Process vs. event

Authored by: Carlie D. Trott

The Routledge Encyclopedia of Citizen Media

Print publication date:  October  2020
Online publication date:  October  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138665569
eBook ISBN: 9781315619811
Adobe ISBN:


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Despite their interdependence, the concepts of ‘process’ and ‘event’ are often distinguished from one another in social movement studies. Where events are conceptualized as discrete, temporally-bound, externally-directed products of collective struggle, processes refer to their continuous, ever-shifting practices and democratic potentialities. Events, as unitary entities, may consist of particular projects or products in citizen media, whereas processes, as fluid arrangements, encompass a diverse range of methods and practices surrounding—and making possible—the production and circulation of content. In citizen media, as in other forms of resistance, disproportionate scholarly attention has been paid to tangible, visible ‘outputs’ (or events), rather than to the more abstract, less visible ‘inputs’ (or processes) that facilitate or constrain the former. In recent years, the everyday, temporally-extended social practices and tensions within social movements have garnered increasing attention. As a result, citizen media events are increasingly understood as physical and digital extensions—or public expressions—of ongoing, deliberative processes, rather than as spontaneous eruptions of creative resistance. Moreover, events are recognized as points along a continuum: not only as products of preceding activities, but as sites of process-oriented (re)generation. Beyond their practical inseparability, distinguishing process from event is further complicated in citizen media initiatives guided by the prefigurative ethos, whereby the medium itself embodies the empancipatory message of movement actors. Drawing on theoretical and empirical works, this entry will examine the nature and meaning of ‘process vs. event’ in citizen media, and discuss the theoretical and practical significance of the distinction.

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