August 21st, 2016

ASA Awards Ceremony and Presidential Address


The Presidential Plenary featuring the formal address of ASA Ruth Milkman will be held on Sunday, August 21, at 4:30p.m. The Awards Ceremony, conferring the 2016 major awards, will open this session. All registrants are invited to attend this plenary session and the Honorary Reception afterwards to honor President Ruth Milkman and the award recipients


>> Good afternoon. And on behalf of the American Sociological Association, welcome to the 2016 Awards Ceremony and Presidential Address. My name is Barbara Risman, and as the current vice president, I
have the honor of being your emcee this evening. I hope you are all enjoying this beautiful city of Seattle, and the 111th annual meeting of the ASA. But before we go any further, please join me as
we take a moment to remember those sociologists who have passed away, and whose legacy we will always remember. [MUSIC]
Thank you. We now turn to the presentation of the 2016 ASA Awards, by our awards master of ceremony, Dr. Adia Harvey Wingfield of Washington University in St. Louis. Please welcome Adia. [APPLAUSE]
>> Thank you. The ASA Dissertation Award honors the best PhD dissertation from among those submitted by advisors and mentors in the discipline. Please welcome Leslie R. Hinkson as she highlights the
award and the dynamic work of this year's recipient. [APPLAUSE]
>> The best dissertation award goes to Michael Rodriguez-Muniz for his dissertation -- [APPLAUSE] come on, we're on a tight schedule here, people, so -- [LAUGHTER] Temporal Politics of the Future,
National Latino Civil Rights Advocacy, Demographic Statistics and the Browning of America, which he completed at Brown University. This dissertation examines the construction of demographic facts
about Latina/Latino population growth, the classificatory struggles waged around that process, and how Latinas/Latinos attempt to translate this demographic knowledge into political influence. In
short, it is a sociological examination of the politics of demography. Employing mixed methods -- qualitative interviews, media content analysis, participant observation -- this dissertation provides
two important theoretical contributions to the discipline. First is the articulation of temporal politics, his original concept of political action driven by demographics; second is the advancement
of the analytical tool, Racial Projects. This work, solidly situated in the tradition of the sociology of knowledge, is likely to influence how sociologists and political scientists alike understand
processes of racial and ethnic identity formation, Latina/Latino social movements, and Latina/Latino political action.
We wanted to note that we had an impressive selection of nominees this year, many of whose work we expect will play really influential roles in shaping the future of our discipline. Dr.
Rodriguez-Muniz's -- the apostrophe "S" -- dissertation was singular in its creativity, its theoretical heft and its mastery. [APPLAUSE]
>>Thank you, Leslie. I'm immensely honored and humbled to be on this stage. This award undoubtedly belongs to many more than I can individually recognize in a minute's time. To my comrades and humble
[FOREIGN LANGUAGE], to all those I learned from in the field, to my inspiring writing group, to my generous intellectual mentors and colleagues, and to each of the graduate students working to make
Brown Sociology more inclusive, I want to express my deepest gratitude. I have not imagined a more perfect committee, [INAUDIBLE], Michael Kennedy and Ann Morning. I'm also indebted to my family,
especially my sisters, Yvette and Cindy, and my partner, Deanna, for their ongoing love and support, and I'm very glad that they're here today.
I dedicated my dissertation to my late mother, Nellie Muniz. She passed away a year before I began graduate school. My mother, a proud Puerto Rican woman, raised three children in Chicago's Northwest
side, and was the fiercest teacher I've ever known. She taught me to read and write, and showed me by speech, indeed, that words are only worth their weight in conviction. Thank you very much.
>> The Jessie Bernard Award is given annually in recognition of a body of scholarly work that has enlarged the horizons of sociology to encompass fully the role of women in society. Please welcome
Christine L. Williams as she presents this year's recipient. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]
>> The winner of the 2016 Jessie Bernard Award is Ronnie Steinberg, professor emerita of Sociology and Women's Studies at Vanderbilt University. Professor Steinberg devoted her career to promoting the
status of women in society, both as an award-winning scholar and as an advocate for working women. A pioneer in the study of comparable worth, she provided expert testimony to lawmakers in the United
States and Canada, resulting in pay raises for thousands of working class women. In the 1980s and '90s, Professor Steinberg edited the very first scholarly book collection on gender and work. The
published dozens of canonical texts in the Sociology of Gender, while promoting the careers of a generation of feminist scholars. With the Jessie Bernard Award, the committee expresses our deepest
appreciation for Professor Steinberg's many contributions, both inside and outside the academy. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]
>> Thank you, Christine. I am greatly honored to receive this award. It is amazing to join the remarkable past recipients, two of whom are mentors and friends to me. I am greatly saddened at the
recent loss of Joan Acker, who I so wanted to be here tonight. And when I learned that I would receive the award, I thought immediately of Arlene Kaplan Daniels, who was such a supportive colleague
to me and so many other feminist sociologists.
I want to thank the committee and those who nominated me. I also want to thank my partner and husband, Michael Ames, with whom I have shared my life journey for half of my life. And thank you to
others, you know who you are, who helped further a professional career that differed from most professional careers.
I combined a career as a fierce advocate, a.k.a. in this profession as a public sociologist, for low income working women, nurses, clerical workers, food service workers, with a passion for teaching
especially undergraduate students. My research was used by unions and women's organizations to speak truth to power. In these situations where the stakes were high, for hundreds and thousands of
women and men, my research needed to be impeccable and defensible, in tribunals and courts as an expert witness. And among state, federal and international policymakers who actively tried,
repeatedly, to discredit systematic evidence contrary to their point of view.
I am especially pleased to receive this award in a year in which a feminist, Hillary Clinton, was nominated for the presidency, and in which a Democratic Socialist, Bernie Sanders, brought attention
to the deep and persistent inequality in our society. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]
>> The Public Understanding of Sociology Award is given annually to advance the public understanding of sociology, sociological research and scholarship among the general public. Please welcome Darren
Barany, as he presents this year's recipient. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]
>> It is an honor to present the Public Understanding of Sociology Award to Joel Best, professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware. Dr. Best has been exemplary in
addressing social issues in a way which demonstrates analytical rigor, but is understandable and engaging for audiences beyond the field and academia. He has published extensively, including 25
books, and over 80 principle articles and book chapters which cover a wide range of issues that are both fascinating and important; for example, moral panics, Fads, the student loan crisis, the study
of social problems, statistical claims. Of course, he is presented in settings such as this numerous times; however, he has also given interviews on NPR, Showtime, MTV, Fox News, NBC and other
outlets. Dr. Best has enhanced the quality of the public debate around the issues he has studied, and has promoted public awareness of sociological ideas and scholarship. Please join me in
congratulating Dr. Best. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]
>> Thank you, Darren. Obviously, none of us gets here alone. And there are lots of people I can thank. But I want to single out two people, two editors who really took a chance on writing that was
different; Naomi Schneider at the University of California Press, and Carl Bateman in Norton. And I really appreciate what they did for me. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]
>> This annual award honors the intellectual tradition of Oliver Cox, Charles S. Johnson and E. Franklin Frazier. Please welcome Marcus Anthony Hunter as he presents this year's recipient. [APPLAUSE]
>> Good evening, everybody. Thomas Pettigrew is a research professor of Social Psychology at the University of California Santa Cruz. His contributions to the study of prejudice, race and
desegregation have been transformational, both within and outside of sociology. His commitment to scholarship, mentorship and social justice continue the legacy of Cox, Johnson and Frazier. Among his
award-winning books are, Epitaph for Jim Crow, which was also an audio-visual product, Racially Separated or Together, Racial Discrimination in the United States, and The Sociology of Race Relations,
Reflections and Reform. I would like to welcome Thomas Pettigrew. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]
>> Thank you, Marcus. I'm honored to receive this award for many reasons. I grew up in the midst of extreme racism in Richmond, Virginia, in the 1930s and '40s, and I entered social science
specifically to study, and hopefully improve, American race relations. I'm most honored to join the list of previous recipients, such old friends as Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Troy Duster, Edgar Epps,
Chuck Willey, Andy Billingsley, and my former doctoral student, Jim Loewen.
