Archive for the ‘social movements’ Category
Our good friend Brayden King has a column in Fortune discussing the Ivanka Trump boycott in light of research on boycotts. Key passages:
As research has shown, boycotts typically do little to hurt companies’ revenues, in part because the activists are not typical consumers of their target companies’ goods. For example, animal rights activists who belong to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals would not frequent the fast-food restaurants they often urge consumers to avoid. In addition, consumers tend to be fickle and unwilling to part from their favorite products and services to support a boycott, even when they are ideologically aligned with its goals.
Investors, too, tend to shrug off these actions, unless the boycott receives sustained media attention. New boycotts start every week, so media attention has become a limited resource. And, as a result, few boycotts manifest any long-lasting investor reaction. For example, last November, food manufacturer Kellogg (K, +0.07%) suffered only a three-day drop in its stock price after it faced a boycott from Trump supporters for pulling its advertising from the right-wing website Breitbart News; then the share price quickly recovered.
The biggest impact from boycotts is a company’s reputation. Companies want to avoid sustained negative attention that comes from a boycott. For that reason, when a boycott captures national media coverage, about 25% of the time this unwanted glare of attention results in some kind of concession from the company.
If there is any bright spot for boycotted companies, it’s the fact that media and consumer attention is diluted by the sheer number of boycotts and actions being taken by both sides. For example, #GrabYourWallet lists more than 80 companies that it recommends people boycott to avoid doing business with companies that have business ties to the Trump family. With so many companies on the pro- and anti-Trump watch lists, consumers may have difficulty paying attention to them all.
But given Trump’s lightning-rod-like ability to attract both supporters and repel critics and his notoriety for lashing out against his critics, more companies may end up on the politically neutral sidelines rather than create unwanted attention from activists and the consumers they target.
cfp: “Seeking a More Just and Egalitarian Economy: Realizing the Future via Co-operatives, Communes, and Other Collectives” at SASE in Lyon, France- cfp deadline extended to Feb. 17, 2017!
The Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE) has extended the abstract submission deadline for all the mini-conferences and networks to Feb. 17, 2017!*
Just as a reminder: Joyce Rothschild and I are co-organizing a mini-conference at the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE) in Lyon, France. Please consider submitting an abstract, due to the SASE submission site by Feb. 17, 2017 (updated deadline!). Accepted presenters will need to provide a full paper by June 1, 2017 for discussion. Please circulate to this cfp to interested persons!
Seeking a More Just and Egalitarian Economy: Realizing the Future via Co-operatives, Communes, and Other Collectives
Forty years ago, as the most recent wave of economic collectives and cooperatives emerged, they advocated a model of egalitarian organization so contrary to bureaucracy that they were widely called “alternative institutions” (Rothschild 1979). Today, the practices of cooperative organizations appear in many movement organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and even “sharing” firms. Cooperative practices are more relevant than ever, especially as recent political changes in the US and Europe threaten to crush rather than cultivate economic opportunities.
Cooperative groups engage in more “just” economic relations, defined as relations that are more equal, communalistic, or mutually supportive. The oldest collectives – utopian communes, worker co-operatives, free schools, and feminist groups – sought authentic relations otherwise suppressed in a hierarchical, capitalist system. Similar practices shape newer forms: co-housing, communities and companies promoting the “sharing economy,” giving circles, self-help groups, and artistic and social movement groups including Burning Man and OCCUPY. While some cooperatives enact transformative values such as ethically responsible consumerism and collective ownership, other groups’ practices reproduce an increasingly stratified society marked by precarity. Submitted papers might analyze the reasons for such differences, or they might examine conditions that encourage the development of more egalitarian forms of organization.
Submitted papers could also cover, but are not limited, to exploring:
- What is the nature of “relational work” (cf. Zelizer 2012) conducted in these groups, and how it differs – or is similar to – from relational work undertaken in conventional capitalist systems?
- How do collectivities that engage in alternative economic relations confront challenges that threaten – or buttress – their existence? These challenges include recruiting and retaining members, making decisions, and managing relations with the state and other organizations. Moreover, how do these groups construct distinct identities and practices, beyond defining what they are not?
