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Lance Bennett, Ruddick C. Lawrence Professor of Communication at University of Washington-Seattle, will deliver “The Logic of Connective Action: Public Engagement in the Digital Age” at 3:30 p.m. Monday (4/7) at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies. Bennett is director of the Center for Communication and Civic Engagement, which studies how communication processes and technologies can enhance citizen engagement. Bennett has published and lectured widely on media and information systems in civic life. His research areas include theories of citizenship and civic life; press-government relations; communication and the organization of national and transnational advocacy; the rise of the networked society; and how digital media are changing the public sphere.
He has received the Ithiel de Sola Pool Lectureship and the Murray Edelman Distinguished Career Award from the American Political Science Association; Doctor of Philosophy, honoris causa, from Uppsala University; the Olof Palme Visiting Professorship in Sweden; and a National Communication Association Distinguished Scholar career award. His most recent book is The Logic of Connective Action: Digital Media and the Personalization of Contentious Politics, with Alexandra Segerberg (Cambridge University Press, 2013).
This presentation will explain the rise of personalized, large-scale publics in which diverse populations address the common problems of our times such as economic fairness and climate change. These episodes of mass engagement often entail diminished or modified roles for conventional organizations such as parties, NGOs, or movement groups that orchestrated most of political life in the 20th century. In some cases, formal brick and mortar organizations are almost absent, as in digitally mediated crowds such as Occupy Wall Street, in which dispersed local camps were coordinated through numerous technology platforms that enabled the flow of inclusive discourses such as "We Are the 99%."
In such mobilizations, communication operates as an organizational process that may replace or supplement familiar forms of collective action based on organizational resource mobilization, leadership, and collective action framing. A second notable type of connective action in today's public engagement picture involves more conventional political organizations such as NGOs, but more in background roles of deploying networking technologies, and personalized communication logics that enable diverse pathways for engagement with various political causes. The talk explores how power is organized in these communication-based networks, how traditional media engage with them, and what political outcomes may result.