Online Activism

The political organization I am familiar with doesn’t have English versions, so I went to Wikipedia to search for a political organization website that is comparable to Moveon.org. The organization “Glaad” (The Gay & Lesbian Alliance against Defamation) caught my eyes. This website (organization) attempts to amplify the voice of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) group; it especially focus on preventing media to negatively portray LGBT. Although the issue of Glaad cares isn’t quite related to Moveon.org, I sill discover some similarity between these two websites.

Rohlinger and Brown indicate that after 9/11, the anti-war activists were being labeled as unpatriotic (p.140). Therefore, the participants of MoveOn.org regarded online participation less risky, for they can discuss anonymously online to prevent acquaintances labeling them. The online forum gave those who have dissents a platform to present their thoughts and be heard without expose identities in the real world. This less-risky trait of MoveOn.org (especially after the 9/11) is similar to Glaad. Glaad has provided a platform for those who don’t want their sexuality to be out of closet in the real life, but at the same time wish the voice to be heard. Both of these websites create a platform for minority voices to be able to gather together.

Moveon.org and Glaad both have the similar layout of their websites. Both websites have a category for “press,” which implies that the organization is influential among similar organizations. The “blog” and the “stories” categories enable participants to discuss the issue and express their thoughts. The “donate”, “publications”, and “event” categories linked the virtual world to the real world, which engage the participants in “intermediary forms of activism (p.133).” As Rohlinger and Brown indicate, the real world participations of Moveon.org include “engage in discussion, watch a film, and write personalized letters to officials (p.144).” The website of MoveOn indicate that there are a lot of campaigns that they are working on, and they hope people could voluntarily join in real life. On the other hand, the Glaad also have real world events such as workshop for “new media training at creating change” and “thank Glaad it’s Friday”; the LGBT group amplifies their voice by these real world call-to-actions, which is also a form of activism. The internet helps these two organizations to connect regional participants to join local events, which make the voice of grassroots stronger.

It should be noted that the website of Glaad has a category called “report media defamation.” Participants can report the likely-defamation in media (i.e. TV, magazine) in order to let Glaad to request the media to not doing so. This category gives the participants who want to be anonymous also have a chance to participate in semi-real -world events.

To sum up, Glaad present a phenomenon as the article mentioned: provide a space for people to form point of view away from dominant groups; allows individuals to participate anonymously and buffers challengers from high cost of activism; and moves challenges from virtual to real world (p.133).

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Online shopping

Three subjects: Two UF graduate students that major in Public Relations and Civil Engineering(Ying and Wei) and an Ohio State University graduate student who majors in Gender Studies(Brena). Wei is male; Brena and Ying are females.

1. Have you ever purchased anything online? If you did, do you remember the reason why you decide to purchase things online the first time?

All three subjects have purchased products online. The reasons that triggered them to purchase things online the first time are: a) cheaper; 2) they cannot buy certain products in the near store. They all had a good experience at the first time.

2. How often do you buy things online? What kind of product do you usually buy online? What of product you will never buy online? Why?

Wei (once a month): I won’t buy clothes online (difficult to know the size). I would rather buy stuff in the store so that I won’t need to wait for a few days to get the products.

Brena (twice a month): I usually buy books online. I won’t buy clothes online because I cannot feel the texture.

Ying (not often purchase online): I will buy whatever things that is cheaper. But I like to go to a store where I can really see the products.

3. Before the first time you purchase things online, how did you feel about the word “online-shopping”? How do you feel about the word online shopping now?

Wei: Before (distrustful, reveal personal info); Now (cheaper, a way of purchasing)

Brena: Before (distrustful, fraud, reveal credit card info); Now (distrustful, cheaper, convenient)

Ying: Before (fraud); now (convenience, cheaper)

4. Have you refund products of the online purchase? If you did, please describe the reason you refund the products, and how you felt about this online-refund experience.

Wei: The swimming suit is too small for me; and the headphone does not work right so I refund them. The seller of the headphone asks me to bill the shipping fee and I was not happy about it.

Brena: No, because I think it take too much work if I refund things. This is why I never purchase expensive things online.

Ying: Never.

5. Do you choose to purchase only in certain store or not? Why?

Wei and Brena: I only go to the online store I trust. Less risk.

Ying: I buy stuff if it is cheaper, I don’t care which store.

6. Will you purchase things on the online-store that you never heard before? Why? Will you purchase anything from an online independent seller? Why?

Wei and Brena: I will check their rating before I purchase their stuffs. But I seldom buy things from an independent seller. (Brena also noted that she only purchase stuff from the store which has a phone customer service)

Ying: I will buy if it is cheaper. If the product didn’t meet my expectation I won’t care, for I only purchase cheap stuff online.

Analysis:

First of all, I think Muts should define what “social trust” is in this paper. The idea of “social trust” is so broad that it is difficult for me to grab her point sometimes when reading this paper. She mentioned that social trust is “context sensitive (p.455),” she also wrote a review about the social trust in economic exchange (p.440). So that I guess she sees social trust under the structure of economy.

Musz hypothesized that participate in online purchasing will “stimulate higher levels of social trust (p. 439).” I will say I cannot totally agree with it. I think this issue is more related to “branding” than “social trust.” From my survey, I find that people trust the online shops that are “reputable”, such as E-bay and Amazon. Moreover, they will avoid buying things from independent sellers that they think they cannot trust. Furthermore, they also pointed out that they will only buy very cheap things from independent seller so that if the product got some problem, they will not be too sad. From these answers, I don’t see any higher level “social trust“ were stimulated by the online shopping. Although the respondents do changed some of their negative perceptions toward online shopping after they had the good online-shopping experience (which is same as Musz’s point: low expectation and positive experience), and they are more likely to purchase stuff online afterward; however, I think they changed the perception toward online-shopping gradually because they trust the “brand,” not because they trust “strangers” (gain higher level of social trust). I think it is two different things. One of my respondents also told me that she only buy stuff from the store which has a phone customer service. This action shows that although face-to-face contact is not necessary in purchasing things, which seems like people have higher level of social trust now; however, still, customers will feel more trustworthy toward the online-store that can contact directly.