Roundup post from Networked Social Movements

This is a crosspost from the Networked Social Movements course blog, where Vic has written an excellent summary of student posts about resource mobilization theory:

My name is Vic and the following is a brief overview of the posts for the week of Feb 20th: (Classical Theories), Resource Mobilization, Political Process. The most salient themes emerged loud and clear with many of the blog posts exploring both media exposure and the perception of social movements as “dumb angry mobs.”

Resource Mobilization Theory – Huansun

  • Huan provides an overview of resource mobilization theory and the three articles read for class this week.
  • Prefers Sampedro’s approach “to counter the static model by introducing historical perspective” but find both it and McCarthy and Zald’s articles problematic and limited.
  • Though her experience as a student from China has built in assumptions regarding political context and the universality of western theory, Huan provides a counterexample to her own assumption by examining the emerging nonprofit sector in China.
  • Those “the routinized actions” like charities and nonprofits have too much potential for social change to be neglected.

If it bleeds, it leads – oddletters

  • Media covers something because it’s bleeding and focuses only on reactive, violence oriented coverage, is this a boon or not?
  • Shifts attention away from the real issue/message and focuses on memes like Pepper Spray Cop and It’s A Food Product
  • Is there such thing as bad publicity for the Occupy movement?
  • The echo chamber nature of news media is perhaps not effective for conveying worthwhile or the correct messages.

Book Report: Power in Movement: Social Movements and Contentious Politics – Sidney Tarrow/khkern

  • Introduces us to the book, and provides an overview of its main components: The Birth of the Modern Social Movement, From Contention to Social Movements, The Dynamics of Movement
  • “Contention has become more complicated.” With problematic concepts such as “fundamentalism” and “ethnic conflict”
  • “The main question is whether or not our world will now be in “a period of general turbulence” or if we will institutionalize movements.”

50 Million Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong: MBTA Related Grievances and The Groups That Air Them – gaboosh/Gabi

  • Postulates on why we all turn into uncomfortable introverts very interested in our shoelaces on public transportation.
  • The psychological (intellectual?) orgasm experienced by those who share an opinion.
  • Gabi attended a public hearing for proposed service cuts/fate hikes for MBTA (organized by MBTA) and noted the bad behavior of protestors (young students), “protestors picked up on one another’s energy and enthusiasm and used that to make their presence known at the meeting. For whatever reason, however, my wife and I were not able to partake.”
  • A choice of tactics alienated the couple, though they “hared a common grievance with the protestors” echoing McCarthy and Zald.

Media Mobilization in History: Argentina and Peron; Nathalie

  • Inspired by Sampredo and her class on Latin American history Nathalie writes on “the institutional elitism model” and “the “peronization” of media.”
  • The manipulation of the media from the institutional and political elite Perons, manufacturing positive imagery everywhere from children’s books to radio resulted in cult-like status.
  • “…the conscious personality vanishes. Like Le Bon says “a collective mind is formed doubtless transitory, but presenting very clearly defined characteristics,” in this case, support for a politician.”
  • Nathalie closes with the potential positive impact of the internet in allowing non-elites to participate in the political process.

Framing Social Movements: Rhetoric and Discourse – Rogelio

  • “What distinguishes a social movement from an angry mob?”
  • Identifies the highly problematic nature of Le bon’s work but argues “this work is important on a purely rhetorical and discourse dimension, because much of the ideas presented by Le Bon, especially the deficit ones, are still present in the mainstream perception of social movements.”
  • A perception of public discourse, largely generated by the media, which often emphasizes how social movement participants are ignorant and misguided.

Sorting Through The Crowd – Pamamon/Pamela

  • Pamela has been wary of crowds since childhood.
  • The mentality described in Le Bon’s law of the mental unity of the crowd and its largely negative portrayal in the media. The focus is alwyas the unruliness or suprise at the lack of it.
  • Commenting on the dramatic aspect, the theatrical component of media coverage she provides the example of the orca whales are slaves PETA campaign (featured on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart)

What is a Social Movement? – Amy/harusaif

  • Amy writes on definitions and the importance of specificity in academic discourse.
  • The lack of a satisfactory definition of “social movement” suggests perhaps a more inclusive approach is required.
  • “What is a “terrorist” organization?” Social movement and terrorist organization possibly two ends of the terms we use to describe a phenomenon we approve/do not approve of.
  • “…if we accept that the unspecified narrow definition under which Blanco as well as McCarthy and Zald write should be discarded in favor of the broad definition which is specified, then the application of theories like resource mobilization or institutionalism must be questioned. “

Rethinking the 10 Tactics in 6,000km Project – Pablo/numeroteca

  • Pablo introduces us to 6000km project via the 10tactics delineated by The project works to document and make “making visible certain hidden landscapes related to production, consume, and waste.”
  • 10 tactics: Mobilise, witness and record, visualise, amplify personal stories, add humor (Shakira is featured), manage your contacts, use complex data, use collective intelligence, let people ask the questions, and finally investigate and expose.