Tag Archives: activism

Analyze This 8

Can we equate the coffee shop discussions of 18th-century England that Habermas says was the ground for a public sphere to the virtual discussion platforms on the internet?

I definitely think so, as the principle is the same: to share ideas and trade them amongst those individuals involved. Habermas’ “public sphere” is the notion that a group of private people can band together to form a “public.” Politically, this sphere inspires critical debate to take place among the particular society it is present in.

Since dawn of the digital age and the advent of the internet, communications has been revolutionized, as people aren’t just limited to coffee shops, salons, the Tree of Cracow or town squares–debate and rational exchange can take place online. Discourse communities are formed online where people who have a certain interest, ideology, outlook, opinion, hobby, etc. can form sub-cultures and exchange ideas via the internet. Social media sites have been paramount in creating a place and a space for these conversations to take place online, in addition to accelerating this discourse. When discussing the power of social media for social activism, Malcolm Gladwell introduces Granovetter’s theory of weak and strong ties, which says that people can influence each other and both strong and weak ties hold society together. It’s these interpersonal ties that foster valuable discourse and exchange of ideas, especially online. According to Granovetter, there is strength in weak ties – they are our source of information and new ideas. Granovetter’s research has shown that a bunch of very strong ties isn’t always the best for inspiring new communication. According to him, “‘sociability is a routinized gathering of a relatively unchanging peer group of family members and friends that takes place several times a week.'”

“Granovetter then goes on to imagine how such a density of strong ties (but relative paucity of weak ones) might inhibit social activism” (Lehrer, 2010). On the internet, availability of both strong and weak ties is more pronounced. On social media sites, you have your close friends and your acquaintances. In the coffee shop, these weak ties may not be as available, because you might just be meeting with your “usual” group of friends or associates.

It’s important to note that in 18th century England, elite members of society went to coffee shops. Today, anyone who has an internet connection can have an online presence.

(great article on Wired talks more about this)


Analyze This 4

  1. What is the Gladwell dispute? Agree/disagree and why?

– The point that Malcolm Gladwell was trying to make with his article in the New Yorker about social media activism is that we give too much credit to SNS for promoting societal/cultural change. This is exemplified by the quote included in the article that said Twitter should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. I disagree with this sentiment, because people make revolutions happen, technology just serves as an impetus or promotional tool to aid their fight. He argues that social change can and WILL happen irrespective of these new technological advances. I agree with this point. I believe that in some ways he establishes himself as a technological purist in this article, but not to the extent he is made out to be by those who oppose him, especially Cheyfitz.

I can’t agree with the phrase “the revolution will not be tweeted.” Because it will be tweeted and Facebooked and Instagrammed and otherwise documented forever. SNS can be great tools for community organization and logistical setting up of protests, events, marches, etc. However, they do not replace real-life community involvement. Clicking “Like” on an anti-abortion Facebook page or retweeting something that supports the current Turkish protest movement, for example, is not the same as physically being there. It does bring awareness to this issue, though. Increased awareness is always a good thing, because it keeps people up to date on the latest global happenings

  1. What early media systems helped establish democracy/government system in the U.S.?

– Penny presses helped support governmental endeavors because they would promote the ideologies and views of a certain group in their newspaper. This gave a platform and a voice for certain factions and served as a literary “meeting place” for people who shared that view to gather and read some literature relating to their political stance. It showcased a cornerstone of our Constitution, the First Amendment. It gave a tangible voice (in the form of a physical newspaper) to various political groups.