Does Social Media Influence Activism and Revolution on the World Stage? Essay
The past few months have seen such major political upheavals in the Middle East on a scale that the world has never seen before. While the events in Egypt and Iran have brought sociopolitical changes in the region, most of the success has been attributed to social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
While former National Security Adviser Mark Pfeifle once broached the idea of having Twitter nominated for a “Noble Peace Prize” (Gladwell) for its role in actively empowering people to stand up for freedom and democracy, there are others such as Malcolm Gladwell and Evgeny Morozov who question such superlative claims.
A careful investigation of the role that Twitter and Facebook played in past revolutions leaves its actual contribution to the cause in question. These revolutions did not happen overnight. On the contrary, these causes took years of planning and a political think tank of strategists to draw up battle plans and make the planned revolution a reality.
Those who bother to actually study the history of revolution in modern times know that although social media allows people to vent and openly discuss their political opinions, actual “revolutions will never be tweeted” (Gladwell). Well, perhaps it will never be tweeted or written on Facebook walls in English (Gladwell). This is explained by Golnaz Esfandiari to author Malcolm Gladwell in the following manner:
The cadre of prominent bloggers, like Andrew Sullivan, who championed the role of social media in Iran, misunderstood the situation… “Western journalists who couldn’t reach—or didn’t bother reaching?—people on the ground in Iran simply scrolled through the English-language tweets post with tag #iranelection… Through it all, no one seemed to wonder why people trying to coordinate protests in Iran would be writing in any language other than Farsi.” (Gladwell)
This particular sentiment made me think about the validity of the tweets being read to the English speaking world via CNN and BBC. We know that Egypt, Moldovia, and Iran are countries that have heavily guarded internet systems. Internet use in those countries does not include freedom of speech so their public access to social networking sites is almost non-existent.
How exactly did these people, who are not native English speakers or writers either, manage to tweet their internal revolutions to the world with social media blocks in place? It then becomes logical to think that the role of social media tends to be hyped up because of the cost benefit to the company owners in terms of publicity and traffic growth.
The reality of the situation is that real world activism is the basis for all successful or failed revolutions. Worldwide society as a whole must come to the realization that the so-called Arab Spring is not driven solely by social media networks as some cyber-utopians believe (Morozov). Instead, this revolution is based on the clamor of one society for a need for change in the way their government is being run.
Such revolutions have been going on for centuries the world over and each of those revolutions (such as the fall of the Marcos Dictatorship in the Philippines and the dissolving of the Soviet Union) all happened without the use of any sort of social media network. The collective voice of the people was heard across the world because real time social changes were occurring and everyone who wanted to be involved participated in the exercise.
I am not going to fully discount the benefit of the participation of Twitter and Facebook in the changing landscape of the Middles East. But, I am not willing to promote it as an effective tool for social change either. One may advocate change via social media while hidden behind aliases, but standing for your views in the real world is more dangerous and much trickier. Social media still has a lot to prove in terms of its effect on activism and revolution on the world stage at this point in time.
Gladwell, Malcolm. “Annals of Innovation: Small Change”. The New Yorker. The New Yorker Magazine. 4 Oct. 2011. Web.
Morozov, Evgegny. “ Facebook and Twitter are Just Places Revolutionaries Go”. The Guardian. The Guardian Newspaper. 7 March 2011. Web.
The History of Women Activism in America Research Paper
The history of women activism in America was at its peak in the 1950s. This period was considered as the response to lowest point of the modern American feminism. At this period, the women came out strongly to express their concerns regarding the sexuality inequality at workplaces and in workers unions.
The proof of these activisms is still evident in the current persistent voice and influence of women at workplaces. The main fights of the female activism at the workplace was to remove unequal salary rates, discrimination of the seniority based on gender, classifying occupation based on sexual orientation.
During the period between 1950 and 1960, American female activism changed the American society. The American feminist movement was able to raise public awareness concerning the problem of women discrimination and consequently improve the position of women in terms of career opportunities and employment terms.
Changing the Reality: Education and Work
In the 1950s, the US experienced a great change in the role of women from the traditional notion that women were not as predictable and reliable as men (Kessler-Harris, 2003, p. 76). This caused a social tension with domestic ideals for the women were conflicting with the inalienable rights principle.
The changing trend of the working women after the Second World War and naïve notion that women would go back to the traditional role of taking care of the home while men go to work evoked an atmosphere of unsettled and repeatedly unnamed discord. This social tension concerning the place of the female gender became a very crucial phenomenon in the US history as it resulted in greater social reform of the 1960s and 1970s.
The most crucial argument concerns education and work experience for women and men. In the Modern Woman: The Lost Sex article written by Farnham and Lundburg, a number of factors are identified which lead to the rise of masculine dominance in the society.
In the same line, Marynia Farnham and Ferdinand Lundburg noted that the level of a woman’s education and her work experience resulted in conflict of the mutually exclusive spheres and this interaction of the gender roles undermines the women’s commitment to the home as they struggle unsuccessful to pursue roles dominated by men (Kessler-Harris, 2003, p. 76).
Farnham and Lundburg purport that the women’s inability to belong to either of the spheres of work and homemaker resulted in dissatisfaction for themselves as well as their husbands (Friedan, 2001, p. 63). This means that women have to slice the glorious roles home making and children caring and then suppress their aspiration and endeavor of becoming a wage earner or professionals (Kessler-Harris, 2003, p. 79).
This argument put blameworthiness on the women’s’ dissatisfaction and their defiance of the traditionally prescribed feminine role. This is however incongruous with the modern world. Notion of happiness though it was dominant in the 1940s.
The women’s liberation movement emerged as a reaction to these prevailing conditions in 1950 and 1960 that pushed women to the limits of having to aggressively struggle for a position in the society. Women did not want to be looked at as just belonging in the home to function as fulltime housewives, to rear children and maintain the house for their husbands and children (Jacquelyn, 2005, p. 1235).
However, the society looked at a working and married woman as having put her personal selfish interest ahead of those of the family. Women were supposed to be subordinate to the men and constantly being reminded that their role was to obey (Akkerman & Stuurman, 2008, p. 101). Besides, divorce was a social misdeed and many were ashamed of getting a divorce and struggled to avoid it as much as possible. Moreover, these ideas were taught all over, ranging from media to churches and schools.
The word war II took a lot of men away to fight and the industry at home required workers and more women begun to get jobs to fill these gaps. The greatest challenge was to get women out of these workplaces as the number of men increased after the World War II. Having to work for pay in the growing industries created new problems for the women and they had to deal with them fast.
There was some kind of discrimination at work that was not initially found at home. Women endured domination by husband and children looking up to them but at work, they were supposed to deal with a boss who was not a relative and a bunch of male colleges who could have looked at women mainly as sex objects (Akkerman & Stuurman, 2008, p. 101).
Getting an education and work experience became a problem and a growing concern emerged of separating womanhood and work role. The lifestyle of the US had however grown to a point that it needed two sources of income to sustain a family. The concept of women having an income became crucial in sustain a family and also a driving force in the attainment of the female autonomy and definitely became a factor of cognitive dissonance concerning the position of a woman.
Issues that emerged include the question that if a woman’s income helped sustain the family was she to remain a homemaker? Or if she has a college education why should she be a stay home mum? If she can do a professional job why should she fail to be promoted like her male counterparts?
The women liberation was a very important factor at this moment in time growing from these questions. This increased the women’s experiences with sexual stereotyping at work, low salaries and unequal nature of work. This increased awareness was morally and biologically relevant and the women were inspired to seek equality at work (Friedan, 2001, p. 68).
This saw the Equal Right Amendments to emphasize the equal roles and right of the male and female sexes. The women liberation provided inherent zeal to all social classes, as the society shifted towards the paid work transformed the social position of American women in different circumstances. This trend opened up new opportunities and possibilities. Traditionally, women of bourgeois and pretty bourgeoisie would assist their husbands on the farm or in small businesses (Friedan, 2001, p. 68).
Currently, many women have attained a college education because the movement helped to empower them (Jacquelyn, 2005, p. 1235). With college education, women are currently striving to pursue independent careers as professionals. Many women are now in working class as part time employees or full time employee therefore earning additional income to complement that earned by their husbands (Friedan, 2001, p. 69).
The traces of civil right movement could have even evident in the changes of the laws around working issues Norton & Ruth, 2007, p. 67). The connection between discrimination with sexual orientation and social class is all-encompassing in the modern world as it addresses a wider range of issues highlighted in the social reform insured by the activism in the 1950s (Akkerman & Stuurman, 2008, p. 101).
Women are now being included in the work system as professional to managers, leaders and professionals together with the male workers and then be paid equal salaries as the male workers (Norton & Ruth, 2007, p. 67).
The women liberation movement bore this equality concept and a type of incremental change engraved in legislation. The equal rights act has helped to make discrimination based on sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, and race illegal and intolerable in the US (The United States Congress, 1963, para. 3). The movement was considered a form of liberal feminism and therefore less radical form of female activism (Norton & Ruth, 2007, p. 67).
Following the period after 1950s brought great change in women in the American workforce. More women have gotten into the workforce. In the past, it was not very easy to convince women to pursue professional jobs, but the media slathered the idea of women working temporary anywhere Norton & Ruth, 2007, p. 67). The women’s guilt to go to work and be seen and overlooking the role of taking care of the family is now a thing of the past.
During the years the Second World War was taking place, many women took jobs even in the federal bureaucracy. The government has supported the idea that women doing the same job as men should get the same or equal payment (Norton & Ruth, 2007, p. 67). The government has also supported the creation of a number of childcare centers to help take care of the idea that women should assume the role of child rearing.
In the past, women were discriminated and segregated to certain jobs so that they could be given lesser pay and were barred from taking certain jobs as they were considered to be men types of jobs (Norton & Ruth, 2007, p. 67). The women were considered not fit to take on such roles because they were too demanding, used a lot of energy or for the fact that women lacked the temperament for to handle stressful jobs (Akkerman & Stuurman, 2008, p. 106).
Generally, since the 1950s women liberation campaign to create awareness for equality of men and women, the role of both sexes in the 21st century has changed and the government has also been pushed to help to attain these goals (Norton & Ruth, 2007, p. 71).
