Movement rhetoric invites us to consider: `Which is violence?' But it is clear that the lines between violent acts are indeterminate. When is `self-defence' `retaliation'? When does revenge become an offence to be avenged and when does liberatory violence become oppressive? This paper tries to provide an understanding of the issues and discourses that label the Dalit Panthers as violent. Dalit movements in Tamilnadu operate in a social sphere coloured by acts of violence. Such groups understandably talk about `hitting back' and `asserting their rights', yet violence is never an isolated act. By viewing violence as processual, I draw on various theorists to argue that the `will to violence' is bound up with cultural expectations, meanings and identities. This allows us to grasp the relational character of violence and its centrality to the construction of social identities. Furthermore, shifting the emphasis of analysis from the act of harm to incorporate the wider implications reveals the spatial and social patterns that ensue. The concept of a `repertoire of protest' is useful here in highlighting how violent protest may be complementary to (or feed into) `normal' politics.
This paper investigates the complex nature of access to the state for environmental movement organisations (EMOs) and adopts an interactionist approach to explore inter-organisational networking between EMOs and state actors. The paper supports existing evidence that proximate political opportunities are in part contingent on the interests, claims and frames of policy actors. The main theoretical contribution of this paper is to illustrate that EMOs strategically adapt to existing opportunity environments and actively seek to engage state actors that are most receptive to their demands, as opposed to those that have most influence in the domain, and that new modes of governance facilitate such access. Using evidence from forest activism in Indonesia shows that lobbying less powerful but more receptive actors is a strategy that EMOs use to overcome limited political opportunities and that semi-independent multi-actor forums expand access of EMOs to potential state actor allies. The paper also shows that within the Indonesian context, these multi-stakeholders forums are actively supported by international organisations which therefore directly contribute to expanding opportunities for EMOs.
Many scholars of social movements and nonviolence frame the salient ideological divisions among nonviolent activists as a dichotomy or a continuum between principled and pragmatic nonviolence. Yet, there is a notable lack of empirical analyses on the prevalence of these nonviolent orientations among activists, and how they might contribute to tactical choices and shape emotional fields of interaction with opponents. Building from fieldwork and interviews (N = 25), this case study analyzes the nonviolent performances of Christian Peacemaker Teams and the International Solidarity Movement in Israel–Palestine. It is contended that international accompaniment workers perform nonviolence in starkly divergent ways depending on their personal commitments to either principled or pragmatic nonviolence, as well as organizational norms on this dimension. It is proposed that linking ‘tragic’ and ‘comic’ dramaturgical styles to the performance of nonviolent activism offers a route for specifying the mechanisms of pragmatic and principled nonviolence while helping to explain diverse outcomes in the field.
Investigating the significance of carnivalized methods of protest in the present, this
article explores the characteristics and recent history of the protestival, the carnival of protest which
has flourished with the advent of the alter-globalization movement. Heir to the carnivalized politics
of the 1960s, and drawing from radical avant-garde movements and guerrilla theatre, the
‘protestival’ inherits much from the kinds of ‘symbolic challenges’ thought posed by post-1960s
social movements. Immediately downstream from Reclaim the Streets, demonstrating a resurgence
of autonomism, anarchism and direct democracy, and developing within the context of global
opposition to neo-liberalism and the War on Terror, the Global Day of Action would become the
template for popular direct action: in particular those events nominated ‘Carnivals Against
Capitalism’ or ‘For Global Justice’. While new social movement theorists have recognized the
significance of movement cultural politics, new approaches are needed to understand the festal and
carnivalesque character of the contemporary activism. Recently scholars have indicated that summit
sieges, autonomous convergences and other recent reflexive events constitute transnational
‘carnivalesque rituals’, politico-religious ‘pilgrimage’ destinations, or spatial reconfigurations
critical to the renewed opposition to capitalism. The ‘protestival’ provides an ambiguously nuanced
heuristic sufficient to comprehend those performative moments simultaneously transgressive and
progressive, against and for, by which the marginal may take their grievances to the physical and
symbolic centres (‘summits’) of neo-liberalism, where alternative logics and spectacles are
performed. Unpacking its expositional and revelatory logic, the article uncovers the roots of the
‘protestival’, undertaking an exploration of intentional carnival, festal hacktivism, direct theatre,
tactical frivolity and (un)masking to reveal a significant action template in the present.
