Hashtag Activism, book review: A sign of the times

Nancy J. Delong

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Hashtag Activism: Networks of Race and Gender Justice • by Sarah J. Jackson, Moya Bailey, and Brooke Foucault Welles • MIT Press • 296 pages • ISBN: 978–262-04337-3 • $19.ninety five / £15.99

Last year, an inveterate world wide web observer named 2010 “peak cyber utopia”. That was the year Western social media consumers basked smugly in the belief that their technology experienced liberated numerous Arab nations around the world from oppressive governments. Considering that then, we’ve uncovered that social media was only a person of numerous applications, not a bring about, viewed Western democracies undermine their have democratic establishments, and appear to realise that essentially the world wide web are not able to do all the things.

And nonetheless. It really is a person of the peculiarities of Twitter (in individual) and other social media that new actions can choose shape in full general public perspective when completely escaping the recognize of all those whose bubbles never intersect them. In Hashtag Activism, Sarah J. Jackson, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Faculty, feminist scholar and ‘misogynoir’ coiner Moya Bailey, and Northeastern University associate professor Brooke Foucault Welles, explain to the stories of a amount of these actions, beginning in 2009.

Theirs is a unusual solution these times these are the to start with authors in a very long time who aren’t focusing on platform abuse. Their index has no entries for trolls, abuse, or bots.  

SEE: Top rated one hundred+ ideas for telecommuters and professionals (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

On Twitter, hashtags — actually, the # signal in entrance of a phrase — were being the brainchild of person Chris Messina, not a function constructed in by the site’s creators. Hashtags offer a blend of lookup time period and filter coming into a person into Twitter’s constructed-in lookup engine produces a live feed of all the things anyone’s posting making use of that hashtag. Folks use it to share comments about conferences they’re attending, update breaking information, examine current tendencies, or, as in the scenarios these authors examine, make proof and a social motion, as they did during Occupy and considerably extra considering the fact that. Although the authors largely discuss about Twitter, they accept that other social media — chiefly Facebook — are similarly vital.

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They begin by observing that social media affords racial minorities, women of all ages, transgender people today, and “many others aligned with justice and feminist will cause” new access that was not obtainable via classic media. They then go into detail in 6 chapters showcasing the next hashtags: #YesAllWomen, #MeToo, #FastTailedGirls, #YouOKSis, #SayHerName, #GirlsLikeUs, #OscarGrant, #TrayvonMartin, #Ferguson, #FalconHeights, #AllMenCan, and #WhiteWhileCriming. 

At minimum some of these should to be familiar to anybody who follows the information in mainstream media. Many others may be unfamiliar, particularly to a British viewers. I experienced not, for instance, encountered #FastTailedGirls or #YouOKSis, which were being utilised to make knowledge of black feminism. Nor experienced I viewed #GirlsLikeUs, which the authors use as an instance of community developing and advocacy, in this case for transgender women of all ages. 

Lastly, #AllMenCan and #WhiteWhileCriming examine the way delivers of allyship can turn into appropriation. In their instance, what commenced as white gentlemen providing to join in opposing discriminatory policing by supplying illustrations of situations when they were being let off lightly for infractions for which their non-white counterparts would have been extra severely punished, turned into a efficiency of privilege. 

The authors do not counsel that on the net organising is enough by by itself to outcome true social improve. But, they conclude, on the net issues. “Peak cyber utopia” may have to wait.

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