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Almost by definition, social justice movements are organized. They have distinct goals, identifiable and charismatic leadership, and clear claims to authority – just as traditional mass media rely on authoritative voices, strong gatekeeping, and a clear view of the source of that media. But Shaw (2013) argues that mass media is less important to people under thirty years of age than social media, and that a new set of media tools are now available.
Watch the video of a 2015 interaction between then-Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Black Lives Matter activists. (The interaction is in two parts; there’s a transcript posted, but I suggest you watch the video, so you can observe the tone and pacing.) Look for a conflict in the strategies each seems to think will result in social change. Using quotes from the video and the Resources to support your argument, answer the following questions.
• Is Black Lives Matter less centralized than the 20th century social justice movements that we have discussed previously (and that Hillary Clinton may have been a part of)? Why do you think so?
• Does Black Lives Matter use different tactics for direct action than earlier social justice movements? How do their tactics relate to the use of social media?
• Which approach, Clinton’s or BLM’s (as represented here), do you think will be more effective in the next decades? Why?
Shaw, R. (2013). The internet and social media: Maximizing the power of online activism.
(538) How online social movements translate to offline results – YouTube
(538) Hillary Clinton Talks With BlackLivesMatter | EXCLUSIVE | Part 1 | GOOD – YouTube
(538) Hillary Clinton Talks With BlackLivesMatter | EXCLUSIVE | Part 2 | GOOD – YouTube
Full Transcript: Hillary Clinton Convo with #BlackLivesMatter – P365 (politic365.com)
(538) Social Media: Crash Course Navigating Digital Information #10 – YouTube
Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi: An interview with the founders of Black Lives Matter | TED Talk
In the readings, Connor (2020) makes the point that there are a variety of ways that social justice movements may define for themselves whether they are having a positive impact, while Almeida (2019) provides a look at how social scientists determine whether a movement is successful.
Choose one of the social justice movement organizations from this list: Social Movement Organizations for Week 7 Discussion. Then, answer the following questions:
• If you were a member of this organization, how would you define success for this social movement? Why?
• As a social scientist, how would you determine whether this social justice movement has had a positive societal impact? Be sure to describe what measures you would use to make this determination.
• How are your answers to parts 1 and 2 similar? How are they different? Why?
Almeida, P. (2019). Ch.7: Movement Outcomes.
Connor, J.O. (2020). Ch. 5: The behavioral dimension of activism: Strategies and successes.
How Mass Protests End – The Atlantic
The following are suggestions for Social Justice Movement Organizations
March for Our Lives (Gun violence): https://marchforourlives.com/ (main page); https://marchforourlives.com/mission-story/ https://marchforourlives.com/policy/
Black Lives Matter (systemic racism): https://blacklivesmatter.com/ (main page); https://blacklivesmatter.com/about/
Poor People’s Campaign (poverty; systemic racism): https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/ (main page); https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/about/our-demands/
MeToo Movement (survivors of sexual violence): https://metoomvmt.org/ (main page); https://metoomvmt.org/get-to-know-us/vision-theory-of-change/
Women’s March (women’s rights): https://www.womensmarch.com/ (main page); https://www.womensmarch.com/about-us
Climate Justice Alliance (climate change; climate justice): https://climatejusticealliance.org/ (main page); https://climatejusticealliance.org/about/ (click on “Goals”)
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals): https://www.peta.org/ (main page); https://www.peta.org/about-peta/why-peta/
Greenpeace (environmental justice): https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/ (main page); https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/issues/
Human Rights Campaign (LGBTQ rights): https://www.hrc.org/ (main page); https://www.hrc.org/about
Human Rights Watch (International human rights): https://www.hrw.org/ (main page); https://www.hrw.org/about/about-us
The Audre Lorde Project (LGBTQ people of color rights): https://alp.org/ (main page); https://alp.org/about
Campaign for Southern Equality (LGBTQ rights): https://southernequality.org/ (main page); https://southernequality.org/about/
National Immigrant Justice Center (immigration justice and reform): https://immigrantjustice.org/ (main page); https://immigrantjustice.org/about-nijc
Sierra Club (environmental protection): https://www.sierraclub.org/ (main page); https://www.sierraclub.org/about-sierra-club
Amnesty International (International human rights): https://www.amnestyusa.org/ (main page); https://www.amnestyusa.org/about-us/
Immigrant Justice Network (immigration justice and reform): https://www.immigrantdefenseproject.org/immigrant-justice-network/
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused wide-scale disruptions in societies around the world, and social justice movements have not been immune. As you read this week, social justice movements have had to adjust their tactics and goals in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. At the same time, the pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities, providing more space for social justice movements to act. And vaccine and masking mandates have spawned their own sets of protest movements.
Given what you read for this week and what you have experienced living through the Covid-19 pandemic, answer the following questions:
• In your opinion, what are the two most important ways that social movements have had to adjust their tactics in response to the Covid-19 pandemic? Why are these the most important? Be sure to cite the resources to back up your choices.
• What effects has the Covid-19 pandemic had on the effectiveness of social movements? Do you think these are long-term effects? Why or why not?
From Civil Rights to Black Lives Matter – Scientific American
Full article: Street protests in times of COVID-19: adjusting tactics and marching ‘as usual’ (umgc.edu)
Pinkney, J. & Rivers, M. (2020). Sickness or silence: Social movement adaptation to COVID-19.
Full article: The Pandemic is a battlefield. Social movements in the COVID-19 lockdown (umgc.edu)
Each part requires it’s own page.