Cultural movements

Authored by: Elizabeth Cherry

Routledge Handbook of Cultural Sociology

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138288621
eBook ISBN: 9781315267784
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter discusses the phenomenon of cultural movements. Cultural movements are diffusely organized efforts to promote individual changes in lifestyle and consumption practices as a way to effect broader social changes. First, this chapter explores different understandings of “culture” used by social movement scholars in relation to state-directed social movements and to diffuse cultural movements. Then, it shows how contemporary understandings of cultural and lifestyle movements emerged from these early conceptions. Using three cultural movements as case studies (veganism, straight edge, and green living), this chapter demonstrates how people are mobilized into cultural movements, and how cultural movements intertwine their goals and means. Finally, this chapter explores the paradox of cultural movements: they must be culturally challenging, but at the same time, they must work within the culture to be viewed as culturally legitimate. This chapter ends with suggestions for future research on cultural movements.

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