inequality, and social movements. Multiple linear and logistic regression analyses tested the effects of individuals’ awareness of oppression and privilege, and SN site use on both (1) support and (2) participation in racial justice movements. Results found that SN website use for policing information was positively related to both support and participation in protests and BLM. Further, in predicting support for protests, this relationship was stronger for individuals who were higher in awareness of oppression and privilege, compared to those who were lower. This study highlights the importance of understanding how social beliefs interact with SN site use to impact social justice engagement.



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