Pop Culture

Whose Ideas Move through these Platforms?

Social activism has taken a new form since social media has transformed the way we live our lives. People can now join a conversation online, and feel as though they are contributing to a social movement. This has allowed for a surge in civil activism in the form of tweets, hashtags, instagram photos, and other posts encouraging others to join them in the fight for current causes.

We hope to explore the ways in which social media has propelled the industry of philanthrocapitalism and “couch activism” (tweeting support, purchasing merchandise, expressing support only within like-minded social circles). Additionally, we hope to explore the ways that social media has been detrimental to development and sociological understandings of citizen participation. How does the purchase of social movement sloganed t-shirts affect the movement? What could this mean for similar movements in the global South as we continue to define a Western perception of feminist, racial and social needs?

This panel will discuss the role of pop culture and forms of media in shaping recent and forthcoming social movements.


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Jeffrey Dvorkin, U of T

Jeffrey Dvorkin is a lecturer and director of the journalism program at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus. His journalistic career began at CBS News in London while still a graduate student at the London School of Economics.

For more than 20 years, he was a CBC journalist in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto where he became Managing Editor and Chief Journalist for CBC Radio. In 1997, he was named Vice-President, News and Information at NPR in Washington, DC where he subsequently became NPR’s first news ombudsman, handling ethical complaints and concerns from listeners. Dvorkin has an Honours B.A. in European History from the University of Alberta, an M.A. from the University of Toronto and an M.Phil. from the LSE. He comments regularly for print and broadcast and blogs at

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Steven Zhou

Steven Zhou is an award-winning journalist and writer based in Toronto covering national security and international affairs with an emphasis on post-9/11 issues and right-wing extremism. His work has appeared on Buzzfeed, Vice, Quartz, the Globe and Mail, the LA Review of Books, CBC Online, and, among other outlets. He has also worked for CBC Radio and the Ottawa Citizen as a reporter. Steven was named a Top 100 Tweeter for Foreign Affairs by OpenCanada in 2016. Follow him @stevenzzhou.