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The Cottage Cheese Boycott: The Conjunction between News Construction and Social Protest on Facebook

Author:

David Levin

Media School, College of Management, and the Open University of IsraelNone
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Abstract

This article deals with a petition distributed to Israelis via the social network Facebook, in the spring of 2011. The ‘cottage cheese protest’ called for a boycott of food products until their price would be reduced, the first target being cottage cheese. The petition, which had over 100,000 signatories and the boycott in its wake, received intense media coverage in Israel, and resulted in dairies cutting the price of cottage cheese (an Israeli staple) by around 25% on a permanent basis. The petition also led to a broader public debate about the high cost of living in Israel. Two fascinating aspects of these events are worthy of study. First is the (mostly constructed) identity of the protestors as a random group of people lacking in political and financial connections or influence, who used the internet as a means of controlling the public agenda. The second is the encounter between ‘media logic’ and ‘internet logic’, between a message originating in the internet and its translation to the language of news items in the mass media. As I hope to demonstrate, the shift of their message to the traditional media and its emphasis on the identity of the demonstrators themselves as a disparate group, was necessary to render the protest visible to the general public. At the same time, it handicapped the protesters, shortened their life in the public eye and ultimately led to a reinforcement of the existing social order. Ultimately, I conclude that while the protest seems to have failed in the short term, the power of Facebook to conscript people to socially conscious activity can fire the imagination, and may well continue to be a driver of social protest in the long term.
How to Cite: Levin, D., (2012). The Cottage Cheese Boycott: The Conjunction between News Construction and Social Protest on Facebook. JOMEC Journal. (1), p.None. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/j.2012.10222
Published on 01 Jun 2012.
Peer Reviewed

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