AoIR 2016: fakes

Images of protest in contested social media: Production, propagation, and narratives
Luca Rossi, Christina Neumayer, Julie Vulpius.  IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

This paper discussed the social media campaign around the Blockupy protests in Frankfurt, which was marked by the co-presence of #blockupy, #destroika, and #notroika hashtags.

220px-mc3b3tmc3a6li_vc3b6rubc3adlstjc3b3ra_1Researchers differentiated between images of explicit violence (for example, confrontations with police), and symbolic violence. Images of symbolic violence portray latent expressions of power, and the potential for violence. The symbolism depends on who’s taking the picture – for example, protesters see images of barbed wire as the violence of the state, police figure images of massed protesters as potentially violent) and explicit violence.

Activists in the Blockupy protest mainly shared non-violent pictures, an image of joyful resistance. Media focused on images of explicit violence, while police social media accounts focused on symbolic violence: setting up the narrative of police guarding against the potential threat of the protesters. Understanding how these images support different narratives provides a deeper understanding of contestation online.

Keeping It Fake: Exploring User-Generated Political Fakes and Their Publics
Elisabetta Ferrari. University of Pennsylvania, United States of America.

Political faking is a type of user-generated political satire, satirising not only the politician, but also anyone who interacts with them without realising they’re a fake.

queeneuropeEarly discussions of the Internet demonstrate a concern with fakeness as a mode of online interaction, including questions of authenticity. While these questions are important, it is also useful to explore the positive potential of fakeness.

Ferrari’s work focuses on how creators of fake European accounts interact with their followers and navigate their fakeness. There are some audience members (including politicians) who try to coopt the satire, other members of the audience who don’t get that it’s satire, and others who sometimes even read hidden meanings into the satire.

At times, the people running the accounts aren’t sure whether the people they are interacting with get the satire or not. Are members of the public interacting with accounts ‘for real’ or engaged in their own forms of playful faking?

For Ferrari, gakeness gets articulated as a powerful critique of what is fake in ‘real life’. We should think of satire as a participatory practice co-created by satirists and satirees. We are all faking, at least a little bit, and it’s not always a marker of insincerity. Playful fakeness can be a powerful tool for political critique.

Seeing Is Believing: Do People Fail to Identify Fake Images on the Web? 
Mona Kasra (University of Virginia, United States of America),  Cuihua Shen (University of California – Davis, United States of America), James O’Brien (University of California – Berkeley, United States of America).

moonlandingFaked images can have powerful effects. Especially looking at, for example, Syria today, faked images that try to present a particular side’s viewpoints can have a significant humanitarian impact.

The technology that allows for creating image forgeries is far outpaced by technology that allows us to study and check these images.

Most of us have an awareness that images can be faked. This can sometimes also lead to concern that an image is faked when it’s not. However, we are very poor at identifying what’s fake and what’s not when we’re trying to judge unaided and untrained.

This study explored how viewers try to understand which images are faked. Researchers created faked images and mocked them up as they might be presented on different platforms.

Viewers tended to be bad at looking for discrepancies in lighting, shadows, perspective, and so on. They were more likely to develop post-hoc justifications for their pre-existing understandings of a situation (eg. “I’ve heard of cases like this before, so it seems plausible.”) When they couldn’t find clues in the image itself, they tended to see implausible images as misattributed rather than faked.

How We Use Social Media: Do We See The Advertising Presented?
Ryan Payne (Seneca College, Canada), Jeremy Shtern (Ryerson University, Canada)

Social media users tend not to pay attention to the presence of ads on Facebook and other sites (they said in interviews). “I don’t mind that FB is monetised because I don’t see or interact with the ads”. Users report that they learn to recognise ads and avoid them.

Researchers used eye-tracking to measure what users actually focused on in their Facebook use. Contrary to what many users reported, people do engage with ads and other commercial content regardless of the strategies they discussed using to focus on social content instead.

When users were shown records of what they looked at during their social media time, they often tried to rationalise their use, for example: “Well, they’re my friends and we have a lot in common, so if they’ve liked something it might be interesting to me”.

