Civic Media Blog

Welcome to my Civic Media Blog!

12/7/2018

Today’s topic is the relationship between large scale changes, grievances, and opportunities.

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All of the major theories of social movements point to the effects of large-scale socioeconomic and political changes on the emergence and outcomes of social movements. Macro-level societal changes often create widespread grievances and political or cultural opportunities. Although grievances and opportunities alone do not mobilize collective action, they can be exploited by movement activists who build on the organizational changes that accompany large-scale social change.

The successes of movements depend on their ability to employ innovative strategies and frame grievances effectively as well as to take advantage of political and cultural opportunities. The women’s movement successfully transformed problems such as rape and domestic violence, which were once seen as private concerns, into political issues, framing “the personal as political.”

11/30/2018

Today’s topic is how collective action framing can help unite a “movement of movements” such as the global justice movement.

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To create a movement of movements, activists used collective action frames that linked the concerns of different social movements.

Micromobilization actors are the various groups that mobilize individuals to participate in protest, including trade unions and environmental, religions, neighborhood, student, peace, and women’s groups. Mesomobilization actors work together to integrate participating groups and formed coordinating groups to organize the Micromobilization actors.

One of the critical tasks they performed was the creation of collective action frames that allowed individual groups to engage in frame bridging to connect their particular concerns to the larger concerns of the campaigns.

11/23/2018

Today’s topic is the idea of Smart Decarceration – the process of reinventing the criminal justice system to reduce recidivism rates and reduce the disproportionate incarceration of minorities.

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Given the rising social and economic costs of imprisonment and tight public budgets, incarceration in the US is a compelling problem. Although the United States holds only 5% of the world’s population, it houses a remarkable 25% of the world’s prisoners. African Americans only represent 13% of the general population, but 40% of the total prison population. Additional incarceration stats include 1 in 17 white, 1 in 6 Hispanic, and 1 in 3 African American men/women will find themselves in the prison system at some point in their life.

In order to start working on the process of smart decarceration, cyclical issues such as substance abuse intervention, revised poverty policies, and increased mental health assistance need to be addressed to prevent growing recidivism rates.

Contemporary efforts to decarcerate fall into three broad categories: (1) divert criminal offenders from prison by first implementing alternatives to incarceration; (2) reduce recidivism and thereby reduce prison populations; and (3) reinvest criminal justice resources into treatment and prevention.  Specifically, we need to

1. Reconsider the utility and function of incarceration.
2. Support innovations across all sectors of the criminal justice system.
3. Utilize multidisciplinary approaches to policy and practice interventions.
4. Rigorously evaluate and apply emerging evidence.

11/16/2018

Today’s topic is Ashton Kutcher’s international anti-human trafficking organization and program Thorn.

Le discours poignant d’Ashton Kutcher contre l ...

Kutcher’s program works to address the sexual exploitation of children by accelerating victim identification, deterring abusers, and disrupting their platforms. Since 2016, Thorn’s program Spotlight has helped law enforcement identify an average of 8 kids per day, reduce critical search times by 65%, and find a total of 5,791 victimized kids.

Spotlight is a neuro-network tool that can be used by law enforcement to prioritize their workload. The program becomes smarter and more efficient the more that people use it, and has played a critical role in reducing investigation time by over 60%.

11/9/2018

Today’s topic is the relationship between homelessness and mental health – specifically, how homelessness and mental health impact members of the LGBT community.

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The challenges of dealing with homelessness and integrating an LGBT identity into daily life put tremendous stresses and strains on youth. 46% of clients under 24 years of age suffered from mental health problems within the last year. Those numbers climbed to 50% for those under 20 years of age and 56% for those aged 20 to 24 years old when clients were asked about mental health problems over the course of their lifetime.

A lack of effective social support contributes to mental health problems, particularly depression, in homeless youth. Homelessness may interact with other factors, such as a history of childhood sexual abuse, causing youth to rely on their peers for social support. Understandably, these peers are also likely to suffer from inadequate support networks and are also likely to be suffering from mental health problems.