Now, all three of the great sociologists for whom this award is named influenced my work. And I actually had the opportunity to meet Charles Johnson shortly before his death. A gentle but steadfastly
determined man, he offered me a position at Fisk, but I had already accepted a post at the University of North Carolina. Certainly he'd be proud today of his grandson, serving as the U.S. secretary
of Homeland Security.
Now, my hopes for future race relations research focus on placing what we know of our prejudice and discrimination at the micro and mezzo levels into their macro-level structural and cultural context,
made possible by such advances as multi-level analysis. This, I think, would greatly enhance policy remedies. Again, thank you for this cherished honor. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]
>> The Award for Excellence in the Reporting of Social Issues honors individuals for their promotion of sociological findings, and a broader vision of society. Please welcome Gary Alan Fine as he
presents this year's recipient. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]
>> Well, I'm so thrilled by this last award which was won by my mentor, Tom Pettigrew, and presented by my student, Marcus Hunter. Well, it is not often that a consensus develops around an award
recipient. But for the ASA award for the Reporting of Social Issues, such a tidal wave developed supporting our 2016 awardee. Literally hundreds of you told us whom to choose, and bravo for
crowdsourcing! Ta-Nehisi Coates, a writer, journalist and intellectual is the national correspondent for the Atlantic Magazine. He is the author of two books, The Beautiful Struggle, which is a
memoir of his coming of age in West Baltimore, and Between the World and Me, winner of the 2015 National Book Award for nonfiction, which is a reflection on race in America written as a letter to his
son, with powerful passages on raising young black men in a world of violence, in which they are all too likely to become victims. His writings on reparations set a new standard for a fair and
passionate understanding of cross-generational justice. Impassioned and informed, the writings of Coates brings to life what race means in contemporary American life, in a way that is sociologically
sophisticated, bold and beautiful.
He is not here today, choosing a long-planned family vacation over this lovely, air-conditioned ballroom. But after all, that's why we love him. It is our hope that he will join us next year for an
invited session. So thank you, Ta-Nehisi, for your tough love for sociology and for America. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]
>> The Distinguished Career Award for the Practice of Sociology honors outstanding contributions to sociological practice, through the work facilitated or served as a model for the work of others,
work that had significantly advanced the utility of one or more specialty areas in sociology. Please welcome Jennifer A. Stoloff as she presents this year's recipient. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]
>> Hugh "Bud" Mehan has spent his career working in the field of Educational Sociology. He worked tirelessly to improve primary and secondary education for low income students, and he helped establish
and support the Gompers Charter Middle School and Preparatory Academy in San Diego, and also the Price Charter School, one of the most successful college preparatory schools for disadvantaged
students in the country. Dr. Mehan was also the director for over a decade of Create, a collaboration between universities and public schools. He has mentored many low income and first generation
high school and university students. Dr. Mehan has also authored seven books, contributed to over a hundred journal articles and book chapters, and deeply influenced the field of Educational
Sociology. I'm honored to present him with a Distinguished Career Award for the Practice of Sociology, and thank you, Bud, for all your great work in this field. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]
>> Thank you, Jennifer. I'm honored to receive the 2016 Practice of Sociology Award, because this award embodies and recognizes the crucial principles of engaged scholarship that has energized the
discipline since its inception. I'm humbled to be included with a long line of sociologists, committed to taking the sociologist's concerns for social justice to audiences beyond the profession. My
PhD advisors, Aaron Cicourel and Peter Hall first stoked my interest in public sociology, and I'm pleased that they remain my friends. I'm thankful to Annette Lareau and Maria Martinez, and the other
friends and colleagues, such as Amy Binder and Aka Shwanatas, who wrote letters of support for this distinguished award on my behalf. I'm especially thankful to Margaret [Reyol?], who always sees the
responsibility to be upsetting the natural order on my behalf. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]
>> The Distinguished Contribution to Teaching Award is given to honor outstanding contributions to the undergraduate and/or graduate Teaching and Learning of Sociology that improve the quality of
teaching. Please welcome Mikaila Mariel Lemonik Arthur, as she presents this year's recipient. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]
>> Helen Moore is the 2016 recipient of the Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award. Dr. Moore is professor of Sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she has spent her career as
a dedicated advocate of teaching, a mentor to future faculty and a scholar of Teaching and Learning and diversity in the academy. As one of her nominators explains, when it was difficult, unpopular,
unappreciated and hard, Helen Moore pushed herself and others to create better courses, mentoring opportunities and environments for students and instructors in sociology learning settings. She has
also consistently institutionalized her efforts, so that she personally did not need to be present to make a difference. Dr. Moore has made a major impact on the teaching of sociology that will be
sustained through her influence on faculty, and on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning for decades to come. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]
>> Thank you, Mikaila, and to the committee as well. I receive this honor very much for the next generation of sociologists who will be launched through our classrooms. Labor market theory denotes
that teaching is a semi-profession, often feminized within academia with lowered wages, prestige and sped-up schedules. For these reasons, I particularly hold dear Carla Howrey, my touchstone with
the ASA, and others who have provided initiatives like most minority opportunities through school transformation, preparing future faculty initiatives that teaching sociology journal now trails, and
national conferences that linked me to think networks of scholar teachers. And to past winners, like the University of Memphis Center for Research on Women of Color.
Early at Nebraska, David Brinkerhoff modeled for me how to work at both the micro level of the classroom and macro levels of institutional changed. He then bequeathed me the graduate teaching seminar
that galvanized my own learning. I thank my department chairs, especially Alan Booth, who passed away this year, Lynn White and Julia McQuillan, who directly encouraged my efforts to integrate
scholarship and teaching at an R1 campus.
Sociologists should reflect on what women's studies, ethnic's studies, sexuality studies students have all challenged me to understand; learning requires them to connect concepts and theories with
community resources and with action, as well as data. I marvel at my feminist and anti-racist colleagues, who bring their critiques into the classroom. And I thank Cristina Falchi, Tommy [Dance?],
Tom Calhoun, my disciplinary mentors, Betsy Lucal, Bernice Pescosolido, Maxine Atkinson and Sheryl Grana for their inspirational pedagogy. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]
>> The Distinguished Book Award is presented annually for a single book or monograph published in the three preceding calendar years. Please welcome Randall Collins as he presents this year's
recipient. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]
>> The Distinguished Book Award goes to Sanyu Mojola at the University of Colorado-Boulder, for her book, Love, Money and HIV: Becoming a Modern African Woman in the Age of AIDS. Combining surveys and
field work in rural Kenya, Mojola shows why young African women are so susceptible to HIV AIDS. The sexual causes of the disease are well-known, yet young women with more schooling have higher HIV
risk. Education is not a panacea, because school is where they learn modern standards of beauty and self-presentation; hence, they seek out sex with older men, precisely those with more sexual
exposure, because they can give them gifts. Young men are less attractive to them, even though they carry less risk of HIV, because they are poorer. Modern consumerism trumps health policies. Culture
outweighs death. A most impressive book. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]
>> Thank you so much. It's very strange to be on the other side of the -- where I usually sit, like, toward the end. [LAUGHTER] This is America, land of dreams. I want to thank the ASA for this great
honor and recognition of my work. I also thank all my friends, many of them seated here, especially my friend, Jamie, flew in, and my family; my mother and grandmother are here from Kenya and Uganda
-- you can wave. [APPLAUSE] And my aunt and uncle, who's playing Paparazzi in the front, also here. It takes a village, right, to raise a sociologist. [LAUGHTER] I want to thank them for supporting a
highly unconventional path for a young African woman; only 13 percent of women in my country make it to high school, and for believing in me. I've had an extraordinary group of mentors along the way.
