New publication: OUR Walmart: a case study of connective action

RICS
OUR Walmart: a case study of connective action, by Brett Caraway
Abstract
This article analyzes communication practices within networked social movements by exploring the network structure of an organization responsible for numerous labor actions and campaigns targeting the retail giant Walmart. This case study of the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) represents an initial attempt to map the network structure of an emergent form of labor organization. To better understand the relationship between communication and collective action, I utilize Bennett and Segerberg’s [(2012). The logic of connective action: Digital media and the personalization of contentious politics. Information, Communication & Society, 15(5), 29] model of connective action to examine the organizational structure of OUR Walmart. I conducted semi-structured interviews with a dozen union representatives, OUR Walmart members, and current and former Walmart employees. My intention is to (1) delineate the network structure of a new and significant organizational form of class struggle and (2) consider the utility and validity of the logic of connective action. I conclude with a consideration of the limitations and affordances of the network structure of OUR Walmart for workers engaged in struggles for better working conditions and higher wages. This research finds support for Bennett and Segerberg’s model of large-scale action networks. Moreover, this research suggests that organizationally enabled networks are an effective means of coordinating class struggle.

Full article available HERE

World Book and Copyright Day

Come join me as I do a reading for World Book and Copyright Day!

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A Collaborative Literary Performance in the Public Domain

Thursday, April 23, 2015, 9:00 am – 7:30 pm, or until finished

Robarts Library, 2nd floor lobby

Free Admission | Open to the public

Join us for a public and collaborative reading of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in its entirety in celebration of World Book and Copyright Day. World Book and Copyright Day is an event in honor of authorship and literacy and raises awareness about authors’ rights and users’ rights.

Brought to you by University of Toronto Libraries’ Scholarly Communications and Copyright Office and the University of Toronto CAPAL student chapter.

Love is Ordinary

50thThis past February my parents marked their 50th wedding anniversary. Family and friends gathered in Wharton, Texas to help them celebrate. These are some photos from the occasion. Fifty years of marriage strikes me as both joyous and arduous. Most of what I know about marriage has come from my family. I once had a wedding of my own but I never had a marriage. As I consider what makes for a successful union I look to my parents, my brother’s family, and many of my friends’ families. Although there are many ingredients to a successful marriage, two things stand out for me: understanding and bravery.

Love is not enough. Despite all the emphasis on the union of two individuals, it is critical to recognize that relationships are experienced separately by each individual. Shared experience is a lie. You and your partner will have different feelings and perspectives. Hence we must cultivate a deeper understanding of ourselves and of each other. This begins with attention to self. Continue reading

Loss and a Little Dog

liloo1My father is fond of telling the tale of how Liloo once caused a stampede. It was about 15 years ago when Liloo was still a pup. I can’t remember why, but at the time we were running two bulls with the herd. Liloo happened upon the bulls in a field next to the red barn and began circling them and barking loudly. At first the bulls just stared blankly at her. Gradually they became agitated and charged her, trying their best to stomp her under hoof. There was little I could do other than yell at Liloo as I watched events unfold. She paid me no mind as she weaved figure eights in and around the bulls, all the while barking. Eventually the bulls became spooked by her tenacity and began to run. They ran about a hundred yards down to the creek and then up a steep embankment on the other side. Liloo was snapping at their heels the whole way. They rejoined the herd on the far side of the creek and it was at this point that the stampede began. If I recall correctly, it was only about 15 to 20 head of cattle, but that is more than enough for a potentially dangerous situation. I continued to yell in vain as Liloo chased the herd into the hills beyond. She was little more than a small black dot when she disappeared over the event horizon. I stood there waiting for a good 5 minutes before that Continue reading

Come join me for Conscious Activism Documentary Series

web_tile_docseriesI’ll be taking part in a panel around a screening of #Chicago Girl at Hart House as part of the Hancock Lecture Series on February 9th from 6-9pm.

Come witness the new kind of revolution manifested in recent years through computer technology and social media with #ChicagoGirl: The Social Network Takes on a Dictator. This documentary tells the story of teenager Ala’a Basatneh who helps to coordinate the Syrian revolution from her Chicago home through Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Google maps, and camera phones. Through these means Ala’a helps to network activists on the ground in Syria to gain momentum in facing a dictator and to gather evidence through camera technology to inform the world of the human rights atrocities occurring.

This documentary illuminates how technology and media that have become part of everyday living for many young people can be used as tools for activism and solidarity with causes occurring all over the world.

Watch the trailer: http://www.chicagogirlfilm.com/#!trailer/c1aol

For more info: http://harthouse.ca/events/documentary-series-chicagogirl-the-social-network-takes-on-a-dictator/

Come join me for Lunch and Learn at Hart House

Harthouse_torontoPart of the 2015 Hart House Hancock Lecture: The Myth of Slacktivism

Lunch and Learn: How to Kickstart Your Own Slacktivist Movement

Details: Speakers will be invited to share their experience with social media in non-profit and fundraising realms in an informal lunch setting. Students will be prompted to discuss practical applications of their skills and passions, discuss possibilities and limitations of social media activism, and network with illustrious speakers in a comfortable environment.

Speakers include Sheila Sampath, founder and editor of Shameless Magazine and Brett Caraway, Professor of Digital Media and Cultural Studies at UTM and iSchool.

When: Wed., Jan. 21, 2015, 11:30 am-1: 30 pm
Where: South Dining Room, Hart House
Cost: Free / Lunch provided / Register online

http://harthouse.ca/events/lunch-and-learn-how-to-kickstart-your-own-slacktivist-movement/

ICCIT Student Samantha Holmes Featured on CBC The National

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ICCIT student Samantha Holmes was recently featured on The National. In fact, our whole class (CCT109 Contemporary Communication Technology) managed to ride Samantha’s coattails for a few seconds. See the video at the link below (10:33) and be sure to check out Samantha’s YouTube channel while you are at it.

Living the Digital Dream
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Last Lecture Series

1112We asked Brett Caraway what would be his last lecture if he were going to die tomorrow, the last lesson he would want to give to his students.

That is what the Last Lecture Series is all about. Come out on Friday, October 10th to learn about Existentialism and what it means to “be”. It will be held in IB 150 at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

Social Media & Society 2014

SMS_LOGO_mediumI will be presenting some of my current research on networked social movements at the 2014 International Conference of Social Media & Society at Ryerson University in downtown Toronto. This particular research examines the utilization of social media platforms by a number of Canadian labor unions for purposes of recruitment and labor action coordination.

Participation or Exploitation?

Wages For Facebook, 2014. Poster design by Eric Nylund and Laurel Ptak.

Wages For Facebook, 2014. Poster design by Eric Nylund and Laurel Ptak.

I’ll be leading two sessions in this wonderful reading group put together by my intrepid ICCIT comrade Nicole Cohen and Christine Shaw of Blackwood Gallery. I’ll be discussing the economics of advertising in social media and the rise of networked social movements. Be sure to check out the full schedule and suggested readings at the following link: Blackwood Gallery

2015 UDC Conference at the University of Toronto

UDC 2015 Conference

2015 UDC Conference

The Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology (ICCIT) will host the 2015 Union for Democratic Communications conference May 1st-3rd at the downtown campus of the University of Toronto. The call for papers is available on the conference website: http://udc2015.wordpress.com/cfp/

We look forward to seeing you in Toronto!