Repression

Notes from the class session on Repression

Part 1. Book Review Presentation

We started this class with a book report from Garrett on Saving Florida by Leslie Kemp Poole. Saving Florida offers a historical account of environmental activism and its intersection with feminism in Florida. For the book review, check out Garrett’s blog post.

Some key takeaways from Garrett’s presentation:

  • In early 20th century, women “considered home and garden their domain,” and engaged in environmental issues by participating in women’s clubs and Audubon societies. While women were disenfranchised politically, they undertook grassroots activism to influence policy decisions. The tactics they employed include: gathering petitions; influencing public opinion by contributing articles to local newspapers; convincing their husbands using the Lysystrata strategy.
  • The mid-20th century saw the growth of ecological arguments. Women were gaining political equity and disrupting the dominant male hegemony. They play a key role in shifting the public opinion around pollution. Whereas the male-dominated government considered pollution as a by-product of “progress,” women took a moral high ground in arguing for the preservation of the environment for the future of their children.
  • Poole also discusses the question of environmental justice and inequalities faced by Black people and Native people. Race is a strong predictor of environmental injustice. African Americans were more likely to live near hazardous waste (Superfund sites) compared to whites. Garrett finds the data for this discussion are thin. EPA steps in to clean up hazardous waste (Superfund sites), but poor implementation of Superfund site cleanup by EPA caused additional issues.

Further discussion:

  • We talked about white feminism, settler colonialism, native genocide and displacement.
  • Women took on heavier organization roles in movements that also included men.

 

Part 2. Discussion of Readings

We then turned to discuss readings assigned for the week:

 

  • We used the protest in Puerto Rico that was taking place on May 1 (International Workers Day) as a starting point for this discussion. The Puerto Rican government is bankrupt (with $72 billion in debt), and workers and students were leading the protest against the government.
  • What kind of protest policing is used? The Puerto Rican government militarized protest policing. Police infiltrated student and worker movements, kidnapped students without identifying themselves, circulated false narratives via mass media to shift public opinion (e.g., police said protesters had bombs when in fact they didn’t). Information on social media revealed that this was not true, and the public was upset. People used social media to circulate alternate information and kept track of protesters who were taken away but not released.
  • Any changes in protest policing since the period covered in the “Policing Protest” article (1960-1995)? Overall, the policing pattern kept up. But there has also been militarization of protest police. Why?
    • 1980’s war on drugs framing: More money allocated to support certain types of militarization of local protest police.
    • Federal program to resell/grant surplus military weapons from the Gulf War. By 2002-3, many local forces had acquired weapons from the Gulf War. Many people argue that such program should be dismantled.
    • Much of these came after this article was written.
  • Sasha brought up the concept of differentiated policing. Both types of protest policing (escalated and managed policing) are used today, differentiated by race and geographical location (e.g., racially diverse group of MIT students protesting vs Latin or Black Americans in east Boston protesting). Sasha also noted that people have vastly different experience of protest policing depending on race, class, etc. Part of what makes conversation about protest policing so difficult is that there is differentiated policing.
  • It’s hard for police to maintain control over protest policing narratives with the advent of handheld camera. It’s easy to capture video and circulate counter-narratives.
  • Escalated force policing often leads to more cycles of protest/struggles. If police uses force to shut down protest, more sympathy goes to the protesters.
  • In non-US contexts: A little bit of violence can be counter-productive, but if you are willing to be forceful, you can keep residents from protesting in the short term. Direct experiences in state violence can silence people, especially if recourse seems unattainable. State oppression PTSD is very common.

 

Part 3. Guest speaker, Mike Lee, Co-founder, With Purpose

With Purpose is an organization raising money for childhood cancer awareness. There has been little progress on treatment of childhood cancer from over 30 years ago. Childhood cancers are under-researched, because market is small and not profitable.

With Purpose works primarily with youth-led activism, a lot of it online. They have formed academic and community partnerships and worked with service learning groups. They have organized activities with a wide range of age groups from kindergarteners to college students. How can the org get more students and people interested?

