CFP Collective Action, Social Movements and Digital Technology

View Articles published in Information and OrganizationInformation & Organization

Special Issue on: “Collective Action, Social Movements and Digital Technology”
Special Issue Editors: Lisen Selander, University of Gothenburg
Amber Young, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Emmanuelle Vaast, McGill University
Elizabeth Davidson, University of Hawai’i

Motivation and Overview

Technological advances have revolutionized both the means and ends of collection actions and movements. It seems what we are witnessing is not only changes in how individuals approach protest and resistance, but also what it means to /be/ organized.  This fundamental shift in the nature of organization beyond formal boundaries of established organizations and firms demands a renewed effort to understand organization and organizing in its current form (Winter et al., 2014). On the one hand, digital technologies bring unprecedented opportunities to organize masses of individuals in democratic actions, lower participation costs, and foster new information and action repertoires that go beyond offline communities. On the other hand, questions remain regarding the actual impact of technology-enabled collective action, its consequences for inequality, and the ethical implications of ideologies championed through collective action.

There is an emerging literature on the uses of Internet and social media technologies in social protests and in technology use for collective actions within the communications field (cf. Bennett & Segerberg, 2012; Bimber et al., 2012), but research on digital technologies’ implication for organizing, or the ability to help reach collective action goals is nascent in the information and organizational fields. Topics that have been addressed include: digital action repertoires of social movement organizations (Selander & Jarvenpaa, 2016), cyberactivism (Benjamin, Chen & Zimbra, 2014; Yetgin, Young & Miranda, 2012), systems standardization as collective action (Markus, Steinfield, Wigand & Minton, 2006), collective efforts to complete tasks in a dispersed work context (Subramaniam, Nandhakumar & Baptista, 2013), collective action and knowledge contribution in voluntary, computer-mediated settings (Wasko, Faraj & Teigland, 2004), and ICT tool use in social movements (Young, 2017).

Important research opportunities yet to be explored include using collective action and social movements lenses to consider organization more broadly, including large-group collaboration phenomena such as collaborative innovation networks or crowd funding. This research stream has the potential to contribute to IS and reference discipline theories as well as develop practical insights for organizations, practitioners, activists, and policy makers.

Scope and Focus of the Special Issue

The purpose of this special issue is to develop understanding around the roles of digital technologies in collective action and movement phenomena and to contribute theoretical insights related to collective actions in the digital age. We encourage submissions that explore the roles of digital technology in collective action generally as well as those focused social movement phenomena. In keeping with the aims and scope of /Information & Organization/, we are particularly interested in papers that examine in depth the social and material interplay of information technologies and organizational and organizing phenomena.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to the following:
* Online resource mobilization and digital opportunity structures for
collective action
* Social and material implications of digital activism
* Fake news movements, propaganda diffusion and organizing responses
* Corporate strategy / involvement in social movements to shape public
* Botivists (web bot programmed for activism), online petitions, and
other tools for digital protest and engagement
* Digital marketing of social agendas
* Empowerment / marginalization campaigns enacted in online digital
* Social media capabilities and facilitation of echo chambers
* Media capabilities for voice-giving and perspective-shaping
* Financing of social agendas through crowd funding or bitcoin exchanges
* Crowd funding, bitcoin exchange or similar phenomena examined as
social movements or collective actions
* Privacy and ethical issues in researching online collective action
* Methodological challenges in researching collective action and new
digital technologies

Special issue timeframe

Submission Deadline: November 1, 2017

First round decisions: March 1, 2018
Revisions due:            July 1, 2018
Second round review: October 1, 2018
Final papers due:        December 1, 2018
Publication:                Issue 1, 2019 (available online approximately 1/1/2019)


Benjamin, Victor, Hsinchun Chen, and David Zimbra. “Bridging the virtual and real: the relationship between web content, linkage, and geographical proximity of social movements.” /Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology/ 65.11 (2014): 2210-2222.

Bennett, W. Lance, and Alexandra Segerberg. “The logic of connective action: Digital media and the personalization of contentious politics.” /Information, Communication & Society/ 15.5 (2012): 739-768.

Bimber, Bruce, Andrew Flanagin, and Cynthia Stohl. Collective action in organizations: Interaction and engagement in an era of technological change. Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Markus, M. Lynne, Charles W. Steinfield, and Rolf T. Wigand. “Standards, Collective Action and IS Development-Vertical Information Systems Standards in the US Home Mortgage Industry.” /MIS Quarterly/ 30 (2006): 439-465.

Selander, Lisen, and Sirkka L. Jarvenpaa. “Digital Action Repertoires and Transforming a Social Movement Organization.” /MIS Quarterly/ 40.2 (2016): 331-352.

