Movement cultures

Authored by: Francesca Polletta

Handbook of Cultural Sociology

Print publication date:  July  2010
Online publication date:  September  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415474450
eBook ISBN: 9780203891377
Adobe ISBN: 9781134026159


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Many social movements seek to enact in their own operation the society they hope to bring into being. Their members may make decisions by consensus and rotate leadership. They may trade conventional gender roles, swap sexual partners, sign over their paychecks to the group, or refuse to eat animal products. Sometimes, movement groups succeed in creating enduring communities that are nonviolent, egalitarian, self-sustaining, and/or sexually liberated. Often, they collapse, imploding amidst mutual recriminations and charges of bad faith. And occasionally, whether or not they endure, they pioneer organizational forms, interactional styles, and cultural objects that make their way into the mainstream. Food co-ops, blue jeans as a young person’s fashion statement, Ms. magazine, participatory democratic decision-making, organic food, folk music, and alternative media all began in movements, but each one outlasted the movement and era in which it was born.

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