There are a number of anti-discrimination law provisions put in place for these reasons. The employment sector is govern by equal pay provision provided in the industrial law and right to equal chance of employment and participation in any form of employment (The United States Congress, 1963, para. 3).
The law states that both men and women are legitimate worker and as such they should not be treated to any form of discrimination when accessing opportunities to work, the alternative they need to use, the remuneration and the work benefits provided by the government and employers (De Beauvoir, et al, 2010, p. 44).
Women have more employment option than the time before 1950s when they were restricted to certain kinds of work and blocked form venturing into others. Legislation provides that they be exposed to equal chance of employment even though this took a lot of years to achieve (Norton & Ruth, 2007, p. 73).
Even thought women became embraced as equal workmates to men at the workplace, their position as home makers was less affected. They still handled it as their second shift after work (Norton & Ruth, 2007, p. 67). As a result, the women’s movement continued to struggle for more convenient laws against discrimination at the larger society level. The period around 1950s saw the congress pass a number of bills that had been introduced previously but no action had been taken on them (De Beauvoir, et al, 2010, p. 46).
The civil right act of 1964 had a clause protecting women but this was being used by conservatives to stop the bill from passing but women used Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to fight discrimination (The United States Congress, 1963, para. 5). Many companies could not just handle their businesses in the same old manner as the pressure from women demonstrations and campaigns pushed the government to intervene (De Beauvoir, et al, 2010, p. 46).
Employers now provide work rights to their workers like maternity leaves, childcare and sick days to allow women to attend their private lives and the role of child bearing.
Considering the role of women as child bearers to continue human posterity their increased shift into paid work seemed to have greatly affected fertility rates. However, there are new organization policies that emerged to provide a conducive working atmosphere for women. This allows them to take care of their work and family responsibilities (De Beauvoir, et al, 2010, p. 48).
These provisions are addressed by the government, trade unions and other humanitarian organization. They all assert that better employers are those who recognize that employees have families and they need also to take care of their family responsibilities. These provisions enable women to benefit from paternal leaves, personal, and carer’s leave.
Other important provision that have been achieve include job sharing and assistance together with childcare services at work but this is scare and only found in few organization (The United States Congress, 1963, para. 3). But with the trend set to continue increasing, many organizations will soon offer this. There is also the home based employment and part-time option.
Women into Leadership Positions
Member of women in trade unions increased during this period of liberation to levels of up 45% in some organization. These women were hopeful that the union would address their plight and provide equal not comparable opportunities for men and women (The United States Senate, 1964, p. 4).
Just the women tight movement inspired college women to be aggressive in fighting for their position in the society; the unions here provided the means, the experience, the training and the discourse to attain their goals. Women had very few top union positions but they still owned power and gained experience from the secondary positions of leadership.
From such actions, there came very protective legislation that blocked women form progressing into the corporate leadership. The men at the top if the corporations demanded that managers and employees doing professional works should do so without overtime compensation but just the normal salary The United States Senate, 1964, p. 4).
This work condition for women violated the protective laws and women were effectively blocked from pursuing top management positions. In a number of organizations, this cause more aggressive campaigns to repeal the laws. The protective laws had kept female works away from heavy work.
They did not understand why proletarian women would be required to lift heavy weights instead of offering mechanical assistance to the persons required to do that particular job. Definitely, these laws were providing inequality The United States Senate, 1964, p. 4). Complete equality for both men and women are simple consistent with realization of the pledge for bourgeois democratic rights but left inequality in the society (Moss, 2010, p. 45).
However since the struggle for equal opportunities, women are now being included as managers, leaders and professions at top managerial positions (The United States Senate, 1964, p. 4). Even though the percentages are still smaller in many organizations, the rate of improvement in the modern world is promising.
Full equality is set to come from increased change of legislation like the Equal Pay Act Of 1963 and The Equal Rights Act Of 1964; the word sex is included alongside ethnicity, religion and race as the grounds or cause for which discrimination is made illegal (The United States Congress, 1963, para. 3).
The recent activities of the women liberation greatly changed the woman’s position in the society and this opened up the society leading to questioning of the subordination of women. The idea of women liberation has been evidence in working environment which still insist that there has to be complete societal change to attain full emancipation of women.
This movement since of about 60 years has changed what it means to be a woman. Some people claim the paradox of economic relevant to socially subverted notion that women have surpassed men in the professional field. Second wave of feminism and the opposing anti-feminism are shaping the way a modern woman would behave in a unique manner.
Akkerman, T., & Stuurman, S. (2008) Perspectives on Feminist Political Thought In European History: From The Middle Ages To The Present. London/New York: Routledge.
De Beauvoir, S., Borde C. & Chevailler S. (2010). The Second Sex, New York: Alfred A. Knopf
Friedan B. (2001). The Feminine Mystique. New York: Norton.
Jacquelyn, H. (2005), ‘The Long Civil Rights Movement and the Political Uses of the Past,’ Journal of American History 91, pp. 1233-1263
Kessler-Harris, A., (2003). Out to Work: A History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.
Moss, G. (2010), Moving On: The American People since 1945 (4th Ed.). Englewood Cliff: Prentice Hall
Norton, M.B., & Ruth, M.A., (2007). Major Problems in American Women’s History, 4th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company
The United States Congress. (1963) Equal Pay Act of 1963. Retrieved from https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/epa.cfm
The United States Senate. (1964) “Civil Rights Act of 1964”. Retrieved from https://finduslaw.com/civil-rights-act-1964-cra-title-vii-equal-employment-opportunities-42-us-code-chapter-21
Design Activism to Contemporary Designers Essay
Designing have attracted a quite large number of people, which offer beneficial professional for many people. Sometimes designers undertook some projects without considering the consequences to the people affected by such projects.
Therefore, there were endless tussled between the projects developers and the directly affected communities where the projects took place.
Fortunately, this profession have embarked on perfection of their works in contemporary designing through initiating projects based on mutual benefits.
Contemporary designers have come up with projects based on ethical considerations, and caring society through social responsibility.
As a result, scholars have coined the term “design activism” to enhance the role of designers to the society (Bell & Wakeford, 2008).
A proper implementation of contemporary projects successively has delivered many benefits to a society, such as environmental conservation, resettling of homeless people, and improvement of communication. The living standards of the affected people have gradually elevated than before the projects initiation (Roberts, 2006).
This paper covered three projects recently initiated and how they utilised design activism. In addition, an augmentative discussion will monitor how well the projects have or can alleviate contemporary social problems, such as unemployment, drug abuse, homelessness, and crime.
Designing the Hurricane-Resistant Salvador Dalí Museum
Situated in an area occasionally hit by hurricanes, St. Petersburg, Florida, the Salvador Dalí Museum have been built to avert effects of such catastrophe won’t have impact.
Opening Salvador Dali Museum in early this year marked a possibility to overcome some deadly disaster in manner that could attract related interests beneficial to the country. This is evident with the increasing number of visitors touring the venue.
Since the building, the venue has received more than 300,000 visitors. The attraction has been associated with “clean minimalist lines juxtaposed against a sparkling geodesic glass atrium, the spectacular structure designed by HOK” (Pham, 2012, p. 1).
The benefits so far reaped from the building have been on increase as other places in the country still suffering from severe storms with deadly results. The shell supporting the building as designed by HOK is capable of withstanding Category Five Hurricane.
Therefore, there was termination of threats to the occupants and visitors from catastrophes. In addition, the designed building has various green systems, such as “solar hot water powered dehumidification system” (Pham, 2012, p.1).
Other features include high efficient ventilations and designed day lighting system to illuminate the inside of the buildings. As senior vice president of HOK, Yann Weymouth explained, this building has been a beauty, sustainable, and disaster free structure.
UNCHR resettlement and sheltering project
In many countries, cases of homelessness and incidents of refugees fleeing to other countries have been evident time after time. Political instability has been a major factor contributing to rise of number of refugees seeking refuge in a different country.
Unfortunately, some of the affected people have not been able to flee to other countries hence, the just relocated to other parts of countries where peace prevail. As result, there are cases of internally displaced people (IDPs).
On the other hand, natural disasters have claimed many lives and worthy properties. The magnitude of destruction led by these catastrophes, such as earthquake and floods has led many people homeless.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR), also known as the UN refugee agency has been in the frontline to offer humanitarian assistance to such affected people.
At least, the agency has come up with means to create a roof over the heads of these homeless people by providing tents (UNHCR, 2012).
The supply management service, an umbrella under this agency operates from Budapest have made it available for tents whenever an emergency arise.
The commission have been targeting a population of 250, 000 people with 50,000 tents. UNCHR have three centres in Dubai, Copenhagen, and Durban.
This project has enabled UNCHR keep two kinds of tent, that is, lightweight emergency tents and canvas tents manufactured in India and Pakistan. The logic behind the lightweight tents have been the quick response in time of emergency although the shelf life is shorter compared with Canvas tents.
UNCHR have been providing shelter and other nonfood items to the affected people, especially with the skyrocketing conflict-generated displacement in several countries.
This project has saved a significant number of homeless people from hostile environmental conditions, such as coldness at night and scorching sun during the day.
This has enabled the homeless people to solicit an alternative assistance to build their house where possible. In other cases, the same agency can provide assistance in building houses through self-help schemes.
Recently, the agency could handle the increasing number of Pakistan citizens fleeing the fighting Army and Taliban around the Swat Valley. Although some people have secured refuge in schools, public buildings, or to other friends, UNCHR have helped in sheltering people in camps.
The number of the refugee has been overwhelming with more than 1.5 million people displaced by May 2008. Chinese affected by earthquake approximately five million were homeless in Sichuan province in 2008 got same.
UNHCR had to intervene by taking initial 2,000 tents to Chengdu and later an additional 9,000 tents airlifted later to shelter about 55,000 people.
Volkswagen’s sustainable plants and think blue beetle projects
In automobile industry, Volkswagen manufacturers have been one of the oldest industries and still the company have even come up with recent projects to steer ahead global efforts in environmental conservation and sustainable development.
Evolution of new and improved designs have seen the company come up with vehicles models that have competed very well with other models worldwide.
