Coins as Protest

Paying with Coins as a Form of Protest (with Dustin S. Stoltz)

Graph_CompleteRecent work in cultural sociology has emphasized the importance of materiality for constraining meaning-making processes. However, it remains unclear as to how actors may use such constraints to actively generate new meanings. We use novel newspaper data of people attempting to pay with large amounts of cash or coins as a form of protest to highlight the material conditions under which actors are able (or not able) to communicate an alternative meaning of an object to an audience. We use computational linguistic methods and statistical modeling to focus on how the materiality of such attempts at protest “interact” with the cognitive processing limitations of actors in specific settings to theorize and empirically measure the likelihoods that small money, as a protest object, will generate a positive sentiment among journalists documenting the attempted protest.