In recent years, the increasing prominence of the #MeToo movement has raised awareness about sexual harassment and assault and their…
Jean Beaman presents some of her research into race and police violence, and the response to such violence, in France. Explicitly putting recent French incidents and patterns in comparative perspective with those involving law enforcement and African Americans in the United States, Beaman finds some similarities and many differences in how social mobilization against police violence is framed and carried out. In particular, she focuses on how French republicanism makes it more difficult to organize around claims based on the status of marginalized social identities (black, Muslim) as compared to the role played by BlackLivesMatter in the United States.
Jillian Cavanaugh’s contribution to “Sociolinguistic Frontiers” tells the story of the emergence of the concept of “language ideologies” that mediate “between the social practice of language and the socioeconomic and political structures within which it occurs.” The concept became an embedded component in analyzing the treatment of minority languages and dialects, and how power relations can be revealed through everyday language use. Today, rather than an overarching framework, language ideology has evolved into a critical point of departure for understanding the intersection between language and various forms of inequality that also require other intellectual tools to fully grasp.
In this conversation, hosted by the SSRC’s Media & Democracy program, program officer Mike Miller revisits an often overlooked topic—expectations and predictions for the internet in its early days—with Sarah J. Jackson (Northeastern University) and David Karpf (George Washington University). Understanding the pessimistic and optimistic outlooks journalists, entrepreneurs, and others had for the internet, where these predictions fell short, and whose voices were listened to, sheds light on the digital age’s present and future shortcomings.
In this Democracy Papers essay, George Marcus addresses the important role that emotions play in politics. In a timely contribution to essays on the Anxieties of Democracy, Marcus delves into what we might broadly call the anxieties of citizens, distinguishing between the political consequences of fear and anger. In order to effectively address negative emotions in democratic politics, politicians first need to understand their distinctive psychological origins and consequences.
In designing solutions to youth disconnection—young people who are both out of school and out of work—the issue of transportation may not immediately come to mind. Yet, a new report by the SSRC’s Measure of America program, Making the Connection: Transportation and Youth Disconnection, investigates the role lack of transportation infrastructure and services play in the lives of disconnected youth. Here, Kristen Lewis, the report’s author and Measure of America’s director, and Clare McGranahan summarize the report’s findings. While disconnection continues to decline post-recession, the pace is slow and youths of color are disproportionally affected. The report provides suggestions for how greater access to public transportation can improve youth reconnection.
Aliza Luft tackles a question essential for social science and for human rights work—how, and how much, does dehumanizing propaganda spread by planners of genocide affect the “foot soldiers” of mass killings? Drawing on her own research on Rwanda as well as the Holocaust and other cases, Luft argues that the effects of pronouncements that describe potential victims as nonhuman or animals needs to be considered alongside other potential factors that motivate ordinary people to kill, and that the impact of such language is rarely straightforward. Luft concludes that “dehumanizing discourse can pave the way for violence to occur, but violence does not require it.”
Related to Items’ recent series on “Just Environments,” Kasia Paprocki and her colleagues discuss how what they call critical social science can be engaged in the study of and the response to climate change. In practice, this means being attuned to the potential tensions and complementarities between social knowledge production about and social action on behalf of addressing climate change and the inequalities it can deepen or transform. Drawing on their own and others’ research, the authors call attention to the “entanglement” of environmental issues with a host of other ones, the deployment of climate-friendly language for self-interested political purposes, and the importance of context in imagining movements for climate justice.
The SSRC’s Media & Democracy program has launched a series of workshops that put current controversies and debates into historical and cross-disciplinary perspectives. Here, Mike Miller and James Kirwan provide the key takeaways from a recent event on “A Modern History of the Disinformation Age.” Scholars at the workshop engaged the roots of our “epistemic crisis” regarding what counts as facts and as “reality.” Participants focused on actors who benefit from the questioning of truth claims, and how institutions that once served as gatekeepers for such claims have been weakened and unable to adjust to new media ecosystems.