Category Archives: Daily Disruption

#CiteBlackWomen – Citing More Broadly

Now is a good time to take stock of our in-process writing projects and citation practices – especially if, like me, you are wrapping up the fall semester and planning for concerted writing work before the start of the spring semester. Pam Oliver has just published a fabulous “how to” on citing broadly and ensuring that your citation practices – to the extent possible – do not exacerbate gender and racial inequalities in citation. We should be asking ourselves: Who am I citing? What are the demographics of the scholars I am drawing on? What kinds of institutions do they represent? What kinds of journals? Why am I citing the pieces I have chosen? And perhaps most importantly, who am I leaving out?

If this sounds overwhelming, you are not alone. Broadening our citation practices takes effort! But luckily Dr. Oliver is here with a practical and straightforward guide just in time for the winter break. For more elaboration on this topic and invaluable “how to” tips, check out her recent blog post, “Citing More Broadly.”

While you’re at it, check out out her article “The Ethnic Dimensions of Social Movements” and the Informing Activists post on this blog about how to actively work against racism in social movements.

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The Green New Deal and the Future of Work in America Conference

Last month, the Center for Work and Democracy at Arizona State University hosted a two-day conference titled The Green New Deal and the Future of Work in America. The conference was organized by Craig Calhoun (University Professor of Social Sciences, ASU) and Benjamin Fong (Lecturer, Barrett Honors College, ASU) and included a keynote address by Frances Fox Piven (Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology, CUNY Graduate Center). The conference gathered leading scholars on labor, the environment, and social movements to “discuss the Green New Deal and its potential to both respond to the climate crisis and plot a path forward to a more just and fair nation.”

I interviewed Dr. Todd E. Vachon, a postdoctoral associate at Rutgers University in the Department of Labor Studies and Employment Relations and conference attendee, about what social movement scholars can take away from the conference. Todd is currently working on a book manuscript about the emerging movement of climate activists within the U.S. labor movement. The findings in the book are based on four years of participant observation with three labor-climate movement organizations and builds upon Todd’s 20+ years of participation in the labor movement as a carpenter, organizer, and a union leader. The manuscript, which explores the collective action framing processes around the contested concept of a “just transition” for workers, is currently under review at an academic press. He has also published research examining the environmental attitudes and behaviors of U.S. workers and the political-economic predictors of greenhouse gas emissions cross nationally.

What are a few of the “big ideas” you’re taking away from the conference? 

Well, for starters, the Green New Deal (GND) has inspired a new wave of organizing and movement building to confront the climate crisis. It’s not just a plan to address climate change though. It’s also a roadmap to a democracy revival movement. The shared understanding among most attendees of the conference was that merely electing the right president, while certainly a worthy goal, is not alone going to prevent climate catastrophe. Stopping the worst of climate change is going to require collective action. And that action is going to have to demand more than just greenhouse gas emissions reductions, it’s going to have to center social and economic justice for workers, Tribal communities, and people of color if it’s going to have any chance of succeeding. Anything less will pit workers against the environment and against frontline communities—as has so often been the case in the past—rather than uniting these groups in shared purpose against their common foes, the real purveyors of social, economic and environmental injustice.

Why should sociologists, and social movement scholars in particular, be interested in the topic of the conference? 

As with the original New Deal, a major reorientation of society like that envisioned by the GND is going to involve massive amounts of civic engagement and collective action at levels not seen in decades. Such periods of widespread and continuous social action typically invite experimentation and innovation on the part of activists. These periods also create a great opportunity for social science research to address questions related to social movement formation, tactical repertoire development and deployment, movement outcomes, and more. For example: how is it that people come to realize that their individual wellbeing is wrapped up in the collective wellbeing of everyone? Under what circumstances does this realization foster concerted action? How then are movement targets selected? How and when do climate movement organizations win or lose? And what types of coalitions are able to build the broad base of support required to successfully challenge the hegemony of the fossil fuel industry and it’s supporting neoliberal governing ideology?

The youth Climate Strikes and the direct actions by groups like Extinction Rebellion and the Sunrise Movement already represent a new wave in climate activism; one that embraces many of the demands of the environmental justice movement but also some demands of the mainstream environmental movement as well as the labor movement. This new wave of climate activism is inherently cross-class in nature. Activists are targeting states, producers, and consumers alike and are making demands that are simultaneously material, non-material, and cultural in nature. These developments challenge some long-held beliefs among scholars regarding the nature of movements, their targets, and their goals, and thus warrant new streams of research. Further, these events are unfolding in real time and provide a tremendous opportunity for qualitatively rich, empirically rigorous research that not only improves our understanding of social movements but may also contribute to saving humankind from its own worst tendencies.

Is there any work you came across at the conference that you think should be “required reading”? 

I think everyone who has not already done so should take 10 minutes and read H.Res 109, the Green New Deal resolution submitted to congress by Representative Ocasio-Cortez-Cortez and Senator Markey. Unlike previous proposals to address the climate crisis, this resolution explicitly acknowledges the social and economic disruptions that will ensue as a result of decarbonizing our economy and it lays out a broad vision for some of the ways we can create a sustainable society with justice and equity for all.

