Archive for the ‘Online Activism’ Category
“Preaching to the Choir: Internet-Mediated Advocacy, Issue Public Mobilization and Climate Change” published by New Media & Society
Here’s a quick, long-overdue update: My first peer-reviewed article has just been published! It’s called Preaching to the Choir: Internet-Mediated Advocacy, Issue Public Mobilization and Climate Change, and it’s available now through New Media & Society’s ‘OnlineFirst’ service (subscription required). It will also be published as part of a regular issue at some point in the near future. There is also a pre-publication version available from SSRN–although if you’re going to cite, please cite the NM&S version. Here’s the abstract:
Despite the impact that Internet-mediated advocacy organizations have had on American politics over the last decade, we are still learning about how they work. This is even truer for Internet-mediated issue specialists that focus on a single issue, such as climate change. Based on interviews with key staff members of two climate change advocacy campaigns, this article examines how these organizations communicate and mobilize citizens around their issue and the underlying assumptions behind their strategies. Interviews revealed a focus on like-minded issue public mobilization and online-to-offline social movement building strategies. The paper also examines how these organizations can influence policy debates by mobilizing issue publics, shifting debates to more favorable public arenas, and reframing them in ways more favorable to their causes. Implications for the future of climate policy and Internet-mediated advocacy research are discussed.
If you have a chance to read the article, I’d love to get some feedback — not to mention citations, of course. Enjoy!
I’ve been sitting on this blog for a while but EFF’s excellent post on Apple’s “crystal prisons” finally made me get off my butt and publish it. It’s based on a more detailed analysis I did for a paper that I can provide upon request.
Should users of Apple’s iOS devices have access to an app that condemns marriage equality? How about an app that lets users create their own joke drivers licenses? Or an app that gives them access to content published by WikiLeaks, or another that advocates for a single-payer health care system in America?
Regardless of one’s opinion of the appropriateness, usefulness or political views represented in these apps, the fact is that whether they are available to iOS users is at the moment up to Apple and Apple alone—and that’s precisely the problem.
Since launching the revolutionary iPhone in the summer of 2007, Apple Inc. has become one of the leading manufacturers of mobile communication devices in the world, having sold more than 314 million iOS-based devices (including the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad) to date. Apple’s dominant position in this market includes its App Store, which as of this writing boasts more than 585,000 apps and has surpassed 25 billion downloads. Apple’s iOS ecosystem has become a critical entry points unto the Internet, which is one of the most important platforms for political action and personal expression available today.
Unlike the Internet, however, the App Store is a relatively closed ecosystem. To gain access to the App Store, developers must have their apps approved by Apple. The company’s app review and approval policies have been criticized for being opaque and arbitrary, and have resulted in the rejection of both explicitly and implicitly political apps—including the apps listed at the top of this blog, as well as many others. Read the rest of this entry »
In a study of the 2003 anti-Iraq War global protests, Bennet, Breunig, and Givens (2008) argue that changes in social identity processes are leading individuals to seek less binding and more flexible relationships with organizations that provide support on issues that matter to them personally. This model of activism stands in contrast to the 1960s-70s era model, in which concerned citizens identified strongly with one issue and organization.
Single-issue organizations are still being formed today, of course, but our relationships to them are becoming looser and less hierarchical. Bennett and colleagues argue that these loose ties, along with a heavy reliance on online media for political information, account for the speed with which anti-war activists were able to organize back in 2003. It’s likely that these massive, multi-nation gatherings could not have been organized with the same speed and degree of coordination without the information technologies we have at our disposal today.
A communication-centered explanation of the difficulty to reform Wall Street so far would depend largely on which view of public opinion and the nature of the public sphere (indeed, which view of democracy) you adopt. University of Pennsylvania Provost and communication researcher Vincent Price (2008) usefully describes four models of the public sphere that could potentially apply to the U.S. at various points in the debate over financial reform and other issues:
The Competitive Elitism model: Under this model, the participation of citizens is limited to expressing their opinion through the ballot box. Otherwise, public opinion and decision-making is left to policy-makers, bureaucrats, experts and other elites. Public opinion becomes a matter of elites trying to convince each other of the rightness of their policy positions. As Walter Lippmann (1922) argued, the role of experts under this model is to explain complex issues to decision-makers and to manufacture consent from the public.
Petitioning the government for policy changes is a practice as old as the republic, and doing so online is a practice as old as the Web, if not the Internet itself. But last Thursday, the White House announced a new initiative that could potentially up-end the process by which citizens petition their government online.
This new White House initiative, called “We the People,” will allow citizens to create petitions online, gather support for them, and receive a guaranteed official response if they meet a certain threshold. The initiative is about “giving Americans a direct line to the White House on the issues and concerns that matter most to them,” President Obama said in a statement.
Take a look below at the official White House YouTube explainer on the initiative and the overview excerpted from the official announcement.