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In which I make pie charts on a kids' school website - Tactical Ninja

Oct. 13th, 2011

10:27 am - In which I make pie charts on a kids' school website

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When I checked last night, it turned out that someone had turned my hot water cylinder up as high as it would go - that's over 75 degrees! WTF why would you do that? That's hot enough to really do damage! Not just to skin but to my bank account. Anyway, now it's down to a much more sensible 60 degrees - still warmer than recommended at the tap but since it has to travel through cold pipes to get there I figure that's pretty close. The cupboard isn't like a sauna now. *phew*


I have to hand in 4000 words next week. My outline says this:

"Background and Significance: In the process of researching my last essay I came across the website WhatIsThePlan.org. At the time it was only two months old and seemed to constitute a hub site for the activist arm of Anonymous, presenting information about the ideology, identity, and program claims of the Anonymous movement and providing a forum for discussion of operations. It also includes simple instructions for participating in anonymous activities for the technically non-savvy. At the time it had nearly 77,000 members (the number has since grown to 86,000 or so) and the forums were very active. I became interested in who the members are and why they would choose to join Anonymous, and also in how a group most commonly known as hackers or internet troublemakers had ‘rebranded’ successfully enough to attract so many participants in such a short space of time. I am also interested in examining the development of an anonymous, internet-based social movement in the context of existing theory, as many theories seem to emphasise face-to-face interaction as important to formation of solidarity.

Secondary Literature: I will be using literature related to theories of the emotions of protest, the discourse of ideology, the formation of collective identity, master framing (particularly the injustice frame), micromobilisation and frame alignment to explore the motivation to protest and the development of a social movement as new people join. This material will come from books and journal articles, with emphasis on those listed below.

Primary Literature: The first part of the essay will apply relevant theory to the recruitment material and information on the WhatIsThePlan.org website, particularly introductory information, to identify the ways in which the movement has created an ideology, identity and frame for itself. I will also look at the accessibility of discussion and participation in operations as a means of micromobilisation.

The second part of the essay will analyse the motivations of participants. Two weeks (14th to 20th of June and July 2011) of posts from the forum “Why You (We) Fight” on WhatIsThePlan.org have been selected for analysis. These will be coded to identify statements that relate to theories of moral shock, collective identity, emotion as motivation, threat and blame, and frame alignment including frame bridging, frame amplification, frame extension and frame transformation among the respondents. So far, statements such as “I have always known something was wrong” and references to ‘waking up’ are common within the messages, indicating a slant towards frame bridging and frame transformation as a means by which people become part of Anonymous activism. I will use the coded messages and their relationship to theory to create a ‘snapshot’ of who the participants are and how they came to be participating. Comparison of this with the analysis of current recruitment methods by Anonymous may produce recommendations of methods for further growing the movement.

Problems: 434 is a lot of responses to code! The responses are not all in depth and some do not fit any of the theories, while others fit several theories. Creating some sort of order that is coherent will be a challenge. I am not able to produce a representative sample due to the sheer number of participants, therefore qualitative analysis is more appropriate than quantitative. Two arbitrary weeks were chosen, however one week was the first week the site was open in which only people who were already involved with the movement were likely to know of its existence, therefore this may bias the responses and must be allowed for. I believe that the fact that this is a public forum which does not require membership to read the posts means that this information is in the public domain and therefore does not require ethics approval. I may find at the end of it that I have no new insight to add to what is already happening within the movement."


Yes, you needed to know all that. This week, I'm taking the coded responses and crunching them to come up with themes. Some of them are pretty easy, such as the formation of collective identity. Others, not so much - like, what do these people see as the problem? What are they fighting against?

I've seen this confusion about identification of threats and blame in criticisms of the Occupy movement*, so I thought I'd have a look at that - especially since the highlighting of specific threats and the labelling of those who are 'to blame' is part of the establishment of an injustice frame, which is a) a powerful frame for mobilising the dissastisfied and b) currently quite trendy. So, I coded threats and blame and then went through them to see if there were any themes. About a quarter of the respondents identified specific threats as reasons they got motivated, and about a fifth had ideas about who was to blame.

