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44. Social movements

 
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How do social movements work, and how do they shape our society?

Social movements consist of organisations, groups or individuals engaged in collective action with common social or political aims designed to challenge, resist or facilitate social change. Social movements have a long and proud tradition in Greater Manchester with both Marx and Engels writing some of their most significant works here drawing on its Industrial Revolution heritage which would later inspire many social movements scholars. Manchester was also home to the worker’s rights, co-operative, trade union and women’s suffrage movements in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

The movements@manchester research group engages with theoretically driven empirical research that draws from the city’s history and expands its scope into contemporary research areas, frequently labelled as New Social Movements (NSMs) (Crossley, 2006). Research at Manchester moves beyond the more traditional definitions of social movements to take account of the importance of new technologies in mediating contemporary movement participation, for example in anti-war and peace activism (Gillan, Pickerill and Webster, 2008), understanding the tactics used by movement activists (Edwards, 2013), how contemporary protest movements are challenging the austerity agenda and the issues affecting recruitment, retention and resources for social movements.

A developing area of research looks at covert social movements in particular the ways in which social networks impact on movement structures and functions (Crossley and Edwards et al., 2012) and this is part of a wider Leverhulme funded project investigating covert social networks and ways of analysing them using social network analysis techniques.

The research conducted by members of movements@manchester frequently crosses regional and national boundaries (Yates, 2014) and recognises the translocal (locally situated within a transnational context) nature of many contemporary movements especially in how feminist movements create and sustain translocal music worlds (O’Shea, 2014). The importance of understanding protest as a central feature of NSMs is reflected in the work produced at Manchester (Edwards, 2014; Crossley, 2012) and the lively series of Protest Talks events.

Our next Protest Talk is: Beyond Anti-Austerity: The Possibilities and Limits of Movements Resisting Neoliberalism, 3 December, 3.30pm. All welcome!

Further information

See the movements@manchester website for more about research publications in this area, their blog and events (including a reading group).

 

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