At the University of Chicago, I think Andy Abbott, Patrick Heuveline, Linda Waite, Shelley Clark and Jennifer Cole. The University of Colorado-Boulder, I thank Jane Menkin, Dick Jessa, Janet Jacobs,
along with many other fantastic colleagues and great friends, who teach me how to go to the mountains, and also work hard. I also thank Aljeri Alvak, Christine Williams, who have been amazing,
amazing mentors, Naomi Schneider, for believing in me. And finally, I thank all my respondents in Nyanza, Kenya. Young African women are disproportionately affected by HIV. They deserve a chance to
live an HIV-free life, and to navigate their sexual and romantic lives without the specter of illness and death hanging over them. And my hope is that my book offers both fresh insight into the
African HIV epidemic, and also reinvigorates ambitious and creative sociological thinking about how to end it. Thank you so much. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]
>> The W.E.B. DuBois Career Award of Distinguished Scholarship honors scholars who have shown outstanding commitment to the profession of sociology, and whose cumulative work has contributed in
important ways to the advancement of the discipline. Please welcome Bruce D. Haines, as he presents this year's recipient. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]
>> Good afternoon. I am honored to announce the 2016 winner of the W.E.B. DuBois Distinguished Career of Scholarship Award, Glen H. Elder, Jr. Dr. Elder is the Howard W. Odum Distinguished Research
professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. As one letter writer reported, from his classic, Children of the Great Depression to his more recent work, Elder has changed
the way we think about the life course. Committee members also agree. Through his work, which includes more than a dozen books and 200 scholarly articles, Dr. Elder has substantially reoriented the
field of sociology, and impacted numerous disciplines. Please join me in congratulating Glen H. Elder. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]
>> Thank you very much. I deeply appreciate this special honor, as well as the recognition and celebration I gratefully share with mentors and collaborators, students and colleagues. You are too
numerous to name, but thankfully, you know who you are.
Over 50 years ago, my fascination with social change in lives led me to a life-shaping affiliation with sociologist John Clausen, then director of the Berkeley Institute of Human Development. I am
deeply indebted to John for access to the institute's treasure trove of longitudinal studies. This collaboration placed me on a path to the very present. I've always been grounded in sociology with
ties to other disciplines; such as developmental science and social history. I acknowledge, with pleasure, their collaboration and friendship.
I'm also grateful for involvement in a cross-discipline life course program at Cornell and UNC. Most of my former pre-docs and post-docs are now working with their own students and professorships
across the country.
I close by acknowledging the heart of my career, the loving support of Karen Elder during my early decades and Sandy Turbeville, who is with me today. They have sustained me in more ways than they can
possibly know. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]
>> Thank you, dear!
>> Thank you.
>> And thanks to all the awards presenters, and to all those who have served on the awards committees this year. This is a terrific group of awardees, and I would like to ask all of them to stand up,
so we can give them a final round of applause. [APPLAUSE]
It is now my pleasure to introduce our president this year, Ruth Milkman. I promise to remind you of all the amazing accomplishments that she has done, but before I do that, I want to tell you just a
little bit about her journey to the leadership of the ASA. Ruth Milkman wanted to study gender, in a moment in history before the study of gender existed. And so she designed her own concentration in
what we used to call "women in society at Brown." Luckily, she was at Brown, where she was free to follow her passions. And then she went on to Berkeley where again, she had the freedom to follow her
feminist political interests. Her dissertation became her first book, Gender At Work: The Dynamics of Job Segregation by Sex During World War II. She was one of those pathbreakers who helped to
legitimate the study of gender and inequality. Ruth Milkman went into sociology to make a difference, to study issues that mattered, to provide an intellectual scaffolding for social change. And
she's fulfilled her goal. Milkman's commitment to using rigorous academic research in her public sociology to making social change is why she is here today as president. With the meeting about
rethinking social movements, can changing the conversation change the world?
Ruth Milkman is a role model for how to resolve the tension between wanting to change the world and being a committed scholar. What I find remarkable is how quickly Ruth moves when social change
happens to study and document it, from studying the movement for a $15 minimum wage, the California Paid Family Leave Act to the Occupy movement. Ruth Milkman exemplifies how to be an activist
scholar. She has inspired students everywhere she has taught, from UCLA on the West Coast to CUNY's graduate center on the East. She has inspired them to do rigorous research that highlights and
documents inequalities, and also highlights possibilities for change. And while doing so, she has been incredibly productive. She has written 12 books, nine policy briefs and nearly six dozen
articles. I don't even know when she sleeps.
She began her teaching career at CUNY, moved to UCLA, and now she's back at where she calls home, CUNY. She has directed institutes at both universities, dedicated to the study of labor. But she not
only studies labor, she uses her research about labor movements to support them. I think it says something about the maturity of our discipline that the 2013 winner of the ASA Award for Public
Understanding of Sociology won an election a few years later to be our president in 2016. Now, we all have the pleasure of hearing Ruth do what she is so good at; addressing what's going on today,
right now, with social movements in America. Please join me in a warm welcome to President Ruth Milkman. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]
>> Thank you, Barbara, for that wonderful introduction. And thanks to all of you for coming here this afternoon, and for the great honor of electing me as your president. I want to, before I give my
address, take this opportunity to express a few other words of thanks. First of all to the American Sociological Association's amazing staff. You know, one of the things that you get to see in this
job is the dynamics inside the organization, which I, myself, was clueless about before I started. The staff are incredibly dedicated. But I actually want to single out one person tonight, which is
Jamie Arca, a name many of you who have ever organized a session for the conferences in the last few years probably know quite well. This year, Jamie almost single-handedly managed the program
planning for the conference; a gargantuan task. And she did an incredible job. [APPLAUSE]
And I just want to also mention the rest of the ASA staff; I won't take the time to list all their names, there are 29 of them, whose labor is usually invisible, but very important to what we all do.
And also, the workers here in this hotel who have made this whole conference work very smoothly. And thanks also -- this is the slide -- to everyone who worked on the program for this conference; I
call them my "dream team," and you can read the names there. I hope you're all enjoying what they put together for you.
I'm also very indebted to Sally Hillsman, the ASA's executive officer extraordinaire. I've valued her guidance and support enormously over the last couple of years. As most of you know, Sally is
retiring in just a couple of weeks, after serving ASA with total dedication for over 14 years. I know I speak for all my colleagues and sister and fellow officers, who are lucky enough to serve on
Sally's watch. She's a superb administrator with an enviable skillset and impeccable judgment, and she's leaving the ASA in excellent shape, both financially and as an organization. We are all deeply
in her debt. Thank you, Sally, you will be missed! [APPLAUSE]
I served on the search committee that undertook the daunting task of finding a replacement for Sally, and I'm pleased to say that we were successful in recruiting Nancy Weinberg Kidd, who will take
over as executive office in the fall, in just a couple of weeks, like I said. And she's also here tonight, just here. [APPLAUSE] We were lucky to learn Nancy who, like Sally, has a PhD in sociology
from her job as executive director of the National Communications Association. Please join me in welcoming her to the ASA. [APPLAUSE]
I also want to thank Mary Romero, our outgoing secretary, who cheerfully carried out the many duties of a position that, let me tell you, is much more demanding than that of the ASA president. That is
the really hard job in this organization, elected job. Among other things, Mary led the search for Sally's replacement, and she did so many tasks, it would take me all night to recite them. This is
an extraordinary person, and we are all very indebted to her as well. Mary, thank you. [APPLAUSE]
And finally, I just want to thank my dear friends, former teachers, students and colleagues -- you all know who you are, again, it would take a long time to list everybody -- and most of all to my
family. My parents are no longer around, but I want to thank them tonight anyway. My mother, in particular, would have appreciated this occasion. I want to thank also my brothers, one of them is here
tonight, Raymond Milkman, along with my sister-in-law, Beverly. Thanks for making the trip, and for all your love and support over the years. Last, but definitely not least, my son, Jonathan Lax, the
apple of my eye, is also here tonight. Jonathan is 24 years old and a member of the millennial generation, which is the topic of my talk tonight, which I will turn to in the moment. And I think there
are many millennials here in the audience -- I can't really see you with these bright lights shining at my face, but this is for you, too.
