OUR Walmart: a case study of connective action, by Brett Caraway
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.
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