Dichotomies and contemporary social movements

Ruggiero, Vincenzo (2005) Dichotomies and contemporary social movements. City: Analysis of Urban Trends, 9 (3). pp. 297-306. ISSN 1360-4813

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13604810500392571

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In this essay Vincenzo Ruggiero explores the dichotomy between theories of new social movements that draw upon rationalist/resource‐mobilization approaches and those that focus on collective identity and cultural difference as key motivators. Taking contemporary social movements (CSMs) engaged in opposition to globalizing neo‐liberalism (from anti‐G8 protests to the World Social Forums) as the focus of analysis, the paper argues that because ‘the different components of the movement have extremely diversified needs’ it is as difficult for activists as it is for researchers to identify a common purpose or set of unifying principles. However, Ruggiero suggests that by refusing to succumb to traditional organizational ‘leader‐follower’ paradigms, CSMs begin to resemble the ‘free city’ of ‘the multitude’, which so bewildered Kreon's messenger from the dictatorial city‐state of Thebes. The multitude do not speak with one voice, however, and in this ‘movement of movements’ we find rejectionists that eschew all forms of engagement with capitalism's economic and social manifestations, international solidarity activists building resistance ‘from below’ with grass roots movements around the world, and finally regulators and reformers who seek to utilize existing legal and democratic resources to constrain and encourage corporations into more pro‐social and pro‐environmental behaviour. Ultimately, though, CSMs are attempting to work through the eternal conflict between reason and utopia—imagining Rimbaud's new life while, as Marx implored, changing the existing world, or as Ruggiero puts it—‘between real achievement and contestation of the official notion of the real’.

Item Type:Article
Research Areas:A. > School of Law > Criminology and Sociology
ID Code:9273
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Deposited On:26 Jul 2012 07:18
Last Modified:24 Mar 2015 14:22

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