Questions & suggestions from class:

  • Consider confrontational direct action tactics. Act Up was brought up as an example of medical activism. Act Up used confrontational direct action tactics: throwing dollar bills at the NYSE got them a lot of press. They were successful in shifting policy and redirecting large amounts of research funding.
  • Identify key social influencers, and tap their networks.
  • Think beyond viral content. Think about what you will do when your content goes viral.
  • Work with youth organizations who already host events and have strong youth bases. Groundstar and Idealist (database of non-profits) may be useful. Also reach out to student orgs on college campuses and identify federated forms of organizations.

 

Book Review: Zeynep Tufekci’s Twitter and Tear Gas

In Twitter and Tear Gas, Tufekci offers an insightful analysis of the recent wave of networked social movements. Tufecki grounds her analysis on her personal experiences as a participant, participant observer, and ally in several antiauthoritarian uprisings, including the Gezi Park protests in Turkey, the Zapatistas in Mexico, the Tahrir Square protests in Egypt, and the Occupy movement in the US. Her analysis is further informed by on-the-ground interviews with activists and protest participants.

Tufekci argues that in order to understand the new movements like the Gezi Park protests of 2013, the Tahrir Square protests of 2011, or the Occupy movement, we have to comprehend the evolving landscape in which political culture and digital technologies interact in complex ways. These new movements may be indiscernible from pre-digital protests like those of the civil rights movements in terms of their visible forms and intermediate outputs (e.g. street protest size), yet they form and operate quite differently from past protests.

A key contribution of this book is the development and application of capacities and signals framework to social movements. Adapting Amartya Sen’s “capabilities” approach from the field of development, Tufekci emphasizes the analytical shift needed from outputs and outcomes (such as protest size and number of protests) to capacities underlying movements. Tufekci in particular highlights three kinds of social movement capacities that are critical to the exercise of collective power: their capacity to set a narrative (narrative capacity), disrupt the operations of an existing system (disruptive capacity), and achieve changes in elections and/or institutions (electoral and/or institutional capacity). Seen through the lens of capacity formation, the Tahrir Square protest of 2011 had strong narrative and disruptive capacities but had weak electoral capacity, partly due to the political culture that is rooted in institutional distrust. Electoral and/or institutional capacity is something that Tufekci sees consistently underdeveloped in the new wave of antiauthoritarian movements. Further, Tufekci suggests that how movements signal their capacities to those in power and how these signals are interpreted matter greatly for movement trajectories.

Tufekci traces the power and weaknesses of newer movements to both the political culture and digital technologies. Tufekci makes an important observation that terms like “networked public sphere” and “networked social movements” do not signify “online only” or even “online primarily.” The dynamics of public spheres and the ways movements operate have been reconfigured by the introduction of digital technologies. This reconfiguration broadly affects not just online activities, but online, offline, and hybrid instantiations of public spheres and social movement activities. To illustrate, in the case of Egypt in 2011, even though only 25% of the population was online, they altered the contours of public discourse across the whole society by sharing  what they saw online with their networks through other means as well (face-to-face conversations, phone calls, or texting).

Tufekci also highlights the ways in which digital technologies have heightened the “attention economy” where human attention has become a scarce, but hotly sought-after commodity in a landscape marked by information glut (see Tim Wu’s The Attention Merchant). Tufekci approaches social movements as a fight for attention, and conceptualizes censorship as denial of attention through various means. Focusing on shifts in attention as a key analytical construct proves to be fruitful in explaining movement trajectories and tactics, as well as government responses to protests. In the years leading up to the Gezi Park protests, social media provided a means of bringing attention to news that were denied attention in the mainstream media. Participants in Black Lives Matter succeeded in shifting the amount of attention paid to police brutality by tweeting images of police violence. In response, some state actors learned to adjust their tactics for containing the protests over time. In China, the government employs tactics that deny and divert attention, for example, by flooding public spheres with other attention-grabbing news in times of protests.

Tufekci discusses how modern networked movements, thanks to social media, can gather momentum and scale up in a matter of few days. In contrast, older movements like the March in Washington in 1963 were organized over long periods of time, during which people learned to work together, build trust, and develop capacities for collective decision-making. Protests in the Gezi Parks or the Tahrir Square did not undergo such a capacity-building process to establish what Tufekci calls “network internalities,” the internal gains achieved by movement networks as network actors learn to act together and develop collective decision-making processes over time.