According to the report, the primary cause is “a society that discriminates against and stigmatizes homosexuals.”  That is, these youth are not depressed as a natural function of their sexual orientation, but because of the consequences of living in a society that does not treat them fairly or equally.

11/2/2018

Today’s topic is how counter-movements can actually help social movements flourish. Using gay rights and the LGBT movement as an example, we’ll see how resistance from counter-movements can increase mobilization of participants in a social movement.

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In 1977, an antigay rights organization called Save Our Children spearheaded a successful campaign in Dade County, Florida, to repeal a new civil rights ordinance that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The antigay rights campaign was headed by former beauty queen and evangelist singer Anita Bryant, who went on a speaking tour in the United States and Canada following the counter-movement victory in Dade County and helped to defeat gay rights ordinances in several other U.S. cities.

Soon after, the gay and lesbian rights movement rallied in response to the threats. In Canada, the Anita Bryant crusade “provided unprecedented opportunity” for gays and lesbians to organize a Coalition to Stop Anita Bryant, to gain a huge amount of media exposure, and to galvanize gay and lesbian communities in cities across the country where Bryant spoke. Anita Bryant was at the time the national spokesperson for Florida orange growers, and gay and lesbian activists in NA launched a boycott of Florida oranges to protest her role as a crusader against gay rights. In response to the controversy, Bryant was dismissed from her job with the orange growers, while gay and lesbian groups flourished as they battled the counter-movement.

10/26/2018

Today’s topic is the relationship between celebrities and social movements. Specifically, we’ll address the benefits and risks of celebrities participating in social movements.

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Music artist Macklemore

The chief asset that celebrities can offer social movements is the visibility that comes with their participation; celebrities carry a spotlight with them. In addition to drawing media attention, celebrity participation may draw in other participants and potential supporters. In this way, celebrity participation can extend the boundaries of a conflict…expanding both the audience and the number of legitimate actors in a political conflict. Celebrities can also provide critical fundraising help to social movement organizations.

Conversely, the very spotlight of notoriety that comes with celebrity participation may drown out some movement claims and constituents. The spotlight a celebrity brings to a movement may focus only on him/her. This pattern of overshadowing the movements is likely to happen all the more quickly and easily when media-anointed celebrity spokespeople lack organic roots in the movements for which they speak. Additionally, when space for coverage of challenging movements is limited, the proportion of it that goes to celebrity spokespeople means that there is likely less space available to participants and activists organic to the movement.

10/19/2018

Today’s topic is the intersection between hip-hop and social activism. Hip hop artists such as J. Cole, Macklemore, and Eminem use their platform and voice to advocate for social activism, addressing social problems such as poverty, housing insecurity, and drug addiction.

J. Cole – “Love Yourz”

“Love Yourz” by J. Cole features a myriad of social issues including poverty, housing insecurity, physical/emotional abuse, mental health, and alcoholism. J. Cole first mentions the idea of relative poverty by explaining how he sometimes felt poor and hopeless compared to some in his neighborhood, but blessed when he compared himself to others. This highlights income inequality in cities, and how people in the same city can live drastically different lives. J. Cole then goes onto speak about domestic abuse (physical/emotional), mental health, and alcoholism when he references his mother’s relationship with her partner that turned sour. Once money got tight and housing insecurity became a more prominent issue, the relationship suffered, and his mother and her partner broke up. This is an event J. Cole’s mother still things about, and she has resorted to alcohol to numb the pain of her relationship. J. Cole then references housing insecurity when he says he’s “not sure what’s bout to happen next” but praying to the Lord up above for strength. This showcases his desire for stability and housing security, while maintaining his ideology that family and those you love are most important.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – “White Privilege II”