In the efforts to conserve environments, plans are underway to design vehicles that are more efficient. In addition, there will be a facilitated sustainable production in countries of operation in the world.
This would culminate its initiative on “think blue factory”. The completion of this project will yield a Volkswagen plants with a reduced environmental impact by 25% come 2018.
Expected models will be consuming a reduced energy and water by 25 per cent as well as reducing the waste and emissions by similar magnitude (Carter, 2012).
Manufacturing of a luminous Volkswagen Beetle from pieces of scrap boosted this project. Some scraps have been just waste for most people but for Haribaabu Naatesan, a sculptor, these scrap are useful if planned well through designs.
As a result, he took more than 2,805 pieces of scrap to design this luminous Volkswagen beetle, which is a replica of a classic car with 800 spark plugs, 60 motherboards, bottle caps totaling 200, among other commonly discarded items.
Some of the other discarded products used in constructing this vehicle were pens, barbeque sticks, and audio cassettes among others. This is truly a creative way of utilizing the waste to more productive products (Cameron, 2012).
Application of design activism on the above project
The rise of many designers as a profession has been in a crossroads to decide on if these projects are globally accepted and consumable. The current world have become a corporate world but the political and social aspects have been the central concern of projects initiated (Heller & Vienne, 2003).
From the above projects, these projects have concentrated on global perspective to alleviate the social problems surrounding the inhabitants.
For instance, UNCHR initiative has been in all the countries. As a mandate, UNCHR have influenced both political and social changes as they offer humanitarian assistance to homeless and advocating for calmness and political stability in the affected countries.
Designing and research have a very close linkage given the artisanship required in both. Therefore, cases of risks are very evident in developing a project geared toward a community or certain clients.
Building of the Salvador Dali Museum could be a risky initiative because backfiring of such project could have led to amplified danger given the number of people likely to use the building at any time.
Designers should therefore not initiate such project without a second thought on people security (Antonelli, 2005). Moreover, the purpose of the project should not at anytime deviate from disaster management and alleviation. People’s life should not serve as apparatus to experiment viability of any project.
So far, everyone hope that the building will withstand any kind of Hurricane to avoid destruction of national heritage and other properties in the building.
Design activism has a huge backing from many scholars and professional with better motive to sustainable designing. This has consistently yield better results for current designers and upcoming designers.
This was evident in the comment by University of London’s professor John Wood that “Having once predicted that design will be the new paradigm for saving the planet in the 21st Century; I am immensely pleased to recommend Design Activism”(Fuad-Luke, 2009, p. 54).
This will help designers to overcome long-term negative effects that may emanate from such projects.
Designers have a crucial role in influencing the political and social components to lifestyles that cares for environments and sustainability. Each project should focus on alleviating negative impacts to be beneficial (Thorpe, 2011).
Antonelli, P. (2005). Safe: Design Takes on Risk. New York, US: MOMA New York.
Bell, B., & Wakeford, K. (Eds.). (2008). Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism. New York, USA: Metropolis.
Cameron, C. (2012). Volkswagen’s Think Blue Beetle is made from 2,805 Pieces of Recycled Trash! Web.
Carter, M. (2012). Volkswagen Announces Plan for More Sustainable Manufacturing Plants by 2018. Web.
Fuad-Luke, A. (2009). Design Activism: Beautiful Strangeness for a Sustainable World. London & Sterling Virginia: Earthscan.
Heller, S., & Vienne, V. (2003). Citizen Designer: Perspectives on Design Responsibility. New York: Alworth Press.
Pham, D. (2012). INTERVIEW: HOK’s Yann Weymouth Discusses Designing the Hurricane- Resistant Salvador Dalí Museum. Web.
Roberts, L. (2006). Good: Ethics of Graphic Design. Lausanne Switzerland: AVA Publishing.
Thorpe, A. (2011). Defining Design as Activism. Web.
UNHCR. (2012). Shelter. Web.
Activism and Technology Research Paper
Activism has become a generational motif within the current society and throughout the human history. Many artisans, writers, and poets have captured the concept of activism and its changes throughout the course of humanity. Rudyard Kipling’s “A Pict Song” offers a first person sociological view into the emotions felt by the oppressed people of the Roman Imperial era. The imagery radiates a grim yet empowering message of defiance that has helped sculpt society’s modern concept of activism.
A Pict Song was written about the turbulent period when the Roman Empire was beginning to impose its rule upon the Pict people. The Picts were a clan of semi-barbaric people existing until the tenth century. Located in what is now modern day Scotland, they were very much associated with Great Brittan through trade. When Rome expanded its empire to great Brittan, the Picts began to experience campaigns of violence and control from the Roman Empire.
The speaker in the poem speaks in a confident, yet a hopeless tone. His efforts seem to reflect more of a temper tantrum than an attempt to fight the oppressive forces. During this period, attempts to protest big government certainly ended with death. This rebellious attitude and willingness to settle as just a mere thorn in the foot of Rome, was an empowering idea to the individual living in a lower class society.
This poem lends a voice to a class of people that previously had never been able to express their point of view. Lack of education and a society that did not embrace the fine arts left them far behind the growing and evolving world powers. Most of the scholarly works done during the Picts’ era were from the Roman point of view. These books poems and plays would depict the Picts in a barbaric, savage manner.
Several centuries ago, the world has given birth to the advancement in technology and a greater appreciation for life, happiness and fulfillment. This mindset created a feeling of empowerment within the individual and a sense of equality throughout the human race. Taking the Pict song as the media to pour the community outcry, we can compare and contrast it with the created technologies in the modern age.
The word space has acquired a new meaning in relationship to modern day living. In an ordinary context, the word will mean a static location, but the new accorded meaning will describe space as sub-sequential event that comes about from interaction of physically existing factors such as a geographical region and virtual aspects that entail ideas and values. The desire to create ample space has been as a result of various causes such as the need to end oppression that exist in the society.
In the modern living, technology has offered a good platform in which the revolution agenda has been conceived, born and raised to a point its real actualizes. Whereas there are great differences between the ancient oppression and the modern one, it is academically factual to argue that the oppression does matter. Instead, what matters is the affected subject and how they seek to end the oppression.
The world has experienced a reduction in the organization that has been utilized as political oppression machinery. This has been facilitated by the development of social capital. This ideology was developed by Pierre Bourdieu and his colleague James Coleman. However, their idea was used by Robert Pitman in his article with a title of making democracies work. He effectively derived the relationship between social capital and the purpose of having civic associations.
Pitman defines social capital as the aspect of utilizing the social nature of human being to connect them together, but for connection to work, trust and reciprocity of the involved people has to be unquestionable. His concept depicts social capital as both structurally and socially oriented.
His argument further suggests that the horizontal network that is established in the structure of the civic associated are beefed up. They are beefed up by embodying values and norm with the view of creating both social and private goods. This means that both the individual and the society benefit. In addition, he argues that civil society plays a critical role in nurturing social capital that is responsible for facilitating political participation by the citizens which in turn result in a good governance.
Recently, the social media has become the most effective tool that has been applied to develop civil society, consolidate the civilian demand force which has facilitated participation in good governance and political responsibility of those in power. It has also helped archive the argued ideologies of Putman.
The social media remains as just one of the media that has been applied in addressing social injustices. In this regard, it means that it operates within a given framework.
This framework is further subdivided into several frames as discussed. Free press frame stipulates that the media has the right to operate without influence from any third party including the government. Media democracy provides for the development of informed public which is capable of self-governance whereas recognizing the role of the media in developing such a society (Livermore, 2012).
The right to communicate is another frame that serves to explain that there is a connection between communication and other established human rights.
Cultural environmental frame seeks to differentiate the media activism from environmental activism through the use of distressful content. Media justice frame is the newest frame to be established, and it advocates for involvement of the minority in the governance of a country. This hopes to eliminate the existence of marginalization since the preceding frames failed to accommodate the role of minority.
The existence of these frames shows how the world has grown to be a dynamic place of living. In addition, this phenomenon suggests that there is no general approach to address all the concerns that face the public. The varieties of the frame also help to avoid fall out in advocating for certain infringement of rights. For instance, the term democracy in today’s world has been associated with the concept of capitalism which is viewed negatively by various part of the world.
This is because the concept of capitalism does not comply with their agenda of fighting oppression. In another view, most people associate the term democratization of the media as the permit for the medial to go unregulated by the law, facilitate private ownership of medial houses and abolishment of regulation that are mean to safeguard the interest of the public especially children and women. This divergence leads to diversification of causes of activism.
Recently, activism has taken a more precise mainstream than in the past. This is because, over the years, the world has realized unprecedented expansion of cause -oriented activism because of oriented politics. In the earlier years, political participation focuses primarily on the obligation of the citizen to a state. For example, the election process is seen as an ambiguous political activity. However, this process becomes a source of pressure for the elected representative (Earl & Katrina, 2011).
The campaign process as a segment of the electro process is an activity of mutual interest and benefit to the community, but this segment requires hard work, resilience and sacrifice from both the electorate and aspirants.
After the conclusion of the election and upon election of a representative, contacting the elected representative will results from an individual effort and consequently individual benefit since it does not require cooperation from other citizens. Community organization will contain donor organizations. This shows how the citizens will contribute to good governance through active participation.
In addition, the earlier literature differentiated protest politics from conventional politics. In the modern day, protest politics will be in the context of the willingness by the citizen to participate both directly and indirectly in either lawful or unlawful activities to express dissatisfaction with the existing regime. However, these activities are no longer seen as civil disobedience. This has happened because these activities cover a wide area and attract a large number of people. Importantly, they have been mainstreamed.
Changed repertoires have facilitated the differentiation of citizen-oriented action and cause oriented action (Chadwick, & Philip, 2009). Citizen oriented action will relate to activities that affect the citizen directly such as elections while the cause oriented will relate to policy concerns.
However, the two categories are different but, at some instances, they are adjoined. In several cases, political parties have organized mass protests. The new activism process has chosen to apply a combination of the two methods of repertoires. This will involve using the mass media and lobbying process. The key difference between the cause oriented, and citizen-oriented activisms are manifested in their purpose since cause oriented focuses in follow-ups on policy and issues.
