Are You Connected Through Consumption? The Role of Hashtags in Political Consumption

Olivia Johnson, Adrienne Hall-Phillips, Te Lin Chung, Hyojung Cho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The debate surrounding protesting National Football League (NFL) games began with player Colin Kaepernick’s decision not to stand for the national anthem in response to increased police violence toward people of color in the United States. Public use of social media has cast players’ behavior of kneeling or sitting during the anthem into an international spotlight and led to individuals’ participation in political consumerism, including boycotting the NFL. The goal of this research is to examine the role of a hashtag in political consumerism through the lens of social impact theory and its relation to individuals’ consumption practices. Using social network and content analysis, this study examined a 4-day sample of tweets and accompanying hashtags that included #BoycottNFL during 9 days of the 2017 NFL season. Findings of this study suggest that the line between lifestyle and contentious political consumerism is blurred. Boycotting the NFL is contentious political consumerism, but it consists of lifestyle political consumerism through the individualized behavior of creating a tweet, which inadvertently is a part of collective action. Furthermore, the analysis indicated that accompanying hashtags demonstrated three types of political consumerism sentiment (i.e., political-, civic-, and consumption-related) that change the tone of a tweet, which may alienate actors who are focused on the consumption practices of the collective action. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Media and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • collective action
  • political consumerism
  • social media


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