Read e-book online Activist Wisdom: Practical Knowledge And Creative Tension in PDF

By Sarah Maddison

Peace marches, protest demonstrations and campaigns for or opposed to each reason that you can think of have lengthy been a part of the Australian social and political panorama. This vigorous e-book blends the voices and reports of insiders all in favour of specific motives with a much bigger photo that analyses successes and screw ups, conversation of rules and social and political affects.

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Journals were established, prizes were awarded and grants were delivered. As brows furrowed and papers piled up, the most committed scholars developed a forbidding expertise. New terms multiplied. Theories of ever-increasing sophistication passed from Theory and history ( 27 ) pen to paper. But did anyone fully understand why activists got together? And could radical students really learn any more about the history of political tactics? Sadly, the answer was not obvious. Had concentration bred isolation?

Soon, the term ‘new social movements’ was on everyone’s lips. Sociologist Claus Offe (1985) and philosopher Jürgen Habermas (1981) endorsed the new actors in Germany; the sensitive Alberto Melucci (1985, 1995a, 1995b) located them in Italy; scholars across the continent jostled to explain why recent campaigns were ‘new’, and how, precisely, they differed from the ‘old’. Amid the disputation, there was agreement. Most felt that the ‘new’ movements were: cultural rather than strictly political; floating free of class determinations; pluralistic and decentralised; extra-parliamentary; personally transformative; self-reflexive; transnational; and often invisible to the wider world.

This consensus, in turn, generated a reaction from those Marxists anxious to defend the old wisdom. Beginning in the 1980s, there was a long debate over the question of historical novelty, which did not lose force until the late 1990s (Burgmann 1993; Calhoun 2000). Repeatedly, salvos were dispatched, studies announced, admissions made, and reformulations begun. Anyone interested in social change soon knew their Melucci from their Offe, their Touraine from their Marx. They had ‘a position’ on the apparent novelty of recent political campaigns.

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