493.2 Embedding postcapitalist alternatives: The global network of alternative knowledge production and mobilization

Friday, August 3, 2012: 11:05 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
William CARROLL , University of Victoria, Canada
JP SAPINSKI , Sociology, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada
Since the 1970s, transnational alternative policy groups (TAPGs) have emerged as a component of global civil society generating visions and strategies for a ‘globalization from below’ which is also a process of transnational class formation. Such groups as the Transnational Institute (Amsterdam), Focus on the Global South (Bangkok), International Forum on Globalization (San Francisco) and the Centre for Civil Society (Durban) have served as ‘collective intellectuals’ in facilitating the construction of a counter-hegemonic bloc that transects national borders and poses democratic alternatives to neoliberal globalization.

This study proceeds from an understanding that hegemonic think tanks and TAPGs are embedded in opposing historical blocs, as they develop and deploy knowledge with the intent to make their respective blocs more coherent and effective. Transnational alternative policy groups appear to be well placed to participate in the transformation of the democratic globalization network from a gelatinous and unselfconscious state, into an historical bloc capable of collective action toward an alternative global order. Empirically, we map the global network of TAPGs and kindred groups – alternative media, social movement organizations, NGOs and INGOs – in order to discern whether and how TAPGs facilitate political development beyond the fragments of single-issue politics encased within nation states. Do TAPGs, like their hegemonic counterparts, serve as ‘brokers’, bridging across geographic spaces (e.g. North-South) and movement domains to foster the ‘unity in diversity’ that is taken as a criterial attribute of a counter-hegemonic historical bloc?  Alternatively, are there ways in which the global network is factionalized by structural holes and cleavages, as in the fissure between ecological and social justice politics that characterized activist networks in the 1990s? Using network-analytic methods, we draw some guarded inferences that are intended to enhance both sociological knowledge and movement practice.