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Caoimhe Butterly: Social movements- critical issues, power, process and agency

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Mark Butterly

on 28 October 2014

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Transcript of Caoimhe Butterly: Social movements- critical issues, power, process and agency

Social Movements- Critical Issues, Power, Process and Agency

"As human beings we are always seeking to make meaning of the world we live in.. We are creating a social movement which leads to a world better than the way we found it. It’s about love, justice and meaning. It’s about creating something new to improve our own realities and the realities of others"

Cornel West

Hummus? critical analysis
Chi wala?
"There's really no such thing as the 'voiceless'. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard"

Arundhati Roy
".. to participate means to live and to relate differently. It implies, above all, the recovery of one's inner freedom- that is, to learn to listen and share, free from any fear or predefined conclusion, belief or judgement.. As such, inner freedom gives life to outer freedom, and makes it both possible and meaningful"

Majid Rahnema
"No speech is speech if not heard. It is this act of hearing-to-respond that may be called the imperative to translate"

Gayatri Spivak
Social Movements:
Definitions of social movements- Old and New/Industrial and Post-Industrial:

Collective Behaviour, Resource Mobilisation Theories, New Social Movements and 'Action-identity' approaches
Social movements are
"those organised efforts, on the part of excluded groups, to promote or resist changes in the structure of society that involve recourse to non-institutionalised forms of political participation"

- Doug McAdam

New conflicts
"no longer arise in the areas of material reproduction, they are no longer channelled through parties and organisations.. Rather, the new conflicts arise in areas of cultural reproduction, social integration and socialisation"

This process is referred to as "emergent group identity and ideological consciousness" whose outcome is "identity plus autonomy"- the right to define self and greater freedom for that self

Hannigan (and Mamay)

"Sets of actors with common purposes and solidarities linked across country boundaries that have the capacity to generate co-ordinated and sustained social mobilisation in more than one country to publicly influence social change"

Khagram, Riker and Sikkink
Transnational Advocacy Networks:

Described by Keck and Sikkink:

"those actors working internationally on an issue, who are bound together by shared values, a common discourse, and dense exchanges of information"

Transnational coalitions:

"Collaborative, means-orientated arrangements that permit distinct entities to pool resources in order to affect change (frequently forming around short-term threats and opportunities"


Transnational 'Mesh-works'

"Based on decentralised decision making, self-organisation, heterogeneity and diversity. They are non-hierarchical and develop and grow through their encounters and challenges with their environment "

De Landa, Escobar
Framing Discourses:
“Activists frame issues by identifying and providing convincing explanations for powerful symbolic events, which in turn become catalysts for the growth of networks”

Keck and Sikkink
“By rendering events or occurrences meaningful, frames function to organise experience and guide action, whether individual or collective”

“Conscious strategic efforts by groups of people to fashion shared understanding of the world and of themselves that legitimates and motivates collective action"



Four different forms of power, operating within personal, relational and collective dimensions:
Mahalla al Kubra Workers Struggles, Egypt:

“I want the whole government to resign. I want the Mubarak regime to come to an end. Politics and workers’ rights are inseparable. Work is politics by itself. What we are witnessing here right now, this is as democratic as it gets”

Muhammed al Attar, (Independent Union organiser)
"We oppose the sacred indicators of budget deficits and market economics. We're struggling for a new home-grown economics that caters for the majority of Egyptians, the schools where their children are educated, the hospitals where they receive healthcare, and the jobs that guarantee them decent and honourable living”

Wael Khalil (activist)

Gezi Park, Istanbul

Agency and Representation:

Oftentimes the very use of the term 'community' as a static and harmonious unit, with limited understanding of the impact of internal power inequities, patriarchy, racism, class, disability, and caste within communities, ensures many voices remain unheard.
Nira-Yuval Davis, while arguing for 'transversal politics' states that
"one of the problems with both identity politics is that such activists and 'community leaders' too often become the “’authentic voice' of their communities"
,homogenising and essentialising discourses.

1.)'Power over'- controlling, often oppressive power

2.) 'Power to'- generative power

3.) 'Power with'- power gained through collective organising

4.) 'Power from within'- personal emancipatory power/self-affirmation and respect and acceptance of others

Transnational social movements:
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