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Paper Discussion

Dialogic Opportunities and Poverty-Discourse Fragmentation in the United Kingdom

by Rebecca Krisel

May 06, 2021 | 12:00- 1:30 PM

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Poverty discourse in the United Kingdom (U.K.) has become increasingly fragmented: the conversation has shifted from being about poverty at large to being about specific segments of poverty, such as period poverty, food poverty, funeral poverty, child poverty, energy poverty, clothing poverty, among others. This fragmentation of poverty discourse emerged alongside ongoing austerity measures, which have resulted in increases in poverty levels. However, while some say that the fragmentation of poverty discourse is leading the government to provide temporary fixes to poverty issues (e.g., free menstrual products in response to period poverty) while avoiding systemic and structural policy solutions to chronic poverty, others see opportunity in the fragmentation of poverty discourse in galvanizing experts, advocates, and citizens around specific areas of poverty that may make solutions appear more tangible. By contrasting the fragmented poverty discourse to that of the more generalized anti-austerity movement, this article will seek to shed light on three related questions with respect to discourse in policy debates: How do media gatekeepers (i.e., media executives, editors, producers, and reporters) and claimsmakers (e.g., activists and lobbyists) interact to legitimize and disperse fragmented claims? How does discourse fragmentation help or impede the chances of a claim of being covered in traditional media outlets? How does media coverage of fragmented discourse help or impede policy solutions to the claim? To address these questions, this article puts forth the dialogic opportunity structure, a framework to determine the fate of a claim in terms of its coverage in traditional media outlets based on its hegemonic or non-hegemonic qualities, the stability (embedded in public culture) or volatility (emerging or short-lived) of its dialogic opportunities, and its open or closed discursive opportunities (i.e., the ability for a message to be accepted or rejected in the public sphere).

About the Author

Rebecca Krisel is currently a doctoral candidate in political science at the CUNY Graduate Center, where her research focuses on the intersection of digital communication technologies, internet-based social movements, and policymaking.

She received a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and a Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University.

About the Discussant

Shani Horowitz-Rozen is an Adjunct Professor at Montclair State University School of Communication and Media. She is also the Founder of Communicating Impact Consulting, which works with nonprofit organizations to develop their internal and external communications strategies. Shani writes on media topics for Ha’aretz and is an alum of the International Fellows Program the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at the Graduate Center, CUNY. She holds a PhD in Communication and Media Studies from Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, where her dissertation focused on the framing of philanthropy in Israeli media discourse. Shani has worked in corporate social responsibility and the development of scholarship programs in Tel Aviv.

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Paper Discussion

Precarity as Break or as Continuation? Re-centering narratives of precarity in Japan

by Rafael Munia

Feb 18, 2021 | 12:00- 1:30 PM

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In this works in progress discussion, we will be first examining a two-fold problem that can be identified in the literature examining precarity in Japan. On one hand, the work on precarization has produced excellent accounts of how a hegemonic masculinity centered on a rigid assemblage man-company-household is impacted by the precarization of the labor form and the increasing impossibility of establishing a household. On the other hand, we also have a long history of work centered on Japanese women that showed the many ways in which the internationally celebrated system of Japanese capitalism, with its professed life-time full-employment, universal middle-class, and single-worker nuclear families could only sustain itself on the backs of the overly precarious labor of women. These examinations demonstrate how before part-time work begun to be the norm; it was already the norm for women. This begs us to consider the following problem: If we can see how the recent wave of precarity affects male workers, and we see how female precarity existed before precarity became the new order, then how can we account for the impact of this new wave of precarity on the female population? To understand the meaning of precarity to the female population, it is important to see how the existing neoliberal order in Japan reimagines the role of women in society. Once this new context is understood, we can then understand the role of general labor precarization in the formation of a new woman subject, inquiring the opening and closures that the disintegration of the past system presents to a new generation of women.

About the Author

Rafael Munia is a third year PhD student in Anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center. His work looks at marginalized youth in Japan and how they navigate politics of inclusion and escape. His current research project focuses on how Japanese women navigate precarity and construct notions of futurity and potentiality out of it. He received his MA from Waseda University, Tokyo.

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Paper Discussion

Co-opting Pride: Assimilation, Shame, and Struggles for Recognition in LGBTQ Movements

by Andrew Shapiro

Nov 5, 2020 | 12:00- 1:30 PM

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As much as LGBTQ scholars and activists draw strength from history’s boldest moments of queer self-assertion, queer history has in reality oscillated between liberatory and accommodationist tendencies. And even as both poles of queer politics have produced material gains for queer lives, accommodationism risks undermining LGBTQ movement work by way of cooptation with little empirical evidence of its relative efficacy. In this presentation, I seek to explain why queer activists in general and white gay men in particular have opted for such institutional politics even where radical militancy might have entailed fewer risks and greater rewards. Pulling together various perspectives from queer theory, psychoanalysis, and the sociology of social movements, I attribute such institutionalism to an ambivalence in both strategic incentives and psychic motivations. White gays in particular and queer people in general are often raised in heteronormative households and socialized into dominant gender norms, all of which inculcates a sense of shame at failing to abide by prescribed expectations. Even as queer activists try to overcome their shame through overt expressions of pride, such pride tends to repress their shame without eliminating it. Unconsciously, they may seek to escape their shame by way of social recognition. Soliciting recognition from normative institutions in this way both reflects and exacerbates a relationship of dependency that makes cooptation increasingly likely.

About the Author

Andrew Shapiro is a Ph.D. student in Sociology, Critical Theory, and Women’s and Gender Studies at the Graduate Center, CUNY. His research investigates the structural and psychic mechanisms through which patriarchy, white supremacy, and other systems of domination are reproduced and contested. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Vassar College, where he researched the changing contours of racial exclusion and inclusion for New York’s Ashkenazi Jewry. His most recent projects further examine the historical trajectories of Jewish, LGBTQ, and other social movements. After three years of teaching at Lehman College, he now works with the Writing Center at the CUNY School of Law.

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Paper Discussion

The Pitfall of Popularity: The Dynamic of Radicalization in the 1989 Tiananmen Student Movement

By Zitian Sun

Date: October 22nd, 2020

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This paper investigates the dynamic of radicalization during the 1989 Tiananmen Student Movement. I ask why the students escalated their tactics and demands just when the government offered to negotiate. I argue that the dynamic was driven by the division between moderate and radical students. Moderates used the radicals as leverage to encourage the regime to negotiate. Radicals, however, were able to draw more public attention through their more dramatic actions, and the increased attention from abroad led to flows of resources to radical leaders. When the regime began to negotiate, the radical students staged a massive hunger strike. The inability of moderate students to control the actions of the radicals undermined their ability to extract concessions. The regime hardliners responded by marginalizing the regime soft-liners, ending the negotiation, and repressing the movement violently. This study critically engages theories of radicalization, such as those put forth by Ruud Koopmans, Francis Fox Piven & Richard Cloward, and Sidney Tarrow.

About the Author

Zitian Sun is a graduate student at the Department of Politics, New York University. His main research focuses are states’ repression tactics, organizations in contentious politics, and radicalization dynamics in social movements, with a regional focus in East Asia. His works apply mixed methods to explore mechanisms of decisions among less organized communities within authoritarian settings. His on-going project, “The Pitfall of Popularity,” is addressing the impact of meso-level interactions among protesters with respect to radicalization. Prior to his career at New York University, Zitian Sun received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from American University, Washington, D.C.