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Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “White Privilege II” is a very controversial song that talks directly about Black Lives Matter. As two highly known hip-hop figures, Macklemore questions whether he should truly participate in the marches. Does he know what he is truly walking for or is he participating to create a name for himself. He asks, “Am i on the outside looking in, or am i on the inside looking out?” He states “the culture was never yours to make it better.” Macklemore is white and was never from the true “hip-hop area” growing up. The entire song is based on himself questioning if he has the right to make a comment through his music. Macklemore calls out other artists who make comments on these same issues. This movement within the black community is creating confusion and different opinions throughout the United States. The music connects people and emotions as he states, “Hip-hop has always been political.” One major difference that Macklemore touches on in the middle of the song is the difference between his own past songs and other hip-hop artists. His songs are not focused on the guns, violence and gangs that take place in black communities. Macklemore’s songs are positive such as having pride in your own sexuality. Lyrics that sum up his approach to the Black Lives Matter movement state “We take all we want from black culture- but will we show up for black lives?”

Macklemore – “Same Love”

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“Same Love” by Macklemore discusses the idea of the people that like the same sex is confused what makes makes them straight or gay. There are many stereotypes about being gay that people feel that if they fall under one of those stereotypes they believe that they are gay. We all conform the idea of what the Bible tells you is right or wrong “Still fears what we don’t know And God loves all his children it’s somehow forgotten, But we paraphrase a book written 3,500 hundred years ago”. Then the song repeats itself saying “I could not change even if i wanted to” then it goes on to say that people who tell family members that send them to camp to pray the gay away. But the best part of the song is “If I was gay I would think hip-hop hates me,Have you read the Youtube comments lately,”Man that’s gay” Gets dropped on the daily”. I hear “that’s gay” at least once a week when someone about nothing that has to do with people’s sexual orientation. The hate that is put on the LBGQT community is the same that has caused wars and fight for race and religion because people are making unfair stereotypes.

Eminem – “White America”

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“White America” by Eminem talks about the rise to prominence and allegations from parents and politicians that he had influenced criminal behavior on young white Americans. It addresses the controversy stemming from Eminem’s lyrical content, and impacting white youth, expressed with lines such as: “I speak to suburban kids, who otherwise would’ve never knew these words exist.” “Eric” and “Erica” represent the white youth. Eminem also expressed his belief that he’s better understood by African Americans, who were more aware of rap music, with lines such as: “Hip-Hop was never a problem in Harlem, only in Boston”. Eminem also states that he thinks his skin color helped with his popularity, and in effect introduced white fans to his producer, Dr. Dre, although earlier in his career it had prevented him from being taken seriously.

10/12/2018

Today’s topic is global citizenship, or participation in the consumption of goods and services in the global marketplace. To better understand this topic, we will be exploring the differences between the Global North and Global South.

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The Global North refers to western countries where business magazines identify the importance of teenage and “tween” girl consumption. Teenage girls represent the most highly sought after market segment in the United States, and a major marketing research company reports that “the current generation of teenage girls has tremendous buying power.”

Meanwhile, in the Global South, teenage girls and young women are a major source of labor for the global economy. As structural adjustment programs and the shift to export-oriented economies erode subsistence economies and thus displace small farmers and producers, families are forced into greater participation in market economies, either formal or informal, and children and youth play an important role in this income generation.

10/5/2018

Today’s topic is a cycle of contention – specifically, why social movements tend to emerge during a cycle of contention.

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According to Suzanne Staggenborg: “During a cycle of contention, collective action spreads to many different groups beyond those initiating the cycle. Because so many new actors are mobilized and so many activists interact with one another, they commonly devise innovative tactics and new collective action frames.”

Simply put, when people are angry or frustrated about a particular issue, it becomes easier to mobilize these people to action. Additionally, people who are usually reluctant to mobilize have a higher chance of participation since the cause affects them more directly. This results in new tactics and frames, and higher overall engagement.

9/28/2018

Today’s topic is the Broken Windows Theory, which argues that visible signs of crime, anti-social behavior, and civil disorder create an urban environment that encourages further crime and disorder, including serious crimes. The theory thus suggests that policing methods that target minor crimes such as vandalism, public drinking, and fare evasion help to create an atmosphere of order and lawfulness, thereby preventing more serious crimes.

