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The media practices of social movements: a critical overview of the literature

June 23, 2017

Invited lecture to the Summer School on Media in Political Participation and Mobilization,  Centre on Social Movement Studies, Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences, Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence, 29 June 2017.

In this talk I review an emerging area of scholarship centred on the media practices of social movements. I distinguish two broad camps. First, there are authors who use the notion of media practices as a methodological conduit to reach one or more aspects of a given social movement. Second, there are others who ask what we actually mean by ‘media practices’ in the context of social movements research (e.g. Mattoni 2012), seeking answers in the recent ‘practice turn’ in media theory (Couldry 2004, Bräuchler and Postill 2010). Both camps are doing valuable work in their own right, but it is only the second camp that faces serious epistemological challenges, including (1) the mediation vs. mediatisation fork, (2) how to separate one media practice from another (Christensen and Røpke 2010), (3) whether to differentiate between media practices and media actions, (4) how to understand the life and afterlife of transient practices, e.g. those of square occupations, and (5) what to do with the notion of communicative practices, as opposed to media practices.

John Postill, RMIT

Two key readings

Kubitschko, S. (2015). Hackers’ media practices: demonstrating and articulating expertise as interlocking arrangements. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 21(3), 388-402.

Boler, M., Macdonald, A., Nitsou, C., & Harris, A. (2014). Connective labor and social media: Women’s roles in the ‘leaderless’ Occupy movement. Convergence, 20(4), 438-460.

Further reading


One Comment leave one →
  1. July 14, 2017 1:46 pm

    The abstract sounds very intriguing. It would be great if any sort of the recording of this would be available.

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