Such weaknesses are deeply intertwined with the participatory and horizontal culture of modern movements that emphasizes individual expression and eschews formal organizations. The Gezi Park protests, for example, were leaderless by design. Many showed up to the protests representing their own voices and selves, and the point precisely was that they were not being represented by another. When the government of Turkey was ready to negotiate with the people during the Gezi Park protests, the protesters did not have mechanisms to make demands and decisions collectively. Thus, such movements often run into “tactical freezes” after the initial expansion phase, when shifts in tactics are needed at critical juncture points.

This thought-provoking book takes the reader through various social movements with vivid encounters and memorable stories. Tufekci convincingly argues that the defining features of modern networked movements are not merely by-products of technology, but also deeply rooted in the political culture. Key contributions of this book include the many concepts and analytical frameworks the author develops to shed light on longer-term trajectories of networked social movements.

Review: #RhodesMustFall: Nibbling at Resilient Colonialism in South Africa

“Makwerekwere, a mostly derogatory term for a perceived stranger who is most likely to be mistaken for ‘one of us’ “

In this timely, brilliant book, Francis Nyamnjoh uses the Rhode Must Fall (RMF) protests as a starting point to ask questions about citizenship and belonging in South Africa and Africa. He argues that the nation state of South Africa, much like Cecil Rhodes, is preoccupied with making visible certain kinds of citizenship. Cecil Rhodes granted this visibility based on how far the native sons and daughters he encountered matched up to the “imperial will and tastes of the British”. The South African state on the other hand, uses “bounded notions of culture and geography” to grant visibility to citizens. These notions have been shaped by a history of “visible and invisible mobilities”. Nyamnjoh traces this history of mobilities that have produced a shifting set of makwerekwere, from Cecil Rhodes to current day black Africans outsiders to understand the RMF movement.

Nyamnjoh claims that Cecil Rhodes and his ilk were the original makwerekwere who came to South Africa unbidden, and conquered the land and its people with violence and cunning. The unequal encounter between colonizers like Rhodes and the native daughters and sons led to the creation of hierarchies of ‘whiteness’ that now have “less to do with skin pigmentation” and more to do with the “privileges and opportunities that come with power and its culture of control and authority”. Not even independence from colonizers have been enough to destroy these hierarchies that have been internalized over years of subjugation.

Nyamnjoh describes the creation of these circles of exclusion by Cecil Rhodes in Chapter 1: ‘Sir Cecil John Rhodes: The makwerekwere with missionary zeal’. He shows how even though Cecil Rhodes came as a makwerekwere, he used a “racism of exploitation and elimination” to turn the native South Africans he encountered into makwerekwere on their own land. To add insult to injury, Rhodes and his ilk erected monuments to indelibly etch their presence on the land they had stolen.

Nyamnjoh goes to on to show that even after independence, a resilient colonialism still preys on South Africa. He draws heavily from literature, academia and other forms of media to compellingly make his case about blacks still trapped in the never ending game of ‘whitening up’ and harboring fantasies of ‘whitening’ up, with the rules of the game still controlled by the ultimate gatekeepers of ‘whiteness’, whites themselves.

The education system in South Africa, in particular, despite all the promise that independence brought, still clings to the dichotomies of ‘civilized’ versus ‘primitive’, ‘insider’ versus ‘outside’, that are legacies of the colonial system. This manifests itself in the composition of staff and students, the diversity of the curriculum and even the physical structure of universities themselves. This legacy  has frustrated any hope of ‘self-determination’ by the new denizens of the Rainbow nation.

On 9 May, 2015, Chumani Maxwele with two placards hung around his neck reading, ‘Exhibit A: White arrogance, Exhibit B: Black assimilation’, threw excrement on the statue of Cecil Rhodes still looming large over the University of Cape Town (UCT). This act was the start of the Rhodes Must Fall movement. This movement calls for decolonization of UCT through the diversification of the curriculum, increasing the number of black students and staff, and the fall of the statue of Rhodes and other colonial relics.