There’s a lack of understanding of commercial messages on social media particularly when it’s not spread directly as advertising, but rather through other users’ likes or shares. There’s a granularity to understanding users’ digital literacy, and how to educate them about the commercial nature of platforms.


The work of solidarity and healing

Darning, Tom of Holland

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways in which we are hurt by the world, and about the ways in which we might heal from those hurts. We are hurt by the effects of racism, inequality, political disenfranchisement, sexism, rigid gender and sexual identities, the displacements of migration, ableism, and structures which often prioritise competition over cooperation, among others.


These are structural problems, but they affect us in deeply personal ways. Legacies of hurt come down to us through our families, at the same time as our experiences add new layers. For many people, involvement in activism can be deeply damaging, in part because sexism, racism, homophobia, and other structural inequalities don’t magically disappear within movements.


IMG_20150819_080205011Our movements need to be spaces of healing. Because we are up against vast forces, and we need to be as strong as possible. Because when we damage each other further people burn out and groups split and our work is undone. Because we need to show that there are alternatives, and they are viable and more beautiful than what currently exists.


For us to heal, for us to be strong, it takes work. While I was in Athens, I facilitated a short workshop on emotional labour. “Emotional labour” is often used to refer to the requirement that workers manage their feelings in particular ways while on the job (for example, smiling and looking happy even if they’re tired or annoyed), but emotional labour is also common in activism.


This takes a variety of forms, most of them hidden, and unequally shared. It might include smoothing over disagreements during a meeting; checking up on members of a group who miss events; welcoming newcomers; and meeting with people outside of events to negotiate tensions. Often, women take on more of this work, in the same way that women are still often expected to do more of other ‘caring work’ – cooking, cleaning, childcare, and so on – even when in movement spaces. In many spaces, race and class differences will also contribute to the inequality in who is expected to do emotional labour.


Several people at the workshop asked for more material on emotional labour, so I’ve gathered a few useful links here, in no particular order. This is far from a definitive collection! It’s just a starting point, with a mix of deeper theoretical discussion, specific suggestions, and different perspectives. (I also don’t necessarily agree with every single point in each of these sources.) Please feel free to add helpful sources in the comments, or to let me know if you have any questions.

I hope this is helpful, and I look forward to learning more from the ways in which other people are approaching the challenge of building stronger movement spaces.







AoIR16: Day 1, part 1. Stitching Poetics and #BlackLivesMatter.

Redshift & Portal
Redshift & Portal

micha cárdenas‘ plenary, Trans of colour poetics: imagining futures of survival, began with the room collaboratively playing redshift & portal. It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking game, and I was a little surprised by how affecting the collective experience was (“What do you mean leave? NO! STAY AND HELP!“).

cárdenas used this as a way of exploring ideas around shifting one’s location and form, and about survival. She reminded us that the conference is taking place on land stolen from Diné and other peoples*, and that Keisha Jenkins is the 21st trans woman of colour to be murdered in the US so far this year: this sets the context for thinking about the need to build spaces where people of colour, and particularly trans women of colour, can survive.

This work understands trans women of colour’s knowledge, including their experiences of and responses to violence and surveillance, as central. Trans women need to shift their visibility across contexts: passing as cis women in some spaces in order to remain safe, then becoming more visible in order to resist transphobic violence.

Stitching, as a metaphor, provides one way of thinking about cárdenas’ work: it’s a historically feminised practice, but also one currently practiced by those in sweatshops in the South. So using stitching as a practice is in part about learning from those who are oppressed, finding means to connect people who have formerly been separated.

This can, in part, be explored through wearable technologies. Some of these, like Adam Harvey’s anti-drone Stealth Wear garments, are developed to comment on technologies of violence, but without consultation with those who experience this violence, and without an expectation that the garments will be used.

cárdenas, similarly, doesn’t attempt to market garments like the mesh network-enabled Local Autonomous Networks, in part because there’s already a significant market in expensive ‘safety garments’. Instead, she focuses on exploring ideas that others might pick up on, creating new stitches to connect people and tactics. One of these projects, Transborder Immigration Tool, was described by Glen Beck as containing poetry with “the potential to destroy the nation”.

