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Low Power to the PeoplePirates, Protest, and Politics in FM Radio Activism$
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Christina Dunbar-Hester

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262028127

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262028127.001.0001

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Fine-Tuning Boundaries

Fine-Tuning Boundaries

(p.91) 5 Fine-Tuning Boundaries
Low Power to the People

Christina Dunbar-Hester

The MIT Press

This chapter examines role that technical affinity played as the radio activists’ group underwent organizational maturation. This largely played out as the systematic elevation of “technical” work and the downplaying of policy-advocacy expertise (even though both were salient in their work). The chapter argues that the radio activists cultivated a technical identity that served to mark boundaries between their group and others in the terrain of media democracy work, which was especially important as they struggled to retain radical activist criticality and to resist being transformed into a “mainstream” nonprofit organization. At the same time, technical identity worked to mitigate potentially troubling disjunctures within the activist organization. It marked continuity between the activists’ past, present, and future, and it enabled them to assign coherence to a diverse range of tasks that might otherwise seem incongruent. The chapter refers to this dynamic as “boundary effacement.”

Keywords:   technical identity, Low-Power FM (LPFM), FM radio, ethnography, activism, boundary work, boundary effacement

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