Nyamnjoh provides a detailed and useful view of the movement, its methods and the response of the mass media, university authorities and the different political parties in South Africa. His account is balanced, and even though he lauds the movement and its aims, he also reveals that the movement has been criticized for  its patriarchal structure and its lack of inclusion of trans and queer voices.

Nyamnjoh adds another dimension to his analysis of the RMF protests by drawing in the question of ‘citizenship’ into the discussion. The RMF movement is primarily about the lack of representation of black South Africans rather than all black Africans. It is a movement to specifically rid South Africa of the “residual makwerekwere of yesteryear”. He thus questions the distinction between decolonization, and South-Africanization and Africanization.

In this context, he speaks about concurrent events happening in South African black townships, where impoverished South African masses called for the removal of the new makwerekwere: black Africans who have come from the ‘heart of darkness’ to South Africa; as they claimed these new outsiders were stealing their jobs. These individuals are not protected by the South African state: as evidenced by the statements made at that time about the political elite. He states that the system”thrived on freezing individuals into citizens and subjects depending on whether their lives were governed by the civic regime of laws, or by culture and tradition.” The system thus paid scant notice of “straddlers”.

He , crucially, connects this with the RMF movement and questions whether this movement is perpetuating this “zero sum game of violence” in its methods and calls for a more in-depth discussion on this.

“Mobility is at the heart of being human”.

Due to increased mobility, Nyamnjoh argues, that we shift between makwerekwere and insiders based on context. He illustrates this creatively by including a piece of fiction in his novel, Chapter 6: ‘Pure Fiction: What I almost had in common with Rhodes’. He also includes two epilogues by Moshumee Teena Dewoo and Sanya Osha that boslter this point

He questions how “accommodating” the makwerekwere of the past will be of the new vanguard of South Africans. He questions how South Africans have to reconcile themselves with their past and its legacy of structures such as language. He then questions how South Africa will deal with the future: Will it subscribe to the current system of oppression where the “next oppressor is a level below the current one”, or will South Africa be able to develop a new kind of citizenship that will accommodate “straddlers” and provides for a conviviality that is “conscious of and critical of the hierarchies that make a mockery of the judicial-political regime of citizenship.”

He leaves the reader with these questions.

Movement structure

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
(Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken… or can we take both roads?)
To discuss movement structure, we focused primarily on two readings:
Staggenborg, S. 1988. “The consequences of professionalization and formalization in the pro-choice movement.” American Sociological Review 53(4):585–605. 

 

Here are some notes on the discussions we had.

The Tyranny of Structurelessness
About the text:
  • Context: it’s coming out of the women’s movement in the 1970s, Second Wave. It’s been very influential, it’s read very widely. 
  • The insights apply to social movements but, really, any context where you have people trying to make decisions together.
  • “For everyone to have the opportunity to be involved in a given group and to participate in its activities the structure must be explicit, not implicit” is the tweet-length summary of this article.
  • It’s not just a take down of these dynamics; she actively proposes ways to address them in her principles of democratic structure.
  • Interesting responses: The tyranny of tyranny by Cathy Levine (“this all may be true, but does it mean we should abandon the ideal of creating horizontal spaces?”)
  • We know that the creative innovations that have ignited the most successful movements in history, and they didn’t come from formal structures…
Discussion:
  • The emergence of charismatic leaders.
    • Rhodes: media assigning leadership roles externally; meme pages aren’t transparent about their organization.
  • Engaging in online action: does it make it easier/harder to understand an organization’s structure?
    • Use of tactics to circumvent surveillance, like social steganography (d. boyd)
  • Layers of invisible creation of leadership (resources: money, time, education, network, cultural capital).
    • How social media amplifies this: Occupy Wall Street tried to come up with tactics to overcome this.
The consequences of professionalization and formalization in the pro-choice movement
About the text:
  • In relation to the last text, it is a “yes, and…”
  • This paper is a counter to resource mobilization theory which was big at this time.
  • Bottom-up, emergent volunteer processes ignite the movements that then become professionalized over time (and which learn how to sustain the work).
Discussion:
  • Who were the professionalized and the ad-hoc stakeholders in the movements you are studying?
  • Social movement theory as a way out of despair.