Click the image to read Erhardt Graeff’s notes on the panel.

The first panel I went to for the day was on #BlackLivesMatter. Catherine Knight Steele opened with ‘When the Black lives that matter are not our own’, discussing the emergence of Black digital feminism. Steele’s work draws on Squires‘ work on counterpublics, enclaves, and satellite communities to look at the ways in which Black women’s blogging practices preserve and extend practices of Black orality, establishing spaces that are open, but at the same time limited to those who understand particularly contexts.

A number of issues are continuing themes for Black digital feminism, including:

  • Agency: as was seen in discussions about Beyonce’s 2014 album release – the blogosphere was less concerned about whether or not Beyonce is a feminist than about her right to claim the title for herself.
  • The right to self-identification: the politics involved in owning and operating in blackness, especially for those who have the option not to. By talking about blackness online, people can claim blackness offline.This is important for those dissociated from spaces of blackness geographically.
  • Non-gender binary spaces: thinking about how Black women’s lives are articulated differently when it comes to gender, and decentralising notions of fertility, and maternal instincts. This also means being critical about discourses of ‘worthy victims’, and calling out Black men and others within the movement who aren’t paying attention to the violence Black women, including Black trans women, and non-binary Black people, face.
  • Complicated allegiances: to religiousity, and to white feminists.
  • Dialectic of self and community needs: many Black digital feminists are aware of the contradictions between one’s own needs and those of others. In large part, this comes back to capitalism, and the need to survive within it while also pushing back against it.
  • Praxis: this is embodied in the discourse of blogging. bell hooks talks about ‘teaching to transgress’: Black digital feminists are blogging to transgress. Not just striving to understand the world, but to change it.

Next up, Kishonna L. Gray talked about Gaming for Change. Gray talked about the potential that video games offer to explore different approaches to activism, and at the same time the challenges of attempting this when video games are so embedded in mainstream culture.

To really use games to create change, we need to see not only games for change, but also gamers for change, and a gaming culture for change. This was made clear when #Spawn4Good emerged as a response to that Online Hate Mob That Is Totally Not About Ethics in Games Journalism and Ferguson: gamers used Twitch to collect funds for Eric Gardner’s burial costs. In doing so, they faced a significant backlash from some gamers. This also happened when people attempted to create links between #BlackLivesMatter and the Ethics in Games Journalism jerks: both gamers and mainstream feminists rejected the idea that these were connected.

The foundation of gaming technology reflects intersecting and overlapping racist structures that are hard for activist communities to disrupt. For this to happen effectively, acts of racial violence must be framed as something for the community to deal with, not just those affected. Blizzard, Microsoft, and other companies that run major gaming platforms need to be actively disrupting structures of racism, and at the moment they’re just not interested in doing that.

In ‘Toward Social Justice, Against Media Bias, Creating Tumblr Content with Purpose Through #iftheygunnedmedown’, Jenny Korn talked about the respectability politics inherent in #iftheygunnedmedown. This response to the mainstream media’s framing of Mike Brown’s murder highlighted the racialised representation of Black people in the US. Black people are portrayed as dangerous and deviant, and therefore as suitable targets of violence. #iftheygunnedmedown pushed back at that, demonstrating that the same Black people who were shown throwing ‘gang signs’ (any hand gesture), smoking, drinking, or wearing sports wear, were also parents, graduates, responsible employees, and in other ways upright citizens.

fuckrespectabilityWhile this provides a vital critique of the racism of mainstream media, Jenny Korn also emphasises that respectability politics has its limits. It requires that Black people demonstrate their ‘value’ within the structures of whiteness before they can be excluded from racialised violence. It also privileges white comfort, trying to show that Black people are well-behaved, unthreatening.

