Non-activism: Political engagement and Facebook through ethnography in Trinidad

Jolynna Sinanan, Gabriele Jamela Hosein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite scholarly and popular assertions that social media transforms the possibilities for political engagement, there is little investigation to the relationship between public life and political discussion on social media platforms in the everyday lives of people in different cultural contexts. Based on 15 months ethnographic inquiry in a Trinidadian town, this article examines a political event (the hunger strike of Dr Wayne Kublalsingh) as it unfolded and how those not directly involved with the issue or activism more generally engaged with the protest on Facebook. We find that confrontational political opinion and commentary risks unfavorable kinds of attention: the judgment of others and being the subject of gossip and scandal. We conclude that political engagement over social media needs to be better understood within public life and the cultural specificities of a given context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Media + Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2017


  • internet politics
  • social media politics
  • social media activism
  • non-activism
  • ethnography
  • Trinidad
  • Caribbean


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