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The Effects of Social Media and Academia in Social Justice Movements

The history of the United States has proven to be cyclical in some respects, providing opportunities ripe for change. The legal end of slavery, women’s suffrage, civil rights and current movements against social inequality stand as examples of this tendency. This nation’s narrative might be described as opposite ideological forces resisting against each other, sometimes with new laws and court decisions resulting from the struggle. This continues to be true even now, with academia and social media playing important roles today.

Social Media: Connection, Sharing and Organization

It should be no surprise that modern civil rights groups and leaders were early adopters in harnessing social media for their benefit. The University of Southern California’s Master of Public Administration program, offered through its USC Online platform, recently detailed how social media has impacted revolutions all over the world. In this infographic, the program specifically discussed how protestors, planners and movement organizers used the technology in Egypt, the Ukraine and Thailand,

At the same time, it’s also proven to be critical for changing ideologies and viewpoints in the United States. The fight to legalize marriage equality is a recent example, and it may be leading to greater acceptance of transgender individuals according to a 2016 India Times report. Social media also continues to be important for organizing political action and protesting. In some cases, it serves as a conduit for passing along critical information rapidly. For instance, the American Civil Liberties Union leverages both Facebook and Twitter to disseminate materials and updates, such as a guide to the legal rights of protestors.

Academic Helps Fuel Ideas Behind Change

Additionally, academic is often part of the equation when it comes to the development of social justice efforts and positive outcomes. Whether in over or covert ways, ideas shared in the classroom have sometimes challenged conventional ways of thinking. One only needs to recall the anti-war movement of the 1960s as a prime example of this. Additionally, participation by college students played a large role in the civil rights and Black Power activities of the same period.

However, more modern versions may lie even in online curricula geared towards working professionals. For instance, in the online Master of Laws (LLM) program at USC, the department published an extensive infographic detailing the history and harmful effects of white-collar crime. Rather than being "victimless,” the information calls attention to injuries and deaths caused by upper-level corporate negligence, whether unintended or deliberate. Connections could easily be made between this and ideas promoted by parts of the Occupy movement dealing with financial inequity, corporate crime and victims of subpar lending practices.

Technology and Education Keep Shaping Society

The human need for interconnection has not changed in several thousand years of history. However, technologies have developed along the way to make communication much easier. The sharing of ideas among like-minded individuals has been occurring since the invention of writing itself. Academia remains a free, open space for the exchange of ideas, and social media often helps spread them faster. Both contribute as forces for positive outcomes, causing people to rethink long-held ideas and leading the way in making a better society.

 
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