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The false media focus on violence: If it bleeds it still leads

On Sunday, August 27, in downtown Berkeley, I witnessed thousands of protesters raising their voices against a planned white supremacist “Patriot Prayer” rally. In my decades as a documentary filmmaker of activism and now an academic studying movements and media, it was one of the most positive, diverse and unifying gatherings I ever observed. While [...]

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5 reasons why online Big Data is Bad Data for researching social movements

I know, I know, it’s digital blasphemy to say that using Internet data is a terrible way to study social movements. What about all of those Twitter and Facebook revolutions of the Arab Spring? And Occupy Wall Street? #Ferguson and #BlackLivesMatter spread like wildfire, for God’s sake. You may think that I’m a luddite who [...]

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From French Resistance to hashtag activism: How our obsession with the extraordinary masks the power of the ordinary

I’ve become obsessed with “Un village français.” No, it’s not an idyllic town in Provence. It’s a French television series set during World War II. The show follows the residents of one French town as they navigate the German occupation. I tell myself that I am already into the 6th season (thank you, Netflix) because [...]

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Bringing the Organization Back In: Social Media and Social Movements

In the digital era of so-called Facebook revolutions or hashtag activism, many claim that participation in social movements is individualized and personalized, but building and sustaining a political movement, even an online movement, still requires organization. I make this argument in my recent blog post at the Berkeley Journal of Sociology.

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