This policies and issues are outside the election considerations, and they must be affecting a wide range of diverse target. In addition, the cause oriented targets the issues that relate to lifestyle and consumer hence establishing the boundary between social and political aspect of activism. The targeted institution is the government and parliament but it also factors in the other major players such as the private sector, public sector and nonprofit making.
Framing is the modern day strategy that has been applied to generate, distribute and content the literature that is used in the description of the activist movement (Castells, 2000). This is carried out to validate the advanced claims and provide motivation to the people. Technology has, therefore, been used to develop opportunity structure in the activism of modern world.
The structure shall entail stabilizing elite alignment and increasing the social movement activities. This research paper hence shall consider how technology has facilitated the mainstreaming of the modern day activism with the view of building cause-oriented activism. Technology offers the opportunity for activist to present their grievances in all three persons.
In relations to comparative literature, how has technology influenced the mainstreaming of activism to build on cause-oriented repertoires?
Castells, Manuel. The rise of the network society: rise of the network society. 2. ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 2000. Print.
Chadwick, Andrew, and Philip Howard. Routledge handbook of Internet politics. London: Routledge, 2009. Print.
Earl, Jennifer, and Katrina Kimport. Digitally enabled social change: activism in the Internet age. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2011. Print.
Livermore, Celia. E-politics and organizational implications of the Internet power, influence, and social change. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference, 2012. Print.
The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online Essay (Book Review)
This book is about the power of online activism. The author reveals how it is hard to contain a society that is not satisfied with the status quo.
With well elaborated illustrations, the book reveals how a society fights against corruption in government, abuse of employee rights and social inequalities among other hot button issues through the online platform.
The book reveals that the Chinese online audience is actually a society taking into consideration that it has more than 253 million users (Yang 2), whose ages and occupations are quite diverse (Yang 32).
This book simply shows how the Chinese people have resorted to cyberspace as a means of fighting against vices they view to be wrong in the society.
The author puts this more clearly “This book is about people’s power in the Internet age” (Yang 1). The author makes a number of arguments three of which are
- The cyberspace users form a society: The internet offers a platform where people grow stronger in the pursuit of their rights
- The civil society is taking an interest o societal affairs: As opposed in the past, there is a change in the manner of managing crisis to a bottom-up process.
- Grievances will always be aired irrespective of the obstacles confronted: It is not possible to completely censor the opinions of the society especially where injustice is involved.
How the Themes are related to Class Work
This section discusses the above listed arguments made by the author. References are made to the class lecture notes and articles used in the course syllabus. An attempt is made to relate the class work with the views expressed in the book especially in regard to the three arguments identified above in the introduction section.
The internet users form a society
Yang presents the cyberspace as a platform where people grow stronger in the pursuit of their rights. Internet users have grown explosively in numbers. Yang puts the figure, as at 2008, at 253 million users (Yang 2). He also illustrates that the internet users are of various ages and occupational backgrounds (Yang 32).
This online society is quite heterogeneous with groups like “homeowners, pensioners, migrants, hepatitis-B carriers, ant farmers, consumers, computer gamers and pet owners” (Yang 27).
He further notes that there is participation by ordinary people in issues that affect them: “Ordinary people engage in a broad range of political actions and find a new sense of self, community, and empowerment” (Yang 2). The author therefore shows that indeed the Chinese cyberspace users form a society.
What is covered above by Yang is directly related to what has already been covered in class. This trend whereby people form groups of association is common with the Chinese. Lecture 16 shows how members of the society attempt to form groups which will fight for their own rights.1
In the class work, the willingness of the Chinese society to fight policies which are harmful was also discussed. It was shown that students have been very vocal in fighting for the rights of various members in the society. The social evils against which public demonstrations have been carried out were discussed well and mainly touch of disrespect of civil rights by government agencies.2
As one may expect in societies, public events receive response. Some events receive praise while others are condemned. The internet users are very quick to apportion praise or condemnation to any public events as the need arises. Yang shows how the Chinese cyberspace is active in reacting to unjust actions which affect the public.
In some cases, the internet society has forced the central government to spring into action on issues it had previously ignored. The story of illegal brick kilns in the province of Shamxi and many more others are just illustrations of the effectiveness of the internet society in China as illustrated in the book.
Articles used in class showed that the Chinese society has evolved to fight for its members. These articles showed students being at the fore front especially in championing the rights of the marginalized in the society.3 It was also shown that during national calamities, the Chinese people have a strong will to stand by each other.4
Therefore, the willingness of the online community to stand by each other as Yang depicts is well reconciled. The last lecture we had in the month of March touched on how some environmental Non Government Organizations have found reinforcement from online communities.5
The civil society is taking an interest in societal affairs
As opposed to the past, there is a change in the manner of managing crisis to a bottom-up process. This is expressed in the class article by Shawn Shieh and Guosheng Deng. The people made a great demonstration of a bottom-up strategy in dealing with the crisis that confronted the people of Sichuan.
We learned that the Chinese society is growing more cohesive and members of the society are learning to help each other without necessarily being pushed by the government.6 Class lectures also showed that Chinese society is becoming more used to engaging the government through public demonstrations.
Again students were shown to be very active in this area. This can be said to be a trend which has been gradually growing within the Chinese civil society.7 This is clearly shown throughout the book as the civil society uses the internet to air their grievances against actions they view as being unfair.
Evidence in the book that the civil society is taking more interest in affairs concerning the society comes out well when the determination of the internet users against bad policies is reviewed. The chapter titled Civic Association Online shows how civic associations are actively encouraging the online communities to join hands for the common good of the Chinese people. The author shows that the internet is playing a leading role in creating informed citizenry.
This trend of the civil society trying to emerge amid suffocation from government suppression was well discussed in the lectures. A historical snapshot shows that after what seemed to be a rapid growth of civil society organs, the violent Tiananmen Square demonstration suppression slowed these organs. However, afterwards there was a renewed growth of these organs.8
Lecture 16 also highlighted the efforts of civic bodies to push the government for reforms. It was shown that the civic bodies believe that reforms in the governments were required. The interference of the party in government was pointed out as an obstacle to these reforms.
The kind of issues that raises responses from online communities are varied but all of them affect the people. According to Yang, the issues that the online community has responded to are “popular nationalism, rights defence, corruption and power abuse, environment, cultural contention, muckraking, and online charity” (55).
As already noted from lecture notes and articles, these are issues that the Chinese society has been fighting against. Through the article ‘Popular Protests’ various issues that the Chinese society has been pushing for were discussed. These issues are very similar to the ones that the author has listed above.9
The lectures showed, for instance, how the household responsibility system was adopted by the people secretly and later openly despite the government dragging its feet to give it a full support.10
Grievances will always be aired irrespective of the obstacles confronted
The author also argues that the society will always air their grievances no matter what obstacles are on the way. This determination has been demonstrated several times in class through various articles. One good illustration is the 1989 Tiananmen protest by students.11 It is not possible to completely censor the opinions of the society especially where injustice is involved.
The author argues that despite the constant effort by the authorities to censor the internet, the Chinese online community has always found ways of going round this obstacle. He notes that “state power constrains the forms and issues of contention, but instead of preventing it from happening it forces activists to be more creative and artful” (Yang 7).
This has been well illustrated through the class work. Being creative and artful in the expression of opinion in the face of stern opposition from the state and state organs seem to the way of the Chinese society as was illustrated in the use of the ‘democratic wall’ by students.12
From the articles used in class, it was also shown that the members of the society quickly learn from each other. And if what they learn is important but somehow suppressed by the government, it is adopted and applied in secrecy. The people also have a way of defending themselves if they are taken to task on why they adopt such actions.13
Under the chapter Politics of Digital Contention the author gives details of how the state has engaged internet activism specifically to ensure that it is under control. The state is always watchful and applies different techniques to ensure that the internet community is censored. It has already been shown in the class that the Chinese government has that tendency to control the public.14
The book also raises a lot of concerns that censoring the Internet might be slowing the economy of the nation. Free access to information and exchanging of such information freely greatly determines economic growth of a nation. It also empowers people as there is exchange of information with the world.
The censorship of the internet however hampers this free flow of information and therefore does not encourage transparency.
In class, the effect of the high handedness of the government was shown. It was discussed that this control by the government negatively affects the economy of China – lack of transparency in state function fosters corruption and therefore affects the economy.15
Hampering free flow of information by the state is an old trend in China. The Mao era was strongly opposed to free expression of views by writers and those who were suspected to be against the government were subjected to harsh conditions and as a result literary work in China suffered a great blow.16
Guobin Yang makes a compelling argument that the internet has become a force to reckon with in China. He systematically shows how the internet use has affected the civil society in very great ways.
In this article, the arguments made by Yang are discussed in three themes: the cyberspace users form a society, the civil society is taking an interest in societal affairs, and grievances always get aired no matter what kind of obstacles are faced.
These themes are discussed as Yang presents them in the book with special reference to the lecture notes and articles used in the coursework.
The arguments made by author were part of the issues that were discussed in class. The first argument by the author was that the Chinese tend to form a society through the internet platform.
Several of the articles that were covered in class showed that Chinese people have adopted the spirit of working together as a society. This is especially the case when they need to help each other or when they are fighting against government brutality or high handedness.
The class work had also covered the second argument by the Yang. Civil bodies are continuously teaching the citizens on their rights. Part of the 16th lecture covered in class discussed how various bodies are pushing for reforms in the government.
The class work also covered the attempts by students to launch public demonstrations some of which were ended fatally. All these illustrate that the society has become more sensitized to issues affecting them than they were in the past.
Lastly, class work also showed that the society is dynamic and adopts various ways of expressing their grievances. It was also shown that when the government becomes too restrictive, the society resorts to secret measures as is discussed in the article Calamity and Reform in China by Dali L. Yang on page 159.
Yang, Guobin. The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009. Print.
1 Lecture 16 on Political Reforms, slide number 16.
2 Popular Protest in China’ by Kevin J. O’Brien.
3 ‘Civil Society and political Change in Asia’ edited by Muthiah Alagappa on page 441. Also refer to lecture 16 slide number 6.