- How are various firms attempting to incorporate alternative values without fully applying them? For instance, how are companies that claim to advance the sharing economy – Uber, airbnb, and the like – borrowing the ideology and practices of alternative economic relations for profit rather than authentic empowerment? What are the implications of this co-optation for people, organizations, and society at large?
- How do new organizations, especially high tech firms, address or elide inequality issues? How do organizing practices and values affect recognition and action on such issues?
- What can we learn from 19th century historical examples of communes and cooperatives that can shed insight on their keys to successful operation today? Similarly, how might new cooperatives emerge as egalitarian and collective responses to on-going immigration issues or economic crisis generated by policies favoring the already wealthy?
- Are collectives, cooperatives and/or firms that require creativity, such as artists’ cooperatives or high tech firms, most effective when they are organized along more egalitarian principles? How do aspects of these new modes of economic organization make them more supportive of individual and group creativity?
Graeber, David. 2009. Direct Action: An Ethnography. Oakland, CA: AK Press.
Rothschild, Joyce. 1979. “The Collectivist Organization: An Alternative to Rational-Bureaucratic Models.” American Sociological Review 44(4): 509-527.
Rothschild, Joyce and J. Allen Whitt. 1986. The Cooperative Workplace: Potentials and Dilemmas of Organizational Democracy and Participation. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Zelizer, Vivianna A. 2012. “How I Became a Relational Economic Sociologist and What Does That Mean?” Politics & Society 40(2): 145-174.
Here is info about the mini-conference format:
Each mini-conference will consist of 3 to 6 panels, which will be featured as a separate stream in the program. Each panel will have a discussant, meaning that selected participants must submit a completed paper in advance, by 1 June 2017. Submissions for panels will be open to all scholars on the basis of an extended abstract. If a paper proposal cannot be accommodated within a mini-conference, organizers will forward it to the most appropriate research network as a regular submission.
More info about mini-conferences here.
The 2017 SASE conference in Lyon, France, hosted by the University of Lyon I from 29 June to 1 July 2017, will welcome contributions that explore new forms of economy, their particularities, their impact, their potential development, and their regulation.
More info about the SASE conference theme, a critical perspective on the sharing economy, is available at “What’s Next? Disruptive/Collaborative Economy or Business as Usual?”
Joyce and I look forward to reading your submissions!
*Note: If you have problems with submitting your abstract for our mini-conference, please let us and the SASE/Confex staff know.
Bonus: Curious about how contemporary worker cooperatives operate? This website has video and other resources that profiles several cooperatives.
Yesterday, the Army Corps of Engineers announced a temporary halt to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) project. It stated that it would explore alternative routes for the pipeline that would, presumably, avoid the areas of deep concern to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
The DAPL story has been in the news on and off since September, when journalist Amy Goodman captured a clash in which guards used dogs and pepper spray to drive back protesters. I had only been paying superficial attention to it, but started thinking more yesterday with the Corps’ decision to hit pause on the project.
Specifically, I was thinking about the echoes between this battle and the one chronicled by Wendy Espeland in her classic book, Struggle for Water: Politics, Rationality, and Identity in the American Southwest.
At Science of Us, New York Magazine’s blog about behavioral science, Jesse Singal has a lengthy feature on the topic of how to be effective at protest, especially in the Trump era (I still cringe when writing that):
Which raises some obvious questions: What is the best, most efficient way to channel this energy? What makes protests work, and what makes them backfire and solidify opinion against the protesters? The answers to these questions, drawn from the research of scholars who have dedicated their careers to in-depth interviews with activists, protesters, and organizers, can both offer guidance to those spearheading the movement against Trump, and offer some interesting glimpses into the surprising political psychology of resistance.
The article interviews a lot of sociologists who study protest such as Dana Fisher, Ziad Munson, Michael T. Heaney and myself. From the conclusion:
Taken together, then, all this research points to three general rules for the organizers of the D.C. protests, as well as the other protests that are likely to crop up in the days ahead:
1. Trump can be useful as a galvanizing force, but keep things focused on whatever your particular issue is. That issue will be around long after Trump is gone, and will, in many cases, require forms of activism and advocacy that have little to do with the man himself. The goal should be to give people ways to make progress on the specific issue threatened by Trump, not to protest the man himself endlessly.
