Resources

Reading

  • Small change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted by Malcom Gladwell
  • Rebellion in the university: a history of student activism in America by Seymour Martin Lipset
  • Protest! Student activism in America by Julian Foster
  • Unpacking the use of social media for protest behavior: The roles of information, opinion expression, and activism
  • The dragonfly effect: Quick, effective, and powerful ways to use social media to drive social change by Andy Smith and Jennifer Aaker
  • Here comes everybody by Clay Shirky
  • The medium is the massage: An inventory of effects by Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore
  • The beloved community: How faith shapes social justice, from the civil rights movement to today
  • Community: The structure of belonging by Peter Block
  • Mapping the Moral Terrain of the Emerging Technoculture: Living Faithfully between Babylon and Jerusalem by Brent Waters
  • The civic web: Young people, the Internet and Civic Participation by Shakuntala Banaji
  • Digitally enabled social change: Activism in the Internet age by Jennifer Earl
  • Participatory Culture in a Networked Era: A Conversation on Youth, Learning, Commerce, and Politics by Henry Jenkins, Mizuko Ito and danah boyd

Discussion Questions from Small Change

Here is a quote from the Small Change article. In it, Black student demonstrators sat down at a segregated lunch counter.

Another employee, a black woman who worked at the steam table (lunch counter), approached the students and tried to warn them away. “You’re acting stupid, ignorant!” she said. They didn’t move.

Why would the black employee call the student protesters “stupid” and “ignorant”? How do people in authority, peers, and others respond to student movements? How can you tell what opposition is legitimate?

Gladwell argues that social media activism is not risky because it “doesn’t require that you confront socially entrenched norms and practices.” He states, “in fact, it’s the kind of commitment that will bring only social acknowledgement and praise”. Do you think this is true? Are there risks associated with online activism? Is activism in the US today less dangerous than in the past?

The church was the site of organizing meetings during the Civil Rights Movement. How is the church today involved in organizing for social justice?

Gladwell argues that hierarchy is necessary to achieve large-scale, systemic change. Do you agree or disagree? Why? Can networked, decentralized activism on social media lead to systemic change?

Gladwell and others seem to present the Civil Rights Movement as one unified, conflict free movement, but this is untrue. What is the advantage of presenting such a clean narrative about the Civil Right’s Movement?

A story from the Shirky book demonstrates “the ease and speed with which a group can be mobilized for the right kind of cause.” Can you give examples of people mobilizing around the wrong kind of cause?