4 Article ‘An Emerging Society: The Impact of the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake on Grass-roots Associations in China’ by Shawn Shieh and Guosheng Deng.
5 Page 147 of the article ‘Popular Protest in China’ by Kevin J. O’Brien
6 ‘An Emerging Society: The Impact of the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake on Grass-roots Associations in China’ by Shawn Shieh and Guosheng Deng
7 ‘Popular Protest in China’ by Kevin J. O’Brien
8 ‘Civil Society and Political Change in Asia’ specifically chapter 13.
9 ‘Popular Protest in China’ by Kevin J. O’Brien
10 Chapter six (The Political Struggle over Reform) of the book Calamity and Reform in China by Dali Yang examines this trend
11 ‘China Politics 20 years later’ by Joseph Fewsmith.
12 Refer to Dennis J Doolin, Communist China: The Politics of Student Opposition, p. 15.
13 Calamity and Reform in China by Dali L. Yang on page 159
14 ‘China Politics 20 years later’ by Yang.
16 Communist China: The Politics of Student Opposition by Dennis J Doolin on p. 16.
Queer Activism Influences on the Social Development of LGBT Essay
Importance of Research
“I proudly announce I’m gay” (Mackey par. 1). NBA player like Jason Collins and Latvian foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics admitted to being gay and continued with their career. ‘Openly gay’ is a concept that has evolved recently even in professions that are predominantly follow conservative sexual ethics.
An upsurge in the queer activism from New York, Taipei, to Sydney shows the rise in the awareness and openness with which people are opening up to accepting their sexuality. More and more people are openly talking about their sexuality and do not feel constrained by social concerns to reveal their sexual preferences. As same sex marriages are being accepted in many countries worldwide, and in 27 states in the US, the question that logically emerges is what is the next step for gay activism.
Preliminary research findings demonstrate that gay activism has become rampant in many parts of the world, changing the mindset of the masses considerably. However, there is little known evidence to support the social acceptance and adjustment of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transvestite (LGBT) community.
However, the older generation of gay men and women are not comfortable with the younger generation’s acceptance of their self-identity and revealing their sexual orientation to the world. Thus, there emerges a difference among younger and older generation of LGBTs. Identifying with the gay movement helps in creating a social identity for the LGBT community.
According to the self-determination theory, individuals are motivated when they associate with a group (Ryan and Deci 68). In other words, when the degree of relatedness is high it leads to higher degree of motivation and self-being. Queer activism helped the LGBT community to identify with a sub-culture that helped to shape a different identity through self-determination.
The essential question that is aimed to be answered in the research is how gay activism has helped shape LGBT identity and developed a community amongst themselves. Prior research has concentrated on understanding how the gay community connects with one another to form a unified gay identity; however, little credit has been given to the emergence of queer activism that has helped the community to open up to the world.
The social movement is supposed to generate a shared community that identifies with the social coercion and stereotyping and hence forms solidarity of its own (Epstein 137). Thus, the question that evidently arises is if the queer activism around the globe is helpful to shape the LGBT community’s lifestyle and choices. Does this mean that the LGBT community around the globe can finally be a part of the society without any stigma or fear?
Does it imply that the increased tolerance towards homosexuality shown in most European nations will help to shape the social structure for the LGBT community? Alternatively, will it carve a niche space for the community separate from the ‘normal’ heterosexual, conservative world or would it integrate them openly within the social structure?
I feel the most interesting part of the topic is the perception of acceptance that the LGBT community feels has been brought up due to their pronounced activism and the nature of social development that has taken place to define their place in the society. In order to narrow down the topic to the specific research question, I kept on limiting down my research question until I found a specific question.
The methodology that will be used of the study is qualitative interview and quantitative questionnaire survey of the LGBTs who have taken an active role, supporting role but no active participation, and no role, or support for the activism. This will help us to identify the effect the activism had on the social development of LGBTs.
The strength of the research question is that it shows a different direction to the queer movement as a social movement and its effect on identity creation of the LGBT community. The weaknesses is that it may end up generalizing the question, instead of specifically understanding the effect the activism would have on the social development of the community.
Social Movement Theory
Social movement theory postulates that Prior research on activism and formation of social identity has raised the question of the effect of activism on social development and collective identity formation (Gamson 392). There are various theories that show identity creation through political or social movement.
Bernstein (58) points out to three different approaches with which researchers have tried to explain the process of identity creation through social movement – neo-Marxist, new social movement, and postmodern approaches. Sociologists have devised methods to understand the impact of a social movement in forming collective identity (Polletta and Jasper 296). Researches try to understand how social activism helped in reshaping the collective identity of the community.
Queer Activism and LGBT Identity Discourse
Research into queer activism and identity formation of the LGBT community argues that queer activism uses a victimizing discourse that increases separateness between gay and straight people, thus, creating a separate identity and community (Vivienne and Burgess 553).
Other sociologists believe that a movement that is based on portraying gay people as sexual minority would deviate from the purpose of the movement from social acceptance and assimilation to a new socio-sexual-order (Epstein 155). Cultural difference in the perception and social acceptance of sexuality and sexual deviance also shapes the outcome of the queer activism (Watney 23).
Some believe that queer activism is also a possible reason behind overt heterosexual hatred toward gay community (Herek 12). The victimization discourse of queer activism has led to the disassociation of the LGBT community from the normal youth and hence, creates a sub-community among youths (Hackford-Peer 553).
Using social movement theory and its impact on collective identity, I will try to demonstrate the impact queer activism has/had on the participating member, non-participatory supporters, and non-supporting members of the community.
The readings on queer activism and discourse show how social movement of gay liberation has shaped identity formation and creation of a separate community for LGBTs. All the literature on social movement and identity formation of gay people helps to understand the factors that influence the formation of the idea of a community and how it can take shape among the LGBT population.
Future studies should try to do a case study of queer activism in a particular locality and gauge how the movement affects the LGBT community. For this purpose, interviews, questionnaire survey, and observation would be the tools to understand the nature of development of the community. These methods are the simplest and most widely used methods of social research and hence will help to understand the nature of the community.
The research will provide information for all, as it will help others understand the nature of social development that the LGBT community has undergone. Further, it will help all – heterosexuals and homosexuals – to clearly understand the point of view of the LGBT community. I will try to print the research paper in magazines so that the masses can read the outcome of the research.
Bernstein, Mary. “Identity politics.” Annual Review of Sociology 31 (2005): 47-74. Print.
Epstein, Steven. “Gay politics, ethnic identity: The limits of social constructionism.” Nardi, P. N. and BE Schneider. Social perspectives in lesbian and gay studies: A reader. New York: Routledge, 1998. 134-159. Print.
Gamson, Joshua. “Must Identity Movements Self-Destruct? A Queer Dilemma.” Social Problems 42.3 (1995): 390-407. Print.
Hackford-Peer, Kim. “In the Name of Safety: Discursive Positionings of Queer Youth.” Studies in Philosophy and Education 29.6 (2010): 541–556. Print.
Herek, Gregory M. “Beyond “Homophobia”: Thinking About Sexual Prejudice and Stigma in the Twenty-First Century.” Sexuality Research & Social Policy 1.2 (2004): 6-24. Print.
Mackey, Robert. “Latvian Minister Declares He’s Gay, Exposing Fault Lines of New Culture War in Europe.” 2014. The New York Times. Web.
Polletta, Francesca and James M. Jasper. “Collective identity and social movements.” Annual Review of Sociology (2001): 283-305. Print.
Ryan, Richard M. and Edward L. Deci. “Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being.” American Psychologist 55.1 (2000): 68-78. Print.
Vivienne, Sonja and Jean Burgess. “The Digital Storyteller’s Stage: Queer Everyday Activists Negotiating Privacy and Publicness.” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 56.3 (2012): 32–377. Print.
Watney, Simon. “Queer epistomology: activism, ‘outing’, and the politics of sexual identity.” Critical Quaterly 36.1 (2002): 13-27. Print.
North American Environmental Transnational Activism Essay
In recent decades, transnational activism has become a highly noticeable component of international relations in many facets of global governance (Hadden 2014). Unlike in the past where scholars of international relations viewed the state-system as the fundamental focus of scholarly and practical attention, contemporary researchers are increasingly focussing on transnational activism as a major hub of influence on global political affairs and other issues that have a direct impact on populations (Wapner 2002).
Today, it is evident that transnational activism has gained prominence in explaining important elements of global politics and also in responding to prevailing social, environmental, cultural and political challenges at the transnational level (Reitan & Gibson 2012). The purpose of the present paper is to discuss how transnational activism has altered the principles and practices of international relations about environmental issues.
Scope of the Paper
From the onset, it is important to note that this paper will focus on how transnational activism continues to influence environmental issues in North America. Although the United States will be the main focus, other North American countries such as Canada and Mexico will also be considered for comparison purposes. Additionally, the main environmental issues that will be used are global warming and climate change.
Understanding Environmental Transnational Activism
Transnational activism has been defined in the literature as “the mobilization around collective claims that are: a) related to transnational/global issues, b) formulated by actors located in more than one country, and C) addressing more than one national government and/or international governmental organization or another international actor” (Della Porta & Marchetti 2011, p. 428). The concept is exemplified by transnational activist groups that coalesce together to establish coalitions across state boundaries with the view to addressing a set of aims and objectives (Eilstrup-Sangiovanni & Bondaroff 2014).
Transnational environmental activism can be understood in the context of global coalitions and interest groups that come together to “share a sense of concern about the degradation of air, land, water, and diversity of species across the earth, and the intersection between human beings and their natural environment” (Wapner 2002, pp. 39-40). In North America, transnational environmental activism is largely driven by groups such as the Sierra Club, Canadian Environmental Network, and People’s Front in Defence of Earth and Water (Healy, VanNijnatten, & Lopez-Vallejo 2014). Although these groups are national in terms of organization and structure, they nevertheless engage in transnational environmental issues against the backdrop of intense political engagement and ideological orientation (Reitan & Gibson 2012).
Other activist groups such as Greenpeace and Conservation International are truly transnational in organization and structure because “they have offices in more than one country and concern themselves primarily with transboundary environmental issues” (Wapner 2002, p. 40). The two types of activist groups will form the focus of this paper due to their immense influence on global environmental and political issues.
