Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets!
For decades, social movements vied for attention from the mainstream mass media—newspapers, radio, and television. Today, some say that social media power social movements, from Iran’s so-called “Twitter revolution” to the supposed beginnings of the Egyptian revolution on a Facebook page. Yet, as Sasha Costanza-Chock reports, activists and organizers agree that social media enhances, rather than replaces, face-to-face organizing. The revolution will be tweeted, but tweets alone do not the revolution make. In Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets! Costanza-Chock traces a broader social movement media ecology. Through a richly detailed account of daily media practices in the immigrant rights movement, he argues that social movements engage in transmedia organizing. Despite the current spotlight on digital media, he finds, social movement media practices tend to be cross-platform, participatory, and linked to action. Immigrant rights organizers leverage social media creatively, alongside a range of tools from posters and street theater to Spanish-language radio, print, and television.
Drawing on extensive interviews, workshops, and media organizing projects, Costanza-Chock presents case studies of transmedia organizing in the immigrant rights movement between 2006 and 2012. Chapters focus on the mass protests against the anti-immigrant Sensenbrenner Bill; coverage of police brutality against peaceful activists; efforts to widen access to digital media tools and skills for low-wage immigrant workers; paths to participation in DREAM activism; and the implications of professionalism for transmedia organizing. These cases show us how transmedia organizing helps strengthen movement identity, win political and economic victories, and transform broader consciousness.
About the Author
Sasha Costanza-Chock is Assistant Professor of Civic Media in the Comparative Media Studies/Writing Department at MIT.
“In this impassioned, eye-opening study Costanza-Chock tracks the world-shaking power of transmedia organizing. Required reading for organizers and activists and scholars of social media.”
“Based on a decade in the trenches, Sasha Costanza-Chock’s book is a must-read for both researchers and activists. He teaches scholars how media are intrinsic to social movements and shows community organizers how to transmediatize their fight for social justice.”
—Otto Santa Ana, César Chávez Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies, UCLA; author of Juan in a Hundred: The Representation of Latinos on Network News and Brown Tide Rising: Metaphors of Latinos in Contemporary American Public Discourse
“Sasha Costanza-Chock’s Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets! provides us with a passionate and thought-provoking account of the role of media in shaping and facilitating what he calls transmedia organizing. Through a focus on immigrant rights, Costanza-Chock theorizes technology and media as they shape contemporary forms of activism and asks the right questions about how, and in what ways, citizens and scholars engage in transmedia organizing. This is an essential model for activist/scholars in thinking through all forms of contemporary activism and the broader media ecology in which they take place and have force. The particular strength of this work is that it illuminates many of the current debates concerning digital and media culture through a much-needed critical history that contextualizes the role of media within transnational social mobilization.”
—Sarah Banet-Weiser, Director, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California; author of Authentic™: The Politics of Ambivalence in a Brand Culture