Slacktivism Meaning: An Increasingly Popular Form Of Activism

Slacktivism, or slack activism, is a new form of social media-based activism growing in popularity over the past few years. Professor Thomas Goode first coined the term slacktivism to describe the slackening of political participation because of online content.

Slacktivist groups are composed of activists who have joined together for a cause on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Slactivism can be used as an umbrella term for many types of slacktivist activity, including petitions, boycotts, and sharing articles about topical issues with friends on social media sites.

This article will introduce you to what slacktivism is and how it relates to activism so that you, too, can become an activist without having to slack off!

Slacktivism Definition

Slacktivism is supporting an issue or cause, usually by publicizing it on social media. The concept is controversial, a mix of both criticism and praise. Slacktivism may seek to promote social change but often lack an ideological commitment to this change.

Slacktivism, a portmanteau of slacker and activism, has been used by critics to describe how technology reduces commitment from participants in political issues.

Both the term and the use have received criticism for misunderstanding the dynamics behind such activities and inappropriately applying labels such as “lazy” to people interested in social change.

Robinson et al. have defined slacktivism as “individualistic, weakly engaged, relatively disorganised collective action.”

They propose three preconditions for engagement within the slacktivist scene: an interest in the cause, the perception that one’s contribution will make a difference (perceived self-efficacy), and trust in other people involved.

Slacktivism may fail to complete the tasks they set out to do.

Slacktivism Meaning And History

One of the first uses of the term originates from author William Upski Wimsatt’s 1994 article entitled “Bomb First, Questions Later.”

He argued against slacktivism and outlined a spectrum of activism ranging from high-risk activism to low-risk activism.

However, the term slacktivism has been argued to be “just as inexact” as the act itself; many different kinds of activities are subsumed under this umbrella term, making it difficult to define or discuss meaningfully.

While most definitions of slacktivism point out that it is an “easy” form of activism, one scholar argues that slacktivism is not necessarily easier than direct forms of activism because the former requires just as much effort to be expended.

Experts And Slacktivists

Many scholars have outlined key features that distinguish slacktivist activities from other forms of social movements. Journalist Rachel Dubrovin defines slacktivism as the “passive support of a cause” and differentiates it from activism because it does not involve any personal risk.

Langston argues that “slacktivist” is simply a new label for what ordinary people have been doing throughout the history of advocacy: free riding.

According to Alexander and Baldwin, slacktivist appeals “are not always emotionally compelling and can at times be rather vague.”

In her research on slacktivist websites, Carrie James focused more on global issues and less on the local community or personal empowerment.

In light of this, some scholars have argued that it is possible to be both a slacktivist and active in local communities but that the public tends to engage more with global campaigns than local ones.

James has also observed that most slacktivist websites do not feature opportunities for participants to integrate their online contributions into real-world activities.

Slacktivism Examples

The 2012 Obama presidential campaign ran ads pointing out Mitt Romney’s connections with Bain Capital as evidence of his support for “big-money interests” over ordinary people and solicited donations from supporters.

While this may be an example of slacktivism, it is not considered because it also encouraged campaign volunteers and supporters to hold offline meetings.

Another example was the “It Gets Better” campaign, which encouraged people to post videos expressing their support for LGBT youth.

Due to its ambiguity, slacktivism is often criticized for being meaningless or counterproductive. Among the critics are media scholars Henry Jenkins and Mark Deuze, who have both argued in their books that media is not the best way to cause change.

Deuze points out that when people are invited to vote or express opinions on something, they will often follow the lead of others, even if it means voting for a less favorable option.

Who are Slactivists?

Slacktivism can be anyone looking for an easy way to have a voice in the issues they are passionate about.

The slactivism movement has been around since 2009, when slacktivism became popularized by online social activities like Kony 2012 and Occupy Wall Street.

Still, it wasn’t until recently that slacktivism groups started garnering attention from mainstream media outlets.

Slacktivism and Activism

Many people participate in slacktivism when someone supports an online movement but doesn’t actively participate.

They may post a tweet about the cause or share it on Facebook, but they don’t take any action to help the cause.

This is not the same as activism because slacktivism is not actively participating in their efforts.


So now that you know the meaning of slacktivism give your support on those critical issues. Remember not to slack off too much while doing it because you still need time for yourself sometimes :).


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