Altering the Principles and Practices of International Relations
In the North American context, transnational activist groups such as Greenpeace and World Nature Organisation have on more than one occasion acted to put pressure on states, corporations and other actors to implement environmentally friendly programs and policies with the view to addressing the twin issues of global warming and climate change (Eilstrup-Sangiovanni & Bondaroff 2014). Available literature demonstrates that these groups are no longer perceived as outsiders in the global political arena and international relations; on the contrary, they are viewed as having an enormous influence on ideational institutions that inform contemporary life not only in North America but also globally (Wapner 2002; Swerts 2013).
It is important to clarify that, although transnational activism as practiced by these groups lacks the coercion component associated with state actors, it has nevertheless permitted the international arena due to the capacity of transnational activist groups to pressure political actors to support environmental protection (Reitan & Gibson 2012). A case in point is how Greenpeace has continued to pressure states to adopt clear, science-based targets to reverse the harmful effects of climate change (Greenpeace Climate Vision 2009).
Available literature demonstrates that transnational environmental activism in North America uses value- and belief-sharing as well as knowledge distribution to link activists across national borders in its quest to effect policy changes on important environmental issues (Pacheco-Vega 2015). This author argues that North American environmental non-governmental organizations such as the Sierra Club and the Canadian Environmental Network have been able to share information and transfer knowledge with the view to developing stronger, more robust advocacy coalitions with the capacity to influence policy frameworks on important environmental issues such as global warming and climate change.
This “soft power” approach has enabled the transnational activist groups to gain leverage against private interests and governments in creating unconventional forms of environmental regulation. It has been documented that “the use of soft power facilitates policy change (and actors’ attitudinal shifts) through the use of suasive instruments rather than command-and-control standards and regulatory instruments” (Pacheco-Vega 2015, p. 151).
For example, transnational activist groups such as the North American Pollutant Release and Transfer Registry Project have used the soft power approach to force Mexico to embrace more environmentally friendly policies that will reduce the adverse effects of global warming. Greenpeace and the Canadian Environmental Network have been known to use a non-coercive policy instrument of information sharing to raise awareness on issues related to global warming and climate change at the state, interest groups, and the general public levels (Healy, VanNijnatten, & Lopez-Vallejo 2014).
Transnational activism has also been able to alter the principles and practices of international relations by providing an enabling framework for whistleblowing, with the view to putting pressure on nation-state governments to comply with environmentally friendly regulations (Eilstrup-Sangiovanni & Bondaroff 2014). Here, it is important to mention that North American countries have put in place the Citizen Submission on Enforcement Matters (CSEM) process to provide citizens from the three countries (US, Canada, or Mexico) with the opportunity to present a submission against any country that fails to comply with its environmental laws (Pacheco-Vega 2015).
This means that environmental non-governmental organizations in the US can denounce Mexico or Canada for failing to comply with set environmental regulations on global warming and climate change, and activists in Mexico and Canada have the leverage to do the same against the US. The whistleblowing capability has forced state-government actors in this region to comply with regulations on global warming and other important environmental issues.
Additionally, it can be argued that transnational activism has altered the principles and practices of international relations due to its capacity to use the “power in movement” approach to create awareness on contentious environmental issues and to rally ordinary individuals into a confrontation with the political elite (Tallow 2005; Gilson 2011). This power has enabled transnational environmental groups in North America to not only participate in international conferences to address environmental concerns but also to gain greater access to multinational environmental negotiations and decision-making forums (Wapner 2002).
Many environmental nongovernmental organizations and transnational activist groups have received invitations to attend global environmental conferences as “observers” due to their refined organizational and mobilization skills. It is important to note that these NGOs and advocacy groups can influence the outcomes of such global conferences and, in specific instances, “provide much of the structure and content of on-going climate change negotiations” (Wapner 2002, p. 41).
This influence allows transnational environmental activist groups such as Greenpeace to usurp the role of state-government actors in developing and formulating international environmental treaties, hence limiting the role of state actors to that of implementing the regulations and directives. Consequently, in contemporary contexts, state actors cannot claim that they are in a position to make important policy guidelines on important issues of global warming and climate change without the direct input of transnational environmental activists.
Lastly, transnational activism has altered the principles and practices of international relations in terms of appealing to public opinion on important environmental issues (Eilstrup-Sangiovanni & Bondaroff 2014). Unlike state-actors who often employ coercion and intimidation to deal with international issues, transnational activism can change principles and practices of international relations by appealing to the masses through mechanisms such as symbolic politics and accountability politics.
In symbolic politics, transnational activist groups in North America have used symbols, actions or stories to develop awareness at the local, national and international levels about important environmental issues such as global warming and climate change. The People’s Front in Defence of Earth and Water, for example, has used symbolic politics to make an appeal to cherished and people-oriented norms and value systems with the view to showing an intrinsic fit between proposed environmental policies on global warming and the status quo (Rohrschneider & Dalton 2002; Tallow 2005).
Such reframing of important environmental issues through symbolic representation has enabled the transnational environmental groups to influence global issues and policies by reaching out to hospitable audiences. In accountability politics, it is evident that groups such as Greenpeace and the Sierra Club have been at the forefront in exposing gaps between discourse and practice with the view to holding state-government actors accountable for violations of previously established environmental policies and principles in the international landscape.
Using the North American context and the environmental lens, this paper has discussed how transnational activism has altered the principles and practices of international relations. From the discussion and analysis, it is clear that transnational activism will continue to influence international policy outcomes due to its immense influence in pressuring state actors, structural and operational efficiencies, and capacity to appeal to the masses. The structural and operational dynamics of transnational environmental advocacy groups allow them to not only share knowledge across national boundaries but also to act as whistleblowers in cases of noncompliance in environmental regulations. Lastly, it is clear that the “soft power” and “power in movement” approaches prevalent in transnational activism will continue to limit the coercive power of state-government actors and ensure that environmental issues are addressed.
della Porta, D & Marchetti, R 2011, ‘Transnational activisms and the global justice movement’, In G Delanty & SP Turner (eds.), Routledge international handbook of contemporary social and political theory, Routledge, London, pp. 428-438. Web.
Eilstrup-Sangiovanni, M & Bondaroff, TNP 2014, ‘From advocacy to confrontation: Direct enforcement by environmental NGOs’, International Studies Quarterly, vol. 58 no. 2, pp. 348-361. Web.
Gilson, J 2011, ‘Transnational advocacy: New spaces, new voices’, Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, vol. 36 no. 4, pp. 288-306. Web.
Greenpeace climate vision 2009. Web.
Hadden, J 2014, ‘Explaining variation in transnational climate change activism: The role of inter-movement spillover’, Global Environmental Politics, vol. 14 no. 2, pp. 7-25. Web.
Healy, RG, VanNijnatten, DL & Lopez-Vallejo, M 2014, Environmental policy in North America: Approaches, capacity, and the management of transboundary issues, University of Toronto Press, Toronto. Web.
Pacheco-Vega, R 2015, ‘Transnational environmental activism in North America: Wielding soft power through knowledge sharing’, Review of Policy Research, vol. 32 no. 1, pp. 146-162. Web.
Reitan, R & Gibson, S 2012, ‘Climate change or social change? Environmental and leftist praxis and participatory action research’, Globalizations, vol. 9 no. 4, pp. 395-410. Web.
Rohrschneider, R & Dalton, RJ 2002, ‘A global network? Transnational cooperation among environmental groups’, Journal of Politics, vol. 64 no. 2, pp. 510-533. Web.
Swerts, T 2013, ‘The democratic deficit of transnational environmental activism: A case study of e-waste governance in India’, Global Networks, vol. 13 no. 4, pp. 498-516. Web.
Tallow, S 2005, The new transnational activism, Cabridge University Press, New York, NY. Web.
Wapner, P 2002, ‘Horizontal politics: Transnational environmental activism and global cultural change’, Global Environmental Politics, vol. 2 no. 2, pp. 37-62. Web.
Artistic Activism and Tactics Essay
The conscious publicity of art often comes about as a response to the generalization that art is in effect, always already politicized. The construction of different types of art has always occurred in different places at different times and within diverse socio-cultural and political systems. In taking to the streets, the artists did not just attempt to provide an overarching definition of their discomfits with authority; rather, they attempted to paint a picture in which the demands in the trends of social change can lead individual artists to censor the authorities to guarantee more artistic-space.1
In so doing, the artists were able to align themselves with the comprehensive social movements to ensure they keep the rich tradition that made them not to break from the established institutions of art. In embarking on art activism, the artists meant to protect a set of ideas and the institutions on which art has been advancing its scales throughout the nineteenth century. Essentially, the cultural, political, and economic conditions have been over time a pointer for these artists to explore new spheres to work and to seek the right kind of freedoms.
The transfer of wealth under capitalistic systems in Europe, particularly, manured the ground for the possible creation of a new class system that expanded the expanse between disposable income and the outright leisure time. One of the manifestations of this nature was typical of the economic power brokers that were keen on curtailing the progression of classical art.2 This new breed of power created an all-pervasive force to reckon with as many concerns in the concept of free art gravitated towards art encroachment of free art. The encroachment of free art heavily appalled the existing institutions; the mobility of the art galleries was under severe attack by all-pervasive forces of commerce, politics, and culture.3
The Culmination of Events
The outbreak of violent protests in the capital city of France in mid-1968 was because of the Student dissatisfaction at the Sorbonne University and the University of Paris. Heavy police presence further made matters worse as they confronted the charged students head-on and by early May 1968, the unrest had escalated to inevitable levels, as Paris’s Latin Quarter, as well as other major cities, became no go zones.4
The protest matches further escalated with sporadic strikes taking place throughout the country; soon, France became a standstill, and Paris was a war zone. The police, the military and ordinary citizens took to the streets, engaging one another on running battles. In an attempt to crush this popular uprising, President de Gaulle administration employed military forces and ordinary civilian cohorts.5 Seeing defeat in the offing, the state media reported that the protestors were foreign saboteurs whose mission was to cause anarchy against the state. In the final days of May 1968, President de Gaulle had to announce new elections prematurely ending the protests and widespread strikes.