So let me start. There's the title. And let me just begin with a quick overview of what I'm going to try to do in the brief time I have. It's kind of evident when you look around the social movement
landscape in our country today that most of the social movements on the left end of the spectrum -- not so much on the other side -- are led by members of the so-called millennial generation, usually
defined as people born after 1980, there's a little bit of dispute about that, but that's the standard definition. Now, young people are always overrepresented among political activists, in part due
to what Doug McAdam long called their "biographical availability." But of course, not every generation of young people becomes engaged in social movements. What strikes me in thinking about this
current scene is that recent literature on social movements seldom focuses on their generational aspect. It wasn't always like that, but recently we've seen very little discussion of that topic. And
so I'm going to make the case that we should be doing that, and especially for what I'm calling the post-2008 cycle of protest. And I'm drawing on Karl Mannheim's classic work on the topic, which I'm
sure many of you have read, but maybe not so recently.
So I'll talk about all that, then offer you a quick profile of millennials, focusing mostly on their political attitudes and their world view. I'll try to analyze briefly the roots of that world view,
the kind of key historical developments that have shaped this new political generation. And then finally, compare what I believe are the four largest millennial-driven social movements in the United
States today. And those four are, the "DREAMers," those are the undocumented immigrant youth who are fighting for a path to legalization for themselves and their families; Occupy Wall Street, which I
have studied in some depth with two of my colleagues who are here tonight somewhere, Stephanie Luce and Penny Lewis, and so I'll draw on that work. The movement against sexual assault, which I expect
most of you are familiar with on your own campuses, that's mainly where is. And finally, Black Lives Matter, which I don't think I need to explain what that is to this group. So that's the plan for
the next 40 minutes or so, maybe a teeny bit more.
So let me start with what I call the making of political generations, because they are made, not born. Karl Mannheim pointed out that the plasticity of young people, which us older folks lack -- we
had it once, but we lose it as we age -- is key to the shaping of political -- I'm sorry, of sociological generations; he didn't call them political generations. That's my term, and I stole it from
Peter Beinart, the journalist, actually. Rapid historical changes a dramatic events during a generation's formative, plastic years, Mannheim argued and I agree, critically mold that generation's
world view. Not all generations have this experience, however, that's Mannheim's key point; that generations are -- he's talking about sociological generations, not biological generations. So it's
only those generations that are affected by dramatic historical changes, and not all of them are, especially in America. Of course, even his sociological generations may not be politically engaged.
Sociological generations have a distinctive style -- that's what he called it -- and world view. But the ones that are politically engaged I'm called "political generations," and that's what I'm
going to try to focus on tonight. This afternoon, I mean, I guess it's not night yet. It feels like it to me, though.
Okay, so this is sort of the case for bringing Mannheim back in, so to say. Again, he's sort of a forgotten figure in recent literature, though certainly not in the longer view. For understanding the
movements I'm interested in here, his work is particularly useful. They are not only populated by a particular generation, millennials, but inflected with a generationally-specific world view, as I
hope I'll convince you tonight. Mannheim's work is also useful in a different way. Those of you who know the recent literature on social movements know that there's kind of a big divide between the
so-called political process model, which long dominated the field, and some people would say still dominates the field, and the cultural concerns that animate a whole other school of recent social
movements literature, led by people like my colleague, Jim Jasper. Mannheim is interested in both structure and culture, and his framework, I think, successfully lifts up both of them together. So
that's another virtue of it, besides the generational point that I'm going to focus on here. And I'll just mention this in passing, because I'm not going to talk about right wing movements tonight,
but we know they're out there. How could you not know? And I think Mannheim is quite relevant to those as well. If you think about organizations like the Tea Party, or for that matter, the supporters
of a Trump campaign, they have a strong generational aspect too. They're not youth-led, but they are generationally-specific. So that's just something to think about separately.
I just have a couple of quotes, I couldn't resist including these, from Mannheim, that are particularly relevant to what I'm trying to argue here. So I'll just read them to you first. This is from his
classic essay that I think most of us read in graduate school, or whatever: "Not every generation creates new collective impulses and formative principles original to itself. When as a result of an
acceleration, the tempo of social and cultural transformation, basic attitudes must change quickly. We speak in such cases of the formation of a new generational style." So again, it's not every
generation, biologically speaking. And then this is a more obscure piece that was actually a lecture that he gave, that was subsequently published in 1944, called, "The Problem of Youth in Modern
Society." And I wasn't that interested in social movements per se, but in this piece he did touch on them. So here's what he had to say: "Youth are especially apt to sympathize with dynamic social
movements which are dissatisfied with the existing state of affairs." And here's the plasticity point: "Youth has no vested interests yet, either in an economic sense or in terms of habits and
valuations, whereas most of the settled adults have. This is the explanation of the peculiar fact that in their adolescence and prolonged adolescence" -- I particularly like that phrase, because as
I'll argue for millennials, adolescence is, indeed, quite prolonged -- "so many people are ardent revolutionaries or reformers." So that's kind of my inspiration for all of this.
Okay, so let's turn to millennials. There's a kind of stereotype conventional wisdom, largely propagated by the media, about the millennial generation, and they are often portrayed as selfish, lazy,
narcissistic, with a huge sense of entitlement. And not only the media, but I've heard some of my colleagues say such things about students of this generation. [LAUGHTER] You've all heard some
version of this somewhere. This I'm not going to argue with -- millennials also have the reputation, in my view quite deserved, of being digitally adept and heavy users of social media. They are the
first generation of so-called "digital natives," after all. Until recently, they were presumed to be politically disengaged. So as recently as 2014, two years ago, the Pew Research Center, which has
collected tons of data on millennials, if you're interested in more I'm going to share a little of it with you tonight -- they found that millennials were, quote, "relatively unattached to organized
politics." This is an example of that stereotype. This is -- [LAUGHTER] I love this. "Millennials are lazy, entitles narcissists who still live with their parents. Why they'll save us all" -- that's
the next line. We'll see, anyway.
Okay, so the demographic profile of millennials is pretty interesting also. First of all, they are the largest single generation in U.S. history. That's just a fact that children of the baby boomers
-- we were, I'm a baby boomer, we were the previous winners of that distinction. They're also more diverse generation racially and ethnically than any previous generation, 43 percent are people of
color, Latinos being the largest group. Also interestingly, and I thank Paula England for clueing me into this, a larger share of this generation identify as bisexual, gay or transgender than any
previous generation. Thirty-two percent live with their parents, that's the highest percentage since World War II. They all marry later partly -- well, for lots of different reasons, and less often
than older generations, although that may just turn out to be later rather than less often, we don't know that yet. They're also the most highly educated in this country's history. A third of those
26 and over have four-year degrees, many have more than four years of advanced education. However, of those, and this becomes important in the story too, two thirds have student debt averaging
$27,000 -- so it's probably up from that. That's a year or two old, that statistic. You all know this, I think, being college teachers, many of you.
