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Jen Schradie and Brooke Foucault Welles
October 22, 2019 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Schradie will be discussing and signing her new book: The Revolution That Wasn’t: How Digital Activism Favors Conservatives. Foucault Welles will be discussing and signing bookplates for her forthcoming book, #HashtagActivism: Networks of Race and Gender Justice, co-authored with Moya Bailey and Sarah J. Jackson.
A light lunch will be provided.
Co-sponsored with the Department of Sociology.
Jen Schradie: is an Assistant Professor at the Observatoire sociologique du changement (OSC) at Sciences Po in Paris. Previously, she was a Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, based at the Toulouse School of Economics, as well as at the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme et de la Société, Université de Toulouse. Her broad research agenda is to interrogate digital democracy claims with empirical data.
Brooke Foucault Welles: is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies in the College of Arts, Media and Design, and a core faculty member of the Network Science Institute and the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks at Northeastern University. Combining the methods of computational social science and network science with the theories of communication studies, Foucault Welles studies how online communication networks enable and constrain behavior, with particular emphasis on how these networks enable the pursuit of individual, team, and collective goals.
The Revolution That Wasn’t: How Digital Activism Favors Conservatives
The internet has been hailed as a leveling force that is reshaping activism. From the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, digital activism seemed cheap, fast, and open to all. Now this celebratory narrative finds itself competing with an increasingly sinister story as platforms like Facebook and Twitter—once the darlings of digital democracy—are on the defensive for their role in promoting fake news. While hashtag activism captures headlines, conservative digital activism is proving more effective on the ground. Schradie’s talk, based on her book, The Revolution That Wasn’t, identifies the reasons behind this previously undiagnosed digital-activism gap. Large hierarchical political organizations with professional staff can amplify their digital impact, while horizontally organized volunteer groups tend to be less effective at translating online goodwill into meaningful action. Not only does technology fail to level the playing field, it tilts it further, so that only the most sophisticated and well-funded players can compete.
#HashtagActivism: Networks of Race and Gender Justice
The power of hashtag activism became clear in 2011, when #IranElection served as an organizing tool for Iranians protesting a disputed election and offered a global audience a front-row seat to a nascent revolution. Since then, activists have used a variety of hashtags, including #JusticeForTrayvon, #BlackLivesMatter, #YesAllWomen, and #MeToo to advocate, mobilize, and communicate. In this book, Sarah Jackson, Moya Bailey, and Brooke Foucault Welles explore how and why Twitter has become an important platform for historically disenfranchised populations, including African Americans, women, and transgender people. They show how marginalized groups, long excluded from elite media spaces, have used Twitter hashtags to advance counternarratives, preempt political spin, and build diverse networks of dissent.
This event is free and open to the public, but if you are not a member of the Northeastern community, please email Sarah Connell (sa.connell[at]northeastern[dot]edu) to RSVP.