The French protest epitomized more than a political cause, rather French citizens of all walks partook of the opportunity to redeem their scourge, both women and men alike saw an opportunity to answer a call of hope in the land of the living.6 In these events, the French nationals recall the duty of nationhood as witnessed in the spirit of their relentless quest for their rights. Together, the brevity and the nature of suffering they withstood in the hope of moulding a democracy that had lived on and eventually shaped their socio-economic and political landscape.
Artistic Activism: Its Practices, Dilemmas, and Prospects
The 1967 publication of Henri Lefebvre book, Le Droit à la ville, was particularly instrumental for the cause of action culminating in the strikers that created new and radical paradigms that were capable of challenging the existing social, economic, and political structures of the capitalism.7 Lefebvre’s analysis generally gravitated towards the contentions that attempted to destroy the cities as well as the intensification of urbanity.
In his arguments, Lefebvre opined that the traditional cities are the epicentre of social, economic, and political life. Other elements of life, such as arts, wealth, and knowledge thrived amicably through the cities. Besides, he noted with concern that the misuse of the value of the cities as centres of political, cultural, and social life forms are affected continually by industrialisation and commercialisation.8 Accordingly, capitalism was the result of the commodification of the urban assets that ensures other individuals are city-less. In his scholarship, two central rights protrude and avail the options for action by the common person, the right to appropriation, and the right to participation.
Participation allows the French citizens to access all information and form part of the decision that guarantees the urban space. Appropriation, on the other hand, entails a lot more things including the right to access, inhabit, and use the urban space to generate new and profound space that meets the needs of the entire population. While making these observations clear for all to see, Lefebvre argued that the rights and freedoms to the city manifest itself further to loftier forms of rights.9 Accordingly, the right to the freedoms of individualisation and association are overboard.
From the works of Michel de Certeau and Henri Lefebvre, it is clear that the tactics available to the artist in reclaiming their autonomy from the all-pervasive forces of commerce, politics, and culture are just as myriad and prospective. DeCerteau ideas particularly dealt with control and resistance. DeCerteau, together with Lefebvre raised concerns as to why the average people tend to develop various strategies that outline their own autonomy in a society that seeks to manipulate and dominate them.10
The artists were interested in how individuals receive media prompts; they assumed that media producers, photographers, and writers have one common message to their audiences – seeking to advance the meaning on media consumers, though DeCerteau rejects the widespread notion that consumers do consume mindlessly.11 DeCerteau in his objection to state authority considered the use of social representation as well as the modes of social behaviour as very effective ways in their own autonomy from the all-pervasive forces of politics, culture, and commerce. In exploring the public meaning to defend personal rights, DeCerteau in his scholarships drew enormously from the theoretical literature in analytical to put his message across to the concerned forces.
Drawing from the activities of Lefebvre, his works in this area stirred global social movement and brought significant legislative reforms in the Latin America while giving an edge to international community discourse. Much of what both Michel de Certeau and Henri Lefebvre did in particular remains ever elusive and their implementations are normally fraught with challenges.12 During the 1960s, both Michel de Certeau and Henri Lefebvre became very eloquent mouthpieces for agitating change.
The two artists were powerful voices in rallying the public outcry in calling for social action and rise up against the exclusionary progressions of globalisation, clarion call that further united a global effort to roll back the privatisation and accommodation of urban space, sparking claims over who has the ownership of the city. Ever since riots sparked-off in Paris, France in 1968, the activities of Lefebvre helped in inspiring global social movements in most parts of the world, bringing fundamental legislations in Latin America with myriad local struggles.13
International Community Discourse
Public discourse on artists tends to ignore the primacy of human restrains, and in most cases, the authorities tend to challenge the usefulness of the contributions by the artists in developing our societies. A key element that has been consistent all through is that the debate on artistic reform is inclined on the question of their numbers and the security concerns that they posit. While changes to the global artistic policy are necessary, the numbers of artists and emotional security concerns should not cloud the agenda of any reform policy.
The acquisition of individual freedoms, especially political rights should feature prominently as tools for such groups in their quest to achieve socio-economic, political equality and civil rights.14 Given that legislative organs confer rights and freedoms and make public policy their priority, it is crucial that such bodies offer these groups with tools to enable them possess the ability to influence and choose the framework of their practice. The 1968 uprising in France and America were only practical representations of the inward conflicts that had been gaining momentum from as early as the 1960s, and whose impacts continued to spill over to the succeeding decade.15
Anti-imperialist movements in most parts of the developing world, especially in Africa and South America, had a soft spot for Marxist-Leninist ideologies. In the same period, Maoism briefly became a darling to the many European intellectuals during much of the early 1970s. However, what was most central about the 1968 movements was due to staunch critic and widespread distrust of the established ideologies.
Legal obstacles that determine political participation have historically hindered the attainment of full participation by talented groups of citizens such as artists, photographers, and filmmakers, as well as skilled women and the youth.16 The cumulative onus rests squarely on the legal structure to open up more space for greater participation by artists.
It is no doubt, however, that nurturing greater participation and mobilisation to fostering stronger artistic development will eventually solve the problems of inequity in the mould of forces of commerce, politics, and culture and the powers that might arise.17 Nevertheless, this could be an important step in the societal democratisation process as it guarantees that everyone has a right to be heard. The primary objective in addressing the discrepancies faced by the artists consists of developing a more formidable platform that shapes and protects the talents and skills.
In retrospect, the idea is to come up with a program that highlights and recognises the domestic whims of these people. The essence of which must seek to answer why such a large population remains largely detached from other major practices in their societies.18 Restoring the rights of artists to operate without fear of victimisation would further help necessitate an all-inclusive society and a representation which is accountable to all the populations in the world. This would help to reverse current contentious inequities and make the socio-economic and political climate a little bit hard for the artists.
Today, artists are a great proportion of the global society as they may not have been back there before the events of May 1968. Evidence indicates that art is instrumental in developing the society in many ways apart from its net economic impacts. For many artists, therefore, lack of artistic freedom has made political voices almost impossible, making them to resort to the streets. However, it is laudable from the works of Michel DeCerteau and Henri Lefebvre that the tactics available to the artist for reclaiming their own autonomy are just too myriad.
There is significant proof that artists make substantial contributions to the developmental paradigms of the global socio-economic and political affairs regardless of the modes they use to step up their statement. Whereas their contribution in sustaining the national economy is true, they equally enrich the sociocultural heritage of the public life through information, arts, music, and language. One of the manifestations of this nature was typical of the economic power brokers that were keen on curtailing the progression of classical art.
Inasmuch as rhetoric about artists is vile, their impact on societal growth is relatively impressive, and the highly publicized idea that artists abuse the socioeconomic welfare is false and baseless. The new class of power generated an all-pervasive force to reckon with as many concerns in the idea of free art descended towards art advancement of free art. Essentially, the cultural, political, and economic conditions have been over time a pointer for these artists to explore new spheres to work and seek the right kinds of freedom. The infringement of free art heavily shocked the existing institutions and the flexibility of the art galleries were under critical attacks by all-pervasive forces of commerce, politics, and culture.
Abbing, Hans. Why are Artists Poor? The Exceptional Economy of the Arts. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2002.
Anheier, Helmut, Yudhishthir Raj Isar, Annie Paul and Stuart Cunningham. The Cultural Economy. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2008.
Armijo, Leslie Elliott and Carlos Gervasoni. “Two Dimensions of Democracy and the Economy.” Democratization 17, no. 1 (2010): 143-174.
Berman, Paul. Power and the Idealists, or, The Passion of Joschka Fischer and its Aftermath. Brooklyn, NY: Soft Skull Press, 2005.
Braumoeller, Bear. The Great Powers and the International System Systemic Theory in Empirical Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
Burnell, Peter. Democratization through the Looking-Glass. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003.
Cohen, Stanley and Laurie Taylor. Escape Attempts the Theory and Practice of Resistance to Everyday Life. London: Routledge, 2002.
Cordell, Sigrid Anderson. Fictions of dissent: reclaiming authority in transatlantic women’s writing of the late nineteenth century. London: Pickering & Chatto, 2010.
Fox, Danny. Economy and Semantic Interpretation. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2000.
Haerpfer, Christian. Democratization. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Kugelberg, Johan. Beauty is in the Street: A Visual Record of the May ’68 Paris Uprising. London: Four Corners Books, 2011.
Marcuse, Herbert and Douglas Kellner. The New Left and the 1960s. London: Routledge, 2005.
Pratt, Nicola. “Bringing Politics Back in: Examining the Link between Globalization and Democratization.” Review of International Political Economy 11, no. 2 (2004): 311-336.
Schnapp, Alain and Pierre Naquet. The French Student Uprising, November 1967 – June 1968; an Analytical Record. Boston: Beacon Press, 1971.
Singh, John. Globalized Arts the Entertainment Economy and Cultural Identity. New York: Columbia University, 2011.
Weingast, Barry and Donald Wittman. The Oxford Handbook of Political Economy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
- John Singh, Globalized Arts the Entertainment Economy and Cultural Identity (New York: Columbia University, 2011), 78.
- Sigrid Anderson Cordell, Fictions of dissent: reclaiming authority in transatlantic women’s writing of the late nineteenth century (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2010), 63.
- Hans Abbing, Why Are Artists Poor? The Exceptional Economy of the Arts (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2002), 69.
- Johan Kugelberg, Beauty is in the Street: A Visual Record of the May ’68 Paris Uprising (London: Four Corners Books, 2011), 50.
- Alain Schnapp and Pierre Naquet, The French Student Uprising, November 1967 – June 1968; an Analytical Record (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971), 204.
- Barry Weingast and Donald Wittman, The Oxford Handbook of Political Economy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 62.
- Helmut Anheier, Yudhishthir Raj Isar, Annie Paul and Stuart Cunningham, The Cultural Economy (Los Angeles: SAGE, 2008), 12.
- Bear Braumoeller, The Great Powers and the International System Systemic Theory in Empirical Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 34.
- Stanley Cohen and Laurie Taylor, Escape Attempt the Theory and Practice of Resistance to Everyday Life (London: Routledge, 2002), 73.