Beyond that, hearing Francis Fox Piven discuss some of the ways in which the climate movement might succeed or fail in its efforts to win a GND reminded me that it is never a bad time to re-read Poor People’s Movements. The crucial role that structural crises in social and economic institutions played in the formation of the movements studied in that book can offer much insight into our contemporary climate conundrum and the resulting movement growing to address it. Other required reading will be the edited volume based upon conference participants presentation which should be available sometime in 2020 or 2021.

Finally, I would also recommend that interested readers check out the websites for two movement organizations, the Labor Network for Sustainability and the Climate Justice Alliance, if they would like to learn more. These organizations both offer lots of insights from the perspectives of activists, scholars, and practitioners into the real challenges involved with forging durable alliances and building a movement for a climate safe and just society for workers and frontline communities.

You can learn more about the conference here and also watch the archived livestream on the conference’s Facebook page, facebook.com/GNDWork/.

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Indigenous Movements and Resistance in Chile

A wave of popular uprisings has swept over Latin America in the past few months. While “taking it to the streets” is not uncommon in the region, what seems unique to these recent uprisings is both their scope and intensity. In Chile, for example, what started as discontent over an increase in the price of public transport quickly turned into the largest protests in the country since the revolts against Pinochet’s dictatorship in the 1980s.

The ongoing Chilean protests quickly came to symbolize opposition against wider injustices related to steep and rising inequality, cost of living, and lack of economic opportunity. While these large-scale protests have no central leadership or single union, group or organization behind them, the country’s indigenous populations, namely the Mapuche, have played a particularly visible role in the uprisings. In the following piece, Patricia Rodriguez, Associate Professor of Politics at Ithaca College, draws on her research with Christian Martínez Neira and David Carruthers to give an insightful account of the role that indigenous movements and resistance play in these recent popular mobilizations and the territorial, political and cultural claims they articulate.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/11/11/chilean-protesters-are-waving-mapucho-flag-whats-mapucho-flag-whos-hoisting-it/

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Lessons on the 25th Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide

By Nicole Fox & Hollie Nyseth Brehm

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, which claimed the lives of upwards of one million people. While many Rwandans actively participated in genocidal violence by killing their neighbors, friends and fellow parishioners, hundreds—if not thousands—made a vastly different decision: they actively saved others who were persecuted. As part of a larger project on the social factors that shape rescue efforts during genocide, we had the privilege this week to speak with those who saved others, 25 years ago.

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The Resistance: The Dawn of the Anti-Trump Opposition Movement

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This past week, the St. Louis branch of the Scholars Strategy Network brought David Meyer to town to discuss his new edited volume (with Sidney Tarrow) called The Resistance: The Dawn of the Anti-Trump Opposition Movement. The book includes chapters by many top scholars in the field and focuses on the origins, organization, and dynamics of the movement while situating these contemporary efforts into their historical context. In his discussion on the topic, Meyer focused on the spread of activism immediately following the election. Of particular interest to the audience, he detailed a counterfactual account of whether the large-scale and highly-resourced travel ban airport protests would have occurred as they did without the Women’s March. Although he noted some features that were unlikely the direct result of the Women’s March (e.g., ACLU and CAIR legal actions) he suggested that the size of the protest, decisions to offer free legal services, and extensive political support would have been unlikely without the previous mobilization effort. Meyer concluded the talk by noting that there is often a desire to create a “recipe” for social movement outcomes, but they are highly contextual and determined by the goals, timeline, and extensiveness of the demands put forth. Social movements, after all, are as Meyer said, “blunt instruments” for sharing solutions to complex problems. The book offers an opportunity to continue thinking critically about the extensive mobilization efforts in the last two years.

 

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Youth for Climate Belgium: The narrative of an exceptional protest wave

By Ruud Wouters & Michiel De Vydt

All across the globe, youngsters are staging protest, demanding politicians to take the climate crisis seriously. What started with a lonely, striking Swedish schoolgirl giving an inspiring speech at the COP24 Climate Conference in Poland, quickly became an international movement and culminated in a global day of action on March 15th. On that single day, no less than 1.6 million people in more than 125 countries at 2000 different locations walked the streets and demanded better climate policies.

In this contribution, we focus on one of the more noteworthy national protest waves within this larger international cycle of protest. Our focus is on the case of Belgium, which—we believe—both in terms of mobilization and in terms of its subsequent public and political consequences, deserves to be on the radar of activists and scholars alike. Many elements of the protest wave we will describe in the following paragraphs resonate strongly with theories of social movements (political process, opportunity, framing, resource mobilization, etc). Here, however, we put the case up front and stick to a detailed description of the events that captivated Belgium between December 2018 and April 2019. What made so many youngsters skip school for so many weeks in a row? And what were the consequences of their protest actions? Continue reading

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