Unveiling the transformative influence of social media in amplifying social movements, driving social change, and empowering women: the case of #womenlifefreedom in Iran

Thumbnail Image
Maxwell, Gabriella
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Social media platforms have emerged as vital tools for activism, offering individuals the ability to express widely shared grievances, mobilise resources, and forge collective identities, all contributing to social change. However, given the relatively recent emergence of social media, research in this field is still in its early stages, and there remain major disagreements regarding social media's precise role. Furthermore, despite indications of the empowering role of social media, particularly for women who have historically encountered social, cultural, and legal barriers, there remains a notable lack of gendered analysis in this area of research. Consequently, by drawing on New Social Movement (NSM) theories and adopting a multidimensional perspective on empowerment, this study explores social media’s role in facilitating social movements and driving societal transformation within the context of Iran. Additionally, as this movement appears to be women-led, it seeks to investigate the involvement of Iranian women in the protests and how these engagements can contribute to their empowerment. To address these, this study adopts a qualitative method approach, predominantly focusing on visual content analysis of Instagram posts under the hashtag #womenlifefreedom. The findings indicate that the affordances of social media, specifically Instagram, has significantly enabled Iranian women’s empowerment in three key areas: amplification of voices, raising consciousness, and fostering identity formation.
Second semester University: University of Cyprus
social media, social movements, social change, women, Iran, activists