Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Calls for Change: Seeing Cancel Culture from a Multi-Level Perspective

Pierson-Brown, Tomar (2022) Calls for Change: Seeing Cancel Culture from a Multi-Level Perspective. Cuadernos del Centro de Estudios en Diseño y Comunicación, 157. ISSN 1668-0227

Available under License : See the attached license file.

Download (193kB) | Preview
[img] Plain Text (licence)
Available under License : See the attached license file.

Download (1kB)


Transition Design offers a framework and employs an array of tools to engage with complexity. “Cancel culture” is a complex phenomenon that presents an opportunity for administrators in higher education to draw from the Transition Design approach in framing and responding to this trend. Faculty accused of or caught using racist, sexist, or homophobic speech are increasingly met with calls to lose their positions, titles, or other professional opportunities. Such calls for cancellation arise from discreet social networks organized around an identified lack of accountability for social transgressions carried out in the professional school environment. Much of the existing discourse on cancel culture involves whether the phenomenon represents a net positive or negative. This narrow, foror-against cancel culture frame is reductive, preempting inquiry into where the phenomenon is situated in the dynamics that facilitate and inhibit change. Exploring cancel culture from a Transition Design perspective broadens the range of potential administrative responses from either resistance or acquiescence to experimentation and co-creation. This paper uses a multi-level perspective (MLP), one of the tools of Transition Design, to define call-outs and cancellations of faculty as niche-level innovations in access to institutional accountability and collective empowerment. From this perspective, the rise of cancel calls signals: (1) deficits in the regime-level norm of academic freedom; and (2) shifts involving identity politics at the landscape level. Recasting these calls as “innovations” creates an opportunity for higher education administrators to experiment by proactively piloting structural, co-created changes to accountability systems. Embracing the MLP framework centers the context from which cancel calls emerge, orients solutions toward concerns at the root of these calls, and contributes to the recognition of Transition Design as a practical field of study.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: Article
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Pierson-Brown, Tomartnb25@pitt.eduTNB250000-0002-0442-6530
Date: September 2022
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: Cuadernos del Centro de Estudios en Diseño y Comunicación
Volume: 157
Schools and Programs: School of Law > Law
School of Law > Law > Faculty Publications
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 1668-0227
Article Type: Research Article
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2022 18:07
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2022 05:55


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item