 

 

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Book Report: Culture Jamming: Hacking, Slashing, and Sniping in the Empire of Signs

The book: Culture Jamming: Hacking, Slashing, and Sniping in the Empire of Signs written by Mark Dery in 1993 looks to theorize and historicize the concept of Culture Jamming by understanding its history and philosophical foundations. To undertake that endeavor, Mark Dery structures his conceptual inquiry in four book chapters that look to understand the theory, context, and future of the concept.

   In the first chapter Empire of Signs, Dery starts by contextualizing and providing the socio-historical and economical panorama that made possible the multiplicity of culture jamming practices we know today. He argues that with the spread of TV usage in 70’s, the image became incredibly important in how we as a society understand and consume information. Furthermore, he believes that the expansion of corporate owned media, the development of media conglomerates, the supersession of the information economy from the formal economy,  created the material and ideological conditions that would provoke incredible discontent with corporations as intuitions and ignite the cultural was against them.

   In the second chapter: Culture Jamming, he explains the origins of the jamming concept: as the practice of intercepting radio conversations with noise and how Negativland coined the use of Cultural Jamming, in a 1984 JamCon, to describe the alteration of imagery referring particularly to Billboards.  Furthermore, he explains how the predominant status of imagery to shape public discourse fostered the use of imagery alteration as a political tool against corporations by introducing other interpretations on the ideas sold by capitalist institutions. Basically, using the imagery and tools that corporations used to promote and envelop society in consumerist culture against them in order to promote critical thinking for a more just and equal society.Moreover, Dery explains some of the techniques deployed by culture jammers to intercept consumerist messages 1)Snipping – dissemination of anti ads 2) Media Hoxing- creating pranks the media believes, 3) Audio Agitpropt- digital sampling that challenges copyright law, and 4)Billboard Banditry- “damaging” corporate billboards to display subversive ideas to corporate ideology.

   In the third chapter,  Guerrilla Semiotics  Dery explains how semiotics (the study of sign process and meaningful communications)  is employed in non-academic forms by activists in what Umberto Ecco called Guerrilla Semiotics (a technique to decipher the signs and symbols that constitute culture’s secret language or systems of signification) to alter our understanding of corporate messaging and capitalist ideology.

Finally chapter four, Postscript from the Edge talks about the future of signs, images and culture in the context of the electronic frontier and interactive media as substitutes for TV. In the chapter, He poses more questions than answers. He wonders: who is going to able to participate in the production? Will it be helpful for further critique or detrimental? Will it further promote consumer culture or limit it? Nevertheless, he ends up on a hopeful note. He states that even though cyberspace might have its faults (underrepresentation/harassment of minorities, etc) it can be seen as a more democratic space for cultural production and for the dissemination of transgressive communications.

Dery’s theoretical development of the culture jamming concept allows us to understand its uses as a political tool as well as its origins. Furthermore, it allows us to understand the power that mediated information has in construction public opinion and shaping power structures in our organized society. The concepts that he presents are incredibly useful to understand not only our political and ideological concept but how we can perform engage mediated politics in the future.

Bibliography

Dery, Mark. 1993. “Mark Dery › Culture Jamming: Hacking, Slashing, and Sniping in the Empire of Signs.” http://markdery.com/?page_id=154.

Saving Florida by Leslie Kemp Poole: A Book Report

Saving Florida: Women’s Fight for the Environment in the Twentieth Century by Leslie Kemp Poole (2015)

About the Author

Leslie Kemp Poole is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. A writer and historian, she achieved a PhD in History from the University of Florida. Prior to academia, she was a reporter for several newspapers and is also a freelance writer. Her interests are in the role of women in the environmental movement (the subject of this book).

Methods

Saving Florida is published by the University Press of Florida. As such, the book is very academic in nature, including endnotes, a bibliography and index at the back of the book. That said, the book is written for a popular audience; the text is accessible to readers with little background and the language is engaging. Poole includes plenty of quotes in her text, not solely from academics, but also quotes contemporary to her subject. She situates the events in the book with brief consideration of national events, such as pertinent national policy decisions and the activities of national organizations like the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.