But contrary to the conventional wisdom that I summarized earlier, many millennials are politically engaged. I think you all know that after the Sanders campaign. Obama was the first to capture their
imagination back in 2008. Some of you will remember that they were the ones who first glommed onto Obama. And in fact, more of them voted for Obama than in -- they created the large age disparity
ever recorded in a presidential election that year. And they didn't just vote for Obama, many millennials worked on his campaign as well. You may remember Camp Obama, and those things that were
completely populated by that generation. And of course, Bernie Sanders -- I don't have to tell you, I'm sure you all know this -- won vast support from millennials. Clinton was more supported by the
older crowd in the Democratic population. Millennials are also, as I'll try to demonstrate, the demographic core of the four social movements I'm going to talk about here, and, well, you'll see some
more details on that shortly. They are generally much more left-leaning than older folks in this country.
So here's some data on that, from Pew. I'll just race you through this, but -- and this is just the tip of the iceberg. There's tons more where this came from. Millennials are much less likely than --
this is comparing them to my generation, boomers, which is the standard comparison -- they are much less likely to see a big difference between the two major parties, they are less patriotic. This is
the standard thing that everybody knows -- much more likely to support gay rights and other sexual minorities, to support same-sex marriage. To support legalization of marijuana, that's less obvious.
They're much more supportive of immigrant rights. They support bigger government with more services, more than boomers. And they have a -- this is way before Bernie and even before Occupy -- they
have a positive view of Socialism. And those data are from 2010 and 2011. And I kind of like this example. This is from the Harvard Institute of Politics, which also does these kinds of surveys. So
there's Bernie and his millennial supporters, or some of them. We could talk about this some other time, but there's, I think, a lot of interesting reasons why that Socialism data are so strong.
But anyway, college, it's difficult to find good data, breaking this down further, like some groups of millennials, but the data that we do have suggests that college educated millennials and those of
color are even more left-leaning. The more educated they are, the more, quote-unquote, "liberal" they -- they're more likely to identify as liberals. The more educated they are, the more likely they
are to support to LGBTQ rights. Support for Sanders was strongest among highly educated millennials, as well as African American millennials. And African American and Latino millennials are much more
likely than other millennials to support things like minimum wage increase and immigration reform. So again, there's much more where all this came from, but you get the point.
So you may be wondering, well, is this really because millennials are so left wing, or is it just that they're young? Maybe this is a youth effect, not a generational effect. And I think it's a mix of
both. So this is just a little glimpse of some data that is relevant to that question from the General Social Survey, one of the few sources of data that actually you can compare boomers now, boomers
then, millennials now. And you can see, this is obviously a selection of things that on some issues, it seems to be a real generational effect. So income inequality, of course that is the issue of
our time, in a way it wasn't in the '70s, although it was beginning to be, but people didn't realize it yet. On what was then called homosexuality mostly, and on marijuana you could see clear --
well, clear from these data generation effects. On the other hand, on some other issues, it seems that boomers then, in the '70s, were to the left of millennials now. And these are weird choices, in
a way. There aren't that many options in the GSS. But of course racial inequality was the big issue in the '70s, and so you see this question about, does government have a special obligation to help
what were then called "blacks" in that question. And they were more likely to call themselves liberals, but of course that was before the rise of political independence. So these are not that easy to
interpret. But I would argue that there's a mix of the two. In a way, from my argument, it doesn't really matter that much, because the point is, this is a new political generation, even if boomers
were one too, which, of course, they were.
So where does all this come from? Why are millennials the way they are? Why do they have this kind of world view? I'm going to argue that there are, again, following Mannheim's kind of framework, two,
well, really three roots, but two of them are Mannheim type roots, that is, rapid historical changes that made a difference for this generation. So first of those is the Internet revolution. I
already mentioned the thing about millennials as digital natives. And this is a perfect example of what Mannheim called an acceleration in the development of social and cultural transformation,
obviously. We all know that millennials are much better at social media and other new technology than some of us with gray hair. And social media are critical resources in all the movements that I'm
examining here.
A second one is, well, the 2008 crash in particular, but more generally the growth of precarity in the labor market, which particular affects this generation as new labor market entrants. And of
course, the great recession accelerated this change that was already underway. We all know that aspirations rise with education, but here we have a generation of graduates, and again, they are more
educated than previous generations who are underemployed, or can find only precarious forms of employment as interns, contract workers, temps, et cetera. And this is all pretty obvious to all of you.
Some European commentators talk about the phenomenon of "waithood," youth as an extended stage of the life cycle, much more extended than in the past. People spend more time in school. They work for
Teach for America, they have a gap year, they -- this phase of life, this transition to adulthood phase, is greatly extended, relative to, say, my generation, the boomers. We thought ours was long,
because of course higher education expanded dramatically for our generation. But compared to this, it was quite rapid. And they live at home longer, that's part of it, too. And then finally, this
isn't really a historical change so much, but I think it is quite important and related to the crash, but not just that in the four movements that I'm going to talk about. This generation has a keen
sense of disappointment in the false promises that have been made to them of a post-racial society, and yet they see racialized police violence everywhere they look. Promises of gender and equality,
and they encounter sexual assault when they go to college. Expanded LGBTQ rights -- yes, they have expanded those rights, and yet there remain very serious problems there. And the hope, for that
matter, that millennials did place in 2008 in Obama. And here's an example of that, this is from Occupy. This was often pointed to as one of the inspirations for Occupy.
Okay, so these four movements. I'm going to start by -- I've already told you what they are, I'm going to start by telling you a little bit about them as a group, and then talk about the variations
among them, which I actually find more interesting in some ways. Each of these movements have independent roots, and I'll say a teeny bit about that here. But they also are connected. They all drew
energy and inspiration from one another, and learn from each other. They are, I'm arguing here, part of a larger cycle of protests that includes other millennial-led movements that I'm not going to
talk about; you're familiar with these, I think, BDS, the anti-student debt movement. And then of course there are generationally-mixed movements like the environmental movement and the Fight for 15,
those are different in that they have institutional sponsors that are controlled by older generations, so they're not quite in my category. But they have a lot of millennial participation, too. And
they influence these movements that I am going to discuss.
So there are a few common features I just want to mention briefly. One is that this is not just a millennial phenomenon, but these are movements led by college educated millennials, overwhelmingly.
Some of you heard Paul Mason speak here on this stage night in the plenary. I've been very influenced by his concept of -- he wrote about the various movements around the world that emerged in 2011
from Tahrir Square to the Indignados of Southern Europe to Wisconsin to Occupy, and so on, and he argued that all those movements were -- the protagonists of all of them were what he called, "the
graduate with no future," and I think -- well, I'll try to make the case that that's true of these four, as well. All four do use social media extensively, as I already mentioned in recruitment and
mobilization. But I think sometimes people make too much of that. I'll just say, as a side point, that traditional media remained very important as well for these movements, as does face-to-face
contact in the organizing process. But social media is a resource that they exploit extensively. And like I said before, they're very good at it. And this is a -- well, okay, I'll leave it there.
Also, it's very interesting to me as someone who first came into contact with this term, "intersectionality" in the academy, that this language completely purveys the millennial generation. It's just
a regular word to them, it's not some academic technical term. It's, like, you know -- sweater, or whatever, right? It's just part of daily vocabulary of this generation. And all four of these
movements, though, somewhat occupies a little different from the others this way, with its focus on class inequality. Even they use the language of intersectionality, and see various forms of
oppression, race, class, gender, sexuality and more as interconnected. And they all emphasize that in their political discourse.
