Public talk: 'Digital Communication and Organisational Infrastructures in Social Movements' by Anastasia Kavada, Reader in Media and Politics, University of Westminster
Copenhagen Business School
Dalgas Have 15
This talk presents a conceptual framework for studying the role of digital communication in the evolution of organisational structures within social movements. To build this framework, I bring together insights from the work of Sewell on eventful temporality, structure and agency, as well as Taylor and van Every’s conceptualisation of text and conversation, Weick’s notion of organisational recipes, and Blee’s understanding of pathway dependency. This framework allows us to operationalise the evolution of organisational forms by tracing the steps through which activists construct organisational and digital infrastructures, and the events or turning points that alter these internal structures. It also helps us to evaluate the fitness of organisational structures to the movement’s purpose. To illustrate this theoretical analysis, I draw on empirical fieldwork from the movements of the squares, including about 90 interviews with activists from the 2011 Occupy movement in the US and the UK, the Greek Indignant movement, and Nuit Debout in Paris in 2016. Based on this fieldwork, I discuss the organisational recipes of these movements and the role of digital media in constructing organisational infrastructures. Yet the data also demonstrates how infrastructures built for maximum mobilisation may not be fit for governing an occupation democratically once the movement shifts from protesting in the streets to creating a prefigurative community in the occupied square.
Anastasia Kavada is Reader in Media and Politics in the Westminster School of Media and Communication at the University of Westminster, where she leads the MA in Media, Campaigning and Social Change. Her research focuses on the links between digital media, social movements, participatory democracy, and campaigning for social change. Her work has appeared in a variety of edited books and academic journals, including Media, Culture and Society, Communication Theory, and Information, Communication and Society.
This seminar is organized the Critical Digital Methods Lab directed by Nanna Bonde Thylstrup and Julie Uldam.
The talk and the Critical Digital Methods Lab is supported by the Digital Transformations platform.