The Critical Search for Theoretical Relevance in Social Movement Studies, Considered Internationally
RC47 Social Classes and Social Movements
Years of paradigmatic confrontation among social movement scholars in different regions of the globe have thus far produced limited results. Most recent progress in the field has come incrementally and often instrumentally in studies that isolate particular issues in social movement studies (e.g. leadership, community, emotions, identity formation) or that apply well-accepted analytical tools to the study of new cases or contexts. Thus, despite increasing interdisciplinary engagement with feminist, critical race, postcolonial, critical realist, ecological, anarchist, Marxist, and other critical theories, social movement research in much of the world, particularly North America and Western Europe, has continued to exhibit a positivist tendency to apply tools and concepts absent critical engagement with social movement ontologies.
In this regular session we open a space to address possibilities and limitations in searching for a renewal of social movement theory. We invite proposals that address one or more questions: What limits have you identified in the application of social movement concepts and tools to a specific context or case and how did you respond to those limitations practically and theoretically? How can critical theories contribute to social movement theory renewal? How have you attempted to reconcile your local or regional theoretical tradition with the use of theories and concepts from the hegemonic traditions in social movement studies? To what extent should scholars normalize questions of activist knowledge, movement intellectualism, and movement relevance in the field of social movement studies? How should social movement ontologies generally inform the study of social movements?
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