Looking Back on Five Years of Mobilizing Ideas

To celebrate the five year anniversary for Mobilizing Ideas, we are inviting contributors to revisit our first topic. In 2011, we invited a number of scholars to reflect on the recently published Digitally Enabled Social Change: Activism in the Internet Age (MIT Press, 2011) by Jennifer Earl and Katrina Kimport. The dialogue considered the emergence of social media and how it might affect movements. Now, with more hindsight, we ask activists and scholars what has changed in our thinking about the ways in which movements use social media, and to what effect.

Many thanks to our fantastic group of contributors.

Jennifer Earl, University of Arizona, (essay)
Deana Rohlinger, Florida State University (essay)
Paul-Brian McInerney, University of Illinois at Chicago (essay)

Editors in Chief,
Grace Yukich, David Ortiz, Rory McVeigh, Guillermo Trejo

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Informing Activists: How do movements influence elections?

Fabio Rojas

How do movements influence elections?

Recommended Readings

CLASSIC:

Meyer, David S., and Sidney G. Tarrow. 1998. The social movement society: Contentious politics for a new century. Rowman & Littlefield,

CONTEMPORARY:

Heaney, Michael, and Fabio Rojas. 2011. “The partisan dynamics of contention: demobilization of the antiwar movement in the United States, 2007-2009.” Mobilization: An International Quarterly 16, no. 1: 45-64.

REVIEW:

Schwartz, Mildred A. 2010. “Interactions between social movements and US political parties.” Party Politics 16(5):587-607.

 

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Informing Activists

Mobilizing Ideas is excited to announce the publication of a special series this month called “Informing Activists.” Coordinated by Jennifer Earl and Thomas Elliott (both at the University of Arizona), and in in partnership with the Youth Activism Project, this series includes videos from some of the top scholars in social movements, recommended readings, and other resources on topics ranging from framing to social movement consequences, all tailored to young activists, potential organizers, and/or potential protest participants. We hope you will share this series widely, especially with young people in your communities interested in working for social change.

Editors in Chief,
Grace Yukich, David Ortiz, Rory McVeigh, Dan Myers


The Youth Activism Project, which is sponsored by the MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics, has joined with Mobilizing Ideas to produce a video series designed to translate academic research on social movements into actionable information and questions that can be of use to young activists, potential organizers, and/or potential protest participants.

The MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP) is a network of ten scholars from various disciplines that have come together to understand how youth are getting involved civically and politically, including through sharing and producing civic and political content online. We are also interested in understanding the risks and opportunities that the use of digital media may play in these engagements. While the network invests in, and members conduct, basic research on these topics, YPP is also dedicated to translating relevant research findings into actionable information for young people, activists, educators, and/or policy-makers.

This video series comes out of that desire to connect young people with critical research on activism. We’ve invited some of the top scholars in the field of social movements to talk about what their research has to say about how to be effective activists. For example, David Snow discusses what advice his pioneering work in framing has for activists looking to improve their messaging. Holly McCammon discusses how her work in strategic adaptation helps guide activists in modifying their strategies to changing contexts. Our goal is that these videos can help current and future activists better plan their campaigns to achieve success.

Each page contains at least one video that we hope will help young activists make informed decisions about their engagements, a bio about the presented, and some suggested readings if someone is interested in a deeper dive into the topic area.

We hope you find these to be helpful, and welcome suggestions about new videos. You can email us at yap.arizona@gmail.com. Good luck on making the change you envision!

Table of Contents

In what ways do social movements make a difference? – Thomas Elliott

How/When do movements make a political difference? – Katrin Uba

How/When do movements affect culture? – Jenn Earl

When do movements shape public opinion? – Neal Caren

How does movement participation affect people’s lives? – Marco Giugni

Who Participates in Movements and Why? – Bert Klandermans and Ziad Munson

What can be done about activist burnout? – Sharon Nepstad

How do I build identity and solidarity in a movement? – Rachel Einwohner

How much does the political environment affect my cause? – David Meyer

What are the best tactics for my cause? – Catherine Corrigall-Brown

How do I use online tools to help my cause? – Lissa Soep

What are the best targets for my cause? – Tom Maher

How do I adapt my tactics to the political environment? – Holly McCammon

When do I need an organization? – Jenn Earl

How do I work with existing organizations? – Grace Yukich

How can I build coalitions and increase diversity? – Rich Wood

What are some considerations for youth in organizations? – Sarah Gaby

How do I talk about my cause? – David Snow

What do I need to know about the media environment? – Deana Rohlinger

What are the risks of activism and can I reduce those risks? – Heidi Reynolds-Stenson

How Might These Topics Apply to a Specific Campaign? – Elizabeth Armstrong

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Citizens and the Crisis: a documentary

Last month I attended the closing conference of the LIVEWHAT project. LIVEWHAT stands for “Living With Hard Times”. It is an EU-funded research project coordinated by Prof. Marco Giugni that investigates  citizens’ responses to the economic crisis in nine European countries.

