Bullfrog Films has released a new educational documentary film, titled The Activists, which may be of interest to many of the readers of Mobilizing Ideas. Michael T. Heaney, author of Party in the Street: The Antiwar Movement and the Democratic Party after 9/11 (Cambridge 2015), is among the producers of the project, along with Melody Shemtov and Marco Roldán. The film is priced for purchase by libraries. Discounts are available for community groups or to rent the film. Heaney is available to Skype to your classroom or community group if you show the film. More information is available here: http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/acts.html
Activists and activism have long been a part of the struggle for peace and justice in American politics and society. Activists have fought battles for civil rights, voter enfranchisement, collective bargaining, and an end to wars. While these struggles have sometimes yielded significant victories, and at other times resulted in disappointing defeats, activism has always been driven by ordinary people who give freely of their time and resources to try to bring about their visions for a new world. However, activists – as well how they fit into the political process – are often overlooked or misunderstood by their fellow citizens. Continue reading
The social movements field of scholarship no longer holds strain and breakdown theories in high regard when attempting to understand and explain mobilization emergence. However, as micromobilization theorist Aldon Morris explained in Frontiers in Social Movement Theory, collective action and social movement consciousness must be located within the systems of domination that oppress actors in a myriad of ways. It might be possible then to think of crises of capitalism and heightened periods of economic exploitation as an underlying factor that inflames simmering racial tensions and popular protests over scarce resources. Continue reading
Are protests effective? This straightforward question interests both scholars and lay observers of protest. Whereas scholars most frequently answer the question with a nuanced ‘it depends’ and start narrating about contingencies; citizens and especially journalists most often simply want to hear impressive stories. Not the historical cases everybody is familiar with, but preferably more recent ones. Tales of contemporary struggles that truly show the potency of protest.
In the last few months, several examples of protest and success covered in international media caught my attention. These protests were noteworthy because, contrary to what much scholarly work suggests—that is, that protest is especially effective in the long run—these actions succeeded extremely quickly, in a matter of days. Their success seemed to be as sudden as their emergence. Continue reading
This month, we’ve celebrated the birth and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who has become the face of African American civil rights in the United States and human rights worldwide. While there is much of King’s legacy that remains under appreciated, particularly his post-1963 “I Have a Dream” speech critiques of capitalism and worker’s rights protests, there is also room to explore the influence of lesser-known Civil Rights advocates and activists. Continue reading
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
As a social movement scholar and a sociologist of race, gender and class, it’s hard to know where to start in making sense of the 2016 Presidential Election results. Regardless of whether one agrees that this election was a referendum on racism, misogyny, homophobia and xenophobia, it is indisputable that this year, a populist message articulated in racist, misogynist, and xenophobic tones was a winning one.
One book that has captured my heart and mind, which I have been studying and teaching in my classes, is Paula Ioanide’s The Emotional Politics of Racism: How Feelings Trump Facts in an Era of Colorblindness. (This subtitle was selected long before the 2015 campaign season began, I trust.) This is not a traditional social movement book, but it helps to sort through many of the vexing challenges both activists and movement scholars face at this conjuncture. Ioanide asks and seeks to answer why a majority of the US public has been recruited to support policies that actually contradict their own material interests. Her conclusion: racist, misogynist and homonormative/phobic discourses, frames, myths and signifiers (see too: Racism without Racists) generated a set of anxieties and aspirations, what Sarah Ahmed calls emotional economies, that have been largely determinant of the political alignments of most people in the United States. Continue reading