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The Power of the Normal by Cass R. Sunstein :: SSRN
How do judgments about law and morality shift? Why do we come to see conduct as egregiously wrong, when we had formerly seen it as merely inappropriate or even unobjectionable? Why do shifts occur in the opposite direction? A clue comes from the fact that some of our judgments are unstable, in the sense that they are an artifact of, or endogenous to, what else we see. This is true of sensory perception: Whether an object counts as blue or purple depends on what other objects surround it. It is also true for ethical judgments: Whether conduct counts as unethical depends on what other conduct is on people’s viewscreens. It follows that conduct that was formerly seen as ethical may come to seem unethical, as terrible behavior becomes less common, and also that conduct that was formerly seen as unethical may come to seem ethical, as terrible behavior becomes more common. In these circumstances, law (and enforcement practices) can have an important signaling effect, giving people a sense of what is normal and what is not. There is an important supplemental point, intensifying these effects: Once conduct comes to be seen as part of an unacceptable category – abusiveness, racism, lack of patriotism, microaggression, sexual harassment – real or apparent exemplars that are not so egregious, or perhaps not objectionable at all, might be taken as egregious, because they take on the stigma now associated with the category. Stigmatization by categorization can intensify the process by which formerly unobjectionable behavior becomes regarded as abhorrent. There is a relationship between stigmatization by categorization and “concept creep,” an idea applied in psychology to shifting understandings of such concepts as abuse, bullying, mental illness, and prejudice.

--Sunstein-ian repackaging of really old ideas from psychology of disgust (Rozin) and his & Kuran's work.
cass.sunstein  norms  dynamics  law  moral_psychology  social_movements  cultural_evolution  dmce  social_networks 
4 days ago by rvenkat
Silicon Valley Can't Be Trusted With Our History
Information ephemerality, and our lack of a model for noncorporate control of digital information, has been a blessing for governments looking to rewrite history and a curse for those trying to document the truth in environments where it is being contested every day. After Egypt’s 2011 uprising, an endless stream of propaganda from the regime and its allies has gradually rewritten history, casting the protests as a foreign-backed conspiracy, never to be repeated, or erasing them from textbooks altogether. The state’s total media dominance has made it easy to establish this narrative.

In response, activists there did something that could serve as a lesson for the rest of us. They reclaimed control of their digital memories.

In January, after years of quiet and coordinated work among hundreds of people, the filmmaking collective Mosireen launched an online archive containing as much amateur footage as they could find documenting the Egyptian uprising and the years that followed. Named 858, after the number of hours of indexed, time-stamped footage posted on the day the archive went public, it represents a new model for preserving our information ownership — and our collective memory — in a time when corporations cannot be trusted to do it for us....

“The very act of constructing an archive is a form of power,” Cairo-based writer Amir-Hussein Radjy noted in a January article about 858, nodding to Jacques Derrida’s 1995 book, Archive Fever. In it, Derrida argued that “effective democratization can always be measured by this essential criterion: the participation in and the access to the archive.” In Egypt, Radjy wrote, the state-run National Archive “receives no state papers from the presidency, or the powerful ministries of defense, interior, and foreign affairs. The army keeps a separate archive altogether.” The public is excluded from its own history.

There is no artifice to 858, no tech-utopian snake oil about solving the problem through the blockchain or making a scalable solution for all of humanity. Its interface brings to mind the functionality of an early 2000s PC video player, and it can break down, like when the sound cuts out as you move from one clip to the next. There are also awkward gaps in the history it archives, such as the dearth of footage documenting one of the largest massacres of civilian protesters in modern world history — the infamous assault on a Muslim Brotherhood–led sit-in shortly after the military coup of 2013, which killed more than 800 civilians. Mosireen, mostly composed of leftists and liberals who despise the Islamists they blame for derailing the revolution, did not film the Brotherhood protests, and seem to have shown little interest in working with the people who did.

But 858 is a real achievement, succeeding in what the internet’s original evangelists had always hoped would be its great prize: the democratization of information. It takes a contested historical moment and places the documentation in the people’s hands without an unreliable corporate intermediary. You are reminded, as you sit through video after video, not only that something revolutionary really did occur in Egypt in 2011 but that the event was truly popular, drilling through nearly every layer of society. It is only one window onto the uprising, framed by activists with a partisan viewpoint, but it’s a start, and more should follow....

