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Complexity and social movement(s): Process and emergence in planetary action systems

Chesters, Graeme and Welsh, Ian 2005. Complexity and social movement(s): Process and emergence in planetary action systems. Theory Culture & Society 22 (5) , pp. 187-211. 10.1177/0263276405057047

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The rise of networked social movements contesting neo-liberal globalization and protesting the summits of global finance and governance organizations has posed an analytical challenge to social movement theorists and called into question the applicability to this global milieu of the familiar concepts and heuristics utilized in social movement studies. In this article, we argue that the self-defining alter-globalization movement(s) might instead be engaged with as an expression and effect of global complexity, and we draw upon a ‘minor’ literature in social movement studies that includes Gregory Bateson, Gilles Deleuze and Alberto Melucci to illustrate our claims. This article uses a Deleuzian reading of complexity to describe the phase space of the ‘movement of movements’, and its perturbation of global civil society through the iteration of sense-making processes (reflexive framing) and the exploration of singularities inhering in social movement ‘plateaux’. Those transnational gatherings, protests and social forums facilitated by computer-mediated communications and the advent of unprecedented mobility which constitute a ‘shadow realm’ that remains largely invisible to political exchange theories operating within the conceptual confines of the nation-state.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: complexity, Deleuze, globalization, networks, social movement
Publisher: Sage
ISSN: 0263-2764
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 01:49

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