Social Movements as Process

Authored by: Marianne Maeckelbergh

The Routledge Companion to Contemporary Anthropology

Print publication date:  December  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415583954
eBook ISBN: 9781315743950
Adobe ISBN: 9781317590675


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When I began my anthropological research into social movement organizing, I had already been involved in social movements for over ten years. When I started to delve into the literature on social movements, how they work, why they work that way, and what they actually are, I must admit, I was disappointed. I felt very strongly that there was something missing. Although there were many interesting theories about how social movements work and why, none of these theories seemed to capture what was most interesting to me – the perspectives of the social movement actors themselves. As someone who had experienced firsthand what it was like to watch the entire realm of human possibility seem to transform as a result of an exciting and dynamic interaction between hundreds or thousands of inspiring, passionate, committed people who were willing to take considerable risks in the fight for their own freedom or the freedom of others, I could not help but feel that the literature left a great deal unsaid about what it means to struggle for social change.

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