So now I want to just say a teeny bit about -- well, more than a teeny bit -- the rest of my talk, really, is about the ways in which these four movements vary, because they do vary in interesting
ways. So I'm going to talk about two dimensions of that, and that dimensions do not coincide, they are cross-cutting variations. So the first is the way that these movements -- or the kinds of
organizational structures that they adopt, and their strategies. So both Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter have a commitment non-hierarchical, organizational forms, what are sometimes called
horizontal organizational forms. They call themselves not leaderless, as some people say, but leaderful. They rely on direct action and disruptive strategies. They're committed to challenging basic
social structures, like capitalism, like police violence. And they're very critical of conventional mainstream politics, the two-party system, etc. My contrast, the other two, the movement against
sexual assault and the Dreamers movement, are fairly traditional in their organizational forms. They vote as opposed to [INAUDIBLE] and using consensus decision-making. I will mention that they both
use storytelling as a key strategy, and also engage in highly conventional politics, lobbying, trying to get laws passed, getting rules changed, working, quote, "inside the system" for reforms. So
that's one dimension. And the other is the characteristics of the activists and leaders. In the case of Occupy and the movement of sexual assault, we're talking about movements led by mostly white,
U.S. born and affluent youth, "social insiders," I call them here. By definition almost, the other two are not like that; Black Lives Matter and the Dreamers are led by people of color, many of them
LBG -- I said it wrong -- LGBTQ individuals, "queer" I'll say for short, and "trans," and they are social outsiders in a major way. So again, these are cross-cutting variations. So that's kind of the
typology I'm working with here. And I'm now just going to give you a quick sketch of each of the four in a little more detail.
So first the Dreamers, and I'm going in kind of vaguely chronological order, it's hard to do that strictly because they all overlap. But the Dreamers were definitely the first to emerge. This began as
a movement among young people eligible for a proposed piece of legislation called "The DREAM Act," you can see what the acronym stands for on the screen. So by definition, they were youthful, to be
eligible you had to be a young person. And the average age, my former student and now professor at U.S. Santa Cruz, Veronica Terriquez, did a great survey of Dreamers and found it. And at that point
their average age was 21. Almost all of them in her survey have attended or completed college. And this movement began, indeed, on college campuses. But it's been around for a while, it starts
actually just before 9-11, and then immigration reform generally goes into the deep freeze after 9-11 for a while, and them it eventually thaws out and resumes. But the movement's been around for
quite a few years now. So over time, more and more Dreamers have joined the ranks of the graduate with no future; indeed they are the extreme case of that phenomenon, because under U.S. law,
undocumented people can go to school indefinitely. But until 2012 with DACA, which I'll say a little bit more about, for those of you who aren't familiar with it, they could not work legally. So they
are really the graduates with no future. And this is also an extreme case of what McAdam called "biographical availability," which was great for building the movement. This is an event that they
staged; Now What graduating, because, indeed, that's the story, although since 2012, it's a little different.
Initially, their strategy was storytelling. They were trained by older mentors in the larger immigrant rights movement to draw media attention and public sympathy to the plight of undocumented youth,
that was the whole strategy. The theory was that this group of young people who had been brought to the United States as children without documents, through no choice of their own, would be much more
sympathetic characters than their parents. So the standard story, the standard narrative they were taught to recount went something like this, what I just said. They were brought here by their
parents, it wasn't their choice, the implication being they weren't really "illegal," quote-unquote. Their parents by implication were, was the implication which, as you'll see, became problematic
later. They grew up in the United States, they didn't even remember the countries that they were born in. They were fully-assimilated Americans, spoke perfect English. The typical story went, "Oh, I
didn't even know I was undocumented until I graduated from high school and I needed a social security number to get a job or to apply to college, and I found out I couldn't get one, or didn't have
one." They're hard workers. They embrace the American work ethic. They fly the American flag, et cetera. That was the kind of standard narrative, and the chosen storytellers were the best and the
brightest, the cream of the crop, valedictorians, honor students, et cetera. So that was the beginning. And, well, even up to now, although this has changed a little bit over time, they used, as I
said before, conventional organizations and tactics. The leaders were elected, they focused on legal reforms, lobbying elected officials with concrete demands, in-state tuition for undocumented
students, financial aid, drivers licenses, things like that. And they'd won a lot of those things. They won in-state college tuition by now in 20 states, financial aid for undocumented students in
five. And the big victory was in 2012, deferred action for childhood arrivals, or DACA, which offers undocumented DREAM Act eligible immigrants -- I'm simplifying a little bit -- work permits and
temporary protection from deportation. Over 800,000 young people have applied for DACA, and most of those have been accepted.
Okay, so it's ironic to me that although their strategy was storytelling, one thing they have not succeeded in doing is changing the public conversation if you will, taking a line from the theme of
this conference -- the U.S. public, as you all know, remains deeply divided about immigration. But they have won quite a bit, considering that.
Well, over time, Dreamers changed. So as time goes by and they get older, they get a little bit impatient with this process, which has been going on for 15 years, after all, and they begin to break
away from the parent movement that incubated them. So especially after 2010 -- so Obama's elected in 2008, by 2010 it's clear that this Congress is not going to enact comprehensive immigration
reform, and the Dreamers start forming their own autonomous organizations, and they become much more radical as well. Their narrative gets edgier. They now say, "Our parents didn't" -- you know, the
implication of the old narrative was that their parents somehow were culpable for coming across the border, but they weren't. Well, they say, "Our parents were just trying to make life better for
their families and for us, this was nothing wrong with that." And they also, many of them, not everybody, but they turned to more militant direct action tactics; they start sitting in congressional
offices, getting themselves arrested on the border and at detention centers, hunger strikes, blocking intersections, the whole works -- that's how they got DACA. And they also have been "coming out"
as undocumented, in other words, announcing to the world, "I am here and I don't have papers. And look at me, I'm the perfect American," et cetera, and all that. So, and as queer at the same time.
So here's an example. And as I mentioned earlier, they are social outsiders. They are mostly Latinos, some Asian, a few other things. While they're undocumented, obviously, they're interestingly
disproportionately female -- this is Veronica's data again -- and disproportionately LGBTQ, as you'll see. We don't know what the number is in the whole population of millennials, of course, so who
knows, but clearly, that's a high number. And it's probably a little higher than that by now, I would guess, but anyway... okay, moving right along.
So now I'm going to turn to Occupy Wall Street, which is my second case. I kind of like this picture. And again, this is based on research I did with Stephanie Luce and Penny Lewis. So millennials, we
saw immediately as we did our study, were Occupy's core. David Graeber wrote, right when the movement was emerging, that Occupy's protagonists were, as he put it, "young people bursting with energy,
with plenty of time on their hands" -- biographical availability, if you like -- "every reason to be angry, and access to the entire history of radical thought," via the Internet, he meant. We did a
study of New York City Occupy, we did a survey -- don't have time to go into this, but it's available if you're interested -- and we found that 40 percent of our respondents were under age 30,
another 20 percent in their 30s. That was in 2012. And the younger ones were much more likely to have been deeply involved in the movement; there were plenty of supporters who were older, but it was
the young people who had lived in a camp, posted on social media about Occupy, gotten arrested, et cetera.
And these are the graduate with no future, as Mason pointed out. Three quarters of them had at least four years of college, many of them had much more, as you can see. And that's roughly double the
percentage, even more actually, of New York City residents from which they were drawn. They also exemplified precarity after 2008. We didn't actually focus on that in our survey so much, but we have
sort of some data on that. Many of them had been laid off or lost their job in the years just before Occupy. And interestingly, even though they were highly educated, and many of them professionals
of some kind, they worked relatively little, a lot of them only worked less than 35 hours a week. They were unemployed, but they were underemployed, both in terms of the kind of jobs they had and the
amount of hours that they worked, and most of them were carrying student debt, the young ones.
