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Communication as a Meta-Issue of Social Mobilization

Normand Landry
Concordia University
Normand Landry
Concordia University
Open Panel

Abstract

Social conflicts are expressive of - and can be indeed, largely understood as - collective struggles over meaning. Social movements are expressing cognitive dissidence over dominant conceptions of ideas, values and cultural beliefs. Social movements can be politically oriented; whether progressive or reactionary. But they are not always. However, they are always expressive of cultural challenges to ways of being - and, consequently, to act - in the world. Social movements are key agents in the politics of signification; their primary work is directed at issues of meaning, cognition and interpretation. Social movements are thus organizing cognitive battlegrounds where meaning is deployed in order to mobilize potential adherents and constituents, garner support, and demobilize adversaries. Media and communication issues ought to be considered as meta-issues, or master-issues, ones that affect most (if not all) aspects of social, cultural and political struggles. The history of media technology is also a history of political and social activism; it is a history of battles fought by citizens for the appropriation of communication resources and through their strategic mobilization in order to meet specific social, cultural or political objectives. This communication will present a cognitive perspective to social movements and discuss the role played by what will be defined as the “social flexibility” of digital media technology in the production, dissemination and reformulation of cultural codes – the core tasks of activism.