Tech and social movements: Beyond 'Did Twitter cause the Tunisian uprising?'
- January 18, 2011
- Edwin Amenta and Francesca Polletta, sociology professors, are featured in Yahoo! Finance and Atlantic January 14, 2011
One of the least important things the uprising in Tunisia is going to do is add more empirical fuel to the long-running debate about the role played by digital social media in fostering political and social change. In the grand scheme of things, what could be less important than the way a real-world revolution proves or disproves the theses put forward about the Internet by a subset of very smart public intellectuals? Nevertheless: expect the "what does Tunisia mean for the future of social media" debate to rage for the next few days on an RSS or Twitter feed near you.... There are, of course, exceptions. When it comes to deep and important thinking about media and social movements from a sociological perspective I'd point you toward work by Francesca Polletta and Edwin Amenta at UC Irvine, W. Lance Bennett's work on political communication and protest, and especially research by Andrew Chadwick, and John Downing. In his discussion of "organizational repertoires" and their relationship to media, just as one example, Chadwick draws on a lengthy tradition of thought in classic social movement research aimed at understanding the role "repertoires play in sustaining collective identity. They are not simply neutral tools to be adopted at will, but come to shape what it means to be a participant in a political organization. Values shape repertoires of collective action, which in turn shape the kind adoption of organizational forms."
For the full story, please visit http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/01/tech-and-social-mo....