So Occupy, I think most of you know this, was the first movement that really brought attention to the social media dimension of social movements, even though many others use it too. And it contributed
so greatly to their success in confusing and evading the actions of the New York City police, in particular. That was sort of lifted up as a big dimension of the movement. Manuel Castells wrote at
the time, "Occupy was born on the Internet, diffused by the Internet," and this was -- many people pointed this out. They did a little storytelling, Tumblr stories of debt and distress, but that
wasn't really their main thing, insofar as there was a narrative coming from Occupy. Of course it was, though we are the 99 percent narrative, a collective one, not individual storytelling. Unlike
the Dreamers, they famously rejected conventional politics and formal demands. They were often criticized for this. They virtually fetishized "horizontalism," had all kinds of rituals around
decision-making in a consensus manner. And they embraced pre-figurative politics, that is, trying to create in their movement, in their occupations in particular, the world, the kind of society that
they wanted to build. So that meant extensive exploration of participatory Democracy in various ways, and also in the Occupational spaces, Zuccotti Park and all the others around the country and the
world, various forms of mutual aid. And this was actually replication of what had happened in Southern Europe, by the way, the Indignados had the exact same thing. So they provided housing obviously,
also food, kitchens, healthcare, education, mental health counseling, libraries, newspapers -- everything. It was the whole society. They also had a global orientation, so when the movement first
began, it had ties to the Arab Spring, to the Indignados; people were there in the meetings planning Occupy from those groups. And also ties to the earlier anti-globalization movement, which sort of
had its peak moment here in Seattle in 1999. It was an anti-systemic, not always anti-capitalist but often anti-capitalist movement. So very different from the Dreamers, right, in that regard; not
looking for some new law, but a critique of the whole society and the whole system, and of inequality especially. Here's my favorite illustration from our report. Yeah, that is the best.
Again, even though they weren't storytellers particularly, Occupy's most enduring impact was discursive. This is just a chart, and I guess I should update it to 2016, but you can see the pattern of
news mentions of income inequality. So there's a big spike in the fall of 2011 when Occupy emerged. Then it does go down again for a while, though never to the pre-Occupy level, and of course
continues to rise after that. And you know, we all know this, that sociologists, of course, were aware of growing inequality well before 2011, but the general public now is very aware of it, and it's
on everybody's lips. And even people like Donald Trump have to make a gesture of sympathy about this question, it's become part of the national conversation in a huge way. In a huge way.
Okay. And again, well, so the other side of this is, most Occupiers were social insiders -- very different from the Dreamers. In our survey, 62 percent were white, which is not New York City, this is
just New York Occupiers, 10 percent Latino -- well, you can see the numbers. There were a little bit more male than female, only a little. They were very affluent and highly educated, as I already
said. So let me just say a little bit first, since I've just talked about these two, comparing the Dreamers and Occupiers, and then I'll move on to the other two, and then I'll let you go to your
evening activities.
So when I first started this project, I was just looking at these two, and I thought that maybe there was a connection between the fact that the Dreamers were social outsiders, and that they were
demanding these reforms, and the Occupiers are social insiders, sort of took the system for granted and sneered at it. But that doesn't quite work. A social outsider is, the Dreamers are demanding
access to the privileges that college educated Americans, which they all pretty much are, are supposed to have, which they are excluded from because of their immigration status. By contrast, the
Occupiers, who are privileged insiders to begin with, to be sure with aspirations that are not being fulfilled, reject the whole system and turn to this pre-figurative politics. So it's tempting to
see that link between those two things, but there are at least two reasons why that hypothesis -- well, I ended up rejecting it. One is this, that over time, there's been some convergence in the
tactics of the two groups. So the Dreamers have increasingly turned to direct action, as I mentioned, and disruption as they've gotten more and more fed up with the status quo, while many former
Occupiers have actually moved into conventional politics, working for the labor movement, for example. Many of our informants are now doing that, working for the Bernie Sanders campaign. And then the
next two cases that I'm going to tell you about contradict this hypothesis completely, so you'll see in a moment.
So let me start with the anti-sexual assault movement. This is the mattress girl, who you've probably heard of from Columbia University who, in protest of the way the administration handled her
complaint of sexual assault started dragging this mattress around the campus. Let me say a little bit about this movement. First of all, it is campus-based largely, so by definition, these are young
people. They are millennials. It developed alongside other kinds of campus activism. So we could argue about exactly when it started, but it really takes off in actually the Occupy year, 2011, 2012.
This is a quote from an interview I did with one of the activists; "At the time, we filed a sexual assault complaint" -- you know, on her campus -- "lots of activists started coming forward about
other things... everything exploded at once," she said. "It was the spring of our discontent," she said. That was 2012. It was led by millennials, almost all women who had come of age in the
so-called "post-feminist" era, with expectations of gender equality. Maybe some of you teaching undergraduates have had this experience, I have many times, young women who come to college and think,
you know, feminism like that, we don't need that any more. It's all been solved by you guys, like, you know, that's over, right? Everything's fine. Well, these activists, many of them told me they
did not identify as feminists before they got involved in this movement. In fact, I saw feminism in just the way I just described it, as "antiquated," one of them termed it. And here's a quote from
an interview. "When I got to campus freshman year, there was an activities fair, and there was a table for her college's feminists. And I remember I went up and picked up their information just so I
could make fun of it... I thought it was so stupid, because obviously women have equal rights and I didn't feel there was any purpose in feminism at that point." Well, later, they all adopt a
feminist identity, but they remain quite critical of my generation of feminists, actually, and vice versa to some extent, if you know Laura Kipnis' critique, for example. But anyway, they certainly
call themselves feminists now. But they didn't start out that way, and part of the -- you know, that's part of what led to the movement, was the horrified reaction to the fact that they did still
need to be feminists.
Well, like the Dreamers, they were storytellers. And they had also a strong critique of what they call "rape culture." The typical narrative in the story, and if you've seen the film, "The Hunting
Ground," which if you haven't I highly recommend, it has lots of stories just like this in it -- the typical narrative is a young woman -- this is how the film starts, too -- who's very excited, like
most people who get to go to especially elite colleges are, you know, oh, I'm going to go to college, it's so exciting, and oh, I got into this place I've really wanted to go. And then they get
there, and they experienced sexual assault, or rape, or something like it, and usually at the hands of a male student. And that's -- whoops, what happened here? And that's bad enough, but -- how come
I can't see the screen all of a sudden? You can? There it is. Okay, never mind. So that's bad enough, to experience sexual assault, but then they complain to the administration which, you know,
nowadays most schools have some kind of complaint mechanism for this, and they find that the administration is much more interested in protecting the image of the institution than of protecting its
students, and they become outraged. This movement also has a very powerful cultural critique; this is another quote from an interview. "We live in a rape culture where sexual assault and intimate
partner violence is normalized through the jokes we make and the media we consume." You know, I love this quote, because this woman is like a natural sociologist; she's not a sociologist, but she's
an activist. But anyway, listen to this next part. "Sexual assault is not something that has to happen, it's not something that is inherent to the human condition, or even American society. If we
have a deep commitment, we can seriously reduce the likelihood of it happening." So anyway, that's definitely -- that's sort of the mantra of the movement.
Like the Dreamers, this movement uses very traditional organizational forms and strategies and tactics. They have recognized leaders, conventional forms of decision-making, and they're focused on
concrete reforms. They file complaints and lawsuits under Title IX, and the Clery Act -- the Clery Act is about violence generally on campuses. They work to improve state and federal laws as well as
campus disciplinary procedures for sexual assault, and other things. They strategically deploy coverage by traditional media -- this is sort of a unique case, because this issue, unlike some
political protest subjects, can always be relied upon to attract media attention -- sexual assault. There's no problem, right, getting the media interested? Like, you know, if you're in the immigrant
rights movement, they're not always so interested. But this is not like that. But these women have become extremely adept at figuring out how to strategically take advantage of that media interest.
