Researcher

Dr. Abigail Browning is a researcher and communication specialist who works in event forecasting, scenario analysis, and decision support. Her doctoral expertise includes qualitative and quantitative analysis of collective action emergence online, crowdfunding, and activist behavior.

Curious about Dr. Browning’s dissertation on collective action? Read more below!



Forward Together? Politicized Identities, Collective Action, and the Emergence of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington

On January 21, 2017, people crowded the streets in hundreds of cities across the world. Experts estimate Women’s March participation included 3-5 million; the most populated site in Washington, DC drawing over 500,000 participants (Frostenson, 2017). Even at the event, participants identified and challenged the March’s commitment to its intersectional mission, with signs such as “I’ll see you nice White ladies at the next #BlackLivesMatter march, right?” (Brewer & Dundes, 2018).  A majority of participants attended as many as 900 anticipated “Sister Marches” across the US and internationally, including a virtual cyberprotest, the Disability March, which hosted 3000 profiles of individuals who could not physically participate (Agarwal, 2017; Presley & Presswood, 2018; Kitch, 2018; Mann, 2018). 

In only 72 days, the Women’s March on Washington grew from an idea (or more precisely, many ideas, people, things, environments, and relationships) into a transnational process and phenomenon. Throughout the dissertation, Browning deepens and explores the relationships within a trajectory of how the Women’s March came to be; yet remind readers that this is not the complete story, nor could a single writer provide such a product.

As a whole (or many wholes), the Women’s March on Washington is messy; or as journalist Cusumano (2017) wrote, “tough to describe without modifiers, lists, and lengthy explanations.  There’s no concise way to express its founding principles, aims, its organizers’ extensive backgrounds in various arenas of social justice.” Thus, Browning’s position in an interdisicplinary program across Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media at NC State offers a unique vantage point to explore, theorize, and expand the realm of social movement research.

The centrality of universal over intersectional and identity-specific issues inherent in Marchers’ motivations perpetuated skepticism from people of difference regarding the Women’s March and its investment in intersectionality—and particularly its omission and exclusion of race in group consciousness.