This week I went to a two-day workshop at the Dept. of Political Science, Stockholm University, on the topic of "Digital media and collective action: Changing modes of citizenship and participation in national and transnational settings" (.pdf file). The reading list (see link) might also be of interest.
Researchers in political science are (naturally) primarily interested in the dog (collective action, citizenship) wagging the tail (digital/social media), while I'm primary interested in the dog (digital/social media) wagging the tail (collective action, citizenship) - so there were excellent possibilities of a useful exchange of ideas and perspectives.
The workshop was led by Lance Bennett (Olof Palme Professorial Chair 2010, installation lecture October 29 (.pdf inviation here) and his sidekick Alexandra Segerberg. Five more occasions are planned for the autumn and it now seems I will have the opportunity to attend two of those, with one of these being a seminar about "Twitter revolutions". Some points and leads (pruned selection) from the workshop that I want to remember/keep track of are:
- Legofesto. "Human rights abuses and real events in the world are recreated in lego".
- Richard Rogers at the University of Amsterdam has created cool software for mapping and visualizing networks, "Issue crawler". I haven't looked into it yet, but it might be possible to map my own networks around blogs I run (such as this one) as a warming-up excercise? Richard has also written some academic texts about the software that I might check out. Later I have also been directed to another tool that looks interesting, Gephi.
- Some John Kelly guy (I didn't get the whole context) at the Harvard University Berkman Center for Internet & Society (publications here) has also mapped blogospheres and is apparently a goto-guy also for "datasets of the Swedish blogosphere". Kelly has co-authored reports about the Iranian/Persian blogosphere (April 2008) and the Arabic blogosphere (June 2009).
- The Retrov project, about "the virality of information" on the Internet.
- We talked some about The long tail (Wired article, book) in relation to the public sphere too. Today it is possible for some yahoo in the middle of nowhere to act outside of institutions, get picked up by more centrally placed actors/go viral and get a message through and have an impact on the general public. This was not possible in the age of monolithic mass media.
- I was reminded of my interest in the professionalization of the amateur and the amateurization of the professional. Ex. The top ten bloggers in any category are candidates for getting picked up for [something], and, many journalists have their own blogs nowadays. Writing a successful enough blog can thus be a career move. Perhaps a topic for a master's thesis is hiding somewhere here?
- Mobilization vs sustained effort. Social media-enhanced social movements can today take the shape of flexible and fluid "networks", quickly channeling spontaneous engagement in certain directions (turning up at a demonstrations for example). This might (or might not - we don't know enough yet) encourage sustained participation of individuals in a particular issue or bouquet of (in some way) related issues. Does it matter if the same persons do not show up again and again? Or is it enough that (many) people (unspecified exactly who, and could differ substantially between events) turn up at the next event and the one after that too? Alexandra stated that turning up at an event and becoming involved tended to make you come back again and again (this is of course not surpising and would have something to do with (transformations of) identity ("I'm the kind of person who..."), "legitimate peripheral participation" (Lave and Wenger 1991), communities of practice (Wenger 1999) and so on).
- I have a long-time interest in communities. They might (or might not) be flexible, but they are for sure not fluid. The whole point of a community is that there are barriers to entry and exit, so in certain respects they are the exact opposite of these fluid networks. I.e., a network is not community and a community is not a network. But a network can contain communities, and, a community can contain networks (clusters of people).
- Last but not least, Alexandra suggested some readings in the areas of "self organization theories" and "social movements theory". Here is a rough draft that I probably will extend and link-up at a later point (comments and additions are welcome):
- Elinor Ostrom has done the most and the best on this.
- Douglas Kellner (& Kahn?)
- John Arquilla & David Ronfeldt (2000). "Swarming and the future of conflict". RAND corporation. (about "swarms", two versions of paper/report that both might be of interest)
- John Arquilla & David Ronfeldt (2002). "Networks and netwars: The future of terror, crime and militancy". RAND corporation
Social movements theory (American perspective):
- Charles Tilly (2009). "Social movements, 1768-2004" (2nd edition), Boulder, CO: Paradigm
- Sidney Tarrow (2011). "Power in movement: Social movements and contentious politics" (3rd edition), New York: Cambridge University Press.
- Doug McAdam (1988). "Micromobilisation contexts and the recruitment to activism". pp. 125-154 in "International social movements: From structure to action: Comparing social movement research across cultures" (edited by B. Klandermans, H. Kriesi and S. Tarrow). Greenwich: JAI Press.
- Doug McAdam, Sidney Tarrow and Charles Tilly (2001). "Dynamics of contention", Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Robert Benford & David Snow (1998). "Framing process and social movements". Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 26: 611-639. (social movement framing theory)
- Francesca Polletta (2008?)
Social movements theory (European perspective):
- Donatella Della Porta (2009). "Searching the net". Information, Communication & Society Vol.12, No.6, pp.771-792. (Della Porta has the most, has resources and is very productive)
- Dontalla Della Porta & Mario Diani (2006). "Social movements: An introduction". Wiley & Blackwell.
- Mario Diani (1995). "Green networks: A structural analysis of the Italian environmental movement". Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
- Mario Diani (2001). "Social movement networks: Virtual and real". In "Culture and politics in the information age" (edited by F. Webster), pp.117-128. New York: Routledge.
- Mario Diani and Doug McAdam (editors) (2003). "Social movements and networks: Relational approaches to collective action". Oxford University Press.
- Melucci (identity)