A more complete resistance to the mainstream media’s racist portrayals of Black people murdered or otherwise harmed by structures of white supremacy wouldn’t aim for respectability, but would rather value the whole of Black experience.

Finally, Sarah Florini talk about This Week in Blackness and Leveraging Journalism. TWiB was created by Elon James White as an online video series, but now has a significant digital media presence, including seven podcasts, Twitter accounts, and an online TV show. TWiB has reconfigured the relationship between content creations and the audience: the audience is not distant, but much more visible and participatory. The people running TWiB are using social media not just to promote their content, but to have interactions with their audience, and build a sense of social connection. This means TWiB functions as a network in the old sense of the world – both a broadcast network, and a network of people and technology.

When Ferguson happened, mainstream reporting was atrocious: at times, CNN were saying that everything was quiet, while people on the ground were reporting being attacked by police with tear gas. TWiB’s audience requested that they provide coverage, and provided donations to help. By being there on the ground, Elon James White and other people were able to get better information out, and to disrupt the mainstream media narrative: it’s hard to claim ‘all is quiet’ when someone has live video in which they’re being tear-gassed.

The panel ended with a comment from the audience, which several people picked up, that we should be paying attention to #FeesMustFall protests in South Africa. I’ve been heartened to see the international attention that this is getting, and hope that this will be helpful in preventing further violence against the students.

Images from Cape Town’s #FeesMustFall protests


* I’ve used terms here that are most appropriate as far as I’m aware, but coming from Australia there’s a different context and background, so I may have messed up.

Also I am horribly jetlagged, so please excuse any incoherence in the post – hopefully I’ll fix it up later when I have time for edits.

Social Media & Society 2014 wrap up, part 2: cultural acceptance and activism

For part one of my SMSociety wrap up, look here!

The first day of SMSociety 2014 continued with a panel on cultural acceptance. Irfan Chaudhry opened by discussing the Twitter Racism Project, which explores different ways of tracking and analysing expressions of racism online. Twitter, he notes, is interesting because it’s highly-visible and easily tracked, although there are still plenty of challenges, including the ways in which racism takes on news forms and expressions with changing social conditions, and the necessity of telling the difference between a racist tweet and an affectionate self-identification. The first round of research has focused an particular racist terms in the Canadian cities with the highest number of reported race-hate attacks (I found it interesting that one of the terms, ‘white trash’, is more classist than racist).

Tweets were then categorised to see whether they were a casual slur, a discussion of racism, an expression of a negative stereotype, and so on, with about 50 per cent of tweets being real-time responses to an event (such as a racist response to being seated next to someone of a different ethnicity on a plane). Chaudhry’s hypothesis that these tweets represent the externalisation of thoughts which were not able to be expressed in person present an interesting contrast to Hampton’s work showing that only 0.3% of people were willing to discuss potentially-controversial perspectives online, but not offline: this might be due to a different sample set, but this connection might also suggest that those expressing their racism online are also comfortable expressing it in person. Chaudry finished by noting that there’s also a need to track racism that’s expressed in more subtly coded ways, such as through the #whiteresistance tag used by white supremacists.

Click to see Oakley's slides in full.
Click to see Oakley’s slides in full.

The next presentation was from Abigail Oakley, looking at the online discourse around plus-sized women (and, to a lesser extent, the fat acceptance movement). Oakley noted that much of the abuse faced by plus-sized women sharing images of themselves online came from other plus-sized women. By exploring this through public sphere theory, Oakley proposed that factors such as strength of social ties and emotional involvement play significant roles in the participation of this type of negative online discourse. I’d be curious to see whether this research could connect with some of the practical work around online abuse, including efforts to use moderation to create healthier online communities.