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In essence, the Broken Windows Theory argues that minor crimes lead to more serious ones, so addressing these minor issues head-on will help prevent more serious crimes from happening in the future. I’ll refer to this idea as “crime inertia” – in other words, small crimes make it easier for more serious crimes to occur. However, implications of the Broken Windows Theory include increased scrutiny on petty crimes, which are most often committed by vulnerable members of society, such as minorities and the poor, which can lead to increased targeting of these communities.

9/21/2018

Today’s topic is bodily staging and how it has become one of the most relevant elements in modern times when it comes to contentious imagery. Bodily staged protest performances are some of the most relevant elements in contentious imagery, and are defined as protest actions performed on the street, in public space, and also documented in online videos.

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From a historical point of view, the bodily staging of protest actions in public spaces has grown in parallel with the rise of visual and audiovisual mas media. This has made capturing video of these protests much easier to do, as well as provide a conveninent medium to share them instantly. A common form of sharing bodily staging is live-streaming, which is made possible through popular social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. This allows people to share what’s going on with their audience in real time.

9/14/2018

Today’s topic is the cause and effect of attention-driven activism, which refers to content that gains “broad and rapid circulation by grossly oversimplifying the complexities” of a situation, and relies on “simple narratives so people can amplify and spread them.” In other words, activism that caters to people’s short attention spans by oversimplifying the problem to make content easier to share and understand.

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We know why people do this – to increase shareability – but what are its consequences? Oversimplifying the issue can cause problems down the line because we’re leaving out important nuances and details that are necessary to formulate a long-term solution. This type of activism can therefore be met with short-term or band-aid solutions that don’t appropriately address the problem, and cause a cycle of temporary fixes and ongoing problems.

When engaging with a social movement, it’s important to communicate using an appropriate medium to share your message, and establish a common sense of understanding so everyone can work towards the same goal.

9/7/2018

Today’s topic is the three keys to starting a successful social movement. This idea comes from a recent TED Talk by Tamara Richardson – an undergraduate psychology student at The University of Queensland. In her talk, Richardson outlines the three main components someone needs to start a successful social movement; namely: a team, access to different networks, and low-cost participation.

First, you need a team that can address the skills that you need for your social movement, such as technical skills, writing skills, personal/social skills etc. This will ensure that your team has the resources it needs to get your social movement off the ground.

Second, you need access to diverse communities to spread your movement to a broad range of people and share your message. This extends the reach of your movement and makes sharing information and building momentum much easier.

Finally, you need to make engagement fun and easy for participants by employing tactics such as clicktivism. This enables participants to get involved with a social movement from the comfort of their own home through low-risk and low-cost forms of engagement. Examples include sharing a post with their network, joining and engaging with an advocacy group, or even something as simple as leaving a supportive comment. All these things are components of starting a successful social movement online, and can be accomplished with minimal resources by utilizing Internet savvy and proper preparation.

8/31/2018

Today’s topic is how to address the free-rider problem. The free-rider problem is defined as “the problem of getting individuals to participate in social movements or other collective action” (Staggenborg 35). Essentially, because the goal of collective action is a collective good, which benefits everyone regardless of their involvement in the movement, it’s difficult to rally potential members to action when they know they will benefit from the cause without contributing to it.

Potential workarounds include establishing selective incentives, which are  defined by Staggenborg as “benefits available exclusively to those who participate in collective action.” This may encourage people to engage with a social movement because they will only benefit from it if they contribute.

Another potential workaround is the utilization of e-tactics, which provide members with low-risk ways to get involved in social movements online. An example of an e-tactic is online petitioning, which simply asks individuals to add their names to a petition. The low-risk and low requirement of time and resources helps negate the free-rider problem by reducing the effort required by each member to participate in a social movement, thereby reducing the barrier to entry and increasing overall participation and engagement.