Crisis and Critique

A Brief History of Media Participation in Times of Crisis

Anne Kaun


Anne Kaun provides a historical exploration of the role of media in shaping social movements and resistance to capitalism.

Throughout history, innovations in media have had a profound impact on protest and dissent. But while these recent developments in social media have been the subject of intense scholarly attention, there has been little consideration of the wider historical role of media technologies in protest. Drawing on the work of key theorists such as Walter Benjamin and Raymond Williams, Crisis and Critique provides a historical analysis of media practices within the context of major economic crises.

Through richly detailed case studies of the movements which emerged during three different economic crises – the unemployed workers' movement of the Great Depression, the rent strike movement of the early 1970s and the Occupy Wall Street protests which followed the recession of 2007 – Kaun provides an in-depth analysis of the cultural, economic and social consequences of media technologies, and their role in shaping and facilitating resistance to capitalism. 

Author Bio

Anne Kaun is a visiting post-doctoral researcher at the Center for Global Communication Studies at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania. She also lectures at Södertörn University. Her previous books include Being a Young Citizen in Estonia (2013) and (in German) Experiencing the EU (2012).

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Introduction. Protest and the Media
  • 1. Crisis and Critique
  • 2. Protest Times: The Temporality of Protest Media Practices
  • 3. Protest Spaces: The Production of Space in Events of Contention
  • 4. Protest Speeds: Resynchronizing Fast Capitalism
  • Conclusion. Protest Technologies: Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will


‘Anne Kaun’s book proficiently shows the changes of media practices and technologies within protest movements … recommend the book to everybody interested in new perspectives on media and social activism.’
Journal of Media and Communication

‘Finally, a historically nuanced book on the role of media in protest movements. Kaun provides a very timely comparative analysis of media technologies in times of crisis. I recommend this book to all students interested in media and social activism.’
José van Dijck, author of The Culture of Connectivity

‘Kaun gives us important resources for thinking through the challenges we face today as scholars and activists committed to transformative and radical communication.’
Max Haiven, co-author of The Radical Imagination

‘Kaun draws on a range of rich empirical material, using illuminating historical analysis to reflect on contemporary protest through the critical categories of time, space and speed. A must-read book for academics and activists alike.’
Natalie Fenton, author of Digital, Political, Radical

‘Economic crises such as the Great Recession of 2008 are not just moments of distress and despair. They are also occasions in which new political alternatives are born and new political media practices emerge as Anne Kaun demonstrates in this thoughtful and engaging book.’
Paolo Gerbaudo, author of Tweets and the Streets: Social media and Contemporary Activism

‘Kaun offers some much needed perspective on the current discourses surrounding digital media and activism, as well as a nuanced, valuable and perhaps most importantly measured evaluation of the importance of media to political resistance.’
Joss Hands, Newcastle University


Publication Date: 15 September 2016
144 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781783607365
Hardback: 9781783607372
eBook ePub: 9781783607396
eBook PDF: 9781783607389
eBook Kindle: 9781783607402

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