Poole writes this book using resources gathered from historical societies, women’s and garden clubs, museum and college archives, newspapers, interviews and “formal oral histories.” The focus of the book is on women and the environmental movement, as such, much discussion of the role of men is limited and lacks strong discussion of the African American community, whose goals were oriented at improving quality of life rather than protecting the environment. These missing viewpoints are acknowledged by Poole in the introduction, as well as those of the state’s Seminole and Miccosukee Indian perspectives. The missing points of view reflect not just a lack of current literature on the subject, but also the deficiency with which state and local entities interacted and discoursed with those populations during the 20th century.

Synopsis

Poole centers her discussion around numerous female leaders within their communities. Oftentimes these women have political power before starting their environmental campaigns. For example, Katherine Bell Tippetts was a “well-educated widow of a foreign correspondent” who took control of her husband’s hotel and real estate when he passed and May Mann Jennings, married to a former governor of Florida and daughter to a businessman who was very involved in Florida’s politics. In the later half of the 20th century, leading activists like Diane Dunmire Barile, who earned a master’s in ecology, had an academic background in science. The fight for environment protections started out heavily in grassroots movements that necessitated large-scale organizing and petitioning of governments. This evolved, after many federal and state laws were enacted, into fundraising for legal battles; around this time the larger organizations dwindled as single-issue, locally oriented. This shift occurred as women were gaining political power on local scales across the nation and an understanding of ecology was forming.

At the turn of the 20th century, women had a well-defined role in “municipal housecleaning.” Women, at the time, “considered the home and garden their domain,” and engaged in women’s clubs, expanding their role to wider community issues. Poole argues that this instilled an idea that women were the moral voice of the community, and their responsibility extended beyond their home. They increasingly saw the environment as part of their domain, as they saw it as their duty to ensure they lived in a clean environment. They were initially driven to maintain the beauty of the nature that compelled them to reside in the state, and later in the century, when pollution was rampant, the frame evolved into women needing to clean up men’s mess.

Saving Florida is divided into three parts. Part I, “Working through women’s groups,” deals with the start of the conservative movement in Florida and the nation, covering the early 20th century. This section is valuable within social movement theory for Poole’s coverage of the tactics used by women’s clubs to force policy decisions at a time when women were disenfranchised and largely not taken seriously by men in power. This section highlights the strength of grassroots activism and framing. Framing comes into play as different messages are needed to convince women and men for the cause due to the gendered roles of society at the time.

Part II, “Operating in Female-Male Groups,” covers the middle to late 20th century, when the science of ecology is developing and women are defining new roles within the political sphere. A rise in the prevalence of science and lobbying is immediately evident. Poole goes into more detail on a number of big projects during this section than the previous. During this time, federal regulations are passed to combat pollution. Rather than using strength of numbers, as they had done in the early 20th century, women were in public office and positioned to have a voice in traditionally male-dominated circles.

Part III, “Women Take the Lead,” is largely a closing section, wrapping up with chapters on environmental justice and important women leaders not previously mentioned. The coverage within these chapters include more national context than the in the previous sections, and are included moreso for completeness. Poole uses these chapters to discuss the role of African American women and Florida’s Indian population during the time period.

Part I: “Working Through Women’s Groups”

Poole starts the book talking about Audubon societies. Named after the ornithologist James Audubon, Audubon societies sought protection of birds. Women’s fashion of the late 19th to early 20th century included hats displaying feathers or bird parts. Because of this, birds were hunted aggressively across the nation as it was very profitable. Clara Dommerich, a wintering resident of Florida helped to establish the Florida Audubon Society (FAS) based on Audubon societies in other states. While protecting the birds was certainly on the mind of some members, many Florida residents moved there due to the beauty and nature of Florida, so loss of the songbirds directly impacted that aesthetic value. According to Poole. “women carried much of the organizational workload” within FAS. FAS distributed reports and leaflets throughout the state and had many success including establishing the first federal bird reservation in the United States through appealing to President Theodore Roosevelt (the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge).

