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From Multitude to Crowds: Collective Action and the Media

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Edited By Eduardo Cintra Torres and Samuel Mateus

From Multitude to Crowds: Collective Action and the Media presents a study of collective action in the 21 st century. Experts from Sociology, Political Science, Philosophy, Political Communication and Media Studies offer a multidisciplinary approach to social formations in contemporary collective action. The various contributions discuss the relevance of media and communications in social movements and how social mobilization has changed in mediatized societies.

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III Multitude and Media Strategies

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Jérôme Bourdon & Cécile Méadel Release the Numbers! Multitudes, Crowds, Publics… and Audiences Introduction This chapter addresses a key question of modern democratic politics: that of representation through numbers� Numbers make social collectives visible in a highly effective, abstract, economical way, and contribute to give them legiti- macy� This is linked to the centrality of elections in modern democratic regimes (so much so that non-democratic regimes almost all ape democratic elections)� But, more recently, it has been part of a rise of a Western, and increasingly global culture of ranking and competition through numbering, much beyond politics� Indeed, the prevalence of numbers in modern life has been noted, much be- yond the realm of collectives – crowds, multitudes, publics – which we discuss here: “The modern world sometimes describes itself in seemingly magical num- bers that hang in mid-air, unconnected either to a grammar or a grounding” (Guyer quoted in Day et al., 2014, p� 123)� However, there are many ways of apprehending, presenting, ordering and arranging numbers: “Numbering prac- tices – making parts and wholes, adding and subtracting, zooming in and out, multiplying and dividing, stopping and pausing, diffracting, making and mark- ing continuity and discontinuity – saturate the social world even when numbers themselves are not visible” (Day et al., 2014, p� 150)� This makes the understand- ing of both the production of numbers, and our relation to numbers as produc- ers of social entities (as producing ourselves), particularly urgent� Before trying to understand the way numbers relate to...

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