Uncovering the spatialities of collective action: the mushrooming of hegemonic 'alternatives'
Boston : Association of American Geographers
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SubjectInstitute for Management Research
In this paper we explore the concept of circulation as a theoretical and methodological approach to study the emergence and development of social movements. The study focuses on the phenomenon that particular types of alternative practices (street paper sales, local food procurement, bartering and LETS) mushroom across the world, characterized by relational practices from 'local' to 'global' levels. We present a relational approach and methodology of circulation that examines the spatiality and temporality of collective action in a relational setting. In particular, we draw on two connected models of actor-network theory: the ecological model of translation addressing the relations between a heterogeneous range of interconnected actors on a macro-scale and the entrepreneurial model zooming in onto processes of local group-formation in multiple sites. This use of actor-network thinking allows us to highlight the political, social and material dimensions of the development of collective 'resistance' practices and the 'mushrooming' of social movements. The network perspective is complemented with relational work on (counter)hegemonic discourses. In particular this focuses on how the shaping and circulation of discursive practices is accompanied by the continuing juggling amongst different stories and accounts of what alternativity means and how they should be put into practice. Such a 'networked' approach to social movements is better able to address the structure agency dilemma and to overcome the problems associated with notions like 'sector', circuits of power (Clegg) or 'field' (Bourdieu). We will illustrate our argument by discussing two examples: the street paper movement and the slow food movement
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