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Book part
Publication date: 22 December 2017

Thomas V. Maher and Jennifer Earl

Growing interest in the use of digital technologies and a Putnam-inspired debate about youth engagement has drawn researchers from outside of the study of social movements into…

Abstract

Growing interest in the use of digital technologies and a Putnam-inspired debate about youth engagement has drawn researchers from outside of the study of social movements into research on the topic. This interest in youth protest participation has, in turn, developed into a substantial area of research of its own. While offering important research contributions, we argue that these areas of scholarship are often not well grounded in classic social movement theory and research, instead focusing on new media and/or the relationship between activism and other forms of youth engagement. This chapter seeks to correct this by drawing on interviews with 40 high school and college students from a moderately sized southwestern city to examine whether traditional paths to youth activism (i.e., family, friends, and institutions) have changed or eroded as online technology use and extra-institutional engagement among youth has risen. We find that youth continue to be mobilized by supportive family, friends, and institutional opportunities, and that the students who were least engaged are missing these vital support networks. Thus, it is not so much that the process driving youth activism has changed, but that some youth are not receiving support that has been traditionally necessary to spur activism. This offers an important reminder for scholars studying youth and digital activism and youth participation more broadly that existing theory and research about traditional pathways to activism needs to be evaluated in contemporary research.

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Social Movements and Media
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-098-3

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Book part
Publication date: 6 July 2021

Thomas Elliott and Jennifer Earl

Youth political engagement is often ignored and downplayed by adults, who often embrace a youth deficit model. The youth deficit model downplays the voices and unique experiences…

Abstract

Youth political engagement is often ignored and downplayed by adults, who often embrace a youth deficit model. The youth deficit model downplays the voices and unique experiences of youth in favor of adult-led and adult-centered experiences. Like other historical deficit models, the youth deficit model also provides permission to adults to speak for or about youth, even when not asked to speak for them. We refer to this powerful construction of youth interests by adults as mediation. Fortunately, online advocacy could offer an unmediated route to political engagement for youth as digital natives. Using a unique dataset, we investigate whether online protest spaces offer an unmediated experience for youth to learn about and engage in political protest. However, we find that youth engagement, and especially unmediated youth engagement, is rare among advocacy digital spaces, though it varies by movement, SMO-affiliation, and age groups. Based on our findings, we argue that, rather than youth being primarily responsible for any alleged disengagement, the lack of online spaces offering opportunities for youth to take ownership of their own engagement likely discourages youth from participating in traditional political advocacy and renders the level of youth engagement an admirable accomplishment of young people.

Book part
Publication date: 22 May 2012

Jennifer Earl and Deana A. Rohlinger

Much ink has been spilled about the selectivity and quality of newspaper data (Earl, Martin, McCarthy, & Soule, 2004; Oliver & Maney, 2000; Ortiz, Myers, Walls, & Diaz, 2005) and…

Abstract

Much ink has been spilled about the selectivity and quality of newspaper data (Earl, Martin, McCarthy, & Soule, 2004; Oliver & Maney, 2000; Ortiz, Myers, Walls, & Diaz, 2005) and we do not intend to rehearse those arguments here. Instead, this volume focuses on pushing research forward by (1) expanding the domains considered in scholarly work and (2) providing a better understanding of the dynamics of social movement media coverage.

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Media, Movements, and Political Change
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-881-6

Book part
Publication date: 22 December 2017

Deana A. Rohlinger and Shawn Gaulden

This chapter expands the limited work on leadership in the digital age and considers how the relative inclusivity of organizational identity as well as its corresponding…

Abstract

This chapter expands the limited work on leadership in the digital age and considers how the relative inclusivity of organizational identity as well as its corresponding organizational scripts affects who performs “leading tasks,” formal leaders or committed supporters, in two social movement groups. Drawing on a random sample of 5% of Facebook posts from committed supporters and 1% of Facebook posts from group administrators associated with March Against Monsanto (MAM) and Occupy Monsanto (OM), two groups that have shared general goals but different organizational identities, we find that the clarity of an organization’s script shapes who performs leading tasks and how they perform them. MAM, which has an exclusive organizational identity and relatively defined script, encouraged supporters to engage with one another directly and perform a broad range of leading tasks even as it reinforced the group’s hierarchy. OM, which has an inclusive organization identity and relatively undefined script, had less supporter engagement. Absent scripts regarding the rules of participation, OM’s committed supporter primarily shared information with other site users, but rarely engaged them directly. We conclude with a discussion of our results and outline additional avenues for analyzing leadership in the digital age.

