Call for Abstracts: 2024 CDCS Symposium - Everyday Forms of Digital Activism and Resistance

Submissions should explore everyday forms of digital activism and resistance around the world.

As an academic field, social movement studies tend to focus on large-scale and organized movements.

Many of its influential concepts and theories are developed on the basis of analyzing movements in North America and Europe. Yet many movements are not organized, or organized in informal or indigenous ways; they may even be movements of non-movements.

All over the world, countless people engage in mundane activism and resistance which contribute to the collective wellbeing and sustainability of their communities. Although they carry on their daily activities without necessarily presuming to be activists, their work produces the effects of activism.

Everyday forms of activism and resistance are an essential part of social justice struggles, and yet their contributions are not fully recognized. The lived experiences of people in their everyday activism remain little known.

The internet and social media add new possibilities and vulnerabilities to the practices of everyday activism and resistance, reconfiguring established practices and giving rise to new, digital forms.

For example, food delivery workers who work via digital platforms negotiate their own spaces between resistance and compliance. Feminist activists build safe spaces and collective solidarities through everyday practices in private Facebook groups.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the collection and archiving of personal narratives and COVID-related artifacts contribute to the documenting and preserving of historical experiences. Encrypted communication on alternative social media such as Telegram, Signal, and Mastodon calls for fine-grained analyses of the everyday dimensions of political and communication dynamics as the backstage of activism. At the same time, in their daily use of social media apps and platforms, activists are exposed to new risks ranging from digital surveillance to datafication and more.
We invite submissions of extended abstracts of research papers on everyday forms of digital activism and resistance around the world. We welcome papers which explore innovative theoretical and methodological approaches, especially papers which center alternative and indigenous perspectives, methodologies, and activist practices from the Global South.

Topics to be covered include but are not limited to the following:

  • The multiple meanings of everyday digital activism
  • Activists’ narration of their digital experiences
  • Digital affordances and activist tactics and vulnerabilities
  • Creative forms of digital organizing and participation
  • Digital publics and hashtag activism
  • Affect, emotion, and performativity in digital activism
  • Everyday uses of digital data for social, racial, gender, and environmental justice
  • Online mutual aid and community building
  • Digital laborers’ everyday resistance
  • Disability activism and digital media practices
  • The aesthetics, genres, and styles of digital activism
  • The mundane and the extraordinary in digital activism
  • Everyday digital activism during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Activist practices of digital archiving, storytelling, and remembering

Please submit your 800-word abstract to before October 15, 2023. Notification of acceptance will be sent by November 15, 2023.

Complete papers are due three weeks before the symposium.

The symposium will take place at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania on April 18-19, 2024.

Conference organizers will cover hotel and travel to paper presenters (pending budget availability). Final papers presented at the conference will be edited for a special journal issue.

This symposium is organized by the Center on Digital Culture and Society at University of Pennsylvania and co-sponsored by the Independent Research Fund Denmark Sapere Aude Grant: “To Use or Not to Use? A Relational Approach to ICTs as Repertoire of Contention.”