This essay examines the social and political contexts of the establishment of the first Philippine Australian Solidarity Group (PASG) and then its subsequent demise in the face of intra-group and external challenges. The demand to decolonise the conduct of solidarity within the PASG was more than a case of alleged racism, but a symptom of two intersecting phenomena. There was the growing population of immigrants who sought to find an identity in Australia through activism. Their solid political agenda, thus, intersected with the need to re-evaluate the structure and political agenda of PASG as an ‘old’ social movement. Drawing from the critical junctures in Philippine–Australian social movement, the essay sheds light on the risks of a centralised political body with a ‘diverse’ membership but also the benefits of responding to challenges to continuously re-write the rules of activist engagement, thus to re-invigorate the politics of resistance.
The purpose of this paper is to provide a summary of the Australian anti-capitalist movement of 2000-01 as seen through the eyes of its activists. On the basis of 35 interviews conducted in mid-2002, we examine the background of the activist layer, the nature of the social networks and connective structures which shaped the Australian anti-capitalist movement, the character of the mobilising structures that were used to organise the protest movement, the degree to which the Australian movement was connected to international activity or learned from international political theorising, the tactics that were used at the protests, and the political frameworks that shaped the thinking of key activists. We conclude with some considerations as to the strengths and weaknesses of the movement
The number of groups advocating on behalf of older people, their activities, and their influence suggest that a transnational advocacy network around aging is emerging, but there have been no attempts to study how dense this network is, nor how power is distributed within it. Through collective action frame analysis, this article explores whether organizations advocating on behalf of older people represent the variety of global aging experiences in both developed and less-developed contexts. The analysis relies on four types of evidence: documentary, survey, interview, and observation. Advocacy groups use a number of diagnostic, prognostic, and motivational frames. The findings support arguments in the literature that diverse collective action frames can be more of an asset than a liability because they increase the network's reach and resonance with multiple stakeholders. Although the aging advocacy network is not very dense, it is becoming denser because of the rise of the human rights master frame and the rally for a UN Convention on the Rights of Older People. The frame empowers the network to use its diversity to its advantage, since individual organizations can work for whatever piece of the human rights frame matches best with their organization's mandate. However, there are still major power imbalances within the network. While it is growing more inclusive of voices from less developed countries, global civil society remains a space for organizations with resources, which those organizations based in poorer countries simply do not have.
How have secessionist and autonomous movements reacted to regional trade agreements (RTAs)? Existing research focuses on the European Union (EU) and, taking a top-down perspective, argues that the EU has done little to help those movements affirm themselves. Adopting a more bottom-up and comparative approach, we propose that RTAs have functioned as political opportunity structures at the international level and that movements have skillfully framed them to define for themselves and their audiences, their grievances, identity, and vision for the future. Movements have followed two basic approaches. Some have embraced RTAs to denounce the debilitating grips of national governments on their people, project an image of themselves as cosmopolitan and modern players, and depict a future in which their communities thrive as successful players in the international community. Others have rejected RTAs to make clear what is wrong and corrupt about the world, present themselves as protectors of local identities and traditions, and promote a vision of the future in which their communities flourish while shielded from excessive interference from the outside. Movements from the left and right ends of the political spectrum have adopted each approach according to their own specific profiles. Evidence comes from the Lega Nord in Italy, the Zapatistas in Mexico, Converge 'ncia i Unio' in Spain, and the Quebecois nationalists in Canada. This article concludes with reflections on the relationship between movements and international political opportunity structures, and lines for future research.
The influence of Foucault on studies of social movements, dissent and protest is not as direct as might be imagined. He is generally regarded as focusing more on the analysis of power and government than forms of resistance. This is reflected in the governmentality literature, which tends to treat dissent and protest as an afterthought, or failure of government. However, Foucault's notion of 'counter-conducts' has much to offer the study of dispersed, heterogeneous and variegated forms of resistance in contemporary global politics. Using the protests that have accompanied summits including Seattle, Johannesburg, Prague, London and Copenhagen to illustrate an analytics of protest in operation, this article shows how a Foucauldian perspective can map the close interrelationship between regimes of government and practices of resistance. By adopting a practices and mentalities focus, rather than an actor-centric approach, and by seeking to destabilize the binaries of power and resistance, and government and freedom, that have structured much of political thought, an analytics of protest approach illuminates the mutually constitutive relationship between dominant power relationships and counter-conducts, and shows how protests both disrupt and reinforce the status quo, at the same time.
