The Accidental Social Movement: An Examination of Hybrid Social Movements Through the "It Gets Better" Campaign
- Purpose of Research Proposal: To examine the societal and cultural effects of online content that “goes viral” and becomes an accidental social movements.
- Literature Review Sections:
- New Communication Technology
- Media system dependency theory
- The nature of online platforms is unique. The freedom from geographical constraints coupled
with the ability to control much of the content on one’s own profile page has proven to be
useful to members of minority groups who may not have contact with each other in traditional
communication settings. This ability to breakdown geographical barriers is one of a myriad of
reasons SNS are a unique and uncharted form of media. Unlike traditional forms of media--
television, telephone, newspapers, etc.—that were examined when MSDT was first
conceptualized, the information flow between users, and the system is much more dynamic.
Specifically, when MSDT was first conceptualized, the flow of information between users and the
media system, with the media system controlling the content and flow of information (Ball-
Rokeach & DeFleur, 1976). This however, is no longer the case in regards to SNS.
- NCT also provides a unique platform within which individuals have found ways to challenge the
notions of traditional intellectual property as articulated by Coleman.
- The Virtual Public Sphere
- Outlines both traditional concepts of the public sphere (like Habermas) and the challenges to it
by scholars like Warner, Fraser and Hall.
- Using both Rowe and Bhabha’s concepts of in-betweenness (or liminality). This public sphere
occupies an “in-between” space where actions within virtual spaces affect the material world and
- Social Movements
- Castells conceptualization of social movements in the information age with online social
- The concept of slacktivism, or “armchair activism”
- -scapes and globalization
- Appadurai’s scapes (ideo-, techno-, media-, finance-, and ethno-) which are complicated by both
Tsing’s notions of friction and West’s complications of this flow.
- How these scapes are complimented and complicated by the virtual realm.
- Object of Analysis: This study will use the "It Gets Better" campaign to examine the effects of image
events that inadvertently become social movements.
-Research Question: RQ1: How does the “purely online nature” of the movement affect its effectiveness at
the global, national and local scale?
- Method: Uses the framework of Appadurai's -scapes and queer standpoint theory.
- Projected Argument: Because the It Gets Better campaign is an unorthodox social movement, it's effects are also unorthodox.
- Implications (Stakes): By examining these "accidental social movements," we can learn about how they effect change at various social scales.
The fact that much of the movement is online is of specific interest to me, especially in regards to Hall’s (1996) notions of the displacements of centered discourses and how they apply to discourses within the virtual realm. Also, I believe that because the movement is not prescriptive, calling for specific actions by the government, but merely asking for queer youth to be patient until it gets better, the It Gets Better campaign acts as little more than just a global media event with moments mirroring a social movement. I am also, aware of the fact that perhaps the It Gets Better campaign is a new kind of movement, one that does not illicit relatively immediate change like movements within the Arab Spring did, but is a movement that will happen over the course of years or even decades when individuals who are raised on tolerance, acceptance and hope eventually take over the positions of power within the government and society.