Awakening Activist Sensibilities in the Hills: Across Age and Gender

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 8:45 AM
Room: 501
Oral Presentation
Ani WIERENGA , Youth Research Centre, University of Melbourne, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Children and young people’s civic engagement has occupied the attention of researchers and policy makers globally during recent decades, but there is a growing acknowledgement that young people’s political engagement can only be understood in the context of wider social cultures and practices. This paper explores the social dynamics of civic engagement, in the context of one community’s democratic practices and targeted activism, involving the ‘nannas’ as central players as well as mothers, children and young people. 

In the Dandenong Mountains near Melbourne, Australia, a small community has taken up a prolonged battle with a multi-national fast food giant.  The battle is a symbolic one as much as it is about a capital and a building site. The picket line, the on-line world, the legal system and mass media are the different fronts of the battle, providing multiple sites for experiences of political engagement, confronting ideas about political issues, power inequalities, social justice and the role of the state.  

In facing an unequal word, one of the challenges for global sociology is about creating the conditions where the systemic drivers of injustice can be recognised. Analysing material from the campaign’s social media pages, this paper identifies critical moments where activist sensibilities are awakened and identified, within, despite and across generations. It shows how the progression through fear and anger, humour and hope can be heightened when elements of difference in power, class, gender and generation are named and mobilised as resources.