Thinking and theorising about activism: who and how?

Elizabeth Humphrys


This article overviews the following three articles in the journal, which arise from the 2008 conference Other Worlds 2: After the Neo-Con Men. The article responds to an issue raised across the papers regarding social movement knowledge and theory: what is the tension between analysis produced inside the academy and that which arises from within movements. And how can theory can be developed in a way that both takes into account the viewpoint and needs of the historical players whose activity is shaping the future (social movement actors) and the wider social forces that give rise to and shape the struggles those players are involved in. It is argued that the new movements around globalisation and global justice have reasserted 'activism' as a key component of social movement analysis, challenging academics to engage with social movements in a more direct way and to ensure their output is relevant to that audience. It is argued that the concept of the ‘organic intellectuals’, outlined by Italian Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci, has particular utility.

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