Thread of Occupy talk at Peace History Conference...

Threads of Occupy on Prezi I was pleased to be invited to talk on Occupy at the opening panel of last week’s Peace History Conference, alongside Sam Walton (on the role of St Pauls), David Fernandez-Arias (on Occupy MCR) and Jacqui Burke giving us historical context with a reading of accounts from the Peterloo massacre. There’s lots of video available from this panel and Saturday’s talks here: http://www.peacehistoryhub.org/ My talk focused on the ideological content of occupation as a direct action tactic. You can flick through the Prezi presentation on the left, hit the Peace History Hub for video....

Published: Social Movement Studies Special Issue on Research Ethics...

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. We note, in particular, the tendency of ethics of reciprocity to preclude research on ‘ugly movements’ whose politics offends the left and liberal leanings predominant among movement researchers. The two ethics also imply different positionalities for the researcher vis-à-vis their subject movement which we explore, alongside dilemmas thrown up by multiple approaches to knowledge production and by complex issues of researcher and activist identities. The overall move to increasing complexity offered by this paper will, we hope, provide food for thought for others who confront real-world ethical dilemmas in fields marked by contention. We also hope that it will encourage readers to turn next to the wide range of contributions offered in this issue. We’re really excited about the range and quality of contributions to this issue.  The full Table of Contents is: The Difficult and Hopeful Ethics of Research on, and with, Social Movements Kevin Gillan & Jenny Pickerill Social Movements and the Ethics of Knowledge Production Graeme Chesters Reflexive Research Ethics for Environmental Health and Justice: Academics and Movement Building Alissa Cordner, David Ciplet, Phil Brown & Rachel Morello-Frosch Ethical and Political Challenges of Participatory Action Research in the Academy: Reflections on Social Movements and Knowledge Production in South Africa Marcelle C. Dawson & Luke Sinwell The Gaza Freedom Flotilla: Human Rights, Activism and Academic Neutrality Anne de Jong Sisterhood and After: Individualism, Ethics and an Oral History of the Women’s Liberation Movement Margaretta Jolly, Polly Russell & Rachel Cohen Ethics, Activism and the Anti-Colonial: Social Movement Research as Resistance Adam Gary Lewis Disclosed and Willing: Towards A Queer Public Sociology Ana Cristina Santos Asking Tough Questions: The Ethics of Studying Activism in Democratically Restricted Environments Sandra Smeltzer A Personal Reflection on Negotiating Fear, Compassion and Self-Care in Research S. J....

‘Clicktivism’ talk at 6 Billion Ways...

Here is the presentation from my talk at 6 Billion Ways, you can make it full screen and explore by clicking on items and zooming in and out (a scroll wheel is handy). Or use the controls in the bottom right corner to follow a pre-defined path. If it doesn’t seem to be working here, try the external link to...

Exploring hyperlink networks with Issue Crawler: methodological issues...

Paper at: Workshop on method(s): challenges of on-line research. Abstract: This presentation will introduce Issue Crawler software as a methodological tool for examining hyperlink networks. The software identifies sets of websites with dense connections around particular issues. Generated data allows the use of social network analysis techniques to understand the structure of the web. The talk will identify some of the methodological issues raised by the tool and also present some data from a recent study of anti-war websites. Some of this work has been published as Gillan, K. (2009) “The UK Anti-War Movement Online: Uses and Limitations of Internet Technologies for Contemporary Activism,” Information, Communication & Society 12(1): 25-43. Slides available from RICC Workshop on Methods...

We fought the law… and won!

The European Court of Human Rights today issued its judgement on the case that Penny Quinton and I have been taking against the government over section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000. They have agreed that this piece of legislation offends against Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and does not contain sufficient safeguards for members of the public. [1] The case stems from events in September 2003, when Penny and I were independently subject to stop and search under the Terrorism Act. We’d both been attending protests at the DSEi arms fair, myself partly for research purposes and Penny as an independent journalist. The campaigning legal firm Liberty agreed to take our cases and we spent several years going though the judicial review process, before finally taking it to the European Court last year.[2] To finally win is fantastic news and sends a very strong signal to government about the limits to what is acceptable in combating terrorism. Section 44 is regularly abused by police who find it convenient for general policing. The problem is the legislation itself, which is screaming out to be abused. The Terrorism Act encourages police to perform stop and search ‘for the purpose of searching for articles of a kind which could be used in connection with terrorism’ (e.g. phones, maps, laptops, notepads, car keys) and ‘may be exercised whether or not the constable had grounds for suspecting the presence of articles of that kind‘ (Section 44(1)). When challenged by those seeking redress for misuse of these powers the constable should properly claim in court that he or she had no suspicion of the person they stopped and searched. Another reply might risk saying something that could be perceived as discriminatory or otherwise unreasonable, so why make your thoughts public? This is indeed how the officers reacted when we challenged their use of the Terrorism Act against protesters – we just don’t know why we stopped them. The Terrorism Act makes it easier to search people than any other police power and officers are encouraged not to disclose (or indeed use) any reasoning. So its hardly a surprise that hundreds of thousands [3] of stops under this legislation have created suspicion and fear of the state, while not one has led to an arrest on terrorism charges. News reports are now available from the BBC, The Times, The Guardian, and quite a few more! Notes [1] The full judgement is available here: Gillan & Quinton vs. The United Kingdom (4158/05). [2] Elsewhere I’ve written about why the judicial review process is blind to certain kinds of systematic misuse of police powers. [3] 250,000 stops were made in 2008/9 and 117,278 in...

Moral Business: Changing Corporate Behaviour by ‘Speaking Their Language’...

Paper presented to the European Sociological Association General Conference, Lisbon, September 2009. Abstract: The academic publisher Reed Elsevier also organised the world’s largest defence exhibitions. The exhibitions themselves have regularly met vibrant street protests, and from 2005 campaigners targeted the corporate organisers. A coordinated network of anti-arms trade activists, academics, medical professionals and institutional shareholders formed a multifaceted campaign that sought to persuade the corporation to change its behaviour on its own terms. After initial intransigence, Reed Elsevier divested itself of its defence sector activities in 2008. On the basis of interviews with activists and corporate employees, this paper addresses two sets of questions about the Elsevier campaign. First, what are the components of a successful, corporate-focused campaign? Insights from the recently expanded literature on the outcomes of social movements will be tested against both facts of this case and the conscious strategy pursued by participants. I will argue that the movement outcomes literature continues to cope better with movements demanding state responses than those directed at corporations. Secondly, therefore, this paper examines a set of broader questions about the character of moral demands placed on corporate activity, and the way in which management discourses of corporate responsibility or citizenship partially constrains the response of relevant decision makers. You can download the presentation slides from: Moral Business Presentation...