Losing Sight of the Struggle: Consumer Activism in the Age of New Media and Hypervisuality

Amanda Earley, York University, Canada
Advocates of new media argue that technological advances have revolutionary, democratizing, and liberating potential. And many revolutionaries agree—activists are increasingly using digital technology to document the abuses around them, disseminate ideas, and organize. They believe that allying with new media can bring about social change, implying that bare access to technology constitutes power. Seeing is not, however, power in and of itself; the visual is only a terrain through which power acts. This paper brings cutting-edge work on the politics of new media into conversation with consumer research, ultimately arguing that social media are a particularly poor medium for dissent. This theoretical argument is examined through media representations of the 2010 G-20 Summit and the anti-globalization protests that surrounded it. 3,450 activist images and 87 mainstream media images were subjected to a visual analysis, leading to new insights about the politics of consumerism and technology in the contemporary.
[ to cite ]:
Amanda Earley (2011) ,"Losing Sight of the Struggle: Consumer Activism in the Age of New Media and Hypervisuality", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 39, eds. Rohini Ahluwalia, Tanya L. Chartrand, and Rebecca K. Ratner, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 890-891.