A hunger strike that played upon Gandhi's legacy of civil disobedience and mass protest was India's capstone event for 2011. Initiated by Anna Hazare, a 74-year-old self-styled Gandhian, the protest targeted the government's new anti-corruption legislation, which Hazare proclaimed as too weak. Hazare's demand for a strong anti-corruption law, leading to the establishment of an independent ombudsman (Lokpal), had slowly gained momentum in the first half of 2011, when Hazare collected a sizeable following. It was his unexpected arrest on the eve of the August protest, however, that thrust him into the limelight, sparking candle-lit marches across the country and swelling the ranks of his movement, Indian Against Corruption (IAC). Hazare was hailed as a leader of Gandhian proportions and applauded for his humble origins, numerous awards, and ecologically conscious development work in Ralegan Siddhi, where Hazare took up residence in 1975, following a brief career in the army. His movement, which appeared to be climbing from strength to strength, was thought to be a major political force of lasting influence. But in the year since the Ramlila protest, Hazare's movement has lost steam, with key leaders oscillating between calling for a stronger movement based on ‘the people's guidance’ and entertaining the possibility of entering electoral politics through the formation of a new political party. This article investigates the reasons for the deceleration of the Hazare movement, with an emphasis on why Hazare failed to win the support of the liberal and left sections of society, particularly the intelligentsia.
This article is based on empirical research into public participation in two English cities. It discusses issues related to motivations to take part in public participation initiatives and the way in which individual and collective identities may be constructed through participation. Drawing on social movement theory it emphasises the importance both of networks and values in prompting participation and it illustrates this with examples drawn from participation initiatives based around identities: age, gender, ethnicity, and issues/interests such as health inequalities, community regeneration and social care service provision. The analysis suggests it is important to understand the histories and motivations of officials as well as citizens who take part, and questions the priority given to 'representation' in constituting the membership of participation forums.
Australian unions launched the 'Your Rights at Work' campaign to combat the hostile 'Work Choices' legislation, introduced in an already difficult environment in which union influence had waned significantly. The campaign was central to the defeat of the Howard government. It was unmatched in Australian political and industrial history owing to: its scale and duration; its diversity of activities and technologies; its degree of community support; and its expense. The choice of specific repertoires of contention, the management of protest identities, the increased self-reflexivity of both the movement as a whole and many of the activists within it and the willingness of unions to devote vast resources to the campaign were critical to its success. The willingness of the union movement to adapt and innovate around its traditional responses - especially mass protest - and consciously repackage its image underpinned the success. Not all the union movement's goals were achieved, as union membership failed to increase, but the prospects for union survival and growth are much stronger as a result of having defeated Work Choices. Yes Yes
Over the 1980s 'collective identity' became established as one of the orthodoxies of the sociology of social movements. This paper considers this development, and argues that 'collective identity' does not allow a conceptualization and exploration of critical dimensions of action and identity emerging in contemporary globalization conflicts. Drawing on fieldwork undertaken with Direct Action groups in Australia and the USA, this paper considers (i) the role of affinity groups, (ii) the question of representation, (iii) network culture and fluidarity, and (iv) the narrative structure of action. In the light of these, the paper critiques the 'collective identity' model, while also suggesting limits to the 'personalized commitment' thesis (Lichterman, The Search for Political Community , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996) advanced in relation to Green activists. The paper argues in the context of network societies, the analysis of processes of action and identity within contemporary social movements must shift from 'solidarity' to one of 'fluidarity', and from 'collective identity' to one of 'public experience of self'.
Despite the growing academic literature on the World Social Forum process, few scholars have attempted to systematically analyze the social, cultural, and political impact of the forums. This has to do in part with the inherent difficulties of assessing movement consequences, which is particularly complicated for an activity geared toward creating ‘open spaces.’ This article presents an analytic framework for evaluating the impact of the social forums through an analysis of the 2010 United States Social Forum (USSF) in Detroit from the perspective of a local Boston-based delegation called the Boston Freedom Rides. We then use that framework to consider the impact of the 2010 USSF, bridging the academic literature on movement outcomes with activist perspectives. We make two related claims. First, the social forums, and the USSF in particular, should be viewed and their impact assessed in light of their generativity as ‘movement-building machines’: infrastructures designed for the production of social capital, networks, solidarities, meanings, frames, identities, knowledges, strategies, skills, and repertoires. Second, with respect to the Freedom Rides, the 2010 USSF contributed to movement building on multiple levels, but more so within rather than across movement sectors. Our goal is less to make a definitive argument about the impact of the 2010 USSF than to provide a helpful way of thinking about movement building as a social movement outcome, which can be applied and refined through further comparative and longitudinal research. We thus favor breadth over depth in outlining a broad framework for future inquiry.
