Strategic Media Practice in the Chicana/o Movement: Comparing the UFW and the Occupy Movement

The original image can be found at the UFW website:

Strategic Media Practice in the Chicana/o Movement


Coming from a Chicana/o Studies background, I have had ample opportunity to examine most of the key elements that comprise the Chicana/o Movement.  From the plight of farm workers in Delano with the UFW to the Chicana/o Moratorium, I have had the opportunity to review literature covering organizational structures, models of leadership, and heteronormative and patriarchal barriers in the movement.  However, as I have entered the field of Media Studies, I have been urged to constantly look back and compare the strategic media practices with those of the past. The problem that I have encountered, however, is that very little literature exists that specifically examines media as its own arm of organizing within the context of the Chicano Movement. There are exceptions, but they are few.

This problem is strikingly different from movements today, where twitter and Facebook are weighed equally against hunger strikes and picket lines when organizing for sociopolitical action. Recently, the world watched as Occupy Wall Street called for attention to unequal wealth distribution in the United States, much of which involved social media. We may be in a time of heightened consciousness regarding our media and technology practices, but we must not mistake this awareness with “newness,” because if we trace history, we can find multiple examples of media in social movements. From fliers, to signs on pickets, to murals, different forms of media have been central to many social movements in the United States, including the Chicana/o Movement.

As part of this final research project, I intend to provide a historical survey of media practices in the Chicano Movements and compare them to the current Occupy Movement. These movements are very different, so it will be important to set parameters in order to allow fair comparisons between the movements. The Occupy Movement is a relatively young movement compared to the Chicano Movement, which spans decades (and into the present, depending on how it is defined). For this reason I will limit my scope to the first five years of the Chicano Movement (depending also on the available literature that articulates strategic media practices). Also, much emphasis will be placed on the organizing strategies of the United Farm Workers, mostly because they served as central inspiration for the greater movement. The UFW also serves as a great comparison group because it dealt with wage and economic equally for farm workers, which resonates today with much of the discourse surrounding Occupy.

Research Parameters:

  • Comparison between the first five years of the Chicano Movement and the current Occupy Movement.
  • The United Farm Workers and their strategies will be directly compared to those of Occupy today.
  • The focus of the project will be media and technology practices in social movements.
  • When possible, the project will also attempt to collect and present material examples of media related to both the UFW and Occupy.
  • No more than 5 interviewees will be considered for each case study, for a maximum of 10 interviewees total.
  • Survey data will also be made manageable for a project of this scope.

Research Questions:

  • —  How were media and technology strategies articulated in the 1960s? How does the Occupy Movement articulate these strategies today?
  • —  What specific forms of media and technology were most used in the early Chicano Movement? What forms are most used by Occupy?
  • —  How have these strategies evolved over time for both movements?

Research Methods:

The research methods that I use will be largely divided along the general case studies that I am examining. For the Chicano Movement research, I mostly anticipate a historical literature review and archival work (if applicable). Given the 1960s timeframe, much of my work will involve reviewing both primary and secondary sources of the era. If interviews are feasible, then they will also be conducted with individuals that can provide insight into this area.

For the component related to the Occupy Movement, I intend to gather primary sources in the form of interviews and surveys. Since the Occupy Movement is so young, I anticipate finding very little scholarly literature on the subject, especially related to media practices. However, groups like Occupy Research are spearheading efforts to understand the different dynamics that comprise the Occupy Movements, so I will definitely make efforts to contact them as soon as possible. Additionally, I will scan pertinent media objects related to Occupy that could inform this project, particularly those created by those involved in the movement.

Research Method Breakdown:

  • Literature Reviews
  • Content Analysis (of media objects)
  • Archival Work
  • Interviews (as needed)
  • Surveys (as needed)

Tentative Workplan:

Week Tasks
March 12-17
  • Scan for relevant literature
  • Contact Occupy Research
  • Create Initial Annotated Bibliography
  • Assess Need for Interviews/Surveys
  • Search archives for material media


March 19-23
  • Compile pertinent information from literature
  • Brainstorm concepts and create conceptual map of themes
  • Continue collecting literature if needed
  • Begin first draft of written component (3 pages)
  • Draft interview protocol as needed and schedule interviews
  • Draft survey protocol as needed
April 2-6
  • Continue scanning literature on UFW as needed
  • Finalize secondary sources and begin collecting primary sources
  • Create visual conceptualizations of themes and topics
  • Second draft of prose (5 pages)
April 9-13
  • Conduct Interviews as needed
  • Disseminate surveys as needed
  • Third draft of prose, divide into sections such as intro, lit review, analysis, etc. (5-7 pages)
April 16-20
  • Conduct Interviews as needed
  • Disseminate surveys as needed
  • Complete source gathering phase
  • Fourth draft of prose (7-9 pages)
  • Incorporate initial citations as needed
April 23-27
  • Begin interview transcription process
  • Begin survey data input into database and sort accordingly
  • Fifth draft of prose: stylistic and grammatical editing without introducing new sources/content
April 30-May 4
  • Complete interview transcription
  • Begin interview analysis process and map key themes and idea to visual mind maps
  • Complete sorting survey data and present in a meaningful and visual form
  • Sixth Draft: incorporate information gathered from interviews and surveys in the findings section its corresponding case study section. (9-12 pages)
  • Finalize data incorporation into written work
May 7-11
  • Expand visual mind maps into concepts that are incorporated into prose
  • Seventh draft: create first “complete” draft of paper. (15-20 pages + bibliography + conceptual maps + data tables)
  • Begin intensive proofreading processes
  • Begin transferring information into visual presentation (Power Point or Prezzi)
May 14-18
  • Final Draft of Written Portion
  • Final Version of Visual Presentation
  • Bring relevant examples of material media to final presentation

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