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
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.
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
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.