One example Poole gives of the methods used by Audubon societies involves Katherine Bell Tippets. Tippets, with the help of other women, presented to the state legislature a seventy-foot long petition of signatures to convince an all-male legislature to pass a measure protecting the robin. Additionally, the members of societies like FAS or the Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs (FFWC) worked closely with newspapers to publish articles and statements. In this way, they could educate the public or rebuke their opponents unfounded claims. Poole writes, “by contributing articles to local newspapers and women’s club publications, Tippetts kept her message at the forefront.” Other tactics involved sending letters and telegrams to congressional leaders — which would be very convincing with the large number of members within these women’s clubs. Another involved “invoking Lysistrata” whereby women threatened to withhold, in this example, pie, from those in the legislature until their demands were met.

There were many efforts at this time to designate certain plots of lands as state parks, and to preserve the state’s forests, that were disappearing due to unregulated logging. Even after winning policy and being granted funds, the women’s clubs often had to continue to fight in order to ensure that all of the funds were given to them. When presenting their argument, the women general gave two arguments: One focusing on the aesthetic value of nature, appealing to maternal senses, and another exhorting economic benefits in hopes to appeal to the male psyche.

This section concludes with a chapter on city beautification efforts. This chapter is one of the few points in the book where Poole acknowledges the African American community. She gives nod to Eartha M. M. White, for working hard to secure a playground in an era “burdened by Jim Crow laws.” An important reminder that much of the progress was won in white communities, and rarely extended to the disenfranchised African Americans.

Part II: “Operating in Female-Male Groups”

Poole makes it very clear in within this section that ecology is not well understood throughout Florida (or the United States) at this point in history. Having land set aside as a state park did not ensure that it was maintained as a natural environment with native plants. Drainage of swamps was considered acceptable; benefits of forest fires were unthinkable. This is an important realization, as what was a good conservation effort in the 1920s could be considered unacceptable nowadays and establishes the importance of the science of ecology. This section sees the rise of science in convincing legislatures to impose regulations and shifting public opinion, notably with the release of Silent Spring in 1966. Women are gaining political equity and further disrupting the dominant male hegemony.

Pollution is a major issue that arises in this section and threatened Florida’s aesthetic appeal, water supplies and health of residents. With Florida’s population booming only after the second world war, Floridians weren’t caught off guard as much as the big cities in the northeast and midwest were. Despite that, the phosphate industry was strong within the state and could devote a lot of money to lobbying, situating itself as a big opponent of the environmental movement. The phosphate industry resulted in eutrophication in many lakes and rivers, disrupting the natural balance within those ecosystems. Outside the phosphate industry, sewage dumping was very common. From Poole’s framework, women were key in changing public opinion, as the male-dominant government considered pollution as a side effect of progress. Much of the debate was conservation versus industry.

Marjorie Harris Carr was a persistent activist who sought to stop the construction of a canal through North Florida. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was constructing the Cross Florida Barge Canal. Carr used scientific knowledge, economic and legal research, expert testimony, a grassroots letter writing campaign and public education to warn the public of the dangers of this project, which was well underway by the time the public was concerned. Unconvinced, state officials voted to continue the project, and a furious Carr “turned her kitchen into  the campaign’s command center, complete with a whirring Xerox machine.” She sought support from news media and scientists. She portrayed herself as a housewife to catch politicians and engineers unaware and garner public sympathy and publicity. The media promoted an image of the mother versus a military bureaucracy, elevating the campaign to national attention. Carr became more aggressive, and with the political climate surrounding the Vietnam War, problems in the Everglades and other ongoing protests, eventually stopped the building of the canal after over $70 million had been invested in its construction.

The above is only one example provided in this section of a powerful display of women carving out a space within the public sphere. This section highlights the progress of women through the century, as opportunities for education grows.

Part III: “Women Take the Lead”

This is the shortest section of the two.The first chapter addresses the inequalities faced by African Americans and the local Indian population. The aboriginal Floridians vanished in the early eighteenth century as a result of imperialism. The tribes residing in Florida at the time were Seminole and Miccosukee Indians who migrated from Alabama and Georgia. Their populations within the state were small, however, as many of the Indians were relocated to Oklahoma along the Trail of Tears. Those left lived in the surrounding areas of the Everglades. A few women rallied for support of the Indians; although, the support was often what was deemed appropriate from the white perspective, as the natives were never consulted. The lands they were granted were often not suitable for their lifestyle, or they were transplanted without consideration of their preferences. There were some women, such as Harriet Mary Bedell who directly interacted with the Miccosukee people to support them and preserve their culture, including a trip to Washington, D.C., “to prevent Japanese imitations from being sold in America.” Rightfully distrustful of the state government’s interests, the Miccosukee Indians hired legal help to fight the State of Florida on tightening pollution requirements.

