This article considers how we are to understand democratic media activism, which has recently burgeoned in Canada, the UK and the USA. What is its political significance and potential? Is it a new social movement, a new style of politics cutting across movements, or are new concepts needed? Drawing illustratively upon interviews with media activists, notably in Vancouver, we explore insights offered by social movement theory - including resource mobilization formulations and the new social movement theories of Melucci, Habermas, Cohen and Arato, and Fraser. While all these traditions offer valuable insights, media activism reveals limitations in existing conceptualizations. It has some of the characteristics of a movement, but lacks a distinct collective identity or niche within movement ecology. It may be destined to be a boundary-transgressing nodal point for other movements, articulating a coherent project for radical democracy, rather than a movement-for-itself.
Media Culture Society, January 2006 vol. 28 no. 1 83-104