The reach and power of tech platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are so new and strange that we’ve barely begun formulating a response. But we can learn from the activists already doing it; from Mosireen, or the team behind the Syrian Archive — six people, with a budget of $96,000, who are preserving thousands of hours of footage from their country’s civil war. The archive recently published the Chemical Weapons Database, documenting 221 chemical weapons attacks with 861 verified videos, implicating the Assad regime in a pattern of war crimes and putting the lie to armchair investigators helping to propagate conspiracy theories in the West. One of its cofounders recently told the Intercept that he spends nearly all his time making sure videos aren’t deleted from the big tech platforms before he gets a chance to download them.
digital_archives  archives  conflict  social_movements 
april 2018 by shannon_mattern
How Social Media Facilitates Political Protest: Information, Motivation, and Social Networks - Jost - 2018 - Political Psychology - Wiley Online Library
"It is often claimed that social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are profoundly shaping political participation, especially when it comes to protest behavior. Whether or not this is the case, the analysis of “Big Data” generated by social media usage offers unprecedented opportunities to observe complex, dynamic effects associated with large-scale collective action and social movements. In this article, we summarize evidence from studies of protest movements in the United States, Spain, Turkey, and Ukraine demonstrating that: (1) Social media platforms facilitate the exchange of information that is vital to the coordination of protest activities, such as news about transportation, turnout, police presence, violence, medical services, and legal support; (2) in addition, social media platforms facilitate the exchange of emotional and motivational contents in support of and opposition to protest activity, including messages emphasizing anger, social identification, group efficacy, and concerns about fairness, justice, and deprivation as well as explicitly ideological themes; and (3) structural characteristics of online social networks, which may differ as a function of political ideology, have important implications for information exposure and the success or failure of organizational efforts. Next, we issue a brief call for future research on a topic that is understudied but fundamental to appreciating the role of social media in facilitating political participation, namely friendship. In closing, we liken the situation confronted by researchers who are harvesting vast quantities of social media data to that of systems biologists in the early days of genome sequencing."
to:NB  social_movements  social_media  social_networks  political_networks  political_science  via:? 
february 2018 by cshalizi
Political Structures and Political Mores: Varieties of Politics in Comparative Perspective | Sociological Science
We offer an integrated study of political participation, bridging the gap between the literatures on civic engagement and social movements. Historically evolved institutions and culture generate different configurations of the political domain, shaping the meaning and forms of political activity in different societies. The structuration of the polity along the dimensions of “stateness” and “corporateness” accounts for cross-national differences in the way individuals make sense of and engage in the political sphere. Forms of political participation that are usually treated as istinct are actually interlinked and co-vary across national configurations. In societies where interests are represented in a formalized manner through corporatist arrangements, political participation revolves primarily around membership in pre-established groups and concerted negotiation, rather than extra-institutional types of action. By contrast, in “statist” societies the centralization and concentration of sovereignty in the state makes it the focal point of claim-making, driving social actors to engage in “public” activities and marginalizing private and, especially, market-based political forms. We test these and other hypotheses using cross-national data on political participation from the World Values Survey.
political_science  institutions  protests  revolutions  social_movements  collective_action  comparative  civic_engagement  civil_disobidience  political_sociology 
february 2018 by rvenkat
Do Political Protests Matter? Evidence from the Tea Party Movement* | The Quarterly Journal of Economics | Oxford Academic
Can protests cause political change, or are they merely symptoms of underlying shifts in policy preferences? We address this question by studying the Tea Party movement in the United States, which rose to prominence through coordinated rallies across the country on Tax Day, April 15, 2009. We exploit variation in rainfall on the day of these rallies as an exogenous source of variation in attendance. We show that good weather at this initial, coordinating event had significant consequences for the subsequent local strength of the movement, increased public support for Tea Party positions, and led to more Republican votes in the 2010 midterm elections. Policy making was also affected, as incumbents responded to large protests in their district by voting more conservatively in Congress. Our estimates suggest significant multiplier effects: an additional protester increased the number of Republican votes by a factor well above 1. Together our results show that protests can build political movements that ultimately affect policy making and that they do so by influencing political views rather than solely through the revelation of existing political preferences
protests  collective_action  political_science  social_movements  us_politics 
january 2018 by rvenkat
Growing Outrage by Cass Sunstein :: SSRN
Why and when does outrage grow? This essay explores two potential answers. The first points to a revision or weakening of social norms, which leads people to express outrage that they had previously suppressed. The second points to a revision or weakening of social norms, which leads people to express outrage that they had not previously felt (and may or may not now feel). The intensity of outrage is often a product of what is most salient. It is also a product of “normalization”; people compare apparently outrageous behavior to behavior falling in the same category in which it is observed, and do not compare it to other cases, which leads to predictable incoherence in judgments. These points bear on the #MeToo movement of 2017 and 2018 and the rise and fall (and rise again, and fall again) of discrimination on the basis of sex and race (and also religion and ethnicity).
social_movements  norms  dynamics  moral_panic  virtue_signaling  political_economy  heuristics  judgment_decision-making  dmce  teaching 
january 2018 by rvenkat

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