Repertoires of Contention and New Media: The Case of a Hungarian Anti-billboard Campaign


  • Zsófia Nagy Eötvös Loránd University

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The so-called refugee crisis has had a profound effect on discourses all over Europe. While the issue of migration is a contested one everywhere, discourses are quite different in Central Eastern Europe than in the ‘old’ EU countries. A sharp increase in the number of refugees crossing Hungary during 2015, coupled with the Hungarian government’s agenda-setting strategy, led to a powerful and public anti-migrant campaign which sought to frame asylum-seekers as external threats to the country. While this campaign was by and large unchallenged by the Hungarian parliamentary opposition, the Two-Tailed Dog Party, a mock Hungarian political party, launched a counter-billboard campaign, attacking the governmental discourse. Taking the latter as a case of digitally supported civic action, the paper first discusses two theoretical problems related to digitally enabled social movements: the problem of voice, and the problem of participation. In both areas techno-pessimist authors have made strong claims: namely, that the internet creates ‘echo chambers’ that function as discursive enclaves, and that it leads to ‘slacktivism’ – a form of feel-good activism without significant impact. Afterwards, the paper presents the case of the Hungarian counter-billboard campaign and through the examination of its repertoire of activities reevaluates the above claims. It argues that the campaign’s action repertoire innovatively connected acts of feel-good activism in order to address wider audiences. With the help of the counter-billboard campaign, people with minority opinions were given a platform and visibility in the public. It also challenged official statements about the governments’ campaign through revealing inconsistencies in government communication. Through a process of mimetic engineering the original messages were altered and mocked in a satirical manner and the outcomes were brought back to the streets of Hungary. The campaign used an innovative combination of several low-cost activities, which proved to be a successful strategy. On a deeper level, the counter-campaign challenged hegemonic views about public discourse. The campaign effectively contrasted the government’s one-to-many, top-down approach to political communication with one that relied on many-to-many communication and a bottom-up approach.

Author Biography

Zsófia Nagy, Eötvös Loránd University

Assistant Lecturer
Department of Social Psychology
Faculty of Social Sciences

Eötvös Loránd University 




How to Cite

Nagy, Z. 2016. Repertoires of Contention and New Media: The Case of a Hungarian Anti-billboard Campaign. Intersections. East European Journal of Society and Politics. 2, 4 (Dec. 2016). DOI:



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