Protesting and Its Evolution: On a Lighter Note

By Daniel D’Amico, Trending Writer

In recent years, many have studied the best tactics for protesting, which has adapted and molded to fit the modern landscape.

There are a number of tactics and conditions in place to ensure a protest is effective. Daniel Q. Gillion, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania and author of The Political Power of Protest states, “For a protest to spur change…it has to become unignorable”. Here he speaks about the first major tactic which is making the message salient. This is typically done when a protest lasts longer than a day, includes more than 100 people, has a police presence, political organizations are involved, or when it has arrests, injuries, property damage or deaths.

The next tactic includes uniting several issues under one protest so as to give it more backing. This is useful in that if the issues were protested separately, they would both get less recognition. The third and fourth have to do with being more action-oriented and proactive instead of reactive. When protests today are action-oriented and focused on strategies such as taking the issues to various senators and other elected officials with pull, they are more likely to produce results. The same can be said for being proactive and protesting the prevention of something, as opposed to just protesting after the fact.

While some of these tactics have been used in the past, others have grown to be more prevalent today. One of the major changes is specifically how these strategies are carried out. In this digital age, social media lends itself to these various tactics as a much quicker and oftentimes more effective way to protest.

This was especially advantageous as more and more people realized the potential of social media. According to Arstechnica, Zeynep Tufekci, author of Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest, said, “One reason early social media-fueled protests succeeded was that governments had not yet learned to read the signals correctly.” She highlights how they underestimated social media at the time and did not prepare for the effects of messages spread there.

Social media has been instrumental in informing various people as well as bringing them together. For instance, BBC News reports “UK Uncut’s rapid growth – in a matter of weeks – is partly down to the founders’ ability to spread ideas online, particularly through the Twitter hashtag #ukuncut.” Hashtags have replaced the role of pamphlets and are much easier to spread.  Social media platforms have also been used to gather people and conceal their actions at times by posting false information to throw authorities off.

 

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 13th print edition.

Contact Daniel at

daniel.damico@student.shu.edu

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