Keynote Address: “The Logic of Connective Action: Digital Media and the Organization of Protest Politics”
From the Arab Spring and los indignados in Spain, to Occupy Wall Street (and beyond), large-scale, sustained protests have used digital media in ways that go well beyond sending and receiving messages. Densely layered digital networks built atop face-to-face assemblies have put communication technologies and code at the center of social and political organization. Bennett’s keynote address outlines a model of connective action that contrasts with earlier models of collective action based on assumptions about hierarchical brick and mortar organizations and their resources, leadership, and collective action framing. In place of the often-fractious processes of policing, brokering, and bridging collective identity borders, the more inclusive ethos of many digital networks (particularly on the left) invites more easily personalized identity frames such as “the 99%.” What are the political capabilities of connective action networks? What sorts of shifts can we detect among networks of more conventional issue organizations that are borrowing the personalized, digitally mediated models of relatively more self-organizing networks? More generally, how do we understand communication as an organizational process?