Mobilizing Idea’s recent Essay Dialogue on movements and the courts was inspired in part by the DOMA case on the U.S. Supreme Court docket. In her essay, Martinez discusses the role of the Supreme Court in light of a changing political and cultural context regarding gay marriage. While U.S. states have become increasingly polarized on same-sex marriage (SSM), public opinion appears to have shifted in favor of marriage equality. These environmental shifts may be important for legal mobilization. Drawing from classic sociological theory, Martinez writes that “When activists turn to law and demand legal change, it only works when the cultural conditions and political conditions are out of alignment with law. The law changes to match social beliefs and practices.” As Bua of the Huffington Post claims, “the times they are a ‘changin.’” Continue reading
Tag Archives: cultural change
The year 2012 is a special one in Massachusetts: the centennial of the 1912 Lawrence textile strike has been celebrated with literally dozens of events, with more still planned. The gatherings I’ve attended have given me glimpses into the cultures of different wings of today’s progressive movements. My conclusion is that participatory singing as a political act is becoming an outmoded relic of former movements.
At the big Labor Day event, the crowd included UNITE-HERE members and other Lawrence-area union members, mostly Latinos younger than 50. Union members wore union t-shirts to signify their affiliations; and they marched in contingents; but they didn’t sing as they marched. Some of the musical performers that day sang in Spanish, and young and/or Latino festival-goers either sat and listened or they danced along – but they never sang along.
A number of white and black singers at the Labor Day festival encouraged sing-alongs, and I watched to see who sang and who didn’t sing. In particular, because Bread and Puppet Theater, with its giant puppets and stilt-walkers, is so inherently interesting to all ages and races, I was able to watch their big diverse audience respond to calls to sing along. Perhaps Mobilizing Ideas readers won’t be surprised to learn that those who sang along were old and white. Many of them were seasoned leftists whose experience stretched back to the ‘60s or earlier.
At other Lawrence centennial events I saw the same singing demographic: old and white. The only middle-aged exceptions were approximately four of us hard-core political folkies, those who knew by heart all four verses of the “Bread and Roses” song about the 1912 strike. But except for us, everyone else who sang “Solidarity Forever” had white hair and weathered faces. Ditto with “Union Maid.” And twice, when “The Internationale” was sung, everyone else who stood up and raised their right fist appeared to be 75 or older; this old socialist tradition seems not to have been passed down.
During the anti-globalization movement of the late 1990s I realized that young activists in that movement did not sing during protests. And the music of the Occupy movement seemed to be either performance or participatory drumming, not participatory singing (see this collection). But during those two mobilizations I thought that the singing/not-singing breakpoint was about age 35. At this year’s Lawrence events, I realized that the age divide is much older, and that political singing seems to have virtually died out even among middle-aged activists.
For those of us raised on Civil Rights freedom songs, anti-war songs, wimmin’s music, De Colores and anti-apartheid music, a movement that doesn’t sing seems strange and culturally impoverished. Media jamming and crowd-sourced creativity through Youtube, Facebook and Twitter are the new mode of activist participatory creativity; activists now have protest tools unimagined in the 1960s.
But when I think of some of the situations in which the anti-apartheid movement sang their freedom songs – between jail cells on death row, in the poverty of exile, and while marching under violent repression – I worry about how future activists will keep their spirits up and build solidarity when all their electronic devices are unavailable to them.
In the politics of marriage equality, there are six important indicators that the tide has turned for lesbian and gay rights around this issue.
From Unusual to Routine Politics: At one point in time in the last twenty years in seventeen separate states (CA, CT, DE, HI, IA, IL, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NY, NV, OR, RI, VT, and WA), either a state’s legislature successfully passed a bill through both legislatives houses in support of same sex marriage or civil unions OR a state’s highest court judicially ordered the establishment of same sex marriage and/or civil unions. Based on 2010 Census figures, one hundred and seventeen million residents – 38% of the US population – currently live in one of these seventeen states. Although simple math indicates that thirty-three states remain, seventeen states constitutes over one-third of all US states. The important point being that full or nearly full recognition by a state government for lesbian and gay couples in long-term, committed relationships is no longer aberrant or unusual. In fact, there is increasingly a sense of inevitability associated positively with the future prospects of the issue. The very presence of gubernatorial vetoes on this issue, such as in California in 2005 and 2007 or in New Jersey in 2012, and the new possibility of over-riding such vetoes evidences a politics as normal aspect that has become attached to the issue. Continue reading
By Richard Lloyd and Steven Tepper
In order to think about the influence of the Tea Party it is first important to understand the “essence” of the movement. What is the nature of its supporters’ discontent? How coherent are their political and policy goals? Is it something new on the political landscape that is forcing a realignment within the Republican Party?
Research conducted with Andy Perrin, Neal Caren, Steven Tepper and Sally Morris, concludes that the Tea Party phenomena – from the perspective of public support – is a case of “old wine” in a “new bottle.” Continue reading
A few days ago, celebrity chef, mini-empire owner, and Smithfield ham spokeswoman Paula Deen simultaneously announced on the Today show on NBC that a) she’s had Type 2 diabetes for the last three years and b) she is promoting Victoza, a diabetes drug from Norvo Nordick, which costs about $500 a month. My first reaction to the news was: umm, surprise? Of course she has diabetes. What do you expect from someone involved for so long and to such a degree with such “yummy” food, like her infamous idea to use Krispy Kreme doughnuts as a hamburger ‘bun.’ Continue reading
By Marco Giugni
According to Time magazine, which devoted the Man of the Year cover to The Protester, 2011 was a year of protest movements and collective mobilizations. Of course, the so-called Arab Spring has much to do with this choice, but other movements as well have flourished around the World. The Occupy Movement is surely one of them, along with the Indignados in Spain as well as in other countries. Now, at the dawn of a new year, I think that two main questions need to be addressed: Firstly, will the movement last? And secondly, what are its outcomes? Other people have addressed the first question. Here I deal with the second one. Continue reading
In a Dec 27th post (“Has the abortion issue been reopened in Canada and what does this mean for social movements?”), I wrote about a push on the part of some Canadian conservatives to reopen the issue of abortion – an issue that has otherwise lain fairly dormant. I suggested that with a Conservative majority government, a new political opportunity has opened for Conservative issues in Canada. Not surprisingly, Lawrence Martin titled his Dec 27th Globe and Mail article “A banner year for the new conservative agenda” where he writes, “For core conservatives, those of the doctrinaire variety, nothing can compare to the success of the year now passing. In 2011, Canada took its sharpest turn right in its history.” Continue reading
I must begin by acknowledging the extent to which the occupy movement has occupied my own life in the last several months, knowing no boundaries between work life and social, political, and personal life. In my worklife, I was teaching a graduate seminar on social movements (“The Quest for Social Justice”) in which each participant chooses a case to study and to which they apply the various course readings. Two of the students chose to study the Occupy Movement and, in particular, its Occupy Boston branch; a third student took the highly similar Israeli Summer tent city movement. Continue reading