We argue that social scientists need to adopt a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between Internet Communication Technologies (ICTs) and collective identity. Here, we identify four factors that interact and make collective identity “thick” or “thin”— an organization's structure of communication, the breadth of its mobilization efforts, its goals (which may or may not include collective identity), and supporters' interest in cultivating a political community. Drawing on interviews with and participant observation data on supporters in MoveOn.org and the Florida Tea Party Movement (FTPM), we find that MoveOn, which focuses on curating donors, cultivates a thin collective identity and the FTPM, which initially focused on mobilizing citizens across political lines, nurtures a thick collective identity. In our analysis, we illustrate how the four factors interact and outline the consequences of collective identity over time. We conclude the paper with a call for additional research on collective identity.

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