Jen Schradie (Sciences Po Paris)
The Revolution That Wasn’t: How Digital Activism Favors Conservatives
You can learn more about Professor Schradie here.
Where and When: Friday, January 22, 2021 at 10am on Zoom.
Abstract:The internet has been hailed as a leveling force that is reshaping activism. From the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, digital activism seemed cheap, fast, and open to all. Now this celebratory narrative finds itself competing with an increasingly sinister story as platforms like Facebook and Twitter—once the darlings of digital democracy—are on the defensive for their role in promoting fake news. While hashtag activism captures headlines, conservative digital activism is proving more effective on the ground. Schradie’s talk, based on her book, The Revolution That Wasn’t, identifies the reasons behind this previously undiagnosed digital-activism gap. Large hierarchical political organizations with professional staff can amplify their digital impact, while horizontally organized volunteer groups tend to be less effective at translating online goodwill into meaningful action. Not only does technology fail to level the playing field, it tilts it further, so that only the most sophisticated and well-funded players can compete. The findings from her southern case U.S. case – from both online quantitative data analysis and offline in-depth ethnographic observations and interviews – have national and even international implications for a growing right-wing populist movement.
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This series is sponsored by the Centre for the Study of Democratic Citizenship, which is funded by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC).