258.4 Old songs, new media: Facebook, protest songs, and social identity in Wisconsin's capitol occupation

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 11:39 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Jackson FOOTE , School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
This paper investigates the development, growth, and sustainment of a new social movement that grew out of the mass mobilization that arose in response to attacks on collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin in the spring of 2011.  The study explores the ways in which a loosely structured community formed around a musical vigil for labor and civil rights that has taken place at the Wisconsin Capitol every weekday for more than nine months.  Drawing on literature from sociology and communication studies (Castells, 2009; Friedland, Hove & Rojas, 2006; Oliver and Myers, 2002; Snow & Benford, 1986) this study explores the following research question:  How do new social movement actors use new media (e.g., Facebook) as a mobilization tool, for social adhesion, to align with actors' previously held values and beliefs, and to share information?  The research is based on 11 in-depth interviews with core participants, leaders, newcomers, and one interview with a political office-holder, as well as ethnographic participant observation of the weekdaily sing along for three months from October 6 thru December 12, 2011.  The author also analyzed the community’s Facebook page and the daily postings, cross-postings, and comments of the self-designated photographic archivist.  The paper advances the understanding of how new social movement participants evaluate the effectiveness of their organizations in raising public understanding for a cause, creating meaningful social change, and connecting to other social movements, past and present.