November 23, 2018

Media and Resistance


1) Recap: Non-violence

2) Transnational Advocacy Networks

3) Media-centric Strategies

Recap: Non-Violence

Nonviolence and Media

Success of non-violence depends on violence backfiring

Success of "backfire" depends on media campaigns:

  1. Audiences (domestic/international) must know about violent repression

  2. Audiences must know victims were nonviolent

  • If victims are "terrorists", "rebels", what happens?
  • Lynching and "Race Wars"
  1. Audiences must also be willing to do something about it (may need to be prodded)

Nonviolence and Media

How to get desirable media coverage?

  • Public statements on nonviolent means; practice
  • Choice of targets that are high visibility
  • Presence of independent sources to document what happens
  • Means to disseminate what happens

Advocacy Networks

Transnational Advocacy Networks

What are they?

Keck and Sikkink define them as:

those actors working internationally on an issue, who are bound together by shared values a common discourse with voluntary, reciprocal, and horizontal patterns of communication and exchange of information and services.

Transnational Advocacy Networks

What are they?

They are transnational insofar as they cross national borders

They are advocacy insofar as they are organized around causes based on principles and norms, rather than material "interests"

They are networks insofar as they are not hierarchical, formal organizations

Transnational Advocacy Networks

What are they?

May contain highly varied members:

  • international/national NGOs, social movement, advocacy organizations
  • local social movements
  • charitable foundations
  • the media
  • churches, unions, academics
  • intergovermental organizations (or parts thereof)
  • members of national governments

Transnational Advocacy Networks

What do they do?

  • generate/disseminate information/testimonies
  • share/coordinate framing
  • share strategic/tactical knowledge
  • networks for future mobilization

Transnational Advocacy Networks: Why?

boomerang pattern of mobilization:

  1. local movement claims rights/protections
  2. local efforts unrecognized/suppressed
  3. local movement seeks external network to express claims, win allies
  4. external network puts pressure on local government
  5. local claims are strengthened, perhaps successful

Transnational Advocacy Networks: Effective?

Can work if:

  1. Put issues on the agenda, get public attention
  2. Influence norms/commitments taken by governments/powerful actors
  3. Hold governments/powerful actors to their promises

How do movements
achieve these goals?

Four Strategic Approaches:

  1. information politics
  2. symbolic politics
  3. leverage politics
  4. accountability politics

Information Politics

In boomerang pattern and in non-violence, activists need to attract a "bystander audience":


  • link locals to external audience (tell their story)
  • give expertise in framing effectively
  • strategically deploy narratives/testimony
  • connect to journalists; training in press relations

Information Politics

Tactics used to gain media attention:

  1. disruptive actions as newsworthy: stage events that are compelling news stories, regardless of the issue area.
  2. multiple appealing frames: many resonant frames make for positive news coverage

Symbolic Politics

Activists can take specific events, stories to stand in symbolically for the broader target of protest.

  • Exploit symbolically potent events
  • Engineer symbolically potent events

Leverage Politics

Use material threats to compel action:

  • money, arms, votes

Use moral threats to compel action:

  • Limit tools available to opponents

Accountability Politics

Put pressure on actors who have made moral commitments to keep them

  • compels people/organizations to be consistent (powerful motivator)
  • e.g. respect human rights treaties, defend "democracy", etc.
  • are some not accountable, though?