Jill Hopke

Environmental Communication. Social Movements. Mobile Media.

Tag: Wisconsin

Prelims or bust!

2011 has been an interesting year to say the least. I am proud of all that we’ve done in Wisconsin to stand up for workers rights and defend the democratic process, as well as my small part of it through the TAA and our Defend Wisconsin project. For an excellent collection of essays check out this volume “We are Wisconsin” edited by my friend Erica Sagrans, one of the many people I’ve had the privilege to get to know in 2011.

While the past year may have been about protesting in many respects, I also finished my doctoral coursework, submitted several research papers to journals (and a few revisions!), co-authored a book chapter on mobile phone use in Colombia (details forthcoming) and was inducted into the UW Teaching Academy.

But 2012 is all about “prelims,” or the preliminary exams that I need to pass in order to become a doctoral candidate. The way it works in my department is that I’ll need to take five eight-hour long open book exams over the course of two weeks, one for each of my dissertation committee members.

I’m embarking on this intellectual journey hopeful that it will be an opportunity to step back and reflect on all that I have learned over the past four and a half years. Many people have told me that coming out of prelims I will feel smarter than ever. For a reflection on this, see this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education. Personally, here is some of what I find invaluable:

Camille and Allison at Redamté.

1. Study buddies. I’m lucky to be in a graduate program that fosters research collaboration. While graduate school is very individualistic in many respects I have always tried to approach it in a collective spirit so that we all succeed. Along those lines I have had the honor to slog through these years with many fellow students who have become good friends and constant sources of inspiration, intellectual and otherwise. Plus, you make me laugh (especially the lovely ladies pictured here). Thank you!

2. Mentors. I am also fortunate to have the professional mentorship of many excellent scholars and practitioners in the field of communications who believe in my abilities as a scholar and human being. Thank you all! I really could not do this without your support and encouragement.

3. Organization. Because eight hours isn’t that much time.

4. Healthy habits (eating well, getting enough sleep and exercise). Because there’s truth in the saying “You are what you eat.”

5. Creativity and a computer. Enough said.

Hopefully I’ll end this year “as smart as I’ll ever be,” well on my way to completing a dissertation and Wisconsin will have a new governor.

On Journalism and the Long Struggle for Workers Rights

As the semester has ended, I’ve had the occasion to read for pleasure. I picked-up a copy of Dorothy Day’s autobiography The Long Loneliness, which had sat on my bookshelf unread for quite some time. Day, founder of the Catholic Worker Movement in the 1930s and before that a journalist in the radical New York press during the 1920s, writes of journalism, labor rights and community. The first two of which provide useful lessons to movements against income inequality and for workers rights in 2011, nearly a hundred years after she started out as a reporter for the New York Call, a Socialist daily newspaper.

Day can be remembered today as a journalist who lived what she wrote of—feeding the hungry, walking picket lines with strikers, challenging Church hierarchy to embody its principles in the mist of the Great Depression and opposing all wars, no matter their genesis.

On journalism, she provides a picture of the importance of the press in its heyday:

We started publishing The Catholic Worker at 436 East Fifteenth Street in May 1933, with a first issue of 2,500 copies. Within three or four months the circulation bounded to 25,000, and it was cheaper to bring it out as an eight-page tabloid on newsprint rather than the smaller-sized edition on better paper we had started with. By the end of the year we had a circulation of 100,000 and by 1936 it was 150,000. It was certainly a mushroom growth. It was not only that some parishes subscribed for the paper all over the country in bundles of 500 or more. Zealous young people took the paper out in the streets and sold it, and when they could not sell it even at one cent a copy, they gave free copies and left them in streetcar, bus, barber shop and dentist’s office. We got letters from all parts of the country from people who said they had picked up the paper on trains, in rooming houses. (p. 182)

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Why students should support recall effort and other news

I recently wrote an letter to the editor of the Badger Herald, one of UW-Madison’s student newspapers, about why students should support the statewide drive to recall Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.

In his short tenure as governor, Walker has attacked more than just the collective bargaining rights of public sector workers. He has cut more than $315 million in funding to higher education, directly affecting learning on this campus. He has cut K-12 education to the tune of more than $2 billion, hurting Wisconsin’s youth before they even have a shot at getting here. He has cut assistance to the neediest in our state, by slashing BadgerCare. And the list goes on.

You can read more and learn how you can get involved in the recall effort between now and January on Defend Wisconsin.

In related news, Wisconsin led the nation in job losses for October. That’s not just proportionally but in raw numbers, leaving our state a long way off from the 250,000 jobs Walker campaigned on creating in the private sector.

So it’s a good thing for Wisconsin that United Wisconsin, the umbrella group collecting recall petitions, announced today that Wisconsinites (myself included) have collected more than 300,000 signatures in only 12 days. Let’s keep it up!

The Importance of Communication in Collective Action

I spoke on a labor panel this afternoon, “The Wisconsin Fight Back: Union Organizers Sound Off,” at a conference organized by The Progressive magazine. Scholars struggle to explain under what conditions social movements are able to turn out a critical mass (see Marwell & Olson, 1993). One of the other panelists, from Madison Teachers Inc. (MTI) and a school guidance counselor, very aptly described importance of communication and interpersonal trust in overcoming the “collective action problem.”

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