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Media Ecology and the Occupy Movement

1. ‘Mic Check! Media Culture in the Occupy Movement.’

Throughout the spread of the Occupy Movement, Occupiers produced and circulated media texts and self-documentation across every platform they had access to. SNS were crucial to the spread of media created by everyday Occupiers, while Media, Press, and Tech Working Groups (WGs) worked to build SNS presence (especially on Twitter and FB), create more highly produced narratives, edit videos, operate 24 hour livestreams like Globalrevolution.tv, organize print publications like the Occupied Wall Street Journal, design and code websites like OccupyTogether.org and wikis like NYCGA.cc, and build autonomous movement media platforms and ICT infrastructure (see Occupy.net). Members of these WGs also worked with members of the press, from independent reporters and local media outlets to journalists from national and transnational print, television, and radio networks. Based on analysis of these and other media practices in the Occupy movement, this presentation proposes a shift away from platform-centric analysis of the relationship between social movements and the media towards the concept of social movement media culture: the set of tools, skills, social practices, and norms that movement participants deploy to create, circulate, curate, and amplify movement media across all available platforms. Insight into the media culture of the Occupy movement is based on mixed qualitative and quantitative methods, including semi-structured interviews, participant observation, visual research in multiple Occupy sites, and participation in Occupy Hackathons, as well as the Occupy Research General Demographic and Political Participation Survey (ORGS), a database of the characteristics of approximately 1200 local Occupy sites, and a dataset of more than 13 million tweets with Occupy related hashtags.

2. ‘Research Justice and the Occupy Movement.’

This presentation focuses on theoretical and practical developments around social movement research and research justice in the context of the Occupy Movement. Knowledge can be used to build and maintain, as well as to upset, power. Scholars and activists on the Left are working with the 99% to develop participatory research and include a broader base in the process of forming research questions, choosing methods, developing research tools, gathering, analyzing, and disseminating results. People are doing occupy research to: understand engagement with the movement, who is participating in Occupy, who is not participating, and why; challenge race, class, gender, sexuality, age, disability and other inequalities reproduced in the occupy movement; share ideas, strategies, and tactics; provide research and analysis to target the 1%; spread research skills, tools, and methods more broadly throughout the 99%. Scholars, movement researchers, and activists are working with and as Occupiers around the country and transnationally to develop research projects including: surveys of visitors to occupywallst.org and occupytogether.org; a general survey in multiple locations and across borders; analysis of occupy as a racial project, data visualization hackathons, and much more (see occupyresearch.net for more info). Chris will discuss research justice as a framework, processes and methods, findings to date, plans for the future and the critical role of this work in building more powerful social movements.