Alum Jen Schradie at UCB

02 Feb, 2018

Alum Jen Schradie at UCB

Jen Schradie gave a talk in Barrows, The Digital Activism Gap: Social Media, Social Movements and Social Class, on January 22, 2018.

From the event:
Rather than early utopian claims of Facebook and Twitter Revolutions or more recent fears of dystopian threats to democracy, such as Russian bots, state-sponsored hacking, or fake news farms, Schradie’s talk will reveal a more insidious problem: the digital activism gap. Scholars suggest that low costs to digital activism broaden participation and challenge conventional collective action theories, but a focus on digital elites and extraordinary events leaves scant information about the effect of social class on digital mobilization patterns and everyday practices. Instead, Schradie’s approach incorporated all groups involved in one statewide political issue, thereby including organizations with different social class and political ideology compositions, from Tea Parties to labor unions. With an index to measure digital engagement from an original data set of over 90,000 online posts, findings show deep digital activism inequalities between working-class and middle-to-upper class groups. A prototypical digital activist was more likely to be a college-educated conservative patriot than a working-class left protester. In-depth interviews and ethnographic observations reveal that the mechanisms of this digital activism gap include racialized fear, organizational resources, and individual constraints. Rather than reduced costs equalizing online participation, substantial costs contribute to digital activism inequality. These findings were just published in an article in Social Problems and are part of book project for Harvard University Press.

About Jen

Jen Schradie, PhD, is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse and the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme et de la Société, Université de Toulouse, in France. She received her PhD from the Department of Sociology at the University of California-Berkeley with a designated emphasis in New Media. She also has a master’s degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Her broad research agenda interrogates digital democracy claims with empirical data. Despite recent panic about digital threats to democracy, many theorists have still suggested that the Internet can enable a more participatory, pluralist society. But Schradie’s research challenges these claims with inequality research on the digital divide, digital activism, and digital labor.