- Ibid., 77
- Peter Burnell, Democratization through the Looking-Glass (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003), 49.
- Herbert Marcuse and Herbert Marcuse, The New Left and the 1960s (London: Routledge, 2005), 96.
- Paul Berman, Power and the Idealists, or, The Passion of Joschka Fischer and its Aftermath (Brooklyn, NY: Soft Skull Press, 2005), 27.
- Nicola Pratt, “Bringing Politics Back in: Examining the Link between Globalization and Democratization,” Review of International Political Economy 11, no. 2 (2004): 316.
- Danny Fox, Economy and Semantic Interpretation (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2000), 146.
- Christian Haerpfer, Democratization (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 82.
- Leslie Elliott Armijo and Carlos Gervasoni, “Two Dimensions of Democracy and the Economy,” Democratization 17, no. 1 (2010): 147.
- Herbert Marcuse and Douglas Kellner, The New Left and the 1960s (London: Routledge, 2005), 96.
ACT UP Activism in “How to Survive a Plague” Movie Essay (Movie Review)
The Visions of the Activists, Media, and Policy Makers
The AIDS crisis in the United States (and in New York, its epicenter, particularly) was viewed differently by activists, media, and policymakers. The activists’ vision presented in the documentary (How to Survive a Plague) was that the government was not handling the crisis successfully and, in fact, denied the right to health care because many people who had HIV or AIDS could not receive necessary treatment or medications. The roots of this crisis were seen by the activists in prejudice against gay people and hatred of them. One of the activists claims to have heard from his supervisor that “they all [gay men] deserve to die because they took it up the butt” (How to Survive a Plague), and during ACT UP meetings, many people declared that this negative attitude toward gay people is an unacceptable condition that prevents thousands of people from receiving proper health care services.
The vision of the media was that the crisis was a major event in the social life and civil society activity in the United States. Media were interested in the public aspects of the campaigns conducted by ACT UP only; they covered ACT UP protests and meetings with hospitals’ administrators and the mayor of New York. In their coverage, media are supposed to be objective, and in the case of ACT UP activities, both sides were presented: non-violent protests and the position of the government. This position was to deny the fact of the crisis and blame activists for promoting their agenda inadequately. For example, Ed Koch, the mayor of New York, said that ACT UP used fascist tactics. According to the activists (the documentary mostly presents their perspective), the government asked hospitals not to diagnose people with AIDS to avoid declaring a state of emergency. Therefore, it can be said that the policymakers viewed the crisis as a serious threat to their power because it could cause protests and undermine the health care system that was unable to provide necessary services to all the people with AIDS.
ACT UP Strategies: Advantages and Limits
One of the strategies that ACT UP activists used to push their claims was protesting against the position of the government and that of hospitals. The protests were mostly non-violent, and the documentary contains footage of mass gatherings of activists in the streets where they screamed out different chants, such as “Act up! Fight back!” and lied down on the ground when asked to disperse. The advantage of the non-violent strategy is that activists who adopt it manage to promote their agenda without being perceived as aggressive or hostile (Gingrich-Philbrook 83). Such a perception could shape a negative attitude toward ACT UP among the general public, and their agenda could be undermined. It was a strong strategy because the LGBT community, which constituted a remarkable part of the ACT UP movement, was stigmatized during the AIDS crisis, and hostile behavior could stigmatize them even more because they would have been labeled as aggressive and violent; instead, they wanted to peacefully demand the fulfillment of their right to health care. The limit of the strategy is that the government may be unwilling to swiftly respond to protests unless those protests involve violence.
Another strategy was consolidation. The activists came to the meetings with hospital administrators in large groups; when they were asked to leave only three representatives for negotiation and go away, they refused and insisted that the entire group stayed at the hospital until the meeting between the activists’ representatives and the administrators took place. The advantage of the strategy is that it demonstrated that many people were united around one idea, and they were resolute. The limit is that the movement still had its internal conflicts (for example, some people thought it was necessary to act more violently), which is why complete consolidation was unattainable.
One more strategy used by ACT UP was to encourage closeted gay people to come out and support the agenda of the movement. For example, the activists used the slogan “Silence=Death” (Robson and Sumara 27). The advantage of the strategy was that it allowed attracting new supporters and showing that ACT UP was not about AIDS only but equal rights in general; particularly, equal rights for gay people. The limit of the strategy was that it promoted the stigma in a way because it strengthened the perception that AIDS is a “gay disease.”
Activist and Expert Claim Makers
Claims made by the activists are sharp, resolute, emotional, and often politically charged. The purpose of the activists was to attract more supporters and make the government address the AIDS crisis properly, which is why their claims needed to be strong and loud. Expert claims, on the other hand, needed to be calm and reasonable because the role of an expert is to analyze or share knowledge and not to struggle. For example, many scientists, such as chemists and biologists, were part of the ACT UP movement to support it with expert opinions on the way the AIDS crisis should be addressed. It strengthened the movement and brought practical benefits because more people became educated on how to take safety measures to avoid AIDS or how to live with the disease.
France, David, director. How to Survive a Plague. Public Square Films, Ninety Thousand Words, and Ted Snowdon Foundation, 2012.
Gingrich-Philbrook, Craig. “ACT UP as a Structure of Feeling.” Quarterly Journal of Speech, vol. 98, no. 1, 2012, pp. 81-88.
Robson, Claire, and Dennis Sumara. “Silence, Death, and D/discourse: Critical Literary Practices with Lesbian Seniors.” Journal of Lesbian Studies, vol. 19, no. 1, 2015, pp. 27-34.
HIV/AIDS Activism in “How to Survive a Plague” Essay (Movie Review)
The documentary movie “How to Survive a Plague” tells a story of the activist movement that fought for the rights of people with HIV/AIDS and advocated for the development of cures for the disease during the 1980s-1990s. The picture shows that the views of the activists and the US government were very different and, in some cases, even opposing to each other. It shows how different perceptions of the illness have led the construction of popular opinion on AIDS attaching some specific meanings and symbolism to it. Researchers define social construction of anything or event as “a dynamic process” involving “a multiplicity of social forces that combine to create and modify the phenomenon” (Conroy, Yeatman and Dovel 2). The story of the ACT UP movement, its confrontation with the federal agencies and political figures, the actions of each party involved in the described historical events, the changes in their knowledge and relationships perfectly demonstrate the dynamic nature of social constructivism. In this paper, I will evaluate the differences in the positions of ACT UP members, policymakers, and the media to analyze the process of social construction and marginalization of HIV/AIDS.
The main parties involved in the process of the social construction of AIDS in the USA were the activists, policymakers, and the media. ACT UP members regarded the disease from a personal point of view because many of them were HIV-positive. They felt that their needs and interests were ignored by the government, and no adequate strategies were created to help them. At the same time, it seemed like the fact that the majority of people with HIV/AIDS were the representatives of the LGBT community, and that the virus became widespread through certain behaviors which are openly criticized by the society set policymakers and conservative institutions against the activists and their efforts. For this reason, for a long time, neither the president nor the FDA wanted to accelerate the process of drug development and approval and were not encouraged enough to change something. Additionally, the media mainly focused on the conflicts between the two parties and passed on the sense of AIDS-related fatalism that many affected people had at that time.
As stated by Hallett and Cannella, “the mainstream news media paid little attention to HIV/AIDS until fears of transmission to the dominant culture were reaffirmed by medical testimony” (18). It is possible to say that by broadcasting a congressman’s verbal attacks on the activists, representing the latter as criminals, focusing on their anger and grief, providing insufficient or no scientific evidence about the problem, the media only promoted hostility towards AIDS and those who had it and spread the fear of the virus among people. It is likely that because the disease is now associated with many controversial views that provoke unpleasant thoughts and feelings many people prefer to ignore the problem.
Many times ACT UP used the strategy of taking over the facilities and blocking the streets. The advantage of such behavior is that it attracts attention. It was probably effective in the current situation when the interests of HIV-positive people were uncared of. The disadvantage of this approach is that it is illegal and frequently may result in aggression and violence.
Another strategy they used can be viewed as action research. This approach includes such steps as the investigation of a problem, the collection of research evidence and data, the sharing of information, and the utilization of findings in practice (Bergold and Thomas par. 2). It is possible to say that the real progress in the activists’ advocacy process happened when they started to research the problem from the scientific point of view and make evidence-based proposals to the agencies, pharmaceutical companies, and experts. The major advantage of this strategy is that it is rational and almost entirely excludes the emotional component which is often seen by strict institutions as a sign of childishness. Thus, it helped ACT UP to show that they are serious about their intentions. The main weakness of this approach is that it requires a lot of time.
It is possible to say that by focusing on the research of HIV/AIDS mechanisms and treatment, the activists could improve their relationships with experts. By educating themselves in the field of medicine, they became able to have a productive dialog with specialists and to collaborate with them. Before it happened and before ACT UP had any data to support their demands and statements, their relationships with expert claim-makers were rather tense. Therefore, action research may be considered an effective advocacy strategy.
It is possible to say that the social construct of HIV/AIDS remains linked to fatalistic beliefs even today. People still argue a lot about this problem because it is related to many ethical and behavioral issues that never had a simple answer. However, the example of ACT UP demonstrates that, with the right approach and appropriate means, a small group of people can influence the popular views on a phenomenon and can change dominant public attitudes. To do so, one needs to be in a dialog with those who have opposing positions and interests. A successful activist should make reasonable statements but stay inspired by emotions and a strong feeling of the need for change.
Bergold, Jarg, and Stefan Thomas. “Participatory Research Methods: A Methodological Approach in Motion.” Forum: Qualitative Social Research, vol. 13, no. 1, 2012, Web.
Conroy, Amy, Sara Yeatman, and Kathryn Dovel. “The Social Construction of AIDS During a Time of Evolving Access to Antiretroviral Therapy in Rural Malawi.” Culture, health & sexuality, vol. 15, no. 8, 2013, pp. 1-14.
Hallett, Michael, and David Cannella. “Gatekeeping Through Media Format: Strategies of Voice for HIV-Positive via Human Interest News Formats and Organizations.” Activism and Marginalization in the AIDS Crisis, edited by Michael Hallett, Routledge, 2013, pp. 17-36.