Union use of social media: a study of the University and College Union on Twitter

Andrew Hodder, David Houghton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
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The importance of the Internet to trade unionism has not gone unnoticed by academics, and whilst many have perceived the need for unions to engage in social media, there has not been any study of how unions use social media. This paper provides a systematic examination of union social media use in terms of method, scope and content. The University and College Union (UCU) Twitter account was used as a case study. Tweets (n=1,615) were collected over a four-month period (1st January – 30th April 2014) from the official UCU account with followers (n=12,301) also categorised to determine who is listening. Findings are discussed with reference to earlier debates on union use of the Internet. We find that while UCU has moved with technological developments by using Twitter, the content of the union’s messages remain in line with traditional union communication and the engagement opportunities of social media are underutilised.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-189
JournalNew Technology, Work and Employment
Issue number3
Early online date9 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2015


  • Web 2.0
  • Twitter
  • communications
  • trade union
  • social media
  • mobilisation theory


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