The session wrapped up with Daria Dayter’s work on the ways in which complaints are used to build rapport online, focusing particularly on tweets about ballet. This research is grounded in linguistics, drawing on debates about whether language on Twitter is standard or in the intimate register. Dayter discussed the ways in which language can also be action, so, for example, “I will be there tomorrow” is doing promise, “My foot hurts” is doing complaint. Some of the results include the prevalance of complaint as a form of self praise; the tweet “Iced two ankles 9:07AM 31 DEC 2013” implies dedication both through the timestamp, and through the minimal information and emotional content (which indicates that the poster experiences this often, and doesn’t consider it a big deal). Dayter also noted that gender was not a factor: male dancers complained as much as women. This research really highlighted the benefit of in-depth qualitative analysis of online content.

The final session of the day looked at social media and activism, opening with Brett Caraway‘s discussion of the ways in which Canadian labour unions are using social media. This work draws on Bennett and Segerberg‘s distinction between ‘collective’ and ‘connective’ action, the former being linked to more hierarchical, professionalised movement organising, as opposed to the more individualised, complex, and horizontal forms of connective action. Caraway argues that while connective and collective approaches to organising overlap, in general unions with higher levels of membership, established histories, and emphasising servicing unionism are likely to have organisationally-brokered networks (in which social media is more cenrally controlled). In contrast, unions focusing on recruitment, activism, and issue awareness are likely to have organisationally-enabled networks (which are more open and horizontal). Unions in either of the above contexts may benefit from the integration of social media platforms with their campaigns, however the logic of action is fundamentally different in the contexts of self-organizing networks and organizationally-enabled networks.

Image courtesy of AK Rockefeller
Image courtesy of AK Rockefeller

Finally, Alfred Hermida discussed recent research with Candis Callison on Idle No More’s use of social media, focused on the period between December 2012 and January 2013, which included several big peaks in Twitter activity around national days of action. Hermida and Callison’s research show that much of the content on Twitter was directed at others within the Idle No More network, rather than being appeals to the mainstream media. This is in large part because Idle No More protesters are aware of the terrible mainstream coverage of Indigenous issues in Canada: journalists will only cover these issues if Indigenous people are ‘dead, drunk, drumming, or dancing’, as thus easily incorporated within dominant racist narratives.

Hermida and Callison used two different methods for measuring influence within the #idlenomore network. The first was similar to the Topsy algorithm, and showed the highest influence to be from institutional elites (such as mainstream news journalists). However, using a different measure that prioritised retweets told a different story, with far higher visibility for ‘alternative voices’, including visible Indigenous Twitter users such as @âpihtawikosisân and @deejayNDN. Retweets were not only a way of sharing information, but also a form of contestation, affirmation, and identity-building, a way of reaffirming (for example) the Indigenous character and leadership of the movement. This research shows social media as a ‘contested middle ground’, which is both affected by other power structures and open to people’s efforts to reshape the network around the hashtag. (This has some interesting connections with the Mapping Movements project I’m doing with Tim Highfield).

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the second day of SMSociety, but you can check out the schedule on the SMSociety website (I’m particularly curious about James Cook’s work on The Bear Club). I also wasn’t able to bring promotional materials for my book, Global Justice and the Politics of Information: The struggle over knowledge, which is now out with Routledge – please do check it out!

Opening activism/Συζήτηση και Εργαστήρι Ανοιχτού Ακτιβισμού

This Thursday I’ll be running a workshop around View of Navarinou Parkmore inclusive strategies for activism at Dasein Coffee Art & Spirits (Σολωμού 12, Εξάρχεια/Solonou 12, Exarcheia). Feel free to come along! (The Facebook event page is here.)

Στο εργαστήρι αυτό θα ερευνήσουμε διαφορετικούς τρόπους με τους οποίους μπορούμε να διοργανώνουμε ακτιβιστικά δρώμενα, ανοιχτά, προσβάσιμα, χωρίς αποκλεισμούς.
Υπάρχει μία τάση στον ακτιβισμό να καταλήγουμε να μιλάμε αποκλειστικά με ανθρώπους με τους οποίους συμφωνούμε, και να χτίζουμε κοινότητες στις οποίες, άνθρωποι που δεν θεωρούν τους εαυτούς τους ακτιβιστές, αισθάνονται άβολα να συμμετέχουν. Αν θέλουμε όμως να φέρουμε πραγματική αλλαγή, χρειάζεται να μάθουμε να είμαστε πιο ανοιχτοί προς τους ανθρώπους που σκέφτονται διαφορετικά από εμάς, που έχουν διαφορετικές ιδέες.
Αυτό το εργαστήρι θα εξερευνήσει μερικές βασικές θεματικές, όπως:

