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
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.