And that interest is particularly strong at elite schools, which is where the movement has been most visible. They're also really committed to education, they want to educate both college students
and younger students -- high school and even younger than that -- about sexual consent and sexual assault. They also, of course, being millennials use social media extensively to both -- they talked
about how, in the interviews I did, they talked about building their networks across the country of finding activists on other campuses through Facebook and so on, and they also have 800-some women
in an invitation-only Facebook group. These are both survivors of sexual assault and activists who support each other and share experiences and strategies. But mostly very traditional in their
political approach.
And in most respects, though not all as I learned, they are social insiders. So like the Occupy folks, they tend to be white and economically privileged women at elite universities. At least those
people are overrepresented in the most visible parts of this movement; there really aren't any statistics on it. But if you look at the coverage, those are overwhelmingly the visible people. And
that's even more exaggerated in the media depictions. So in terms of class and race and ethnicity, the most privileged people in the society are highly overrepresented. But interestingly, and I did
not know this until I did the interviews, quite a large share of them -- I don't have a real number -- but are LGBTQ-identified. One woman I interviewed said, "Well, I think I'm the only one who's
heterosexual," you know, she's not really the only one, but there are very few. This is something the media have completely ignored, even when these activists tell them about it, which is fascinating
to me, and I don't really know why, but -- well, anyway, that's something for us to figure out in the future. For these women, though, the radicalizing dynamic is about the false promise of gender
equity, the undergraduate with no future, if you will, because they're not the graduate yet. They're still students in most cases, although some of them now have graduated and moved on to working in
NGOs focused on this issue.
They've achieved quite a bit. They've gotten a lot of support from elected officials, and from the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education, which you know is the agency that's supposed
to enforce Title IX. That agency issued a "Dear Colleague" letter to all federally-funded colleges and universities in 2011, mandating specific rules for sexual assault cases, and since then they've
been formally investigating over 200 institutions. So the Obama administration has totally responded to this movement. They've also won new state "affirmative consent" laws; I know these are
controversial in some circles, but for this movement, this is a big achievement. In both California and New York, "Yes Means Yes" it's called in California, and then New York a year later, "Enough is
Enough." Funny names for laws, but anyway... They've also won a huge amount of media coverage for the reasons I already suggested, as well as the film I mentioned, which has been very widely
circulated, not just in this country, but around the world. And they've greatly increased public awareness of sexual violence on and off campus; you know, I guess it's a dotted line rather than a
straight line, but what just happened at Fox News is probably connected to this, too. This has really taken off as an issue in the public conversation again. And here's an example of that. I don't
know if you saw this, I didn't watch the Oscars this year for various reasons, but this is Lady Gaga who, herself, is a rape survivor. When she was young she was raped and has a song about it. And
she invited members of this movement up on the stage with her at the Oscars this spring.
So moving right along, Black Lives Matter. I love this picture, it just kind of exemplifies a lot of the things I'm going to tell you. This is -- wait, some of you were here yesterday at the forum, so
you got a much more in-depth picture than I have time to share with you. But you'll see that there's some echoes of what was said at that session yesterday at noontime here. Most of the activists and
leaders of this movement are college educated black millennials. They grew up in a so-called post-racial society and helped elect Barack Obama, the first black president. Many, of course,
nevertheless, have experienced racial profiling, micro-aggression and more. Some of them have experienced violence from the police, even. The activism of this movement was initially sparked by
outrage over the killing of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman, back in 2012, and later the killings of Eric Garner, and especially Michael Brown in 2014. And I think
this was not really on the national radar until after Ferguson, but it was already building before that.
As you all know, the movement focuses on protests against police violence, and mass incarceration. But it also has, and you would have heard this if you were here yesterday, many of you were, a very
broad intersectional agenda. Like the anti-sexual assault movement, this movement is critical of earlier generations of activists in this case, anti-racist activists, the civil rights activists, who,
in some cases, sort of tried to take over Black Lives Matter, and were rebuffed very vigorously.
It's been called, "Not your grandfather's civil rights movement." Here's a quote from a commentator I thought was very to the point. Black Lives Matter, he wrote, exposes "a serious generational rift.
It is largely a bottom-up movement being led by young unknowns, who have rejected, in some cases angrily, the presumption of leadership thrust on them by veteran civil rights movement celebrities."
He's talking about people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. The Black Lives Matter activists explicitly reject the idea of charismatic male leadership and hierarchal organizational structures; very
much like Occupy they aim to be leaderful, not traditionally led. And here too, the leading activists are disproportionately female, queer, trans, et cetera, perhaps even more so than among the
Dreamers, so of course we don't really have comparable data. Like Occupy, this is an anti-systemic movement. It's challenging the police, a fundamental institution with a monopoly on violence, so
it's not just looking for new laws and things like that, though they are looking for that, too. And they are very disdainful, as you would have heard yesterday of mainstream politics.
So these data, with the help of Amelia Fortunato, who I think is in the room somewhere, who is a graduate student at CUNY, we collected -- we tried to analyze data on Black Lives Matter activists,
drawing on media accounts and websites of the key Black Lives Matter organizations. And these are individuals -- we looked only at individuals who are mentioned more than five times in those places,
so this is a little sketchy as a methodology, but it was the best we could come up with. And as you can see, they're overwhelmingly millennials, not surprisingly. They're very highly educated. There
are more women than men, and the majority are LGBTQ-identified, and even more so for the women. And of course, they're overwhelmingly black. So they are social outsiders, quintessentially.
That's Alicia Garza, who's one of the women who invented that hashtag, you know, #Black Lives Matter. They achieved a fair amount in a short time, like Occupy, even though they weren't particularly
storytellers, though the media certainly told their stories. They've been very successful at the discursive level. So I think we all know that they've had a huge impact on public awareness about
police violence and mass incarceration. But like Occupy also, this movement has been much less successful in achieving concrete changes. Police shootings continue without interruption, and almost
none of the shooters have been punished in any way. And similarly with Occupy, inequality continues to grow, unabated. So we have awareness of these things, but they're happening nevertheless. So
anti-systemic movements, it's not easy to achieve their goals, obviously, so that's what this is. But still, it's ironic in a way, given the storytelling emphasis of the others. Of course, Black
Lives Matter has been around much longer already than Occupy, which didn't last very long. Some people even call it a "flash movement," it was so short-lived. But as you all are aware, it's now
facing some very formidable challenges. So we'll see what happens. And like some former Occupiers, who I mentioned have gotten involved in things like the Sanders campaign, some Black Lives Matter
activists -- not many, but some -- have now turned to mainstream politics. So, for example, DeRay Mckesson, who you may know ran for mayor of Baltimore recently; he didn't win, but he entered that
arena very enthusiastically.
Okay, so that's the end of my sort of quick thumbnail sketches of these movements, and now I'm going to just try to summarize what it all adds up to, very briefly. So I'm arguing that these four
movements embodied the aspirations of a new political generation, college educated millennials, speaking for the larger generation of millennials. They have a distinctive world view that's quite
left-leaning, that's distinctively their generation's world view. And that is rooted in their experience as digital natives on the one hand, the precarity and "waithood" they experience in the
society, especially since 2008, as well as disappointed expectations about a post-racial gender egalitarian society with expanded rights for social minorities. The four movements share a discourse of
intersectionality, but they vary in their strategic approaches, although with some conversions over time, as I've tried to say, and in this insider-outsider status of their leaders and activists. All
four of them have had an impact, but -- I'm repeating myself again -- ironically, the two that deploy storytelling as a key strategy have had a more concrete impact than the other two, which don't do
that, but have really impacted the political conversation.
And I will just close by saying that I think these movements and millennial generation world views more generally offer some basis for optimism about the future, even in the era of the distressing
political choice we see before us of Trump versus Clinton, and time is on their side. They are the future. So I'll just stop there. Thank you so much. [APPLAUSE]
Thank you! And these are the people that I want to thank for their help on this project.