The “Shut Up and Dribble” Conundrum: A Qualitative Cyber Ethnographic Analysis of LeBron James’ and Stephen Curry’s Social Media Activism on The Black Lives Matter Movement and Low-Income Education

Chloe Burdette

Student Name: Chloe Burdette
Major: Communication Studies
Minor: Global Media and Digital Studies
Advisor: Dr. Rob Razzante, Second Reader: Dr. Ahmet Atay
The purpose of this study is to analyze how professional athletes, most specifically LeBron James, have broken through the stereotypical athlete barrier in order to shed light and encourage justice for social activism issues such as educational opportunities for low-income youth and the Black Lives Matter Movement. Furthermore, this study focuses on the ability these athletes have in our social media enhanced society, with the use of platforms such as Instagram and Twitter, to more easily participate and influence a broader audience. This study utilizes a cyber ethnographic qualitative content analysis to compare two subjects — Stephen Curry and LeBron James. To drive my analysis, I used two research questions regarding how athletes (specifically James) use their social media profiles to fight injustice within our society with strategies such as hashtag activism and language that serves as a “call to action” to followers and viewers.
For future research, I would recommend that researchers are able to carve out a longer period of time to carry out this study — if researched again, researchers could use James’ full career of posts on Instagram and Twitter, and this could lead to more patterns found in his subject matter in posts. Furthermore, a researcher could take this study and expand the pool of subjects to five or more NBA athletes who may come from even broader backgrounds and see if there is a difference in the number of posts related to activism. Additionally, a researcher could analyze a perspective from female athletes. I focus on race as a primary factor in this study, but I do not touch on gender, which could be an intriguing element to unpack as many female athletes use their platforms for issues such as the wage gap and other sexist issues that occur in the media’s portrayal of female athletes.

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Chloe will be online to field comments on April 16: Noon-2 pm EDT (PST 9am-11am, Africa/Europe: early evening).

Posted in I.S. Symposium 2021, Independent Study on April 6, 2021.

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Related Areas of Study

Global Media & Digital Studies

Digital technology, mass media and film studies are part of a dynamic, interdisciplinary course of study

Major Minor

Communication Studies

Be an effective listener, writer, and speaker who can think critically and connect with audiences

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