Poole’s also discusses African Americans, and their propensity to live near hazardous waste (Florida Superfund) sites compared to whites. Her discussion on the issue and related transgressions are unsatisfying, however. Including the discussion in the next chapter on the Civil Rights movement, this issue isn’t addressed as thoroughly as in similar examples in Parts I and II. Nevertheless, she accurately captures the systematic pollution of African American communities with a couple of detailed examples.

Lastly, Poole talks about activists in the farmworker community. The farmworker community, she explains, is often forgotten by the public seeking local interests or overlooked in government policy. Poole paints this activist community as relatively young, citing work as recent as 2011.

Her last chapter, titled “Women Leaders,” takes another look at the progression of women in the public sphere from a broader perspective than that explored within the rest of the book. “We are the beneficiaries of [early female activists’] gritty determination,” Poole concludes. Saving Florida is certainly worth the read for understanding the efficacy of grassroots organizing and the role women played at shaping society in the 20th century. This report is certainly not exhaustive of the topics discussed.

Movement Outcomes

When social movement theorists study the consequences of a social movement, they are predominantly concerned with three types of outcomes:

  • Political: changes in policy, political discourse, political parties, etc.
  • Biographical: effects on the lives of social movement participants, such as career path, attitudes towards subsequent movements and political ideas.
  • Cultural: changes in culture, which could be evident in anything from fashion to media discourse.

This week the class read about how our understanding of these types of outcomes is shifting, how various types of outcomes are related and other categories of outcomes that might exist.

Our discussion began with an example of biographical outcomes: the case of an MIT student, who was heavily involved in campus activism in the late 60s and early 70s, and later became the president of a community college. As a result of their experience with social movements, they became more sympathetic to student concerns on campus, as well as issues in their community.

This raised the question of what happens when social movement participants pursue career paths within the institutions that they once protested and become targets of movements themselves. It is possible, for instance, that their previous movement participation will make them more tolerant of a social movement, even when they are its target. However, if the social movement participant has become disillusioned by their previous experience, it can make them even less tolerant.

Another student commented on the difficulty of retaining activist commitments throughout a lifetime, suggesting that, in Puerto Rico, this does not always seem to be the case. Often people use social movements as a stepping stone to a political career and subsequently lose sympathy for the social movements that they had participated in.

Another student expressed skepticism about our ability to measure movement outcomes. What constitutes evidence for social change, they wondered, and how accurately can it be tied to social movements?

In effort to answer these questions, the class worked as a group to brainstorm the ways in which social movement theorists might attempt to measure outcomes of various types. We came up with lists for possible dependent variables for measuring biographical, cultural, political, mobilization and infrastructural outcomes.

In response, a student raised the question of how to show causality. In other words, they wanted to know how properly controlled studies could be performed in context where a variety of factors could be influencing the dependent variables being measured. Along these lines, they wondered whether the dependent variables being studied actually indicated the outcome being measured. As in the case of Twitter, social movement scholars sometimes make the mistake of assuming that discussion on Twitter is representative of discussion offline.

The class took on the challenge and attempted to design a controlled study to measure personal learning as evidence for a biographical outcome. We determined that interviews and surveys could constitute evidence for skills learned and knowledge gained, but it would be difficult to show causality without conducting surveys both before and after the activism took place.

It was also pointed out that, in the context of social movements, some scholars reject the notion that it is necessary or useful to show causality, since social movements always take place in complex environments under the influence of complex combination of interrelated factors. Other social movement scholars turn instead to studies of new ideas, concepts and theories being generated by social movements, such as feminist activism and its relation to the history of feminist thought.

Our discussion concluded with infrastructural outcomes, on often overlooked consequence of social movements, which merits further study. Examples included how the access to infrastructure is often won as a result of the demands of social movement actors; as well as how online resources, such as mailing lists and software, created for activism can be applied in other contexts.