I crunched the threats into eight categories. This wasn't easy because the people don't go "Oh yes, I'm doing this because of an oppressive system." They are more likely to rant at length about police brutality or the increasing level of surveillance, or any combination of a number of things, and it's up to me to figure out where they fit, and make categories to put them in. Such is the nature of qualitative research. NB for Happy - the Destruction category includes extinction of the human race due to climate change, just thought you'd like to know.

Anyway, I used a kids' school site to make this handy-dandy pie chart of what WITP people see as the main threats to society that have motivated them to mobilise:



And then I did the same thing for who they feel is to blame:



Now since this isn't a representative sample, the best I can do is to identify themes - and I think it's pretty loud and clear that the main themes here are corruption, oppression and injustice/inequality and that blame is mostly being assigned to governments, corporations and unspecified 'elites'. And it wouldn't surprise me if the people in the Occupy movement, if asked, would give similar answers.

(Personally, I think expecting people to have a coherent list of.. anything really... when they're coming together like Occupy is, is unrealistic. It's taken me weeks of research on a static, saveable, written-down bunch of data to come up with those pie charts up there. But I bet you anything you like that if someone did the same analysis on Occupy statements, they'd come up with an injustice frame too. Nuff said)

This, incidentally, is the perfect recipe for an injustice frame, and the injustice frame is the one that Anonymous has claimed for its outreach through this website. But the people responding were already in this mindset. Anonymous didn't create the sentiment pool, nor did Occupy - it was already there. How that pool grew to the point where a bit of bridging and extension work by Anonymous and AdBusters could spill over into the Occupy movement is tonight's work - I suspect what I'll find based in the amount of 'waking up' stories I've read is that a large scale frame trasformation of the global interpretive variety has gone on, and that people are currently 'ripe for the picking' by movements using the injustice frame.

And hopefully by the weekend I'll be able to say that all academicky like and I will be able to impress someone with my OCD-like ability to analyse qualitative data. As soon as this essay is handed in I'll be doing it furrealz so this has been good practice, if nothing else.


Also, you get a gold star if you read that, because while I find it endlessly fascinating I'm not sure you do.

Last night I heard John Key's said that taxpayers may end up footing the bill for the Rena disaster if the shipping company's insurance doesn't cover it. The cynic in me is going "Oh, taxpayers. That'd be those of us poor enough to actually pay tax, ie not Key and his cronies."

Injustice frame. Remember these words.

* Incidentally, the involvement of Anonymous in the Occupy movement was discussed on the site I'm studying as far back as August.

Comments:

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From:polychrome_baby
Date:October 12th, 2011 09:46 pm (UTC)
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Interesting.
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From:tatjna
Date:October 12th, 2011 09:47 pm (UTC)
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I'm glad somebody other than me thinks so! ;-)
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From:tatjna
Date:October 12th, 2011 10:02 pm (UTC)
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Thd glib, 101 answer to the first question would be 'political opportunities and cognitive liberation'. That being that someone's seen a weak spot in the power structures that makes success more likely, and the relative successes of the Arab Spring have given indication that change is actually possible through their efforts. The less glib answer is a more complex analysis of mobilisation theory that takes into account a large number of theories and variables but probably ends up in the same place

Ahead of the curve? Nah, you're not the only one doing that - lots of people are, and many of them are people who are going "Those folks over there, they are doing it wrong." You may not be doing this, but the point of protest is to go "Oi there is a problem" not provide a comprehensive plan on how to fix it, so I think that this criticism is a bit misguided because the Occupy movement is doing exactly what protest movements are supposed to do.

