Networking Alone? Digital Communications and Collective Action in Vietnam

Sandra Kurfürst


This article explores the potential for the formation of collective action in Vietnam. Referring to land and labour protests, bauxite mining, anti-China demonstrations, as well as the revision of the 1992 Constitution, the article examines the social movement repertoires diverse groups have adopted to reach their objectives. Drawing on social movement theory and communication power, this contribution shows that apart from access to the technology, citizens’ opportunities to participate in digital networks as well as access to the default communication network of the state are necessary prerequisites in order to attain public attention and possibly to achieve social change. Moreover, this article shows that existing power differentials in Vietnam are reproduced in digital space. It concludes that for different collective behaviours to result in a social movement, it is essential to “switch” and to connect the different networks. For the moment, the call to protect Vietnam’s sovereignty offers common ground for collective action.

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