2. Make everyone who is interested in your cause, or who exhibits curiosity about it, feel welcome. Other than wanting to help, there should be almost zero prerequisites. If someone doesn’t speak the lingo, or doesn’t know what intersectionality is, or anything else — it doesn’t matter — they can still contribute. And the more you can make activism part of their social life, the more of a meaningful role you can give them, the more likely they will be to stick around and to spread the word. Education on specific ideological issues can always come later.
3. Stay nonviolent. At a time when passions are high there is a real potential for backlash. There are times when disruptive protests can be strategically deployed, but nonviolence is key.
For those who are unhappy that Trump was elected, the easy part — the donations, the Facebook and Twitter posts, the initial broadcasting of outrage and solidarity — is over. Actual resistance, actual organizing, is harder. “I think that the evidence across the political spectrum is that you need to get people involved beyond just their computers and beyond just sending in money to have any impact,” said Fisher. And that takes difficult, careful, on-the-ground-work. Luckily, activists aren’t starting from square one. Anyone who does their homework will know which tactics are likely to work, and which are more likely to flame out.
It’s a nice article. Read the whole thing.
Hot off the press, a study about how interactions with law enforcement and prison impact political participation in the US:
Rory, from the home office in South Bend, sends me links to new social movement research. A major question in social movement research is how you measure contentious politics. A lot of our sources are notoriously incomplete, such as media accounts. Kriage Bayerln, Peter Barwis, Bryant Crubaugh, and Cole Carnesecca use hypernetwork sampling (asking a random sample of people to list their social ties) to attack this issue. From Sociological Methods and Research:
The National Study of Protest Events (NSPE) employed hypernetwork sampling to generate the first-ever nationally representative sample of protest events. Nearly complete information about various event characteristics was collected from participants in 1,037 unique protests across the United States in 2010 to 2011. The first part of this article reviews extant methodologies in protest-event research and discusses how the NSPE overcomes their recognized limitations. Next, we detail how the NSPE was conducted and present descriptive statistics for a number of important event characteristics. The hypernetwork sample is then compared to newspaper reports of protests. As expected, we find many differences in the types of events these sources capture. At the same time, the overall number and magnitude of the differences are likely to be surprising. By contrast, little variation is observed in how protesters and journalists described features of the same events. NSPE data have many potential applications in the field of contentious politics and social movements, and several possibilities for future research are outlined.
Readers in social network analysis and organization studies will recognize the importance of this technique. As long as you can sample people, you can sample social ties and the adjust the sample for repetition. Peter Marsden used this technique to sample organizational networks. In movements research, my hybrids paper used the technique to sample orgs that were involved in movement mobilization. It’s great to see this technique expand to sample large samples of events.See Bayerlin’s research project website for more. Recommended.
Mobilizing Ideas has a new forum where a scholars are discussing movements and elections. I’ll start with a few snippets from “Bernie Sanders and the Occupy Wall Street Wing of the Democratic Library,” written by my dear friend Michael T. Heaney:
While it is impossible to definitively establish what fraction of Occupy supporters also supported Sanders, it is possible to look to social media for clues of this support. To this end, I gathered a list of 374 Twitter handles and hashtags associated with the Occupy movement that were in operation between 2011 and 2013. From this list, I randomly selected 150 pages for the purpose of content analysis and coded Twitter feeds for these pages from April 2012 and April 2016. The purpose of this exercise was to understand the extent and nature of movement involvement in Democratic Party politics during two identical periods in the presidential election cycle.
The results of the content analysis reveal significant differences in the activities of the Occupy movement between the April 2012 and April 2016 periods. First, the sites examined became significantly less active over time. In April 2012, 59 percent of sites were active, while this fraction fell to 18 percent by 2016. Second, the level of engagement in electoral politics significantly increased from 2012 to 2016 on the Occupy sites that remained active. Third, the tweets shifted significantly from a more negative perspective on politics in 2012 to a more positive perspective in 2016. In 2012, each site had an average of 0.14 positive tweets about candidates/parties, in comparison to an average of 1.16 negative tweets. In 2016, however, tweets had become more balanced, with an average of 8.70 exhibiting positive valance and an average of 6.62 indicating negative valence.
Read the whole thing.