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Social media and social change: Protest, activism, and civic engagement
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Social media and social change: Protest, activism, and civic engagement



Slides for Guest Lecture Skype with COMM 4370 New Media Technologies and Communicationat Schreiner University, February 28, 2013. Focuses on the role of the Internet and social media in democracy, ...

Slides for Guest Lecture Skype with COMM 4370 New Media Technologies and Communicationat Schreiner University, February 28, 2013. Focuses on the role of the Internet and social media in democracy, protest, activism, and social change.



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  • Positives – Tech has allowed a # of great positives Access information Empower peopleNegavites – just as new media can empower, they can also do damageMisinformation – people who purposefully give incorrect informationSmear/fear
  • These technologies also empower groups who seek to bring about changeThink of Thomas Payne’s common sense – an inspiration to Americans in the revolution
  • We could not have taken those photos, spread that message,
  • Writing:Almost a decade prior to Tahrir Square, Occupy Wall St.Howard Rheingold – “Smart Mobs”An example:http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/03/san-francisco-a.htmlAny thoughts on the reading about G-20 protest?Iranian election protest. June 15, 2009
  • Why the slackivism in our country, and the activism elsewhere?

Social media and social change: Protest, activism, and civic engagement Social media and social change: Protest, activism, and civic engagement Presentation Transcript

  • Control and Protest:Revolution & socialchange, blogs/vlogs,and civic engagement.
  • AboutDr. KushinDepartment of CommunicationShepherd University, WVResearch: Social Media, Politics, Civic EngagementTeach: Social media, strategic communication, theory, research@mjkushin | MattKushin.com | G+: Matt Kushin
  • The Internet & Democracy
  • Internet & Democracy Competing perspectives of the role of internet in democracy Democratization – positive perspective Fragmentation – negative perspectiveCreative commons photo credit: Steve Rhode
  • For CitizensDemocratization Good for democracy Brings more people into political process by Increasing information access Empowering citizens to voice their concerns Increasing ability to participate with others Image creative commons by: david_shankbone
  • For Citizens Fragmentation Bad for democracy Internet media stifles participation It does not connect dispersed populations It cannot unify large populations around a common cause This leaves the individual to feel alienated from the democratic processPhoto: creative commons credit Brian Auer
  • DiscussionIn last election, did you? Expose yourself to: Diverse perspectives about candidates, issues, or: Mostly / only news & views that supported your opinions? Unfollow or unfriend someone who you disagree with? Hide them from your news feed?
  • Two Categories of Change Democratic Participation: politics, government, political campaigns Activism: Protest, Direct Democracy, Rebellion/uprising
  • Democratic Participation Seeking participation in the democratic election of a candidate or the influence of government laws, regulations, to bring forth desired change. Believe change comes from working within institutional laws and norms to create change.
  • Activism: Protest, Direct Democracy, & Social MovementsEmploys an “activist ethic” – that the institution(s)is broken and change must come from theoutside.Seeks to bring change to, or overturn perceivedoppressive institutionsMay involve activity seen as “civic disobedience,”which may be illegal Protest Revolution
  • Social Media &Social Movements
  • Social MovementsBroad social alliances of people connected via ashared interest in enacting or blocking socialchange. May be loosely organized May be many alliances all working toward common cause Veganism & Peta on next slide = 1 example
  • Social MovementsSocial Movement VeganismDeliberative Democracy (inside of laws) Social Movement Organization (SMO) Ex: PETAActivist (outside of laws) Group Earth Liberation Front
  • Types of movements2 Aspects Focus: Individual – Get individuals to use a designated driver Society – Change Drinking Age Change Limited change – tougher gun laws Radical change – outlawing gun ownership
  • Movements & Counter MovementsWomen’s Rights movement advocates: AbortionRightsCounter movement: Pro-Life Movement – A socially conservative counter movement
  • Politics as Power Struggle How can new communication technology be used to challenge those in power?
  • Empowering Social MovementsCommunication is central to power.Abilities to control dissemination of info key to allpower strugglesTechnology has enabled social movements via: Rapid & inexpensive means of organization Cheap dissemination of propaganda
  • Comm & MovementsExample: American Revolution relied on: Printing Press Federalist Papers - PR campaign of letters to newspapers Common Sense – Thomas Paine
  • 1999 Battle in SeattleDemonstrated organizing capability of Web: Protesters used Internet message boards and email to organize massive protest on the World Trade Organization convention in Seattle, 1999
  • The Question Is..What role does social media play in socialmovements?
  • Competing Perspectives One side Social media plays an important role in spurring social movements
  • Competing Perspectives Other perspective The role of social media is overhyped – Social change occurs without social media
  • Example: Protest / RevolutionsAuthority controls power by controllingcommunication Ex: State run media
  • Egypt & Social MediaVideo 1: Wael Ghonim of Googlehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqHPRHOHcN8&feature=relmfu
  • If social media empowers individuals tocommunicate Spread information Organize Lower barriers to political participationIt can undermine authority
  • International Examples: uprisingsIranian Uprising 2009Egypt Revolution of 2011
  • Domestic examples: ProtestOccupy Wall Street Movement
  • Mobile
  • Smart Mobs2002 Book byHoward Rheingold
  • What the Smart Mob?Use of interactive internet andmobile technologies to coordinatecollective action Enables constant communication & coordination of dispersed persons
  • Media production & distribution in the palm of your hand Dramatically increased access to information. Undermined authoritarian control over communication. Empowered citizens. Gave people a voice – many for the first time.
  • s Photos credit creative commons: bottom left: iCrossing | rest: Interact Egypt - Play Innovation
  • DiscussionWhat do you think? Is social media a catalyst for change? overhyped? Would change occur without it?
  • Activism, or…?
  • Brief ActivitySeries of “Yes/No” Questions on on next 2 sets ofslides.On scrap paper, answer questions #1On other side of paper, answer questions #2We’ll discuss.
  • Questions #1I have: Signed an online petition Liked a Facebook page for a cause Example: Stop Offshore Drilling, Protect Gun Rights, etc. Retweeted or otherwise relayed information about a cause you care about via social media Wrote a blog post / created art or video
  • Questions #2Yes/No:I have: Volunteered for a cause. Donated money to a cause. Protested or gone to a rally. Otherwise worked on behalf of a political candidate, party, or for a cause.
  • Slacker!Slacktivism – Create a sense of accomplishmentfor individual But have little impact on political decisions May distract citizens from other, more effective, forms of engagement.
  • Online v. Offline ParticipationSome say: That online participation (liking a Facebook page) does not increase offline participation (actually voting)Others argue: Online participation increases awareness and raises interest, motivating offline participation
  • ExampleColby “likes” an anti-offshore drilling page onFacebookAs a result, she feels she has supported thecauseShe doesn’t bother to get involved at a deeperlevel Ex: Educating others Raising money Volunteering
  • DiscussionAre online activists “unwilling to get their handsdirty and do the efforts required to actuallyachieve these goals”?Does online activism replace or increase offlineactivism?
  • Thanks!@mjkushin | MattKushin.com | G+: Matt Kushin