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Communication and the Public


Crisis, digital counterpublics, liberal democracy, Mastodon, social media


Since the advent of social media at the turn of the 21st century, scholars of communication, cultural studies, and media studies have long been invested in the question of the relationship between social media platforms and the discursive formation of counterpublics for social movement mobilization. In this article, we seek to pose a new question for scholarly inquiry: How do citizens leverage the tools of social media platforms to reconstitute counterpublics in times of crisis? Toward this end, we conduct a comparative case study of the way citizens leverage platforms for counterpublic formation in the Republic of Georgia and the United States. Both cases represent two ends of the Janus-face of the 21st-century Internet: The Internet as a tool for public will-formation that can enrich the flowering of democracy across digital spaces, and the Internet as a tool capable of undermining traditional norms of public will formation predicated on shared understanding across the public sphere(s).




This is an accepted manuscript of an article first published in Communication and the Public 9, no. 1 (2024): 52-68. © The Author(s) 2023.

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