Tag Archives: digital activism

Do We Have a New Women’s Movement?

By Selina Gallo-Cruz

When over a thousand women convened in Worcester, Massachusetts on October 23, 1850, it was the first national convention for women’s rights and the most broadly organized gathering of women activists in history. Attendees were asked to “give an earnest thought and effective effort to… the general question of Woman’s Rights and Relations [including]: Her Education, Literary, Scientific, and Artistic; Her Avocations, Industrial, Commercial, and Professional; Her Interests, Pecuniary, Civil, and Political; in a word Her Rights as an Individual, and her Functions as a Citizen.” The convention resulted in the first coalition of formally organized committees for women’s rights and, some seventy years later, eventuated in US women’s vote and a worldwide women’s movement.

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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.

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Filed under Emerging Stars in Social Movement Research, Essay Dialogues

Is Moral Monday the Tortoise and Occupy the Hare?

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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

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Digitizing the Arts of Protest

By T.V. Reed

My topic will be the impact of new digital media on visual protest art, but before I take up that subject, let me briefly offer a few comments on digital protest methods in general. It seems to me that there are very few things that have been traditionally done by grassroots organizing that cannot be done also by netroots (online) organizing. And there are some clear advantages for digital activism in terms of speed, geographic reach, and costs of communication. There is also one huge limitation—roughly 70 percent of the world’s populace has no access to the Internet at all, and many millions more have minimal access. That represents some 5 billion people who cannot be reached by digital means of communication alone. That is one reason that no digital activist worth her of his salt would rely exclusively on the Net. Even in this case, however, a variety of digital means are being used to help reach the offline world, including low-cost printing of posters, flyers, banners and alternative newspapers, as well as digital radio broadcasts, and cheap CDs and DVDs containing organizing materials. Continue reading

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Filed under Art, Music, and Movements, Essay Dialogues

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

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Pay Facebook to get activists to like you, to really really like you

Why do you click “like” on an organization’s page on Facebook? Possibly to show support for the group. But if you’re like me, I also want to get occasional updates in my newsfeed about current activities and actions of the group or cause. However, to boost the chance that subscribers see more of a group’s posts, Facebook is now charging them money for “promoted posts.” This policy change points to the continuing challenge to the utopic idea that costs have been virtually eliminated for virtual activists.

Digital activism is not “flat,” or without hierarchies, when it is dependent on money and stratification, a fancy sociology word for social class divisions based on power relations. As more social movements and organizations become dependent on these types of social media platforms, they are also more and more tethered to corporations with the end goal being profit. Ultimately, rather than leveling the playing field of activism, people with more money will have an advantage of getting their message out – which crowds out the grassroots viral ideal of digital democracy. It doesn’t make it impossible for un-promoted posts to be seen, but your Facebook feed could be jammed with people paying to be in it. Continue reading

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