Many of the respondents blamed both corporations and governments, and linked the governments' corruption to their willingness to allow corporations to have their way. Your comment has made it clear that I may have to spell that out in my discussion or change the pie chart labels or something to make that clear. I think that governments in Western societies are still seen as the power that's supposed to protect the people, and the fact that governments have instead protected corporate interests puts them in the centre of the blame target instead of the 'real' culprit, you know? Not sure how to make this clear in a chart.
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From:polychrome_baby
Date:October 12th, 2011 11:03 pm (UTC)
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I can be quite clear that the vast amount of my compatriots in the Occupy movements do think the corporations are to blame.
If you read the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City you'll see that the vast amount of grievances are being aired directly towards corporations.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:October 13th, 2011 12:15 am (UTC)
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We're talking about the the US government though, which is so in bed with corporations, with so little differences between the two major parties, that it's really a joke. So while the government should be protectors of the people, they've failed dismally at this, and thus should be blamed for failing at this task.
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From:morbid_curious
Date:October 13th, 2011 12:42 am (UTC)

"It's a test, designed to provoke an emotional response..."

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The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping.

What do you mean, I'm not helping?

I mean: you're not helping! Why is that, Leon?


The national myth of America is still very much about "freedom and democracy", and they idea that anyone who works hard can make something of themselves. It's the story they tell themselves about themselves regularly and often. Their initial frame of complaint about injustice is still "write to your congressman about...", and so when that injustice persists and corporate/elite-friendly legislation continues, they see that as an affront to their ingrained ideas of nationhood, thus a national governance failing first and foremost. They're pretty much pre-subverted by their own national PR.
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From:rivet
Date:October 14th, 2011 09:32 pm (UTC)
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The answer to that question is generally relative deprivation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relative_deprivation

People have recently been given a very clear picture, with lots of evidence, that some people have been winning for the last 30 years, and it ain't them.
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From:mundens
Date:October 12th, 2011 11:00 pm (UTC)

To the Injustice Frame, Alfred!

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To me the words "injustice frame" conjour an image of a combat exo-skeleton used take on over-powered adversaries, perhaps similar to this one:
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From:tatjna
Date:October 12th, 2011 11:02 pm (UTC)

Re: To the Injustice Frame, Alfred!

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I am concerned for the welfare of the person strapped to the front of that injustice frame, just saying.
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From:thatgirljj
Date:October 12th, 2011 11:06 pm (UTC)
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FYI, I don't know how far you are into coding yet, but I got an email from Atlas saying that their student software package is only $79/55 euros for the month of October... don't know if it's still potentially useful for you.
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From:tatjna
Date:October 12th, 2011 11:09 pm (UTC)
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I thought Atlas was awesome and would have bought it, but the student package only applies to full time students. ;-/ Sadly, the non-student individual package is preventatively expensive.
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From:tatjna
Date:October 12th, 2011 11:09 pm (UTC)
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PS I used Weft. It was annoying and slow and jumpy, but it was free. I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who has access to Atlas though.
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From:vernacularity
Date:October 12th, 2011 11:09 pm (UTC)
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yeah I find it interesting.

one thing, in relation to whether it is "governments", "elite", or "corporations" is that governments are made up of various different people with various different backgrounds and interests and ideological approaches who align for whatever commonality they think is consistent with trying to achieve those goals.

As an example our PM Mr Key is I would say a member of all three, or certainly represents the interests of all three.

That distinction between "politicians" and "governments" should be made, though part of the failure to protect (and let's just fantasise for a moment that the "failure to act" criminalisation embodied in proposed domestic violence law -proposed? is it implemented yet?- might be applied to politicians who fail to protect) includes the ineptitude of the Labour Opposition. Good God could they stop mumbling among themselves and gumbying around trying to score points on reacting to the actions of the Govt and just come up with some of their OWN actions? Please? Like the Greens do?

Anyway, i think it is actually damn good that all this is happening.
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From:tatjna
Date:October 12th, 2011 11:12 pm (UTC)
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Yeah - the section on blame is going to have to have some excerpts to explain that relationship.

I agree it's good that people are finally standing up and going "Oi!". I have fears around Saturday in Wellington but I also know that I have to stand up because someone has to.
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