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Social Movements and Media
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-098-3

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Content available
Book part
Publication date: 22 December 2017

Abstract

Details

Social Movements and Media
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-098-3

Content available
Book part
Publication date: 22 May 2012

Abstract

Details

Media, Movements, and Political Change
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-881-6

Book part
Publication date: 19 July 2021

Thomas V. Maher and Jennifer Earl

Prior social movement research has focused on the role that axes of inequality – particularly race, class, gender, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ…

Abstract

Prior social movement research has focused on the role that axes of inequality – particularly race, class, gender, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) status – play for who participates and how they do so. Age is another important axis of inequality. The pervasiveness of a youth deficit model, which casts young people as deficient and requiring benevolent adult tutelage, is of particular concern for youth. This chapter assesses whether the internalization of the deficit model influences young people's activism and how they perceive their engagement. Drawing on interviews with 40 high school and college students from a southwestern US city, we find that many young people have internalized deficit-model assumptions, affecting when and how they participated. This was most evident among high school students, who limited their participation because they were “not old enough” or gravitated toward more “age-appropriate” forms of activism. Interestingly, we found college students were more willing to engage in online activism but also felt compelled to do significant research on issues before participating, thereby distancing themselves from the deficit model's assumptions of their political naivety. Finally, some participants felt discouraged by the perceived ineffectiveness of protest, which resonated with deficit model narratives of the futility of youth engagement. These findings highlight the importance of understanding the impacts of an internalized deficit model as well as considering age as an axis of inequality in activism. Youth engagement is best supported by seeing young people as capable actors with unique interests, capacities, and points of view.

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The Politics of Inequality
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-363-0

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Book part
Publication date: 22 May 2012

Katrina Kimport

Purpose – Scholars of social movements have tended to focus on the social movement organization (SMO) as the primary unit of analysis, documenting a trend toward its…

Abstract

Purpose – Scholars of social movements have tended to focus on the social movement organization (SMO) as the primary unit of analysis, documenting a trend toward its professionalization. This trend, typified in the abortion rights movement, has facilitated the survival of movements, but is associated with a reduction in tactical and strategic innovation. Innovation is associated with movement entrepreneurs, like the body of lone activists that characterizes the antiabortion movement. However, work on online activism offers evidence that SMOs are not the dominant organizing structures in online mobilization, leading to general questions about innovation and the role of SMOs online.

Methodology – I analyze quantitatively content-coded data for the role of organizations and for innovative uses of the web for protest in the online abortion rights and antiabortion movements.

Findings – The two movements have different online footprints, with organizations dominating the former but not the latter, and an overall larger volume of antiabortion claims-making. Unlike in offline activism, organizationally affiliated sites are not less likely than those without an organizational affiliation to leverage innovative uses of the web for claims-making. Organizational composition may matter in other ways, though: the greater representation of antiabortion claims online, especially by individual activists, may be a lingering effect of the abortion rights movement's offline professionalization.

Research implications – These findings point to the importance of attending to variation across movements when they migrate online in investigations of new media for protest and for rethinking the role of SMOs in social movements.

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Media, Movements, and Political Change
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-881-6

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 10 March 2010

Jennifer Earl and Sarah A. Soule

Scholarship on the effects of various kinds of state repression (e.g., counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, protest policing) on subsequent dissent has produced a body of…

Abstract

Scholarship on the effects of various kinds of state repression (e.g., counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, protest policing) on subsequent dissent has produced a body of contradictory findings. In an attempt to better understand the effects of one form of state repression – protest policing – on one form of dissent – public protest – this paper examines the effects of various policing strategies used at protest events on subsequent protest levels in the United States between 1960 and 1990. Theoretically, we argue the effects of repression cannot be broadly theorized but instead need to be hypothesized at the level of particular police strategies and actions. We theorize and empirically examine the impacts of five police strategies, while also improving on prior analyses by producing a comprehensive model that examines lagged and nonlinear effects and examines the effects across the entire social movement sector, as well as across two specific movement industries. Results (1) confirm that not all police strategies have the same effects; (2) show that policing strategies tend to have predominately linear effects; (3) show that police actions have their strongest effects in the very short term, with few effects detectable after a few weeks; and (4) point to interesting differences in the effects of policing strategies on subsequent protest across different social movements.

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Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-036-1

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