  • Tiered activism- Κλιμακωτός ακτιβισμός (επιτρέπει στα άτομα να πραγματοποιούν μικρά βήματα κάθε φορά προς την αλλαγή)
  • Η σημασία εναλλακτικών ιστοριών: Προτείνουμε πολλές εκδοχές για το πώς ο κόσμος μας μπορεί να αλλάξει, όχι μόνο μία.
  • Ενσυναισθητική επικοινωνία
  • Οι ταυτότητες του ακτιβιστή: Κριτική
  • Συζητώντας για κάθε μία από τις παραπάνω θεματικές, προτρέπουμε τους συμμετέχοντες να μοιραστούν δικές τους εμπειρίες σχετικά με το τι λειτούργησε καλά και τί όχι, και να ανακαλύψουν μεθόδους αποτελεσματικότερου ακτιβισμού.

Η συντονίστρια του εργαστηρίου, Sky Croeser, είναι ερευνήτρια και ακτιβίστρια από την Αυστραλία, που πρόσφατα μετακόμισε στο Τορόντο. Η έρευνά της επικεντρώνεται στο πώς ακτιβιστές σε όλο τον κόσμο προσπαθούν να επιδράσουν εναλλακτικά στο παρόν σύστημα, και ενδιαφέρεται να μοιραστεί τακτικές και στρατηγικές ώστε να βοηθήσει διαφορετικές κοινότητες και κολλεκτίβες να μάθουν η μία από την άλλη. Πρόσφατα, συνεπιμελήθηκε το βιβλίο “Lessons for Social Change in the Global Economy: Voices from the Field”. Μπορείτε να μάθετε περισσότερα για την έρευνά της στην ιστοσελίδα

This workshop explores different ways to build activist events that are open and inclusive. There is a tendency in activism to end up talking only to people we agree with, and to build communities where people who don’t think of themselves as activists are uncomfortable taking part. However, if we want to create meaningful change we need to think about how to be open to people who are different from us, and have different ideas. This workshop will explore a few basic principles, including:

  • Tiered activism (allowing people to take small steps),
  • The importance of other stories,
  • Empathic communication, and
  • Challenging activist identities.

As we talk about each principle, we will encourage people to share their own experiences about what has worked well and what has not, and imagine ways to build more effective activism

Bio: Sky is a researcher and activist from Australia who is currently based in Toronto. Her research focuses on how activists around the world are trying to build alternatives to the current system, and she is interested in sharing tactics and strategies to help different communities learn from each other. She recently co-edited Lessons for Social Change in the Global Economy: Voices from the Field.

Many thanks to Maria Sidiropoulou for her work organising this and translating the content (she will also be providing translation during the workshop). You can find her writing on Global Voices.

Building Effective Alliances around the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

My talk on building activism around the TPP at LinuxConf 2013 is now online – thanks to the AV team for all of their hard work, and for catching me to re-record the talk when they discovered the first recording had gone awry. You can listen to the full talk here [mp4 on the linux site] [or watch on YouTube], and a truncated version of the first version of the talk I gave, mostly notable for catching some good discussion in the questions (which begin a few minutes in – look for the slide that just has my name and contacts on it), here [mp4].

Abstract: This presentation suggests a variety of strategies and tactics that the Linux community might adopt when acting on political issues, with the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) being of particular concern at the moment. The TPPA is a multinational free trade agreement (FTA), and will probably build on and extend the damaging provisions imposed by the 2004 Australia-US FTA. The extent of damage likely to be done by the TPPA is not yet known, as only draft copies have been leaked and the negotiations remain secret.

