Advocating for Activism: The Democratization of Media

5 Nov

Since this is my last week blogging about social media activism, I decided to conclude with a scholarly article that directly addresses a lot of the things I have been talking about for these past few weeks. “Democratic Media Activism through the Lens of Social Movement Theory” by William K. Carroll and Robert A. Hackett is an article from Media, Culture and Society (2006) that will serve as a perfect conclusion for my analysis.

Definitions and Data

This article focus on media democratization, which involves activists trying to change media messages and practices to be more subjective, equal, and democratic. Media activists who advocate for media democratization make it possible for activists with other causes, from gay rights to animal abuse awareness, to share their messages with the public.

To conduct this study, Carroll and Hackett interviewed 54 individuals throughout the UK, Canada, and the United States. Two thirds of them were self-proclaimed “media activists” and the other third were “activists” for other causes.


            The authors find four major ways media activists strive to democratize media:

– influence the content and practices of mainstream media (ex. media monitoring, campaigns for change)

– advocating reform of government policy and regulation toward media

-building democratic, independent, and participatory media (creating institutions to give a voice to the marginalized in mainstream media)

-changing the relationship between audiences and the media (ex. media education)

So What?

            The authors conclude that media democratization is different than normal online activism because it influences the behavior of every activist who uses the media to promote a cause. I agree that media activism is a kind of “meta-activism” that indirectly advocates on behalf of activists.

This article is complicated and theoretical, but as a whole it emphasizes the serious, foundational effects of the media on modern day activism. Without the internet and social media platforms, activism would be unrecognizable compared to what it is today. Advocating for the democratization of media – media education, awareness, and institutional reform in the name of egalitarianism – is what makes advocating for everything else possible.


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