Besides its fascinating topic and research questions (read more about the project here), what intrigued me most was the fact that shooting a documentary film was part of the project. During the closing conference,  “Citizens and the Crisis” premiered. Its three parts-of about 15 minutes each- can be viewed here; part 1 is featured below. Continue reading

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Mobilization in the Trump Era

Over the course of this last year, I worked on a paper titled “Elites, Policy and Social Movements” now published in Research in Political Sociology. In short, the paper is about how challengers, over the long run, develop ties to political elites and political entrepreneurs and how the networks they create shape policy change. Like some of my other work, I focus on the insider-outsider relationship among actors working on similar social change projects.

I started writing this paper during the heated Democratic primaries when Hillary Clinton was fighting to secure her place with Democratic voters and seeking to appeal to Bernie Sanders supporters. A particular exchange between Clinton and a BlackLivesMatter activist left a lasting impression. Continue reading

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Informing Activists: How can I protect myself legally when I am active online?

Derek Bambauer

How can I protect myself legally when I am active online?

Professor Bambauer mentions several resources that you can use to protect yourself online. We have compiled links to these sources below.

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation)’s Surveillance Self-Defense offers overviews, tutorials, and briefings for how to keep your identity and your information safe online.

Fire (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education)

The Tor software protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location, and it lets you access sites which are blocked.

The Tails system is a live operating system that you can start on almost any computer from a DVD, USB stick, or SD card. It aims at preserving your privacy and anonymity, and helps you to: use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship; all connections to the Internet are forced to go through the Tor network; leave no trace on the computer you are using unless you ask it explicitly; use state-of-the-art cryptographic tools to encrypt your files, emails and instant messaging.

 

Further Reading

Classic:

Marx, Gary T. 1988. Undercover: police surveillance in America. Berkeley, CA: Univ of California Press,

Review:

Lyon D. 2007. Surveillance Studies: An Overview. Malden, MA: Polity

Contemporary:

Rafail, Patrick. 2014. “What Makes Protest Dangerous? Ideology, Contentious Tactics, and Covert Surveillance.” Intersectionality and Social Change. Emerald Group Publishing Limited. 235-263.

 

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Digital Change-making: New Sources of Power and Hybrid Realities

By Jennifer Earl

I began researching digital protest during the 2000 Presidential Election by studying the strategic voting movement with Alan Schussman. Despite the invention and popularity of new platforms (e.g., Facebook and Twitter) and the expansion of mobile computing, most of what my collaborators and I have learned over the last decade and half reinforces the odd and unexpected findings that motivated Alan and I to push on sixteen years ago. Thus, instead of remarking on something that has changed in the last five years, as I was invited to do, I want to reinforce and amplify two shifts that have become ever more apparent over the last five years but have be applicable all along: (1) the importance of recognizing that flash activism is built on a different model of influence and power than traditional activism, and (2) the importance of recognizing the hybridity between online and offline life.

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@ctivism 2.0: An Attempt at Making Sense of the New Social Media Landscape #DigitallyEnabledSocialChange

By Paul-Brian McInerney

Donald Trump is our president-elect. Riding a wave of so-called alt-right (read: white supremacist and nativist) popularity, the reality show star and real estate mogul has landed the role of a lifetime. Trump and his supporters on the far-right have cultivated adherents by taking advantage of media echo chambers and subverting traditional news outlets (which have themselves been transformed in the age of social media). Using the web, Facebook, and (most important for Trump) Twitter, his campaign and he communicate directly to sympathetic audiences, unhampered by the “politically correct” cultural intermediaries that prevents so many of them from doing the same. The low cost of these technologies allows Trump and his far-right supporters to reach much broader audiences than they otherwise could. They also afford the ability to communicate in ways that were previously unthinkable for a presidential candidate, e.g., directly with sympathetic audiences without facing pesky fact-checkers and other intermediaries that may distort or contradict the message. Continue reading

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Mainstream Media and Oppositional Memes in the Digital Age

By Deana Rohlinger

It is an exciting and challenging time for social movements. Internet Communication Technologies (ICTs) have altered the media landscape, turning some of what we know about media-movement interactions on its head.

depic1

From The Daily Beast

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