Thoughts on Berkman Workshop

Great to hear about Occupy in comparison with other movements to get me geared up for the project!

I am fascinated by the cleavages within movements and the diverse composition of movements.  One participant was explaining the composition of OccupyPhilly. He said that there are some people there who identify as Quakers.  However, not all Quakers are there supporting the movement.  Therefore it is difficult to generalize when talking about the composition of a movement.  Furthermore, who is there to be involved and make a different and who is there to ‘be there’ and ‘be a part of the action’?  One participant pointed out that some people at Occupy camps do not even know why exactly they decided to come.

How does the diversity/heterogeneity within a movement affect its identity, framing, tactics and appeal? Indeed, this is connected to what Jeff Juris was saying in his presentation about what does the 99% framing mean as a representation?  Since the 99% is so inclusive, how can the Occupy movement have a single outcome that it works towards?

The concept of permissioning was brought up.  Is permissioning identified as a step towards legitimacy in social movements?  I have just not heard this term before and immediately upon hearing it, it resonated with me so I am just curious as to the origin and study of it.  Is it elites who are always involved in permissioning?  Is it large groups?  It is dissemination of information?  Is it mainstream media’s acknowledgment?

During one of the sessions, a man, aware of the fact that he was countering the entire conference’s purpose, questioned whether these three movements (OWS, Arab Spring and European Contention) can even be compared since they are so different.  There were various responses.  One of which explained that it is important to compare these movements because of their similar timing!  In Sidney Tarrow’s book Power in Movement he notes that there are more people acting contentiously nowadays than in the past.  It is no longer just students or peasants or workers.  Women (who have probably always been active but not been seen) are more visible, the middle class are mobilizing, priests in the Netherlands are mobilizing.  Forms of contention are changing and the tools being used are changing as contention increases.  Are we entering a period of great turbulence and these three movements are representative of that?  Or are we entering a period of time in which contention and social movements are commonplace and will become institutionalized?

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One thought on “Thoughts on Berkman Workshop

  1. Pingback: MegaPost on #21M Berkman Workshop | Networked Social Movements

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