Currently, free and open source communities often find ways deal with problematic laws, such as the copyright extensions and restrictions on circumventing technological restrictions brought in by the 2004 Australia-US FTA, with clever hacks of the legal system (such as copyleft and creative commons licenses); workarounds which meet the letter of the law (such as providing Linux installations without potentially-illegal codecs); or ignoring laws which seem unlikely to be enforced. However, all of these strategies have problems. Hacks can only go so far; relying on a lack of enforcement is risky; and workarounds make free and open source software less accessible for novice users and others who would prefer software that works out of the box. Part of the work of promoting free and open source software must therefore involve activism that is directly aimed at the TPPA and other FTAs.

Important activism did take place around the 2004 Australia-US FTA, including work within Linux Australia led by Rusty Russell, Kimberlee Weatherall and others. Much of this took a similar form to activism currently happening around the TPPA: the focus has been on lobbying, letter-writing, and media relations. Coalition-building and other activism around the TPPA, as with the 2004 FTA, has predominantly taken place within tech communities. However, while this work has been valuable, it may be useful to explore ways to build alliances with other communities and to draw on a broader range of activist tactics. This discussion will draw on some of the lessons learned from relatively successful attempts to oppose FTAs in the past, including protests in the late 1990s around the Multilateral Agreement on Investment and World Trade Organization negotiations, as well more recent FTAs such as those between the US and Malaysia and the Free Trade Area of the Americas proposed by the US. Drawing on this work, I will suggest tactics for effective action, including use of a spectrum of allies model, organizational models which facilitate tiered levels of participation, and creative use of the Overton window. I will also outline some of the key groups opposing the TPPA outside of the tech community in both Australia and the US.

Many thanks go to Rusty Russell, Brendan Molloy, and Nathalie Latter for their help preparing the talk.

Lessons for Social Change in the Global Economy

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been working with Shae Garwood and Christalla Yakinthou of the Bluestocking Institute to put together Lessons for Social Change in the Global Economy, an edited collection grounded in the experiences of people working to create change in global production, consumption, and disposal systems. The book is now available for preorder: you can get a 30% discount if you order the book from Lexington: order directly online and enter the promotional code ‘LEX30AUTH14’ or download the order flyer.

In recent decades it has become easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine even modest changes in the mode of production. The voices in this inspiring volume, of academics and activists engaged in a rich variety of struggles against the primacy of the market, point to the possibility of a world that is not entirely for sale. With stirring examples of determination to contest neoliberal forces that have brought about significant improvements in people’s lives, this collection is a must-read book for those who continue to hope for social change in the global economy. – Verity Burgmann

In the face of globalization’s massive social and economic transformations and the resulting persistent inequality, activists, labor organizers, and advocacy NGOs are seeking and creating change beyond the confines of formal state politics and across national borders. Given the breadth of local issues activists face, the ways they define the problem and seek redress vary widely. This book provides a unique perspective on these efforts, gathering into one volume concrete examples of the implementation of different strategies for social change that highlight the challenges involved. This provides useful lessons for those involved in social change, as well as for those studying it. Contributors to the volume are scholars and practitioners around the world, and they draw on strong connections with people working in the field to improve working conditions and environmental standards of global production systems. This allows readers to develop a more comprehensive and grounded understanding of strategies for social change.

ImageThis book maintains a strong balance between breadth and specificity. It provides an overview of the themes of social change, which contextualizes and draws common threads from the chapters grounded in specific geographic locations and political spaces of change. The chapters analyze environmental and social problems and the varying degrees of success activists have had in regulating industries, containing environmental hazards, and/or harnessing aspects of an industry for positive social and economic change. Contributors draw upon different ways of creating change, which include corporate social responsibility schemes, fair trade regimes, and community radio. By providing insight into the potential and limitations of actions taken at different levels, the book encourages a critical perspective on efforts for social change, grounded in an understanding of how conditions around the world can affect these activities.

Order now: Amazon, Book Depository, or order directly online and enter the promotional code ‘LEX30AUTH14’ or download the order flyer to get 30% off.