Jennifer Earl and Katrina Kimport
5.0 out of 5.0 Stars Paradigm-challenging
By Bruce B on September 19, 2011
Earl & Kimport take on what I like to think of as the silent debate between scholars of digital media and collective action on the one hand, and many traditional experts on social movements, protest, interest groups, and political mobilization on the other. The traditional view encompasses the concession that collective action can happen quickly now because of digital media; but that view has been, frankly, rather skeptical that anything important is happening. Or at least that digital media are really central to those visibly important developments that do occur in the present era.
Earl & Kimport throw down a serious challenge, by arguing that there is more going on than decreased costs and speed in the world of protest and social movements: resource accumulation is not a pre-requisite, organization-building is not necessary, co-presence is not necessary, and neither is a strongly shared collective identity. They are interested in what this means theoretically.
A key part of their argument is that digital media make costs a variable, whereas costs were previously understood as a fixed requirement of social movements. When costs are variable, then so are things that depend on costs, such as organization.