Author Archives: Jen Schradie

About Jen Schradie

Schradie is a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, based in the Toulouse School of Economics. She received her PhD from the Department of Sociology at the University of California-Berkeley with a designated emphasis in New Media from the Berkeley Center for New Media. She has a master’s degree in sociology from UC Berkeley and an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School. She studies social class, social media and social movements. Her broad research agenda is to interrogate digital democracy claims with empirical data. After she published two articles on digital production inequality in Poetics and Information, Communication and Society, the publicity she garnered from these publications earned her the 2012 Public Sociology Alumni Prize at UC Berkeley. With a National Science Foundation Grant, she researched the relationship between technology and democracy among social movement and labor organizations in the American South. Currently, she is examining how what she calls Silicon Valley Ideology intersects with French society and digital use. Before entering academia, Schradie directed six documentary films, including, “The Golf War – a story of land, golf and revolution in the Philippines.” Most of her films, however, focused on social movements confronting corporate power in the American rural South. Schradie’s documentaries have screened at more than 25 film festivals and 100 universities. Follow her on Twitter @schradie or www.schradie.com

5 reasons why online Big Data is Bad Data for researching social movements

By Jen Schradie

bigbaddata

I know, I know, it’s digital blasphemy to say that using Internet data is a terrible way to study social movements. What about all of those Twitter and Facebook revolutions of the Arab Spring? And Occupy Wall Street? #Ferguson and #BlackLivesMatter spread like wildfire, for God’s sake.

You may think that I’m a luddite who doesn’t see the sheer statistical splendor and speed of social network diagrams or automated text analyses made from Tweets.  Or, perhaps you’re thinking that old-school scholars just don’t get it: digital activism is the future, so we need to disrupt, innovate and flatten those hierarchical Marxist social movement sociologists.

But before you reach through your screen and strangle me with your iPhone charger cord, consider these ways in which online data, whether social media or otherwise, might not be as representative or generalizable as they are fast and efficient. Continue reading

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Essay Dialogues, Social Movement Data

From French Resistance to hashtag activism: How our obsession with the extraordinary masks the power of the ordinary

I’ve become obsessed with “Un village français.” No, it’s not an idyllic town in Provence. It’s a French television series set during World War II. The show follows the residents of one French town as they navigate the German occupation.

"Un village français" is a French television series set during the German occupation during World War II.

“Un village français” is a French television series set during the German occupation during World War II.

I tell myself that I am already into the 6th season (thank you, Netflix) because it helps me learn the language. I have just started a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, based at the Toulouse School of Economics. And I do need to brush up on my French. But admittedly, I am fascinated with the drama and romance of the TV series.

But I have also realized that the show mirrors the way I approach my research on social movements, social media, and social class. It focuses not on the big heroes, or iconic giants of history, but on the average people. And rather than dwelling on extraordinary events like big battles involving thousands of troops, the shows unfolds slowly as we watch these regular people struggle with everyday circumstances.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Emerging Stars in Social Movement Research, Essay Dialogues

Is Moral Monday the Tortoise and Occupy the Hare?

278

The Moral Monday protests have developed from years of coalition building by the NC NAACP

If you haven’t heard of the Moral Monday Movement, stay tuned. One year ago, on April 29, 2013, 17 people, including ministers, academics and workers, were arrested in the North Carolina legislative building in Raleigh. The 2012 general election ushered in a conservative take-over and super majority of the North Carolina General Assembly and a new Republican governor, resulting in a deluge of legislation that curtailed voting rights, refused federal Medicaid and unemployment funds, and restricted reproductive health services. A broad coalition of organizations responded with non-violent civil disobedience at the capital with weekly Moral Monday protests, which are led by the state’s chapter of the NAACP. The initial 17 arrested grew into about 1000 by the end of the summer’s legislative session, and thousands showed up for each protest. Moral Monday has not only grown and spread throughout the state to other North Carolina cities but also to other states, such as Georgia and South Carolina.

On this one year anniversary of the Moral Monday movement, I can’t help but think back on the first anniversary of Occupy Oakland, in particular, and Occupy Wall Street, in general. Both Moral Monday and Occupy directly challenged social class inequality and their ties to corporate America. Yet they are different – one survived and thrived and the other, well, had a boom and bust (though is not completely dead). Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Daily Disruption

How Occupy Influenced the Election – Beyond the Pepper Spraying Cop

Postcard for recent Occupy the Regent actions with student and labor activists across the state of California.

With all of the Monday morning quarterbacking after the election, what is often left out of the equation is the Occupy factor. Many dismissed Occupy this past year as ineffective, disorganized and, well, dead. Many asked why Occupy wasn’t working within existing political structures to effect change. But like many social movements before it, working “within the system” can mean something broader than running candidates or lobbying legislators.

On November 6, Californians voted to approve Proposition 30. This is a tax on the rich to fund public services. Californians making more than $250,000 are now required to pay extra taxes to fund public education, as well as other societal needs. Think about that. Taxing the 1% to support the 99%. Hmmm…now where did that come from? Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Daily Disruption

What’s the Difference Between Mainstream and Activist Journalists? From the IMC at the WTO to the PPL at the DNC

iPhone and Android charging station at the PPL for independent bloggers in Charlotte during the Democratic National Convention

Countless news stories tout how the Internet has transformed this election, but how has political media coverage shifted in the digital age? To help understand this question, it’s useful to recall one of the birthplaces of political movements and Internet reporting.

When I was preparing to go to the recent Democratic National Convention (DNC) to research labor and activist groups, I was intrigued when a friend connected me to The PPL, a blogging space in Charlotte for non-credentialed journalists. It reminded me of the Independent Media Center (IMC) in Seattle during the protests against the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1999. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Daily Disruption

Operation Dixie at the DNC

While the Obama sign waving and t-shirt wearing union members at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) creates a picture of a giant love-fest between unions and the Democratic Party, underneath this façade is a burgeoning labor movement in the South that is shaking the foundation of this relationship.

On September 3, on the eve of the DNC at an overpacked church 7 miles from the convention, 300 labor and community activists held a Southern Workers Assembly. Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Daily Disruption