All posts by Kevin Gillan

Party organizational change and ICTs: The growth of a virtual grassroots?

Gibson, Rachel K., Kevin Gillan, Fabienne Greffet, Benjamin J. Lee, and Stephen Ward. 2013. ‘Party Organizational Change and ICTs: The Growth of a Virtual Grassroots?New Media & Society 15(1):31–51.

Abstract: This paper examines the relationship between unofficial party blogs and official party sources in the UK using a mixed-method approach. Specifically we combine interview data with content analysis, user surveys and usage data, and finally hyperlink analysis to profile the emergence, popularity, audience and online prominence of four major party blogs since 2005. The core question posed is how far the blogs are challenging parties as the focal point for member activism and offering an alternative public ‘voice’. The findings show blogs occupy an important alternative critical space for party debate, particularly outside elections. They are not mobilizing tools, however, being used by the grassroots largely for information-gathering and discussion purposes.

The authoritative final version is available via SAGE.

The open access version of this paper is available here: Gibson-etal-2013-NMS-AAM

Special Issue: The Ethics of Research on Activism

Published in 2012 as Social Movement Studies 11(2). Editors: Kevin Gillan & Jenny Pickerill.

From the editors’ introduction (with Jenny Pickerill):

“This article explores a number of key questions that serve to introduce this special issue on the ethics of research on activism. We first set out the limitations of the bureaucratic response to ethical complexities in our field. We then examine two approaches often used to justify research that demands time consuming and potentially risky participation in research by activists. We label these approaches the ethic of immediate reciprocity and the ethic of general reciprocity and question their impacts. Continue reading Special Issue: The Ethics of Research on Activism

Just who do you think we are?

Tom asked:

Just spent the morning listening to a couple of folks who were labour activists in the 40s and 50s. Now wondering how we organise politically under the sociological conditions of late modernity. If the class structure isn’t there to support the traditional labour movement (in the same way), what can we build instead?

An important and tricky question, no doubt; in the following I may only succeeded in rewording it…

Continue reading Just who do you think we are?

Can I blame Apple for the British Riots?

Conservatives in power, vicious cuts applied to the welfare state while regressive taxes increase, police violence perpetrated against the poor against a background of declining legitimacy. Yes, the parallels between 2011 and 1981 are irresistibly suggestive of a political explanation for the British summer riots.

Continue reading Can I blame Apple for the British Riots?

Students take aim at the ‘Never Had it So Good’ Generations

Today’s protests will be mainly read as anger at the hike in student fees resulting from the government’s massive withdrawal of funding from higher education. Very important issues, to be sure. But the issue at stake is broader, even, than the debate over whether higher education is a public good. Refusal to pay for higher education is just one part of an ongoing, broad-ranging assualt on future generations by those currently in positions of power. Continue reading Students take aim at the ‘Never Had it So Good’ Generations

Reading Notes: Johnson’s Interface Culture

Johnson, Steven. 1997. Interface Culture: How New Technology Transforms the Way we Create and Communicate. Basic Books.

[NB These are notes to self, they become pretty ungrammatical towards the end!]

This interesting and erudite book starts from the position that the collision of technology and culture is nothing new, but that with the increased pace of technological change the collision has become more obvious. That is, new media have always intersected with cultural change Continue reading Reading Notes: Johnson’s Interface Culture

The ‘Big Society’ Needs Sociology

Jesse Norman MP was on last week’s Politics Weekly podcast at the Guardian talking about his new book on The Big Society (Indy review). He said that the Conservatives weren’t trying simply to shrink the state in order to replace it with the market, but instead wanted to harness and ‘unimaginable reserves of social energy’ to do good. This energy apparently exists in institutions outside of the state and the market Continue reading The ‘Big Society’ Needs Sociology

Start/Stop LAMP in Ubuntu 10.4

I occasionally want a local web server on my netbook for fiddling around, but don’t want it running on start up. So, using the following steps I removed it from the start up list and created a launcher button to start and stop apache and mysql.

1. Remove from startup list:

$sudo update-rc.d apache remove
$gksu gedit /etc/init/mysql.conf

In your text editor look for the lines with start up information and comment them out by adding a hash at the beginning of each line.

2. Write simple start script

$gksu gedit /usr/local/bin/lampstart
In your text editor paste the following code:
#/bin/bash
sudo /usr/sbin/apache2ctl start
sudo service mysql start

Save and exit

3. Write simple stop script
$gksu gedit /usr/local/bin/lampstop
In your text editor paste the following code:
#/bin/bash
sudo /usr/sbin/apache2ctl stop
sudo service mysql stop

Save and exit

4. Make scripts executable and update db
$sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/lampstart
$sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/lasr/mpstop
$sudo updatedb

5. Make launcher icons
Go to System->Preferences->Main Menu
In the left pane select the application group for the icons
Click ‘New Item’
Enter the following details:
Type: Application in Terminal
Name: Start LAMP
Command: /usr/local/bin/lampstart
Comment: Starts Apache and mysql
Optionally click the icon in the top left and look for a nice pic, I found suitable ones in /usr/share/icons/hicolor/48×48/apps