Twitter and the National Fight For 15 Convention

Last week, I posted an analysis of the media coverage of the Fight For 15 convention, which I compiled using the Google News aggregator. With the exception of the New York Times article by Steven Greenfield, all of the information and quotes of each article originated from two Associated Press articles,one previewing the event, and the other providing a recap. This was a sign that very few mainstream media outlets actually covered the event directly.

To supplement these findings, I have also analyzed the top tweets of the #FightFor15 hashtag which correspond to the events that took place in Elmhurst, Illinois on the weekend of July 26th and 27th.

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How Did the Mainstream Media Cover the Fight For $15 Convention?

Two weekends ago, over 1300 people convened in Chicago for the first ever Fight For $15 convention. While the low-wage worker strikes have been escalating over time, with an increasing number of workers and cities involved during each wave, and solidarity among the participants displayed on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, this was the first time that workers-turned-activists from different cities traveled to one location to discuss their experiences and plan for future actions. It could prove to be a major event which unifies the movement as they prepare for escalation in the form of civil disobedience and store occupations.

Due to the importance of this event, I decided to study how the mainstream media covered the gathering, if they even provided coverage. Using Google News, I searched for the term “Fast Food Convention”, which provided over 300 articles, all between July 25th and 28th. After analyzing the first 20 articles, I noticed an emerging pattern: A large majority of these articles were correlated from two Associated Press articles, one which previewed the event [example], and another which provided a recap. [example]

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Likes, Replies, and Event Invites: Facebook and the $15 Minimum Wage Movement

So far, my exploration into groups like 15 Now, Fight For 15, Fast Food Forward, and the multitude of others which compose the $15 Minimum Wage movement, has been focused on the content of tweets and the composition of users who tweet with popular movement hashtags. While Twitter is a network which rapidly facilitates the creation of weak ties which are more useful for spreading information, as studied by Granovetter in “The Strength of Weak Ties”, Facebook is also an important medium which can’t be ignored in the study of new networked social movements.

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Early Hypotheses: Who is Fighting for $15 on Twitter and What are they Tweeting?

What findings do I expect to discover from my research into the Twitter presence of 15 Now and related movements fighting to raise the minimum wage and how they tactically mobilize and spread the movement using a social media platform comprised of only 16% of the U.S. population? [source] Due to my years of experience using Twitter for these purposes, it won’t be too much of a stretch to formulate a hypothesis of what the hashtag histories of #15now, #FightFor15, and other related tags will look like.

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Pre-Rally Questions: How can we Explore the Character of Urban Movements?

In the 2013 election, Kshama Sawant defeated a corporate Democrat for a Seattle city council seat, running as a member of the Socialist Alternative party on a platform which heavily featured the $15 per hour minimum wage. Due in part to a progressive city council and mayors office, her debates with opponents of the campaign, and the mobilization of 15 Now both virtually on social media and the streets, she was able to fulfill her campaign promises in just five months. The story of Seattle proves that this type of change is indeed possible in the United States, and corporate money and power can be defeated by the popular will of the people. While some business groups are suing Seattle, and the victory is scheduled to be a gradual increase, it is still a significant achievement, especially in relation to other cities where movements are fighting for the same goals. For instance, can this measure be passed in New York City, where the movement started a year and a half ago with Fast Food Forward?

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Reflections on the First Ten Days

There are few processes in human life that are more fascinating to explore than the expansion of ideas and concepts over time as a result of research and brainstorming. We are gifted as animals with the innate ability to recognize the patterns that exist around us and it’s refreshing to witness this process occur, especially from a first-person perspective.

Since initiating an academic exploration into our current networked social movements only ten days ago, many ideas have bloomed and evolved, including a wide range of theories, research plans, and expectations of what will be found. I have been collecting a plethora of academic research which will be useful for analyzing the current mobilizations for social and economic justice in America, including frame alignment processes studied by Snow, Benford, and other colleagues, the networked theory of power presented in “Communication Power”, and “Networks of Hope and Outrage” by Manuel Castells, the resource mobilization perspective popularized by Gamson in “The Strategy of Social Protest”, and the theory of networked publics formulated in the research of danah boyd. While resource mobilization theory and frame alignment provide two completely different methods for studying the processes of new social movements, their interrelations must be understood for better analyzing how offline and online action coexist to build movements like 15 Now in Seattle.

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