The interaction between multiple media platforms and the shaping of social movements.
2.1 Mai, Quan D. 2016. “All the Labor Problems Fit to Print: The New York Times and the Cultural Production of the U.S ‘Labor Problem’, 1870-1932.” Labor History 57(2): 141-169. Lead Article. (External Link)
The period that spanned the Gilded Age to the onset of the Great Depression saw the rise and relative decline of the US labor movement. The salient events of labor movements over these years undoubtedly shaped public perception about labor issues, and some scholars have been attempting to unpack the mechanisms through which depictions and characterizations of the ‘labor problem’ were produced in authoritative venues that could have shaped the future of the movement. This study goes beyond the standard practice of explaining news report volume to feature the political valance of the reports on the labor problem over a 63-year time period. The aforementioned period also saw significant changes in news reporting practices, with the rise of objective informational writing and the embrace of journalism as a profession. The change within journalism itself could potentially shape the depiction of the labor problem, yet such change has been overlooked by existing literature pertaining to the topic. This research makes a theoretical case for integrating social processes central to the labor movement and journalism from 1870 to 1932 and explains patterns in the cultural production of the labor problem in the New York Times by analyzing these two tracks of history in conjunction using both qualitative and quantitative data.
2.2 Isaac, Larry W., Jonathan S. Coley, Anna Jacobs, and Quan D. Mai. “Media and Social Movement Outcomes: Mass-Mediated Discourse and Strike Success in Gilded Age New York and Chicago” - Working paper
Does mass media discourse influence the material outcomes of social movement struggles? While an important question for both scholars and activists, most research on the media-movement nexus focuses on the impact of movements on press coverage or the use of newspapers to track movement actions. There is also a widespread presupposition in the literature that media coverage is generally a resource for movement goal attainment. We address this question by theorizing and systematically examining the impact of mass print media strike discourse on worker strike outcomes in New York and Chicago during the contentious years of Gilded Age industrial class formation. Employing a unique evidentiary base resulting from merging unusually rich strike event data with our own content coded data from two distinct print media sources, we test the suppression hypothesis that mass mainstream print media discourse—both text and image—containing media frames with negative valence toward strikes and strikers will reduce the likelihood of workers’ strike success. While evidence generally supports the suppression hypothesis, we find important genre, valence, proximity, and movement intensity contingencies in how media influences work. We discuss implications of our findings for the role of media in the study of social movement outcomes, the public sphere, and class formation.