Based on archival and qualitative field research, this paper describes how the philanthropic investments of the Max L. Rosenberg Foundation contributed to the emergence of the historic California Farm Worker Movement. The author argues that foundations do not always have articulated or clear-cut political agendas to dilute organizing campaigns; instead moments of agreement (and antagonism) emerge and are fluidly negotiated as points of convergence appear and disappear. This paper reveals the three critical periods in which the Max L. Rosenberg Foundation invested in farmworker organizations in California's Central Valley: the dustbowl migrant education period of the 1930–1940s, the self-help housing projects of the 1950s, and the early leadership training campaigns of the Farm Worker Movement of the 1960s. This paper makes a significant contribution to resource mobilization theory by showing how private funding of a particular social movement (and therefore perhaps others if examined) was most aligned with the goals of the movement at the open-ended idealist beginnings. This alignment ruptured during the heat of the late 1960s when demands were made on picket lines and through international boycotts and became most problematic in the wake of significant defeats when movement organizations reshaped and professionalized themselves around foundation grants and ceased to represent their original constituents.
Of the transnational advocacy campaigns so far leveled at international financial institutions and practices, that to reduce the debt owed to creditor country governments and multilateral financial institutions has often been presented as the most successful. Building on the work of Eurodad and others, from 1997 onwards activists led by Jubilee 2000 UK rallied around the goal of a one-time cancellation of the 'unpayable' debts of the world’s poorest countries by the end of the year 2000. The campaign soon became global, with the creation of some 57 national Jubilee 2000 networks. By the time it folded, at the end of 2000, over 24 million signatures had been gathered in support of debt cancellation. While the goal of complete debt cancellation remained elusive, the anti-debt network could be credited with raising public awareness around the issue and placing it on the agenda of creditor governments and international financial institutions (Donnelly 2002; Fogarty 2003).
Yet the overall success of the debt cancellation campaign masked significant national differences, even between neighboring countries: while 2,960,262 persons signed the Jubilee 2000 petition in the UK, only 1,200,381 did so in Germany, and 521,319 in France (respectively 4.97, 1.45 and 0.87 percent of the national population). The organization and timing of the campaigns also differed: two years after its London creation in October 1997, the Jubilee 2000 Coalition had sprouted similar organizations in five of the G7 members; Germany was an early joiner, France among the two exceptions. Why did debt cancellation achieve such prominence in the UK and, albeit to a lesser extent, Germany, while remaining a marginal issue in French associational and political circles? This is what this paper investigates, in the process drawing a picture of transnational activism in which the national is given pride of place.
We live in a contested, crisis-prone era, indicative of ongoing processes of neoliberalization. The most recent global financial and food crises have disproportionately impacted those already marginalized in society: people of colour and the working classes. The spatial expressions of this disproportionality are especially acute, evidenced by the uneven distribution of the basic necessities of food and home. Activists in the USA are responding with forms of spatial citizenship, namely exercising their right to peaceably assemble and reclaiming public spaces. During the creation of spaces of dissent, we observe the fluid formation of a collective spatialized identity among social movement actors, contingent on political identities and ideology. We use two cases based in Florida to highlight these processes. The first case is a local iteration of the Occupy Wall Street protests, Occupy Gainesville, which has occupied the city's most central public gathering place, the Bo Diddley Community Plaza. The second case involves Food Not Bombs in the city of Orlando where attempts were made to ban the group from distributing food in public parks to the homeless and working poor. First, these cases highlight the spatiotemporal relationships between unjust economic systems and the state surveillance and policing apparatus and those resisting such systems. Second, they reveal how collective identity influences and in turn is influenced by space. Our article furthers a processual, dynamic understanding of activist mobilizations to reduce the uneven burdens of neoliberalization and argues for greater attention to the spatialities of contentious politics.
This starts out by distinguishing between communication and communication mediums when examining social movement-powered formations of collective identity and collective action. We then focus on communication mediums to examine the different ways that old and new media are utilized in urban social movements under neoliberal capitalism. Based on shifts in the political economy and correspondingly in the contemporary composition of the working class, we focus on the Media Mobilizing Project in Philadelphia to argue that contemporary urban social movements and networks utilize a multi-media platform to further class-based politics. The respective use of old or new media depends on important contextual questions, regarding technology access and geographic aspects of movement building work.