Subramaniam, Niran, Joe Nandhakumar, and John Baptista. “Exploring social network interactions in enterprise systems: the role of virtual co‐presence.” /Info Systems J./ 23.6 (2013): 475-499.

Wasko, Molly McLure, Samer Faraj, and Robin Teigland. “Collective action and knowledge contribution in electronic networks of practice.” /Journal of the Association for Information Systems/ 5.11 (2004): 2.

Winter, Susan, et al. “Beyond the organizational ‘container’: Conceptualizing 21st century sociotechnical work.” /Information and Organization/ 24.4 (2014): 250-269.

Yetgin, Emre, Amber G. Young, and Shaila M. Miranda. “Cultural production of protest frames and tactics: Cybermediaries and the SOPA movement.” /International Conference on Information Systems /(2012).

Young, Amber G. “Using ICT for social good: Cultural identity restoration through emancipatory pedagogy.” /Info Systems J./ 2017.

The AT&T/Time Warner Merger and the Threat to Racial Representation

By Jason A. Smith

Last month one media behemoth, AT&T, stated it would purchase another, Time Warner, for $85.4 million. AT&T provides a telecommunications service, while Time Warner provides content. The merger represents just one more step in decades of media consolidation, the placing of control over media and media provision into fewer and fewer hands. This graphic, from the Wall Street Journal, illustrates the history of mergers for the latest companies to propose a merger:


The purchase raises several issues regarding consumer protections – particularly over privacy, competition, price hikes, and monopoly power in certain markets – and one of these is related to race.

A third of the American population identifies as Latino, African American, Asian American, and Native American, yet members of these groups own only 5% of television stations and 7% of radio stations. Large-scale mergers like the proposed one between AT&T and Time Warner exacerbate this exclusion. Minority-owned media companies tend to be smaller and mergers make it even harder to compete with larger and larger media conglomerates. As a result, minority-owned companies close or are sold and the barriers to entry get raised as well. The research is clear: media consolidation is bad for media diversity.

After the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences committed to increasing diversity on screen and technology companies have vowed to increase their workforce diversity, but such commitments have done relatively little to improve representation. Such “gentlemen’s agreements” are largely voluntary and are mostly false promises for communities of color.

Advocacy groups and federal authorities should not rely on Memorandum of Understandings to advance inclusion goals. When the AT&T/Time Warner deal gets to the Federal Communications Commission, scrutiny in the name of “public interest” should include the issue of minorities’ inclusion in both the media and technology industries. As a diverse nation struggling with ongoing racial injustices, leaving underrepresented communities out of media merger debates is a disservice not only to those communities, but to us all.

Jason A. Smith is a PhD candidate in the Public Sociology program at George Mason University. His research focuses on race and the media. He recently co-edited the book Race and Contention in Twenty-first Century U.S. Media (Routledge, 2016). He tweets occasionally.

This post originally appeared in Sociological Images on November 10, 2016


PhD candidate Jason A. Smith co-edits journal special section


International Journal of Communication
Publishes Special Section

Communication in Action: Bridging Research and Policy

What can communication scholarship offer policy?

Applied communication and policy work has a rich history in the field. However, scholarship and policy often run along different paths. In 2004, a group of department chairs and deans from communication studies programs around the country formed the Consortium on Media Policy Studies (COMPASS) for the purpose of building bridges between the academy and policy. Each summer, a group of PhD students are chosen as fellows and placed in Washington DC government and non-governmental organizations for a chance to work with policy practitioners. The placement affords fellows the opportunity to apply communication scholarship in policy settings and advance their own topical interests of study.

In this Special Section titled Communication in Action: Bridging Research and Policy, the importance that communication scholarship has on ongoing policy issues regarding media studies is demonstrated. Guest-edited by Jason A. Smith, Mark Lloyd, and Victor Pickard, this Special Section features 10 original commentaries that highlight recommendations, analyses, and insights made toward policy issues that are relevant to those both in academia and policy. This collection of work highlights the critical need for communication scholars to think beyond the purely academic space that their work applies to, and to find in-roads toward subjects that can speak to other audiences.

Authors for this special section include:

Douglas Allen, University of Pennsylvania

Cat Duffy, University of Southern California

Katherine Elder, University of Southern California

Michelle C. Forelle, University of Southern California

Brandon Golob, University of Southern California

Nicole Hentrich, University of Michigan

James Losey, Stockholm University, Sweden

Nathalie Maréchal, University of Southern California

Aalok Mehta, University of Southern California

Angeline Sangalang, University of Southern California


We invite you to read these papers that published October 15, 2015 at

Larry Gross

Arlene Luck
Managing Editor